Saturday, June 30, 2007

School Time

Well, hello all. You’ll never guess where I wrote this from. I was in Mykonos, an island in Greece this time last week when I wrote this but couldn't get online to post it till I got back home. There was a conference in Athens and a bunch of us hopped over early to catch the weekend there. That’s part of the reason I have been MIA for so long. Since I was going to be away for a week, there was a lot of stuff to get done, both at home and at work. To add to that, Ayaan started playschool and for the last one and a half weeks before I left, I had been picking up and dropping him, leaving me only half the day to work – so basically I had to finish two weeks worth of work in half a week!

This post is basically about the playschool experience so far. Ayaan’s first day was 14th June. And he has been a complete dude – taking to playschool like a duck to water and not shedding a single tear till date.

On the 12th, they called only the parents to give us an initial briefing on timings, traffic rules, and other such stuff. They also gave us a few books and an uniform – Friday is Uniform Day, an attempt to get kids used to wearing uniforms before they move on to proper school.

To start with, the books depressed me a bit, especially since they wanted us to cover them. I just never thought I would be covering books for Ayaan so early and I begin to wonder if it was all just too much, too fast. But then I went through the books and I realised that they are not all that different from the books that I have been reading to him anyway – a coloring book, an ABC book, a plain notebook through which the teachers communicate with the parents and a general picture book. There is also a parent’s workbook and when they start coming home and talking to you about what they did at school that day, you are supposed to illustrate it with them with pictures, stickers and stories… to basically reinforce what they are learning. There is also this cool book for the parents, which contains all the rhymes that they are going to learn over the year so that we know what they are talking about when they come home and repeat them. Anyway, I covered them all with neon green paper and put Mickey Mouse labels on them, so they look more cheerful and less school-like than they would have with brown paper…


At this school, they don’t let the parents attend with the kids, even in the beginning. Their experience has been that everyone (kids, parents, and teachers) settles down faster if the parents stay out of it and I tend to agree with them. On the first day, I took Ayaan to the school with great trepidation, expecting it to be a highly emotional and traumatic experience for both of us but it was quite the opposite. I took him in and his first response was to bury his face in my legs. Then I just turned him around and introduced him to ‘the nice teacher aunty who will take care of him’ and gave his hand into hers. At which point, he just walked off with her, as cool as can be, without a backward glance.

I had to be back to pick him up in an hour (they will slowly increase it to two hours in the course of the next three weeks) and I cannot summon up the words to describe the sound emerging from the school gates. Try to imagine a hundred babies crying at the same time, at different volumes and pitches. Since Ayaan had gone in peacefully, I was worried he might have started crying because everyone around him was. When I entered, I saw him before he saw me, through the glass door of the classroom, and it was a moment of such extreme pride, I thought my heart would burst. There were about 20 kids in the room and about 18 of them were just bawling like the world was going to end. And there was Ayaan, in the middle of it all – completely unfazed by the chaos and the cacophony and happily playing on the small slide in the corner. He was thrilled to see me but actually wanted to stay on longer – ‘Mama, slide more’. And in the car, he kept jumping up and down and saying ‘Mama, school jayenge’*

I thought this might have just been first-day luck but he has been raring to go everyday – on Friday before I left, the first thing he said to me when he woke up in the morning was ‘school jayenge’. It’s a huge weight off my shoulder, because I now know he was ready to start playschool and I didn’t send him too early. Also, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy Greece with a relaxed mind if he hadn’t settled down before I left.

I have been thinking about why it was so easy for us, while other kids were clearly upset and took time to settle down. And I came up with two reasons:

  • The timing was crucial. I am glad I waited till he was two; quite a few of the other kids in his playgroup are between 18 months and 2 years. This has really made a difference since he now understands a lot of what I tell him. For over a week before he actually went, I spoke about school to him a lot – about how he was going to have lots of fun, that there would be lots of other babies and many new toys to play with and that Mama would leave him there but would be back to pick him up really soon. It seems to have worked because even on the first day, he was quite excited about going to this exciting, new place he had been hearing about all week. I think our experience would have been quite different if he had younger – it would have been far more of shock for him because he wouldn’t have known what was going on.
  • Since I work, Ayaan is used to me leaving. In fact, these days we have quite a little farewell routine for when I go to work. I kneel at door and he runs to me, dispenses a quick hug and a kiss and then coolly closes the door in my face… saying goodbye to me at the school was therefore not such a big deal.

