"Your son cannot sit still!"
"Your son cannot concentrate!"
"Your son cannot hold a pencil properly!"
"Your son cannot read the entire alphabet!"
"Your son cannot write his full name!"
"All he wants to do is play with the big tonka trucks. "
I glanced up at the brand new, shiny, clean, bright yellow trucks high on display well out of reach on top of the cupboard.
"They do not come down!" the pre-school teacher continued.
"Hang on a minute!!" I was in absolute disbelief with what I was hearing. My son was four years old and this was suppose to be pre-school where you learn through fun, play and social interaction....don't you??? Alarm bells were ringing in my ears, no wonder he was coming home so exhausted.
We had moved to Thailand from Australia only a few weeks previously and I had put the two eldest boys in the closest school to our new home that had been recommended to us. I thought I had done the right thing. Obviuosly I was wrong. The negativity overwhelmed me. The classroom was sterile and unfriendly. Never put your kids into a school, site unseen even if you do move to an unknown country, do your homework first!. I pulled them both out immediately.
The next day we drove to another school with a pre-school attached. It was much further away, so it meant a much earlier start for the boys, that did concern me at first...until I saw the school. We drove through a golf course to enter with magnificent manicured lawns and fragrant gardens that burst in an abundance of vibrant colour.You couldn't help but feel welcome from the onset. As we parked and walked through the entrance I first saw the banner that spread across the hallway.
"The World is Full of Cans not Cannots"
What a great positive motto to greet the students each day as they arrived at school. I have remembered this sign ever since and every time a student of mine has said they couldn't do something, I have quoted this to remind them that anything is possible if you just try. You may not be able to do it today, but with a little practice, oneday just maybe, you will.
We were shown into the pe-school room and couldn't believe our eyes. My four year old was gob-smacked! His jaw dropped, he beamed up at me and asked, "Mummy, can I really go here everyday instead?"
There was a water play area, a sandpit, a paint corner, a dress-up corner , a drawing area, a big book area, cushions to sit or sleep on and in the far back corner an American Indian Tee Pee! The staff were so friendly and welcoming. The children invited him over to play immediately. Straight away we felt so comfortable and at home, the decision was made, there was no doubt where the boys would be attending school. They spent the next two years there while we lived in Thailand and never looked back. In fact I even finished up teaching there as well, it was such a wonderful place to be.
It doesn't matter whether the pre-school or school is just down the road from where you live, or whether you have to move states or countries, what is important is that you get the right educational fit for you and your family. Don't take it for granted that if something works for a friend that it will be right for you. Recommendations are great, but you do need to look into educational fascilities yourself. They vary greatly depending on peoples needs. Don't make the same mistake I did and let the company my husband worked for tell us where to place our kids. That was very naive of me and I learnt the hard way, we were lucky it did all work out in the end and the boys had the best education in an excellent International school that I couldn't fault. It was a great beginning not only to their learning but to their social acceptance of every culture imaginable.
Of cause the three brothers in Gingerbread Aliens attend their local Primary school as it happens to back onto their backyard. What family wouldn't want the convenience of being able to simply walk next door to school? See what trouble this lands the boys in though when they inadvertently break their feared School Principal's office window while cooking for the school fete.