It’s all about school for me today. I finally enrolled my daughter this year. Last week, we had the whole first-day-of-school experience, complete with tears (mine) and joy (hers).
Actually, I thought of sending her as early as last year, when she was three years old but I was uncomfortable with it.
Then I ran into a friend, Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan, and after a long chat, decided to wait another year. But it wasn’t as if we were going to waste the year—she e-mailed me a preschool home-school curriculum. Inspired by her experiences, I told myself, “Yes! I am going to do this!”
Maricel sent me a great “curriculum” I really liked. She included such necessities as basic math, reading and writing, but made sure there was also physical education through playtime, and creative time through arts, crafts and music.
She even found a way to include everyday things such as setting the table and manners (final “test” would be a formal dinner date with mama and dada) and telling time. I loved how she seamlessly integrated most of these with religion.
For example, while learning how to tell time, she included teaching and discussing the biblical verse Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, (“A Time For Everything”).
However, it didn’t take me very long to realize that I was not cut out to be her teacher. She did learn how to write her name and read (or memorize?) simple words, but this method was not for us.
I realized that being a child’s academic teacher was completely different from being her mother, and that was the end of that.
I continued our daily reading sessions and enrolled her in classes such as art, swimming and ballet. It had been a great year which went by too quickly. Before I knew it, a new school year was upon us. I knew it was time for Adriana to go to school.
Every day for about a week, she would ask if school was open already.
The first day finally came. We all woke up early and got ready—actually we had laid out everything the night before so we were in school earlier than expected.
Like many excited parents, my husband Migs and I took her pictures outside and brought her into the school yard. I was worried she would cry and cling on, but as soon as we entered, she broke free from my hand and ran to a bahay-kubo where she happily joined another little girl, and forgot all about us.
When the bell rang, she cheerfully waved goodbye and followed her teacher to the classroom. They put her with kids in the same age group. As I watched her sing and dance with them, I was hit with a wave of emotion.
On one hand, I was so happy to see her enjoying. But on the other hand, I felt a little wistful. It felt like she had just boarded a train that would take her to all these marvelous places—without me. I would see her and hear all about it at the stops but soon, the train would sound off and she would board once again. From preschool to elementary and, before you know it, high school and college.
To me, the start of school felt like the end of Adriana being a baby, and the acceptance of the fact that she is indeed growing up.
So that’s where we are. My two-year-old son, Juanmi, and I drop her off in the mornings. He used to cry whenever we would leave as he couldn’t understand why he couldn’t stay with his ate, but we’ve since worked out a little routine and now everyone is happy.
The house is a little more quiet and I do miss my little best friend and all the things we used to do, but I realized this is the first time I am able to really give my son my full attention. Normally, it’s half him, half Adriana but now, every day, we have time to bond the way I did with his ate before he came along.
Everyone says to pay your preferred “big schools” an early visit to know exactly when and what to do to enroll kids in grade 1, since the new K+12 program is already in place. All I know is that kindergarten is required for all five-year-old children, and two more years of senior high school.
The additional years will be for core subjects such as mathematics, science and English, and practical local industry electives. There have been debates on this, especially on what it will do to the drop-out rate, but the Department of Education is confident that the benefits of the enhanced curriculum will outweigh the challenges. The government has programs to help make it easier for families.
Graduates will have not just diplomas, but also an accreditation in whatever they choose to specialize in. The extra time in school and the spread-out workload will allow them to join more co-curricular and community activities. It is hoped this will result in more well-rounded development and the development of more practical skills for employment.
We are the last country in Asia to switch to a 12-year basic education program. There are only two other African countries that have not yet adopted this. Maybe it is about time we gave it a try.
They say it will take at least one generation (the generation of our little ones today) before we can see the effects, but it sounds promising and I do hope it works for our country.