Anyway, whatever the reasons, I am thrilled and proud to be the mother of a happy, adjusted toddler who’s enjoying playgroup. More on the Greece trip coming up soon.

*Mama, we’ll go to school.

26 comments:

  1. congrats on Ayaan's first day at school! Glad he enjoyed it.
    between you and Minka I am building up the courage to take the Brat to school...lets see... for now i am pretending no such word exists!

    and hey..how abt Mykonos pics?

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  2. Congrats ! I think I might start some such process at 2 as well then.. If she does not like it, I can as well stop and resume at a later date..!

    Mykonos? Wow.

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  3. [The Mad Momma] Forgot to take my camera along so the pics are on other people's camera. Hope to be able to post them next week

    [Poppins] Might be worth a try - especially if she enjoys it...

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  4. Look who's back! So good to hear Ayaan had no problems. I personally believe 2 is too early, so it's always good to hear about a kid who's unfazed by the change. :)

    I loved the coffee story, by the way.

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  5. COngratulations! So cool - first day at school - done! I mean for you - the anxiety is done with! Great job Ayaan! My god this would be a dream for me! If my son reacted as cool as this. I took him to tour one of the montessori schools here when he was 19m (now 22) - he loved it and played and ran around the rooms etc (two yr wait list for that place for god's sake!) - but the teacher told me that he took a quick glance every now and then to make sure I was still around. So let's see. I am going to wait till he is 2.5yrs old before I put him in play school.
    Glad it worked out so well for you with Ayaan. Gives me hope!

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  6. Great that Ayaan settled in so well, the brat had given his teacher so much grief that she tells me she needs to have an anacin after he leaves. At which point I told her thats what she's being paid for. I dont think she quite liked me after that. Anyway he's in Vibgyor now and loving it, I guess it all about the individual teacher...

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  7. congratualtions Rohini on another successful milestone !!I know exactly what it means to realise that your child has settled down in school on day one itself-mine didn't even glance over his shoulder while being led away-otherwise he would have seen his mamma crying !!

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  8. I am sure it must be a different feeling to drop you child at school and see him take to it better than you expect.... makes you a proud mama :).

    A few more pics on all account will help your hungry audience

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  9. hey rohini, nice to have you back. and so so nice to hear that ayaan has taken to playschool like a duck to water! i have been putting off idetnifying a play scool for karan. but i think now that he's 2, i better get my act together real soon. i hope k will adjust atleast half as well as ayaan - he is not the bawling type either, but i doubt if he'll go off with the "nice teacher aunty" as well as ayaan did, despite the fact that he has been going to the creche since he was 5 months old!

    btw, my husband got a job offer in mumbai, but i was too scared at the thought of moving back to busy busy mumbai from a relatively peaceful chennai, that we have sort of turned it down.

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  10. You are in GREECE???!! How come you are in Greece??!!

    oh ya, congrats on first day to school... and all that..

    I want to be in GREECE!!

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  11. lol, i help out in a preschool too, and its craziness all during the day, then at nap time everyone is completely out!

    Did you enjoy the wine in Greece?

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  12. awesome stuff.... hubby and I have discussed playschool ad nauseum and I still dont have the courage to send him to one - he may be ready for school - his mom is not.
    but good stuff - really happy that school worked out well for ayaan.
    Good luck!

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  13. very cool! good job Ayaan!
    I think the third reason that you didn't mention was the personality of the child...Ayaan seems to be very easily sociable and seems to loves noises (I was smiling at the thought of him looking content in the midst of bawling babies!)

    both your reasonings will be valid for me and K...but I am confident that when our time comes, I will be competing with him for tears!!

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  14. I didn't like my kindergarten at all, I still remember crying the whole time I was there... luckily I got switched to a nicer one after one whole week of torture. School was fun as long as I was not in maths class.

