Finding the right school

In the Philippines, as long as you have the money, you can basically enroll your child in any school of your choice. Ok, maybe not 100% true, but most of the time. You don’t need to worry being put on a waitlist, assessment is just a formality, schools are not very strict with age limit and tuition fees are somehow manageable. You will definitely find something on your budget and can easily find school that provides the quality of education you want for your kid. So I can’t understand why it’s so difficult in Dubai! WHY?!!?!

In 2010, my son was registered, assessed and enrolled by my first choice of school for him. I only registered him around June and was assessed in the same month. Although I was so scared during the assessment as he didn’t talk all throughout, he responded (non-verbally) to all the instructions and to my greatest joy, was offered a seat in the school. The whole process was a breeze.

Now it’s my daughter’s turn. And I wasn’t expecting that finding a school for her will be this stressful.

It started last year when we she was supposed to be KG1. Being a second child, I always thought she’s more active, playful and outgoing than her brother. She would sing and dance without prodding. She doodles and can get instructions easily. She’s already potty-trained! Yes, she can be shy with strangers, but who doesn’t? So when it was her turn to be assessed, I was so calm like a patient who took a Xanax pill. I was too confident.

Of course I have to register her in the same school as Cole’s. There’s no other way. Finding time to go for Cole’s parent-teacher’s meeting, sport’s day, concert and whatnots has always been a struggle and just thinking that I have to do all these in two different schools and two different dates will be chaotic on my already full-packed calendar.

So going back to her assessment, the day started well. She was her chirpy and jolly self as usual. We were in school on time. I filled-up a form  and waited until 7 kids were called inside the room including Biel.

Then the saga begins…

She didn’t want to be left alone inside the classroom. It’s ok, I told myself. There were 3 other kids who were also accompanied by their parents. No big deal.
Assessment is based on how kids listen and follow instructions, and display classroom readiness. No written test, no interview. Teacher will just observe how they interact with other kids and how they respond to teacher.
You think it’s easy? I also thought so. Until your child throws a major tantrum. Well, Biel didn’t cry but never looked the teacher in the eye. NEVER.
It’s like the teacher was not there and Biel can’t see nor hear her. I have a yellowish skin tone but I can imagine my cheek turning red as an organic tomato especially when I saw the rest of the kids laughing, following orders and just looking so smart that day.

At the end of the assessment, kids were asked to sit down in front of the teacher and listen to a story. Everyone sat down except Biel who started crying and wants to be carried. Oh my gosh! My blood is boiling and I just want to smack her! I am still hoping that the teacher will see past through the tantrum and shyness and will consider that she has a sibling at school.
The following day, the school called and said that they cannot accept her. NO!!!!

I blamed myself. I should have enrolled her in nursery first before having her assessed in big school. I didn’t prepare her enough. It’s my fault! To pacify myself, I said there’s always next year. She’s still young anyways.

So when registration for KG1 was opened again for school year 2016-2017, we immediately applied online only to be told that she’s overage. OVERAGE? She’s only turning 4 next month? Yes. She is overage. We need to register her for KG2 instead which is already closed but school will only accept siblings. Ok fine. At least we have a chance.

Then we received a mail that they will only accept first 25 registrations. Parents need to come on 1st March at 8am. I was there before 7:30 and as turned out, I am parent number 26. Again, I felt so guilty. If only I knew, I should be there at 5:30. I should have fought for that last place that was taken by another parent who came after me. I didn’t know it was token number 25, if only I knew. I talked, got upset, begged to the Registrar to give my daughter a chance but she didn’t budge. I left the school defeated and with a heavy heart.

And now, the saga on finding the right school for Biel has started. I have been researching every night. I read all the forums for reviews. I have been checking KHDA website to know the schools’ ratings. Finding a school that has a good rating and within our budget is starting to be a challenge. Some schools charges exorbitant fees that I thought it’s a joke. How can a school just opening this school year has a tuition fee that starts at 50k dirhams? I don’t equate high school fees with high quality of education. My son’s school has been consistently rated as Good by KHDA yet they only have mid-range fee.

I am already considering to enroll Biel in non-UK curriculum. I’m even looking for schools in Sharjah. Tomorrow, she will have an assessment for KG2. The school is more expensive but at least they can assess her immediately and not put her on a waitlist. We need to sleep early tonight and ensure that tomorrow she will be her smart self all throughout the day. Wish us luck!

Finding the right school

Have you encountered the same thing or going through it now? Are you also going crazy like me?

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  1. Bilna Sandeep says:

    Oh my god!! I have seen many of my friends who got all stressed out here in Abu Dhabi for their kids admissions.. I plan to put my son in an Indian curriculum here as it will be easy for him when we go back home..but I am already scared for the neXT year..The admission is too tight here and I have seen many of them relocate to India because they couldn’t get a school for their kids!!

    I had heard it was much easier in Dubai!! But reading this post I see it’s not easy over there too!!!

    All the best dears!!! Hope your little one gets through!

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      Filipina Expat says:

      She made it and I am so proud and happy. But you know what, I am wide awake now at 4am thinking how I can prepare her for big school. I know I’m stressing out too much without a reason but I can’t just help it. I was not like this with my son!

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