UAE: Joining the million-plus students headed back to school on Monday in the UAE will be toddlers going to class for the first time in their life.
As the tots will leave their comfort zone - their home - for the very first time to begin their education at a school, parents have spoken of their jitters and joys - and strategies - for the big day.
Message in a box
British mother Lorien Irwin, 42, said she will leave a big star and a sweet message inside her son’s lunch box for the first day so it brings a smile to his face. Her three-year-old son Jack David William Irwin is joining Regent International as a student of FS1. “It is always a little sad seeing your children go off to ‘big school’ as it is a realisation that they are growing up and that they are no longer little. Having said that, it is wonderful to see the child’s growth and development,” she said.
She said Jack is excited to start school and it is endearing to see him get ready for his big day. He has an older brother who goes to Regent so the environment is somewhat familiar. “It makes it a lot easier for his transition from nursery to big school.”
‘Hyping it all up’
Indian father Abhijeet Adharyu’s second-born son is all set for class next week at The Aquila School and the entire family has been working to ensure a smooth start.
“My older child, a daughter is in the same school, so we have been hyping it all up for my son. We took them both to school this week, and had them meet their teachers and their principal. We also showed them the classrooms and the library. My son is now really excited and keeps asking every day whether it’s time to go to school yet,” said Adharyu, 41, a radio presenter in Abu Dhabi.
Adharyu and his wife have also been telling their four-year-old, who has previously been to nursery, about how he will be able to enjoy sports activities at school, and make more friends, in order to prep him for his big day.
“For many children like my son, who were born just before the [COVID-19] pandemic, social interaction has been limited. So we have been working at helping him transition to ‘big school’. In the last week, we have established school routines and bedtimes so that next week’s early wake times will not be tough on our children,” Adharyu said.
Two filipino siblings in Dubai - Lianna Faizunisha Reyes Faizuldeen, 3, and her older brother Liam, 5, - are both going to a school for the first time. The duo is heading to The Indian Academy, which will be their first school to study.
Their mother, Lyka, said: “During the peak of COVID-19 pandemic, our worries were for the safety and health of our children when attending the face-to-face classes. As a family we have been talking to the children and preparing them for their big time. They are lucky to have an older sibling who has been reassuring them that all will be well on the first day.”
Lebanese-American mother Chirine Nour Al Deen, a HR director, said she has been preparing her daughter Annabelle Hope Murad for her first day at school. Murad is going to FS1 at Sunmarke school and according to her mother is “super excited” to start school.
“For me as a mother, it is very emotional for me as she is my youngest child. She has been the baby of the house and now she is leaving the nest. But I am also so proud that she is growing up to be such a smart girl,” she said.
Al Deen added that as a family they have been talking to their child about the first day. “We have been talking to her about her teacher the routine she will follow at school. First and foremost, as parents, our tips are about safety and taking care of herself. Next, we have been telling her that she is going to make lots of friends so she should talk to all her new class friends. Our last tip and perhaps the most important one is that we have asked her to listen to what the teacher says.”
British mother Anneka Evans, 37, an entrepreneur in Dubai, said her son Thomas George Evans, 3, is also joining FS1 at Sunmarke. Evans is planning to send a family picture with Thomas on his first day to school. “His older siblings were told to bring a picture of the family with them, they loved to show their friends and talk about who everybody was. It really helped with the separation anxiety. We will send a picture again this time,” she added.
“Thomas is my third child so this time feels like a big milestone. It will be the first time in nine years that I will not have a child at home. He seems so small and young to be starting school life because he is a summer baby and only just turned three. But I am very excited for this next stage for him.”
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Picking up supplies
Indian father Saurav Singh’s son is headed to the Global Indian International School Abu Dhabi for the first time on Monday.
“Skandraj is our first and only child, and we’ve delayed sending him to school for as long as possible. But he is really excited, especially after we visited the school to collect his uniform and books,” Singh said.
Singh added that the admissions process had been very smooth, despite his apprehensions as a parent sending his child to school for the first time. “I do believe my wife and I will end up learning a lot from our son, because he certainly seems to know a lot even now.”