Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Schools and Day Care - How things have changed.

Rewind to 2007 - October... Akshat was 2 yrs and 4 months old. PSBB Millenium started issuing Admission Forms. We went, stood in Queue,showed his birth certificate, paid 100 Rs., took the form, went to a Photographer and took his passport photographs and filled our details (Parent's education, Job details, etc., etc.,) in the form and submitted in a day. We were still worried that many parents had all the required photos in hand and submitted the filled forms right away.Then the waiting in tension when we would receive the interview notifications.It did come after few days... We were excited. We had tried to make Akshat remember and say all his rhymes and others we thought they might ask him.

Early November, Interview day, we woke the kid early in the morning, got his ready, made a quick prayer to God and reached the school. There was a big long queue with anxious parents and kids who couldnt make out what was happening.We were finally called into a cute classroom with little chairs where even the teachers and we sat.
They made him sit next to a teacher and she was talking to him in English.. Now, Akshat talked fluently in Tamil and Telugu and made little attempts in English at home... We were worried. But the little fellow surpassed our expectations and managed to answer the teacher in simple words of Yes and No and she was happy. The rhymes questions was answered by the ABCD Song. so far so good. She then asked him to find 2 brinjals on the floor. He found 3 for her :) Then she asked to identify colours... And there I knew he had a problem... He said yellow for red, blue for green... but white and black were right :) We looked anxiously at the teacher and she said, "Thats fine. Can you wait outside, we will let you know". Coming out of the classroom, we could see some children crying at being questioned, and parents trying to comfort them. Akshat was puzzled.. "Mummy, why is everyone crying? "...

Then came the note from the teacher that Akshat passed the interview and we have to meet the principal :) Good. We were ready. As usual the half an hour to 45 minutes asking us where we live. Is it ok for the child to travel 8 kms. Then the Pre KG was going to be near Chennai Trade center which was just 4 kms. So she was fine. Then the question of how much can we spend with the child. Can I as a working mother concentrate on the child.. So on and so forth. But I knew they were happy, that we both were well educated, working in good companies.. and we could afford the enormous fees and the hike in the fees as well when it came up. She asked us to wait outside again. Then came the news that he got admission and we needed to pay 40600 + 2000 and odd for the books right away to confirm :) we managed. And to think we had paid off his school's fee for first term that was going to start only in June 2008.

Then the school opened, and am glad he enjoyed. very greatful for his teacher, Ms.Mary Delfin George... She was the best... He simply adored her and she gave the comfort zone to the child. He quickly learnt a lot. He spoke English flawlessly and he always got a great review back from school. ... And then LKG in 2009, They hiked the school fees. In all Just for the beginning Kindergarten years, a PreKG and LKG we ended up paying way over a lakh with all other expenses chipping in their part.... and add ons - the anxiety, the tension...

Well I dont blame the system... All private schools follow the same. But then his LKG teacher Mrs.Bindu was also wonderful. She gave so much support to the child..

Now how did I miss my son's best friends for the two years... First year, it was Tanuja all around.. They simply were the best friends. All day in class, they chit chatted.. Then come LKG, he was a little upset to go to school on the first day... Why?... because they changed Tanuja to A section and he moved to B... :( somehow sent him to school.... He came back in the afternoon and said.. Amma.. Keerthana is also so soft ma,... :) Now you know his great friend from LKG. .. So close, that when we told her that we were moving to Canada, she told me, Aunty .. you leave Akshat in our house for one year.. You and uncle go alone.. Let him be here with me. :) So sweet of her.. We miss her too...

Then came our planned move to Canada. A year of processing for immigration and all.. Why did we do that.. We wanted to do something for the child.. His future.. We held that as a reason. There may be other motivators in the play too.. Which I am not able to put in one single paper.
Well time to move on.. When we came to April.. We were anxious.. We left our jobs back in India... Now we had to find jobs.. Move forward. Through out the weekdays, he played around inside the shared guesthouse. We knew he hated to be indoors all the while. Btu what to do, it was cold here in April.. sometimes 11- sometimes 16 degrees.. and we couldnt risk his health...but we did take him well out during weekends when we could not hunt jobs.

