Wednesday, 24 October 2012

How To Gently Introduce Your Toddler To Kindergarten

STEP 1 :
Dump him into the kindergarten of your first choice, prepared to stay there the whole day, only to have him wave bye-bye to you and disappear around the corner without a care in the world.

STEP 2 :
Discover 1 week later how much he hates the kindergarten, and you have to pull him out before it creates irreparable psychological damage due to the insensitive, asshole teacher in charge of his young toddler mind. Lucky we only lose the deposit and not the term fees.

STEP 3 :  
Wait for a month to let him recover, all the while trying to brainwash him with books or videos about how fun school is. Let him choose a water bottle or something personal that is specifically for his school, and tell him it's for school.

STEP 4 :
Take him to your 2nd choice kindy, and explain your previous difficulties to the new teacher / principal and ask them to be patient with him and not force him into anything. Be ignored by them the first few times, until they see how much he cries each time he loses sight of you, then be taken seriously. Now you can tell them for real what you need them to do for your son.

STEP 5 :
Stay with him the whole session, bringing your second child with you because you can't leave him alone at home. Sweat to death the entire time because you are busy chasing both boys around the kindy and trying to get them to sit down and listen to the teacher or participate. Occasionally chasing around one of the other kindy kids, to be helpful to the teachers and hopefully inspire them to be patient with my own kids. Take lots of pictures and see how patient teachers are with him.

STEP 6 :
Fall horribly sick the next day due to all the heat and stress, develop killer sore throat, which morphs into horrible wet cough in the next few days and lasts for more than a month. The kids too. Reduce the number of days you go to kindy from 4 days/week to 2 days/week because your body just can't take it. Especially since you still have to take care of the household chores, cleaning, cooking, laundry etc... after you've spent the whole exhausting morning there with the 2 kids. Lunch is impossible to cook, unless I wake up really early that morning to make the soup before we leave. Most of the time, mommy will go hungry because she only has enough time to cook lunch for the kids, and none for herself. Some of the times, mommy will tapau KFC for everyone, and on those days, mommy will feel human again.

STEP 7 :
Keep this up for 2 exhausting months. Made worse by the fact that the timing runs into the biggest crime month of the year, Ramadhan. Add the stress from the constant fear of being car jacked, robbed, snatch thefted, slashed in front of your home, smash-and-grabbed, home invaded etc... to the mix, as friends and family around you are victims of such crime during that month. 

STEP 8 :
Discover what your kid enjoys, which is art and craft. And wait for the holiday programme, which is intensive art and crafts, and start warning him that you can't follow him to school anymore. Follow him for 3-days into the holiday programme. Then tell him he'll be staying on his own the next day, and that the teachers will be taking care of him after that. Mommy needs to go home and clean the house and cook his food, and she will be back to fetch him at 12 o'clock - show him where the hands go on the clock.

STEP 9 :
Drop off second kid with mother in law. Leave eldest in school on the last day of the week, so you have the weekend to reassure him and bond with him. Steel yourself for tears and wailing. There will be a lot of it. Be firm, do not show him that you are worried. It's no big deal. Show him the clock on the wall and tell him that mommy will be back to fetch him at 12 o'clock. Leave your number with the teacher and tell them to call you if he's been crying non-stop for more than 30 minutes. Wait around outside the classroom, hidden, listening to him wail and wring your hands helplessly. See the teacher finally manage to distract him with something, then make your getaway, and continue hand wringing at home, keeping your phone (which never rings) close to you in case. Pick him up before classes end, see him beaming at the sight of you, hug him happily (but do not show him your anxiety) and point to the clock and show him that it's 12 o'clock and mommy is here as promised. Do this each time. Be surprised that he's quite cheery the rest of the day, compared to his shutdown behaviour from the previous kindy.

STEP 10 :
Spend lots of quality time over the weekend, talking about how good the teachers were to him and assuring him that they will take care of him, and that he should learn to ask them for help if he can't do something. Help him to make "Thank you" cards for the teachers, with their names on it, and buy some Hershey kisses to go with them.

STEP 10 :
Get him to hand deliver each thank you card & chocolate to all his teachers. Continue leaving him there, telling him you're going out to cook, will be back at 12 o'clock - then leave and listen to him wail until he gets distracted, all the while holding 2nd child and hiding behind the wall. But the wailing is less and less now.

STEP 11 :
After 2 weeks of leaving him there with bated breath (minus some days he had to stay home because he's always catching something), he starts waving happily at you and saying, "Bye bye mommy!" when you drop him off, and you can finally start making plans in the mornings he goes to kindy!

STEP 12 :
A little hiccup as the wailing starts again when the new term begins, because he hates the structured learning and lessons. But stand firm and leave him there. He will be ok.

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