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  15. Oh, well done Ayaan! And props to you too, Rohini. Not only for your happy, adjusted toddler, but also for the award I heard you won in Athens. Btw, Moppet's Papa claims he actually DANCED there. I have never in all my 8 years with him seen him do that, so I'm wondering if you were witness to this rare event? :-)

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  16. Lucky, lucky you! Mine started school last week and shes breaking my heart! And as Kodis mom said, its the child I tell you. They have a mind of their own and we can do nothing to change it! Ok, actually we can but its tough! *sob sob*

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  17. [Sue] I won't defend my choice. I personally think two is a tad too early as well. In an ideal world, I would have waited till he was 2.5 but the fact that he has no other occassion to socialise (birth rate in my friend circle being abyssmally low) combined with the fact that I am away at work and also the 3-month long monsoon which will severly cut down visits to the park all combined to make 2 seem like a better age in Ayaan's case.

    [Noon] I am feeling rather blessed about the whole thing... hope it works out well for you too.

    [Karmickids] I think the teachers make all the difference. That's why I stayed away from these commercialised Kangaroo/ Euro Kids types because I visited them but found that they lack the personal touch.

    [Sharmila] I know what you mean. I wasn't in tears but I just felt very sad that my baby was growing up...

    [Sunita] Actually I do have pics taken with Ayaan in front of his school, but in the interest of cyber security, I don't to advertise where he studies.

    [Lawyeramma] Aww.. it would have been nice to have a mommy friend in the same city... and Karan might just surprise you - I expected Ayaan to raise hell as well...

    [Shome] Yes, I was in GREECE! Eat your heart out, baby.

    [Grafx] The wine was nice but hated the ouzo... it's tastes like cough syrup...

    [Something to say] I am sure you will know when the time is right for all of you... or there is always home schooling

    [Kodi's mom] Not taking away of the credit from Ayaan, but he can be quite unpredicable in his social interactions... sometimes he will just bury his head in my legs and refuse to even look at the other person.

    [Mosilager] Ugh! Maths class! That brings back horrid memories for me too...

    [Moppet's Mom] Oh yes! You had to be there!

    [Boo] Aw... poor thing. Hope she settles down fast.

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  18. That's what I mean. I do believe it's too young, so when you say Ayaan actually enjoys it, forget fussing, it's rather reassuring. I'm aiming at being one of those mothers who tail their children to school holding the tiffin-boxes. :)

    My kids will hate me...

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  19. Sometimes I think we, as parents, are in such a hurry for our kids to grow up that we forget about what would really be best for them. Good for you for bucking this trend and going with your gut instinct to keep Ayaan home a little longer. It obviously paid off.

    I look forward to hearing about Greece! Mmm.... Greece...

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  20. great to know ayaan adjusted so well. i've noticed children of working moms adjust better to school. my neighbour is a SAHM to twins my baby boo's age. and y should see the way the bawl then they have to leave their mom at the door of the playschool, while my kid walks in calmly.
    hey, have invited y to read baby boo's blog. sent it to your hotmail id (via zen)
    and Mykonos? wow! details pls.

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  21. Hey, dont know which part of the city you live in, but I picked up brat's rain gear from Alpha, Inorbit, Me n Moms, and Options Kids... all in the western suburbs...my sartorial darling has Noddy raincoats, and Spiderman raincoat and umbrella and gumboots and winnie the pooh umbrellas...you get the drift.

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  22. congrats! and wow! i luv the smell of new covers on books!!

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  23. [Sue] That would be me too except for the working mom stuff that kind of gets in the way... :)

    [Talena] Bucking the trend would have been to wait another 6 months but I guess I chose the middle path...

    [Aqua] Er... except I don't have a hotmail ID

    [Karmickids] Thanks - I picked up a Disney one from from Me n Moms.

    [Itching] That's the brown paper - neon green paper, as it turns out is quite odourless

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  24. Congrats! I have noticed that children of working moms adjust faster to school because they are used to being away from mom. Gudiya cried for only 2 days, only for a few minutes when we started play school. The third day she was eager to go to school.

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  25. mystery solved. mizz zen sent me rohini rao's hotmail id instead of yours. hhahahaha. and i shot off the invite to the other ro. she must have wondered who the hell aqua is and why they hell is she inviting me to read her blog. anyway the latest update is that i've closed down my baby blog but programming is still on at my regular blog.
    and LOVED the Mykonos pics. so much blue and white and so soothing. and y're looking great in the pics. hot mamma! :)

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  26. Ayaan is so mature about it!!

    i hope Anush follows suite.

    and the neon cover- it is really cool

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