As Bree Van De Kamp says, "I work too, I'm a Home Maker." (pix of Rosie The Riveter copied from

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bringing Up Children : Public or Private School?

I was reading the newspaper today, something I have not done for so long. When I say read I mean really reading, cover to cover, not just flipping through to pick out the highlights or to spot the best discounts on milk and cheese. Well, it WAS the most logical thing to do while waiting for the car to be serviced.

And I came to a column by Daphne Iking. I didn't even know Daphne Iking had a column. Anyway, Daphne was talking about the task of choosing the right school for our children. She presented some good points but I can't help feel that she should have spoken to more people from the public school.

I personally believe that be it public or private school, parents must first determine what they want for their children. The moment I decided to settle down I had already known what I want for my children, if I were to be blessed with them. Health and education. The 2 things my husband and I now hold priority in our family.

I grew up in an average lower middle income family. My parents were both public school teachers and I saw how much effort they put in to make everything work for my siblings and I. It had always been health and education for us and their system worked. So, I followed the same model, with some improvs to keep it relevant with present time, of course.

At the very beginning, healthwise, I wanted firstly a good ob-gyn (must be female because that's what I'm comfortable with) and a good paediatrician. I sought advice from more experienced friends and they recommended Dr Jean Woo and Dato' Dr Vernon VV Lee, and that determined the hospital, Gleneagles Intan Medical Center. And they are also only a 10 minute drive from home.

Then came preschool. I remember my Bunga Raya Kindergarten in Klang, Mrs Ismail and Mrs Johari especially. I enjoyed my time there so I wanted something like that for my children too. I found it in Krista Kindergarten, and the closest to us is Krista Taman Nirwana. One of their focul points is the spirit of benevolence. This closed the deal.

When it was time for primary school, of course the closest to us is Sekolah Kebangsaan Desa Pandan, SKDP. Some friends said the school may not be challenging enough and that I should try to place them in the "more elite" schools, where the more elite people go. This is with the assumption that the more elite enjoy better privileges.

Well, by this time I had already 3 kids and was a fulltime SAHM trying to swing her business in between, so convenience became a determining factor, and SKDP was indeed most convenient. Coincidentally at this time SKDP had been "adopted" by the Information Ministry, and as such received enough attention from the "right" people. Private school could not be an option.

So, it has been SKDP these past 4 years for Esfahan and Alhamdulillah he is thriving well, as a student and as a strong individual. Damascus has also been accepted to SKDP next year and is looking forward to his orientation in December.

All this sounds plain and simple, but in actual fact it required a LOT of effort from Mommy and Ayah. Well, the truth is, I'd very much like to claim much of the credit, coz it was Mommy who did all the necessary groundwork, feasibility studies and conclusions. Ayah had an easier time making up his mind, coz Mommy had already decided! :)

Health and Education. This includes good medical and education plans, good food, good mental+physical+social development, good enrichment programs, etc., etc. We gave them Tumble Tots, KidSports, theme parks, good eat outs, outstation/overseas holidays, Quran reading+fardhu ain classes, piano lessons, art+craft classes, horse riding lessons, chess camps, swimming lessons, philharmonic concerts, movies, parties, Borders, MPH, The Big Bad Wolf and all that jazz!

I make sure that my kids interact with as many different people as possible and in as many different surroundings as possible. They have friends from school, friends from piano class, friends from KidSports, friends/kins from Mommy's/Ayah's sides, friends from the horse circle, etc. And they have different teachers who teach them different things in different arenas.

I want them to learn to acknowledge and respect the different peoples of the world be it in their small or big pictures. I want them to be independent and develop their own sense of individuality, while embracing good values. Most importantly I want them to know the right and the wrong.

Not easy.

And my children are all boys. In Islam and in many cultures, the male gender would carry bigger roles and responsibilities in their adulthood. To impress upon them the seriousness of their role as future leaders who must eventually contribute progressively to their families/communities requires not only skill and wisdom, but also a lot of heart.

So bottomline is, in my opinion, all schools are good, public or private. It all depends on what parents want for their children. Coz when it comes to building and growing children, the bulk of it is still really on the parents (or/and guardians).

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