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Friday, 23 November 2018

School and House Hunting

Salam my lovelies,

I admit that I have been Girl-centric in all my 2012 school hunts prior to Bean's condition being discussed. Heck, Bean was not even born until 2013 so I do not blame myself. The Big School has been near perfect in terms of academic rigour, sportsmanship and performing arts with so much more for Girl. The right location, fees, syllabus, CCA, support network far outweighs the minor discomfort every now and then.

In fact, Reception this academic year for Bean has been near perfect because he is learning in a Reggio Emilia environment with classmates he has known since pre-Reception. The Reggio Emilia environment has not deviated from the DNA of The Big School in terms of mind, body and soul.

So what changed?

Why are we even school hunting again?

The answer is simple.

The Big School does not have the structure to support learning differences. It does not allow any shadow aides into its premises. Said so by the Principal after consultation with Chairman of The Big School. My witnesses were The Other Half and Principal of Early Years (who personally believes and supports Bean whole-heartedly and has pleaded with us to let Bean finish up the academic year with her, bless!).

One of the suggestions from the Principal is to hold Bean back in Reception until he is ready before he goes to Year 1. But we have already done so, and The Grandparents are not keen this time. The Grandparents fully believe and support that hippotherapy together with some social therapies, Bean will be able to cope in Year 1 at a school that nurtures learning differences.

To cushion the blow, the Principal agreed to waive notice period for Bean at The Big School (without the same waiver for Girl, so we have to serve notice on or before 31 March 2019).

I had compiled comparison for 3 shortlisted schools and presented it to The Grandparents and The Other Half. The spreadsheet is quite detailed, as I wanted to cover as many factors as possible for the benefit of Girl and Bean. Out of the 3, they agreed with my preferred choice for The Bigger School as Plan A. Plan B is to go to a new school with proven track record overseas. Plan C was shot down and they did not even want to consider it.

Last weekend, they spent their precious Sunday morning with us 4 at The Bigger School. They attended the presentation, asked questions, went on school tour and endorsed my shortlisting for The Bigger School. They understood my "impulse" payment of application fees before the November Malaysian Private International School Education Fair. The Grandad and I were in public mission schools before so the DNA of The Bigger School is something familiar and not frightening per se.

We went to lunch after that school tour and I presented a relocation option suggestion. They went, they saw and they got The Other Half to place a conditional booking. Smaller unit, no bath tub, no ironing room, no surau, no fourth bathroom - but a mere 3 minutes from The Bigger School! Can you imagine how much time/petrol/toll we can save for the next 13 years? Well, the conditional booking has a minimal non-refundable sum in the event The Bigger School does not offer Bean a place by end of January 2019. We have time to hunt for alternative relocation options, really.

That is exactly what I have been doing the entire week since. Property Guru, iProperty and Waze apps are my current highly used apps. Viewing appointments, compiling options, presentation for discussion with family on repeat mode. Different tab to be added to the spreadsheet, just for clarity and expansion. Both Plan A and Plan B locations are covered.

When I count my blessings, I always include my Belang Moms.They are lovingly supportive friends and their prayers are greatly appreciated. Without them, I would have slipped into sadness, fatigue or even depression with all the weight that is on my shoulders at the moment. Even Grandma has opened up to her network of friends to discuss early intervention and such. Bless.

To be honest, we as a family never saw the challenges for someone like Bean until recently. We are so used to designs and plans for a neurotypical world. We acknowledge this time that Girl may have to uproot herself from The Big School and start over but she already has friends in The Bigger School (who left The Big School in 2016 and 2017!). Hopefully, we hear favourable news and that transition to new school and possibly home, be smooth.

Our acceptance and empathy have set in. As family, we want to facilitate ease for him as much as possible without breaking his sense of independence or freedom when he becomes a functional adult. We do not intend to cut open the cocoon just to force our butterfly to spread its wings before it is ready. Far from it. We wish to better nurture the process so he can eventually spread his wings and fly strong. Metaphorically speaking, of course. 

All that, with minimal disruption or negative impact on Girl. We still afford her the best that we can possibly can for her best interest. In fact, she is beginning to see The Bigger School as the better school for her in the long term. She has some performing art teachers in Plan B so she is not too fussed, bless. In fact, she did her school tour with me one weekend and was one of the best dates we had. Her views were valid and honest. Bean has a trial class/assessment at Plan B next Monday so we hope that is a safety net we can fall back on if Plan A does not go well.

Having said that, Allah swt is The Best of Planners and we offer this up to Him. Please do pray for everything to work out and that Allah swt will grant us ease in our journey. Amin.


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