Finding nursery schools in Kuwait and an expat mom’s thoughts on early childhood education

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My husband and I decided to look for a preschool for our 1st born. She recently turned three, and some sources said she must be enrolled in a preschool at her age. If not for our friend who told us that 3.5 years old kids should be enrolled in Ministry accredited schools here in Kuwait, we wouldn’t be finding the time to really look into this thing. We thought that she should be enrolled at the age of 5, just like in our home country, for formal and obligatory education.

We looked for some information on the Web. We read some blogs featuring some nursery schools in Kuwait.

Here are the links worth reading/browsing:

Nurseries in Kuwait
Finding nurseries

Regular classes will start on September.

Since we want our 3-yr old daughter to increase her social awareness and her vocabulary, we decided to enroll her at the classes in BrightMinds. Her first day went superb although she couldn’t cope yet with the cutting of paper using scissors. I have to teach her how to. She’s left-handed so I guess she needs more practice. Anyway, at the school, I’m glad that she’s sociable. She can get along well with the kids. She’s not much into following instructions yet, but I hope that she will learn to do so as the classes go along.

This morning, when I told my daughter that we’re going to school, she was so excited. I am sure she didn’t understand yet what school really is, and what she’d be doing there. At first, she was so shy to mingle. When the time came when they were asked to sit on the grass (carpet), she just observed the singing coupled with actions. But I could see in her eyes that she was carefully observing. Towards the end of the class, she started to play with the other kids. She was also hesitant to leave the place, when it was time to go home.

As soon as she woke up from her afternoon nap today, she opened her Dell XPS laptop, and opened her Starfall curriculum. It’s been a week since she first started using her laptop for homeschooling. She’s learning so fast at using the laptop, and doing the exercises at Starfall. After using the laptop, I asked her about what she did in school, and she was singing the alphabet song she learned (Zoo Phonics), with matching actions although she didn’t memorize yet the lyrics because it was her first time to hear such. I’m glad I found BrightMinds. I decided to enlist my daughter in three classes a week: Zoo Phonics; Sea Math; and, Crafty Kids. I am pretty sure her development will increase even more.

As soon as we reached home this afternoon, my husband and I talked about the schooling path for our toddler. September is the start of first term here in Kuwait. Should we enroll her on September in a formal school, one that holds classes from 7:30a.m. to 1:00p.m.? Uggh, isn’t that too tasking for a 3.5yr old? The nursery school that topped our list (for September) is 25min-ride from our house, no traffic; and, 1-hr ride if there’s traffic. Of course, relocating to a flat nearby the school isn’t an option. Other than the distance, the high fees are also taken into consideration — KD1730 to KD1800/yr.

This afternoon, hubby and I sat down and really dug deeper into our family’s direction. I realized that when you have kids overseas, a parent, I should say, both parents should have a master plan about child education. Looking through the fees for children aged 3.5 to 5, I could almost collapse. LOL.

There are a lot of questions that came up:

  1. Are we really going to settle in this country?
  2. Until when?
  3. Should we really enroll our toddler comes September at age 3.4 in a nursery school? Which school? Which curriculum? Which area?
  4. Where’s the best country to live in that offers quality education?
  5. and so on..

The questions went on and on, and still I was having a hard time answering the questions.

Since it’s so hard to really decide at this moment, I decided to read more about early childhood education.

Now, I’m brainwashed. LOL. I think I might not enroll my child in a formal school until she’s 5 years old. Period. She will continue joining the classes at Bright Minds, but not enroll yet formally in obligatory education at 3.5yo. She will continue her homeschooling program, online.

This article, Much Too Early by Dr. David Elkind, has, to a large extent, opened my mind as to what early childhood education should be. I need not stress my child. Learning should be fun. I agree with the article that

“early education must start with the child, not with the subject matter to be taught”

I couldn’t agree more with this:

“The guiding principle of early-childhood education is, then, the matching of curriculum and instruction to the child’s developing abilities, needs, and interests.”

And this one is an eye-opener for me:

“The deployment of unsupported, potentially harmful pedagogies is particularly pernicious at the early-childhood level. It is during the early years, ages four to seven, when children’s basic attitudes toward themselves as students and toward learning and school are established. Children who come through this period feeling good about themselves, who enjoy learning and who like school, will have a lasting appetite for the acquisition of skills and knowledge. Children whose academic self-esteem is all but destroyed during these formative years, who develop an antipathy toward learning, and a dislike of school, will never fully realize their latent abilities and talents.”

Really, I do believe in that.

I remember my youngest brother. Among us 5 siblings, he was the only one who enrolled at a young age of 3.5. I guess he was mis-educated. His self-esteem was damaged. When he entered grade school, the more that his self-esteem was damaged by his arrogant teachers. Too bad. Too sad.

Now, I don’t want that to happen to my children. I want them to have a healthy self-esteem about themselves, and about education. I want them to be always eager at going to school, and not already bored because they have been formally going to school since the age of 3.5, and have been sitting around for 6 hours or less, and have been commuting at an early age. I want my kids to enjoy LIFE. From infancy to less than 5 years old, joining a playgroup, and homeschooling them, I guess, would be enough to create happy memories, and happy disposition and outlook about life and education.

