05 January 2012

entering the most expensive part of parenthood

This morning my daughter and I visited the nursery and school we were eyeing to enroll her in to register her. Although it’s not mandatory for children to be put through nursery before they start KG1, Hubby and I decided to enroll her in one term (April to June) just so that she could have a feel of what a school is and socialize a bit in preparation for Kindergarten in September. Caila knows a few kids in our apartment building who go to school, so I think they’ve somehow influenced her because she always (as in everyday!) tells us that she wants to go to school so that she can play, and read, and write, and meet new friends. She has a small backpack that she loves bringing when we walk to the nearby supermarket or park because it makes her feel like a schoolgirl.

So anyway, we went to the nursery first. Since it was pretty near our building and the weather was still cool, we just walked. The lady at the Reception was accommodating and patiently answered all my questions; and since I wanted to finish everything instead of going back again because they were only open on weekdays, I filled all the forms (Dhs50 per set), submitted all the requirements (good thing I called them yesterday to ask), and paid the fees. The only thing that we had to do before the term began was get the uniforms and inform them (and pay the corresponding charges) if she needed transportation. There goes my plan to not go back again until the first day. There was a room beside the office where we could hear a group of kids and their teacher, and Caila kept peeking through the glass door to watch the activities they were doing. You could tell she liked what she saw.

After that, we walked to the school to register her for KG1. I’m not sure if it was just that school or if all schools require it, but when I called the school yesterday, I was told that aside from the requirements that had to be submitted, I had to bring along my child that I wanted to register. At the school, when I told the lady what we needed, she directed me and my daughter to their Head Registrar (I think) who just talked to us a bit like a mini-interview. She asked Caila a few questions, but since it was their first time to meet, my daughter became shy and wouldn’t say anything; she just shook her hand when I told her to. When she asked me if we had done anything to prepare her for school, I told her that we had just enrolled her for a term in so-and-so nursery, to which she responded “That’s good, but why only one term?” Honestly, I was a bit shocked when she said that because it implied that one term wasn't good enough. As I mentioned earlier, nursery isn’t mandatory, and the cost for just one term in nursery is really high...higher than the fees for most Year 9 students! The only answer I could think of was “We believe one term is enough for her to get acquainted with what school will be like. Anyway, her age will be just right for KG1 so we don’t think there would be any problems.” My answer must have been good enough because she didn't push the subject further. Whew!

Just like at the nursery, I filled all the forms (another Dhs50) and submitted all the requirements. They told me that I just needed to pay the Registration/Admission Fee first, and then pay the Tuition Fee for the first term after one month. The payment for the other fees (medical, activity, transportation, instructional materials, etc.) could be settled in August before the beginning of the school year. Good thing their office is open on Saturdays so we could do these then and I won’t have to ask my boss’s permission to take some time off from work (which is what I did for this morning).

Just in case you're wondering, here are the things most schools need you to submit to register your child:
• 8 passport-size photographs of the child
• Immunization record copy of the child
• Passport & visa copy of the child
• Passport & visa copy of the father
• Passport & visa copy of the mother

So, those were our first steps to prepare Caila for her journey towards education…and along with it came the realization that we have entered the most expensive part of parenthood which will last for the next 18 years. Oh boy! Nevertheless, I’m sure I’ll be an emotional wreck on her first days of Nursery and Kindergarten, looking at her in her uniform, taking as many photos as I can to record those historic days, and wondering how time flew so fast. As I said, OH BOY!

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