We roamed very well. We went to CN Tower, Toronto Zoo, Science center, museum, historic museum, Toronto Island and shopping in big huge malls. We had to keep him happy. He ended up with a toy everytime. Good for us, that we had Dollarama where we get toys for 1 or 2 dollars... He would ask for toys that were 100 dollars but didnt find any difference if we got him only the one dollar one.. To him it was a toy.. to him .. he could break it any day!
Then Vimal got his job, and I couldnt hunt for jobs from then on. Reason.. Day care for Akshat??? The law is strict here that you cannot leave a child under 12 yrs old alone anywhere even for a minute... Then what to do.. Day cares have a long line up in waiting. And they are very strict about the number of children they can take. And the cost, heavy... 3 to 4 dollars per hour. That too when we have to spend from the Indian Savings we brought.. Not worth it...And they dont take adhoc that I could leave him just to attend the interview...

In May, We found an apartment to move in and went to meet the houseowners. They were very friendly Indian Couple. She suggested I walk to the corner of the road where there is a Public School. Guys here, The public schools are run by the Government. But a striking difference, the Quality and commitment - excellent. Before we moved into the house, we walked from there. It was a quick 7 minute walk, and we went in. There was a man standing in his T-Shirt and casuals in the Principals room and we asked him for admission procedure. He quickly said, "Mrs.Whitemore sits at this desk." He showed us her seat next to the principal's cabin and said.. "she is on leave today.. Come tomorrow and she will guide you. Give her a call in the morning before you come in." Akshat started playing with some stuffed toys inside the principal's cabin, and this guy, went up to Akshat and told him the name of the teddy bear he had in his hand. he asked Akshat if he wanted to come tomorrow and play with Brownie... and nice smile and a good handshake to Akshat. Then he gave us, Mrs. Whitemore's number and his card. We came out and saw, His card read... Kevin (He was the Principal).. Wow..

Next day morning we called her at 9 and she said you can come in any time before 3.. We said we would come right away. She asked us to get his Vaccination chart and our address proof. We went in, she said Welcome to Canada :) Then she gave us some forms to fill and took his vaccination sheet xerox and our address proof copy. And what was in the forms that we had to fill.. All details about the child.. How does he react to new people, does he talk well, when he started to speak first, is he allergic to any food, does he need any medicines to be given during school, does he need any attention seperately, Does he eat on his own, how are his eating preferences, Is he ok to take food at school, who would come to pick him up, all details about the child.

Not a single question, was about what we did, except for our names, address and contact numbers :) And she asked us which time of the day we preferred for school, morning 8:30 to 11:30 or 12:30 to 3:30 :) We had a choice. We asked her to put innto the morning batch. And she said, Ok, since it is already 11 today, he can come to school from tomorrow. Since he is just turning 5 this june, he can start the Senior Kindergarten (UKG) coming septemeber :) now for the one month, let him go to the Junior KG (our LKG)!!!!

"That's it?" We asked her.. And she smiled and said .. yes. :) We asked her if she needed his school TC and report cards.. She said, no... We dont need them. If the teacher wants she can see. you can show her. But we can assess the child and take care of his needs :) And there was not a word about the fees.. Its free for all children until the end of class ten... Of course this is a government board TDSB run public school... Not a private montessori.. We wouldnt have thought about a Govt School back home... But still...

I was stumped... And we went right away to buy him a school bag and snack box and water bottle. Thats all she needed. No uniforms in the Public school till high school ends. Good for us, he enjoyed it :) Next day morning, he went to school. Now the schools closed for summer in July and August and we are waiting for September, when our little fella will go into SKG here.

Oh I forgot, here JKG and SKG students are equally placed inside a same class room. There are three sections and each section has only about 18 students. and in that 18, half are JKG and half belong to SKG... and the SKG guys get to walk on stage at the end of year to receive their SKG Graduation certificates :)

Now to think of how different admissions were in India and how they happened here.. A saga on its own... Ofcourse a big trouble of daycare.. I finally found a very plesant family who live close by and take care of kids at home... Am content. Couple of these kids in the neighbourhood, are now going UCMAS classes. They go every friday and they are having fun.. and am glad to see how well he does additions and subtractions now :)

What more could I ask for :)