If you are a big fan of the blog, you will probably remember the series of posts talking about “Parenthood“, namely with the articles about getting married, and then, getting pregnant and finally, the first days of parenthood. Following the same logic, I find that the next part of life is all about your kid stepping into the educational system. I am publishing this article today to share my experience acquired the past 3 months, ever since I’ve been sending my son to a kindergarten.
As usual, grab some pop-corn or chips if you want to read the rest of the article but if you haven’t come to this parenthood stage of life, please come back later 🙂
How do we call them exactly?
First of all, I need to point out something : There are different terms used in Mauritius and sometimes everything is mixed up. To put everything simple, we can talk about 2 categories :
- Nursery / Creche / Day-Care / Garderie
Normally, you can find nearly new-born babies up to the age of 3 years old
- Kindergarten / Pre-primary school / Maternelle
3 year old kids up to 5 year old kids (inclusive)
Some private institutions offer both of these 2 categories under one roof and depending on their internal organisation, the kids are further separated into classes based on their ages. You can for instance have a class with kids from 18 up to 21 months and another class with kids from 21 month up to 24 months.
Do I need to send my kid over there?
Now, you need to understand the cycle of life. You probably don’t remember the first time you got slapped because your were still a young kid but you definitely remember the different times of your adolescence life whereby you went against your parents decision to meet some friends or go to a specific place without their consent? Or perhaps, getting married against their will?
Well, I have a bad news for you. Your ‘baby’ might make you go through some similar phases of parenthood too. This is to make you realize that you can’t keep your baby with you all the time. Sooner or later, you need to send your kid to school. Under the Mauritian educational system, in general, it starts with
- Nursery / Creche / Kindergarten – From 0 months to 3 years
- Pre-primary school – For a period of 2 years, normally from 4 to 5 years old (inclusive)
- Primary school – For a period of 6 years, normally from 6 to 11 years old (inclusive)
- College – For a period of 7 years, normally from 12 to 19 years old (inclusive)
- University – Starts at the age of 19-20, for an indefinite period, depending on your desire to learn…
I have purposely not mentioned the new 9-year schooling system because I don’t know a shi*t about it and given the dirty political games in Mauritius, it won’t be a surprise if another government decides to do things differently.
When to send your kid to kindergarten?
Depending on the parents or your family configuration, the decision to send your kid to a kindergarten might largely vary. For working parents without any grand-parent support, it is very common for the baby to join a kindergarten as soon as the maternity leave is over, that is, at 3 months old. Although it does hurt to hear that, some parents go through this reality as none of them can afford to stay at home to look after the baby. However, some mothers sometimes take the tough decision to stay at home if this is financially possible.
Fortunately most young parents are able to keep the baby at home for longer period of time with the support of the grand-parents, whether maternal, paternal or both. Indeed, the latter can lend their extremely helpful hands and experience to the whole family and generally, this is the best thing you can do for your kid. But when at a certain point of time, you find your toddler getting bored at home alone (especially if he / she is the only kid around), I advise you to send him to some kindergarten. This will enable him / her to get some friends, interact with other people and also, develop his skills instead of playing with the same toys over and over again.
What to look for?
Once you take the decision to send your kid to kindergarten, you now need to choose one which suits your location, budget and expectations. You need to know that public government schools do not offer kindergarten facilities but some of them do have free pre-primary classes available.
Criteria to look for will definitely vary for each one of us. An in-exhaustive list which I can think of right now is
- Reputation of the school
- Ease of access to the location
- School infrastructure, size and playground
- Condition of classes
- Hygiene in the classes and the surrounding environment
- Price ( includes registration fees, monthly fees and other extra fees charged to the parent)
- Ratio of students to teacher in each class
- Availability of services providing lunch (optional breakfast, tea-time) to the kid
- Extra facilities for leaving kid earlier and picking him up outside normal school hours
- Activities during school holidays
- Availability of school’s own van or any other third party
It is always a good thing to ask for advise from parents around you so that you know their own choice and experience. This allows you to gather information beforehand making a final decision.
How much does it cost?
As briefly mentioned above, there are different costs associated, especially when we talk about famous institutions.
Some of these fees are
- One-time Registration fee
- Monthly course fee
- Annual insurance fee
- Annual materials fee
- Any extra activities fee ( for example, if there are swimming sessions, educational outings, or even if you need to pay for your child’s costume when he is participating in any school shows)
Please note that points mentioned might not be applicable to smaller kindergarten and pre-primary schools.
Now, things that I did not know :
- The government pays the school a monthly fee of Rs 200 when you child reaches 3 years old. So, you will need to re-adjust your monthly fee in that case
- The school might demand that standing orders should be made for payment of monthly fees
- Registration fees for renown schools start from Rs 5, 000 up to Rs 15, 000!
- Monthly fees can start as from Rs 1500 up to Rs 7000!
- Insurance might be compulsory for all students (unless prior arrangement)
- Materials fee varies from school but it might be equivalent to the monthly fee
- School van owners might also ask for the payment of months during which the kid is not travelling.
The most surprising facts that I came across was :
(1) Although holidays might start the 31st October for example, parents are required to pay for the month of November and December. Yes, you pay for the school while the kid is at home. Some schools might even ask for the 13th month! They need to pay for their staff and make their normal profits, even when not working!
(2) Now, if you want to send your kid to the school during the holidays, you might be asked to pay for another fee, equivalent to the monthly fee, even though you are already paying for the normal monthly fee!
The first days might be tough for everyone
Imagine having to leave all your toys behind, the cuddles of everyone at home and be in a new environment whereby you have to follow rules, as instructed by someone you never saw before. I still think that this is not a pleasant experience but we have all gone through this. While some of us gladly get ready every morning to get to school, others might be more reluctant to go to school again.
When sending a kid to school, it is important that everyone in the house show their enthusiasm and encourage the child to go to school. Without a complete support of the family, some kids might show some fear every morning or even, simulate fake pains. Just like we did when we did not want to go to tuition or college!
Not in the genes
Well, let me tell you, I am among those who absolutely hated going to school.
Just to give you an idea :
At some point of time, my parents gave me my bath at night and I was put to bed, sometimes with my uniform. The next day, I had my breakfast and then put on a motorcycle or cycle which drove me to the pre-school. Later on, another person came to school with my bag and lunch! I am not kidding!
Driving him to school has been an adventure every single day and sometimes the outcome was disastrous. I remember that I had once to hold him in my arms, besides the school premises to reassure him while he was constantly sobbing during 10 long minutes! If my car could speak, it will certainly complain about the number of vomits it has gone through. Sometimes, I had to drive back home to change his clothes or simply, drop him home and then, drive to office.
That’s why, I can’t blame my son for not loving school at the beginning.
Fortunately, this is now a thing of the past.
The choice is yours
Make sure to personally visit different schools before taking a decision. Don’t do anything in a haste because your kid will be spending his whole days there. Also, at the end of the day, you will be the one paying, so make sure that you can afford the school your kid will be going to. However, paying a huge sum of money to the school does not guarantee that your kid will be a laureate. Every kid has his / her own potential, thus working at his / her own pace. Some might be slow learners while others might grasp very quickly. So, never compare your child’s ability with his friends and expect the same learning curve.
Do not wait for him to start learning at school. Education starts at home and you should continually monitor your kid and meet teachers to ask for his progress regularly.
I hope that this post will be helpful to some of you. This said, I wonder if the next post in this “Parenthood” series will be about joining college or university. Only time will tell 🙂