First Day of School

Yesterday was my LL, Little Lady’s, first day of school.  Here in Jordan the class is KG-1, in the US it is known as K-4 or preschool.  It was an emotional day for all of us.  I definitely expected each of us to have our own emotions about our Little Lady’s big day.  It was interesting to watch the day happen and how our perspectives  shaped our emotions.  Here is a quick look into each of our thoughts:

LL – Little Lady was so excited and has been waiting for this day since she turned 4 years old.  Her old cousin goes to school and she couldn’t wait to be big and go to school too!  We had been to the school a number of times before the big day, just to get familiar.  That evening we put her to bed early and told her I would wake her early for school.  At 6:15 am, Mom told LL it was time to wake up.  LL sat up and said, “Yeah, I have to get ready for school  I am so excited!!We made and ate breakfast, packed her lunch box, fixed her hair, brushed her teeth, got dressed, put her backpack together, then woke up her brother to get him ready.  When we arrived at school, she acted like she owned the place.  Walked right in and started playing.  Mom happily thought, this will be easier than I expected! …  Until it was time for all the Mommies and Daddies to leave. … All the kids, including LL, started crying and begging for us to stay.  When I walked through the door into the hallway, I turned to look back … all the kids were trying to crawl out towards their parents and the teachers were kindly holding the kids back as they closed the door.  It was a bit dramatic, but more to how I imagined it would be.  When I returned to pick her up 4 hours later, LL was exhausted!  She could barely walk to the car.  She just wanted her beloved bear and to go to sleep!  After we got home and ate lunch, she then opened up about her day.  She really had a good day; the teachers and kids are very nice, she brought home an art project they had worked on in class, and she told me about the playground.  She said she cried a little bit, but she was looking forward to going back to school tomorrow, and tomorrow she was going to be big and wasn’t going to cry at all!

BB: The reaction from Big Boy actually surprised me.  I guess I hadn’t thought of how it would affect him, being away from his sister all day.  Then when I really thought about it, of course it would because it is a new experience for him as well.  When we were leaving LL behind, BB saw her crying and watched one of the teachers direct Aisha away from the door and back towards the classroom.  He was crying and screaming about the teacher, “Why did the teacher take LL?!!”  On and off all day he kept asking the same questions, “Why did the teacher take LL?” and “I want LL to come with me”.  No matter the explanation I tried to give, he just kept repeating himself.  Luckily, we had a playdate scheduled that morning, so he quickly got busy with his friends for half the time LL was at school.  However, when we returned to the school, BB made sure he let himself be heard and told the teacher, “Don’t take LL again!”  That’s my BB….LOL!!

BaBa:  BaBa had a day filled with reflection and emotion.  He told me that we was remembering his LL when she was born and how quickly she has grown up.  He spent some of the day looking through pictures of her and thinking about how her life has suddenly changed.  No more staying at home to play during the week, because now she will have school to attend.  He reflected on the realization that this will be her very first day of the next 20+ years of school (depending on what she studies in the University).  He is so proud of her and could already see how she matured after just the first day of class; however, he is sad to realize how quickly she is growing up.

Momma: My experience as I dropped her off at school was as I expected (she would cry and I would be strong for her).  However, when I left her behind, I was surprised at how her crying really affected me most of the day.  Her trying to follow me out the door and crying loudly, the image and sound repeated inside my mind for 4 hours.  When we returned home, it felt so very strange to enter my home without her.  Those who don’t know me, my kids go everywhere with me ,when I am not working – so to not have her by my side was a very odd, cold feeling and I didn’t like it.  It was perfect to have the playdate because I could talk with other Momma’s and get my mind off things – sort of :-).  I was emotional about how fast she is growing up as well.  I am really excited for her to get involved at school, rather than sitting at home most of the day.  It will be great for her once the baby is born, because she can then get out and do her own thing.  I also feel great about getting into a routine every evening and morning.  Even though I miss her during the day, it was so much fun to hear her excitement and stories about her first days of school!

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We Love You LL!

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Preschool in Jordan

Soooo….you thought choosing a daycare in the US was difficult.  Try finding a preschool in Amman!  In general, choosing any school is a difficult and confusing process whether it be preschool, grade school, or highschool!  What could be so difficult about choosing a preschool you ask?!  Let me explain the choices and decisions that need to be made:

First, there is not a predefined school your child must attend, you can choose for her to attend ANY school in ALL across Amman. 

There are public schools that are free to attend; however, from what I have heard is they are not the better schools.  Personal experience is that I work in a public hospital and I would NEVER go there for my medical needs…so why would the school be any different..?!  So this was a quick and easy, “No, Thank you.”

Public schools, there are many ranging in price.  As one would expect, you get what you pay for.  Price range for preschool can vary from 200JD a year to 2500JD per year ($300-$3200 per year).  The lesser expensive schools offer the basics, whereas the expensive schools offer what I would consider ‘normal’ based on my experience in the US.  In other words, they offer the basics plus extracurricular activities such as taekwondo, gymnastics, swimming, nice computer labs, large classroom sizes, good teacher to child ratio, etc.  One must also keep in mind, that these expensive schools may look great from a distance; however, many parents complain about the children being from families where “Wasta” goes a long ways…what does this mena?!…Basically the teachers will bend the rules/cheat the test scores/etc for these children, so they can keep the parents/children/school satisfied.

What language do you want your child to learn in? Arabic, English, German, French?  What percentage of the chosen languages?  90% Arabic/10% English, 50% Arabic/50% English, 10% Arabic/90% English?

What program do you want your child to study, International or Jordanian?

Do you want Islamic or Christian school, or do you want neither?

Do you want girls only school or mixed classes?

Do you want preschool and kindergarten as a separate school vs Preschool thru 12th grade available at the same school?

Do you need a bus…one way or both ways?  Which are of town depends on the price of between 150JD – 500 JD per year ($200-750 per year).

**Remember the average income here is roughly $3600-$5000 per year, so these school prices are not cheap compared to average income!

After searching the internet, receiving recommendations, interviewing many schools, thinking and rethinking….What we finally decided upon is a Private school priced middle of the road, 80% English/20% Arabic, International Program, Islamic American School, mixed gender, Preschool-10th grade offered at the same school, no bus transportation.  Ah, what a exhausting decision it has been to make!  Inshallah, it will be a great first school experience for our little lady!