Dr. David Elkind is SO RIGHT in saying that:

“If we want all of our children to be the best that they can be, we must recognize that education is about them, not us. If we do what is best for children, we will give them and their parents the developmentally appropriate, high-quality, affordable, and accessible early-childhood education they both need and deserve.”

Mom Dutdot
www.dutdot.com

UPDATE:

After an hour of reading articles online, I came up with this information about education in Kuwait (Modified on 20 March 2012 at 13:29):

Nursery and primary education

 

In Kuwait, schooling usually begins at age six. Pre-school or nursery education is also available to children from four to six years old. Under a new system, primary education will begin at age 5 years.

Now, my worries are set aside.  A few weeks back, we were told by a friend about a certain issue that 4-yr old kids should be formally attending schools here in Kuwait.

Preschooling/nursery education is not a must, but just an option (of course, my kids will learn at home, and at playgroups).

UPDATE April 29, 2013

We’re lovin’ HOMESCHOOLING…

Blog update at dutdot.com

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Whoa.

It’s been almost three months since I last updated this site. Sorry for that. I missed writing letters to my two kids, too. I have been swamped with a lot of work lately. I’ll try to make an update of the things that made me busy for the past three months.

My two kids and I, and the nanny went for a one-month vacation in the Philippines last Feb to March. It’s my 2nd daughter’s 1st international flight. It’s my 1st daughter’s 3rd time to go to the Philippines. The flight went well. What made us tired during the entire flight was we carried a lot of hand carries. Too bad, really. I never learned my lessons. LESSON #1 when traveling: don’t carry a lot of things especially hand carries.

We reached Kuwait on the first week of March, and I became busy with transferring to a larger flat near our old flat. I spent three weeks unpacking, and putting things on order. LESSON #2: don’t buy lots of things overseas.

On March 4th week, we celebrated my daughter’s 3rd birthday. It came in as a surprised birthday party for her because we had an activity at that time at the church. She was teary eyed and overwhelmed of the presence of her adult friends. On her 3rd birthday, we also joined a Book Reading Club at the Pottery Barn in Kuwait.

My effort as Work-from-home mom has been rewarded. I got a surprised award from the business that I have been doing full time for a year. Thank You, God.

This April, I started to teach my 1st born on how to really use the laptop (with mouse) for her homeschool program. I remember blogging about focusing on homeschooling my toddler sometime last January. I tried to read more about the best homeschooling curriculum, but didn’t find much time to do so.

This month of April, I bought a program at Starfall.com for US$35 per year, and her development has increased tremendously. To supplement that and also to increase her social awareness and vocabulary, my husband and I decided to enroll her in a preschool in Mishref. I’ll blog more about it soon.

My youngest daughter, 10 months, is also very responsive when it comes to “studying at home” with her big sissy. It’s much easier for younger siblings (who learn much from their older siblings) to absorb new lessons around them.

So far these are the things that have been keeping my hands full. Now that my business and online work are growing at a much faster rate than I expected, and my toddler is attending homeschool and preschool, and I’m also trying to give quality time to my 10-month old baby, I will be extremely busy in the next few months, and years.

This is all for now.

New year’s resolution: “Formal” Homeschooling 2012

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I have been informally homeschooling my two daughters from 3rd trimester on my tummy up to now — my first born at 2.9yo and my youngest at barely seven months. The problem, however, with not having a curriculum to follow is that anything goes, anytime, and anywhere. Although I didn’t call it “homeschooling”, I think the kind of developmental milestones that I am seeing on my daughters (esp. my 1st born) will fall into the category of homeschooling. My toddler sings, dances, watches movies, talks in English, sometimes Spanish, and Arabic, plays with her toys, solves puzzles, plays the piano, and guitar, watches youtube, plays with the iPad, iPhone apps, and now, the laptop (although occasionally).

For over a year now, I’ve been looking for the pre-school or nursery to enroll my 1st born. She’s now 2.9, and has been “pretending” to read. She recognizes the letters, the alphabets, and knows some phonics, but when it comes to teaching her how to read, she does it on her own. She doesn’t want to be taught! She’s so independent (a trait that I can also see in my 6months old), you know, almost in all aspects of her life. The only thing that she doesn’t know at this stage of her life is to bath herself, but she knows how to brush her teeth, wash her hands and face, change her clothes, remove her soiled diaper (she still uses diaper especially when she sleeps), prepare her milk (I saw that when she prepared her milk, and I got too excited and maybe she got too nervous that she threw the milk from the bottle). She also knows the word “exercise”, and what it means, and she does find time to exercise by following Leslie Sansone’s DVDs. Recently, I bought her a VCD containing Jazz steps for kids. She’s not much into it yet, but I think she’ll love it, too, soon.

