Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 9 seconds

Matters of Time and Mood

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 9 seconds

This is going to be a bit of a rant of a post, where this frustrated mom with a PhD in education over-intellectualizes a situation just to get some frustration of her chest.

So my daughter’s going to be 4 inshallah at the beginning of the school year, time to apply for KG1 at schools. As my mom and my cousin told me, Allah will make the path easiest for the school that is meant for her… And I should leave it in the hands of God. But, like, you know, I still have to be practical and apply to some schools 🙂 and stuff.

So yesterday, there was an assessment at a school we (my husband and I) like, but which is too far away from home, so we decided to apply anyway but probably not take her there until she was a few years older. So it was a good place to go for our first assessment, so I would not be too stressed because I did not care too much whether she got accepted or not. Lucky me.

We arrived on time, but at the wrong entrance, and by the time we found the correct entrance, we were 5 mins late. The person explaining things to parents (she was English) said kids would be asked to play together for a while then individually taken with a teacher for a one-on-one. Parents would have to make themselves scarce during this process but assure their child they would be waiting for them. She talked to me individually because we arrived late and asked me to wait a bit until my child settles coz we arrived late. She also (in front of my child) said, “but she looks so small!” (She does, she’s 3+ and she looks like and dresses like a 12-18 month child).

Then I saw this guy who was with me at university whose child was also doing an assessment. He also commented on how small my child was. She’s hearing all this, yeah? She’s hyperaware of how small she is to the extent that she feels entitled to be treated like a baby coz… She’s the smallest kid in her class, every time.

Anyway, this guy I know is a parent (that”s why he is there) and after a few mins, we saw his son running and crying and asking for his mom. Once the kid reached the mom, I asked him, “is he yours?” And he said yes, and proceeded to explain how the mom was making the child too attached to her. If I had a good deed to do that day, I think it would be my response to him. I told him not to blame the mom, that some kids are more needy, need more closeness and attachment by nature, that the mom is probably just responding to the child’s needs. That some moms have several kids and only one is so attached. So it can’t be just the mom’s doing. He then pointed to his older daughter and said that yes, she was not attached. And I thought: point made.

Moving on. I found a parent of a child in my daughter’s daycare and I started talking to her a bit. Then the school person managing the day came over and tried to take my daughter with her but she refused and clung to me (duh?).

My daughter is both moody and someone who takes time. She is actually hypersocial, but it is difficult to predict when she is going to turn into that hypersocial person. So she can take to a person immediately and rush to them and into their arms (she sometimes wants to do that with taxi drivers, plumbers, you name it; and of course often to people she actually knows like my cousins and aunts and uncles and some friends); and other times, she takes from 5 mins to half an hour to start loosening up and wanting to socialize. After she loosens up, she’s really loose and she’s a social butterfly, flitting from one person to another, demanding attention in really cute ways.

But here’s the thing. These school assessments privilege the child who is less socially moody, who takes less time to get used to people. My child, after 45 minutes in the car, was kind of sleepy. My driver was taking a different route than the one I had given him so I was a bit tense (trying not to show it, but kids notice these things anyway, don’t they? Darn)

I am sure kids who have older cousins in the same school have had chances to visit the school before and so are slightly more at ease in these contexts.

Oh, I forgot to tell you what finally happened. I let my daughter roam around the school grounds until she found a poster of Olaf so she walked towards it, and we accidentally found ourselves near the area where they were doing the one-on-one assessments and she found her friend from daycare doing hers. The person responsible (let’s call her Mrs. V) came over and told me why don’t i let her sit beside her friend and leave? So i did that.

Five minutes later, my daughter come back to me crying, and Mrs. V tells me that clearly she is not ready. She is a Sept baby so on the latest youngest age they would take for that year anyway and that I had two choices: either to apply for the younger age preschool (i.e. the year she is already doing now in daycare) or to wait another year and apply again for this year. The advantage of applying for preschool is that they allow parents in with kids for the assessment, so she might do better. The other thing, though, is that she felt my daughter’s small size might create problems for her in a large school, that she might be intimidated by the bigger kids (I tend to understand that part but I am not sure the more normal size kids have a different experience?)

So… Back to my over-intellectualizing. Basically, these assessments don’t make enough room for a child who needs more than 5-10 minutes to get comfortable with a place and its people. Sure, they were understanding and gave me some time, but it was not enough time to shift my daughter’s mood. I did tell them she takes time to get used to people, but I didn’t want to make “excuses” and her daycare teacher had told me not to worry, that she’d do fine. She did admit, though, that it all depended on her mood. She hadn’t been in a bad mood, but she was just not in one of those moods where she would let herself go and be social quickly.

To be fair to that school,they did tell parents that if a child did not do well or cried that they could ask for another appointment to do an assessment again. That’s good. But my own child was dismissed because of… Her size? Her moodiness? I don’t know.

It’s fine, you know, because it’s not the school I was planning to put her in anyway, but still… Something is still nagging at me… Coz this one is a good school and I expected them to be more understanding of differences between kids and their needs, you know?

5 thoughts on “Matters of Time and Mood

  1. Sounds pretty typical! A couple of thoughts:

    1. Don’t be surprised when you are surprised by some less-than-the-level-of-professionalism-that-you-expected moments in some of the supposedly awesome (expensive) schools around. We were so unimpressed by the supposedly awesome school our kids were in, and by the alternatives, that we ended up doing their last years online.

    2. If you’ve ever read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, then you’ll be completely excited about keeping your daughter back for a year before putting her in school! Older children are set up to succeed at every step in the school process, and it becomes a snowball where success breeds success (or the opposite).

    3. Ultimately, I think your mom and cousin have the right perspective. 🙂

  2. A “good” school does not assess three year olds for admission. Private schools are all about making money and they try to pick the “best” kids to enhance their earning power – those are the kids who most fit into their curriculum and way of doing things. I’ve put four kids through Middle Eastern schools and have another starting next year. Several years ago one of my kids’ teachers called me to complain and said, “Your son is not interested in memorizing the multiplication table.” I’m forry. I laughed and said, “What kid is interested in doing that?!” Always support your kids and they will be fine. Schools universally suck. As long as the kid is happy, keep them in a school, and as soon as they complain, yank them out. It doesn’t matter if they change every year, as long as they are not brutalized by idiotic teachers. Good luck!

    1. Thanks, Mark! I laughed at the times tables story! Indeed, what kid is interested in that???
      And you’re right. What matters is supporting my child for who she is and what she needs. Apparently schools universally suck. It’s interesting getting your perspective and Andrews as North Americans who have Egyptian wives and have lived in the region for a long time…

      1. Yeah. I was not interested in memorizing the multiplication table either. It must be genetic! Like Andrew’s kids, one of mine has been homeschooled since 5th grade – and periodically no-schooled as well. Older ones finally went to an alternative school in the Rocky Mountains and did quite well once they were relieved of constant testing.

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