Time has just flown by.
In three years, my international baby has turned into an international toddler and started kindergarten.
It’s an important milestone for both parent and child, as it’s a sign that your little one is growing up and learning independence. It also takes a lot of getting used to for both sides. His daily routine of yumcha, toys, lunch, naptime and watching English cartoons in the afternoon are gone, with new, more rigid routines taking their place. In my newfound spare time, I sometimes walk around the apartment, trying to adjust to the eerie silence and looking thoughtfully at the untouched toys, books and puzzles that he loves so much.
We’re fortunate that his kindergarten (like my office) is on the same road that we live so it’s no trouble at all taking him there. As for enrolling him in the first place, well, that wasn’t so easy.
The first steps were taken maybe 6 months ago, when my wife would speak to the head of a few kindergartens at every opportunity asking about available places. Not long afterwards, we saw a notice for enrolment days outside of his current kindergarten, inviting parents to apply.
As many who live in China would know, Government kindergartens in big cities can be incredibly difficult to get into without important connections. It was no surprise then, that before enrolment day, parents queued all night to guarantee their child a place. My mother in law and I queued in alternate shifts, with her from 10-2am and me from 2-6am before my wife brought me breakfast and took over, allowing me to get ready for work..
When all that was over, my wife submitted the application and we waited impatiently for the good news. There was none. He wasn’t offered a place apparently because he had a foreign parent. My wife, understandably, was not the least bit happy about this. She marched down there, argued with them and after a while, they agreed to enrol him. Because she was going to give birth to our second child in a matter of weeks and she didn’t have time to look for another kindergarten, they took some pity on her and gave him a place (I didn’t know that at the time, I found out much later from my wife)
Once he was finally enrolled, we then had to pay the ‘administration fee.’ Even though it wasn’t particularly high, it was still twice as much as what I had in the bank. I had to empty my savings and borrow money from friends and family to just scrape together the required amount. At the end I was flat broke and owed money to a couple of people but we had finally done it – my son was going to kindergarten.
As the summer holidays this year was drawing to a close, the kindergarten invited the new students and their families to two open days the week before the new term. We all dressed in nice clothes and took him into a classroom near the entrance. We spent most of the morning there and although he didn’t talk to other kids that much, he loved playing with the toys and puzzles. After about two hours of this, we were finally allowed to look at the rest of the school where he enjoyed the playground and played with pretty much all the sports equipment they had there before having a snack and heading home. The next day was spent entirely inside the classroom with no school tour.
Even though I was there for a pretty short time, I noticed some interesting things about the way the school is run.
Firstly, every student was assigned a number. That number was on their chair and their own cup and washcloth that they used throughout the day. Bathroom and drink breaks during the open day were strictly regulated, with every student required to use the facilities at the same time. The bathroom had an open urinal in the corner with a row of small, western style toilets on the side and a short wall with taps, soap and two big sinks on each side in the middle of the bathroom. It’s also worth mentioning that there were no stalls between the toilets, giving students no privacy whatsoever. At this kindergarten, students regularly have classes from 8.15-4.15, taking a small nap in the afternoon.
My son was excited during the first couple of days at school. On those days he virtually ran all the way there and when his teacher met him, he stopped just long enough to turn around, wave and run inside. On the third day however, he had an argument with his teacher. He wanted to watch a cartoon; his teacher said no and made him do something he didn’t want to do. This was pretty devastating for him. He thought every day would be like the open days where he could do whenever he wanted.
After that argument he started crying before school, insisting that he didn’t want to go. Although it was hard, we had to insist on it and take him there each day. Once he was there however, he seemed much better and was all smiles when picked up in the afternoon. Now there are no tears before going to school and he seems to be settling in at last. In about three years it will be his brother’s turn. Let’s see how that pans out.
Tags:General Expat Tales Lifestyle
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My son is going to goverment kindergarden too, but we was not asked for administration fee. we pay every month about 500-600rmb including food. the washrooms are there pretty same, but he still like it, it is his 2nd year, some they call it middle class, or some like this. the problem is comming now, as they forcing the kids to use chopstick at lunch. we have never used them at home, so we slowly trying to teach him, but he is like me. when something do not like, there is no way to push him into. he refusing to use or try to use chopstick. after 2 weeks, there was a small victory of my wife efforts, and he tried a bit a catch some small piece of meat. thats all till now. I said but that's a bit crazy. chopsticks, the thousands years old way how to eat is outdated, and it shall not be forced into kids. When I asked teacher several times, let they talk with principal and do some small effort and allow the kids to change shoes upon arrival and when leaving, it was denied "as too difficult to proceed". yes, too troubles. they even no need to assist, kids can simply change their outside / inside shoes easily by themself. they even have the small cabinets, where they store their cloth and some things, but are forced to stay all the day in same shoes, which is not healthy for feet development. and second, the way to that kindegarden is in night turning into street restaurants, and morning lot of breakfest stalls and shops. add to that those thousands of spitting people, cars with running engines and catching customers on sidewalks.. they bring that dirt and bacteria from street on the shoes, in which they stay all day and they sit on the floor where they step with those dirty shoes... No, no way to explain to them, how bad it is. but using chopsticks is a must, even for some parents we have talk with. so we cut other "freinds" and do not talk with many anymore...
Sep 12, 2014 15:12 Report Abuse