I thought that by enrolling my 1st born to a nursery or playschool will make her learn more. But I think that I’ll just continue and upgrade what she’s learning at home (from me, if her mood is right), and mostly from herself, and other DVDs/VCDs. Why? I don’t think it would be a good idea to let her start formal education outside home. We’re living overseas, and majority of the playgroups, nurseries that I found (online) were far from where we are residing. I really don’t want to stress out my child in commuting everyday or every other day.

So for 2012, I resolve to “really” focus on her “homeschooling”. I’ll create a curriculum (Overseas Homeschooling Curriculum) for her that we’ll follow for a year, and let’s see about the developments. I’ll also check if there’s an online homeschooling curriculum that my toddler can follow.

Why the sudden focus on formally homeschooling my toddler and baby (not much formal homeschooling though since the youngest is just 6months old)?

I’m a firm believer of lifelong learning, and early learning. But this quote has enlightened me more than ever.

Now is the only early childhood you will ever be able to share with your child.  These are golden years. It might be worthwhile to once again thoughtfully consider how you really want to spend your time.  What could you put off until later in order to maximize and preserve these few precious years with your child?  Your sacrifice today will mean a stronger academic and emotional future tomorrow.  Your love, time and attention mean so much.  In a child’s world, there is simply no substitute for you!

~ Jane Claire Lambert

After all, it’s just a matter of proper allocation of time. Now, it’s time to put into good use the 8 triple rule I read long ago but haven’t practiced yet: 8-8-8 (8 hours for my work & personal development); 8 hours for my sleep and home obligations); 8 hours for my family (recreation, bonding, homeschooling, catching up).

How about you moms? How do you divide your time? What’s your take about homeschooling?

Dear Baby1: 94th natural letter for my 1st baby

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T H E  94th  L E T T E R

Dec. 17, 2011 @ 3:20p.m.

Dear Baby1,

Howdy, baby! How are you now?

Ohhh, I wish you will eat well. When you were 1.4 years old, you’d eat by yourself, and you would chew your food properly. Now at barely 3 years old, it takes you 2 hours to finish your food! Ohh no…You also don’t chew your food. You just let them stay on your mouth for ages. However, when we eat outside, or when there’s a party, you tend to eat properly and you chew your food well. Is it just the venue or the food, baby? This reminds me to print the PDF of foods for toddler.

At your little sissy’s christening, you impressed the guests with your wits. You spoke in straight English when asked. You were so behaved, at first. After awhile though, you mingled with the visitors, and you played with them.

There was a funny incident last week.  I told you that I’d be giving you a new laptop, Mommy’s old Dell XPS, newly reformatted so it’s as good as brand new. I was trying to help you when you pushed me to go away from you. You told me to do my thing in my Apple Macbook Pro, and when I was seated on the sofa (in front of my laptop), you told me to turn around, meaning to face my laptop so I wouldn’t mind what you’re doing. You just don’t want to be taught. You’ve long wanted to be independent – in reading, writing, and in learning anything. But, baby, you need me to teach you first.

There was an instance in reading your book when you insisted that the sound of the letters “am” (aaaammm) was “sa” (ssaaaa)…Haha.

I hope that you’ll be reading anytime soon. Just allow mommy to teach you, baby. I’m glad though that this morning, you were trying to mimic the instructions on the DVD of shapes and colors. I think every morning we’ll be doing that.

This is all for now.

iloveyou,

mommy

Dear Baby2: 4th natural letter for my 2nd baby

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T H E  4th L E T T E R

Dec. 18, 2011 @ 3:00p.m.

Dear Baby2,

Hi baby! It’s a week to go and finally it’s Christmas! Your first Christmas with daddy, mommy, and ate. Wow.

You’re now six months, and you have been eating solid on your first day as 6-month old baby. Thank God you just love food but lately I controlled what you eat because I want you to drink more milk than eat your solid. At this stage, milk should be your main source of nutrients.

Ten days ago, you had your christening. Thank God for the blessings. You cried a lot during the ceremony at the church. 😉 I will upload the selected pics as soon as I receive the last set from the photographer.

At six months, you started to roll over every time there’s poop on your diaper. You also “talk” a lot, nonstop, and you sing a lot, too. As always, you adore your big sissy so much. Lately though, when Mommy goes out of the room, you cry. I make it a point now to be with you for at least 7 hours a day. You now sleep with your yaya at night so Mommy will have enough energy in the morning to take good care of you and Ate, and in the afternoon, I can do my work.

It’s so cold outside so it’s just daddy and mommy who go out at night or even during the day. There are times that we bring Ate along with us. Soon, baby, when you’re big enough to weather the freezing cold of the night or day, you’ll go along with us – anywhere. Promise. I’m just scared to let you go out at night because majority of the people outside have colds. I still could not forget the time that you were admitted at Al Salam at 3 months with drip attached on your hand.

You have been wanting to sit down, and you just couldn’t yet. But nowadays, you’re sitting on your side, your left/right arm on the bed for support. You could not last a minute or two without doing something like watching Baby Einstein, or toying something with your hands, or humming a song while doing another thing. You’re just like your big sissy. You’re both like daddy and mommy. We hate wasting time. We just don’t like it when our minds and hands are idle.

This is all for now, baby.

iloveyou,

mommy