We brought Ryan to his paediatrician yesterday for a booster jab and a wellness check. We had a long wait but it was worth it in the end.

Ryan hasn't put on any weight or grown any taller since his last visit, although he was squirming quite a bit when the measurements were taken, so they may not be accurate. He took the jab in his thigh without reaction, he didn't flinch or cry, just quietly observed what Dr Ngiam was doing. Just amazing.

Dr Ngiam asked us if we had any questions or concerns and we did raise a couple of issues. We told him that Ryan is extremely sticky nowadays, always needing to have physical contact. Dr Ngiam was pleased to hear that! He said that this shows that Ryan is a well-adjusted child. He said it's absolutely normal, Ryan is right on track and that this phase will last until Ryan is about three years old. Dr Ngiam said that Ryan has formed a strong bond with us, which is the way it should be at this stage. He also explained that there is a hierarchy of people whom Ryan has bonded with and Ryan will stick to each person according to his order. In Ryan's case, mummy is first and daddy is a close second. So if mummy is not around, Ryan will stick to daddy. It would be an issue of concern if Ryan does not show any attachment to any particular person, even in a roomful of people whom he knows, as it may mean that Ryan is having problems forming strong relationships and strong bonds. I asked Dr Ngiam if we should be concerned about letting Ryan be more independent and he said it's too early to expect Ryan to be independent.

Well, we were happy and relieved to hear that! It has given us a new perspective and has made us a lot more patient and tolerant of Ryan's stickiness, seeing that it is a sign that all is normal and going well. It has also given us encouragement that we're doing all right at this parenting thing, heehee.

Next, we asked Dr Ngiam whether we should be considering sending Ryan to school yet. Dr Ngiam said that, if Ryan is being looked after and we don't need to send him to school as a form of childcare, then we should wait until after Ryan turns four. His reason was that children below four fall sick easily. He said, at Ryan's age, the emphasis should be on spending time with the family. He also pointed out that there are lots of things to learn at home.

Actually, I'm not too concerned about Ryan falling sick (Ryan is an extremely healthy boy), my only reason for sending Ryan to pre-school is to socialise with other children. I told Dr Ngiam that Ryan seems quite shy sometimes and I asked him whether he should be socialising with other children. Dr Ngiam said that the shyness is normal, socialising will come later and we shouldn't be wanting him to be a social butterfly now.

That was wonderful news to us because, just last week, Richard and I were discussing whether we should wait until Ryan is older before sending him to pre-school. Ryan is turning two very soon and we haven't come close to choosing a pre-school for him. We were getting a bit worried because most of Ryan's peers have already got places in pre-schools. Some are even starting next week!

In Singapore, most children go to pre-nursery in the year that they turn two years old. After one year, they do two years of nursery before advancing to kindergarten for another two years, before finally starting primary school. All this is completely voluntary as pre-primary education is not compulsory. Still, it is a pretty well-established system, which most parents adopt.

When we first learned about the Singapore system, and all the frightening waiting lists, we took action pretty quickly. I did some research and we visited a few pre-schools to check them out. But for us, the fever died down just as quickly as it started as we were not persuaded by any of the pre-schools that they offered anything that we couldn't do without. Some had better facilities, some had bigger playgrounds, some had better curriculum than others. We could picture Ryan being happy at one or two of them, but Ryan is also perfectly happy being at home. Basically, at each visit, we were waiting for the feeling that Ryan would lose out if he wasn't a student there, but that feeling never came.

So there is a huge chunk of motivation missing, which is also due to the fact that neither Richard nor I went to pre-nursery or nursery. I only did two years of kindergarten and Richard says he thinks he did one year of kindergarten (he can't remember much about it). Did we lose out? Well, I could read and play the piano even before I entered kindergarten and Richard says he can't remember learning anything in kindergarten. Both our mothers were housewives, which is similar to Ryan's setup - his nanny is also a housewife and when he is not with his nanny, he is with us all the time. When Ryan is at his nanny's and when he is at home, he is always involved in what is going on. He is free to wander about and investigate anything he wants (under supervision of course) and there is always someone talking to him, engaging him and playing with him.

Every time we discussed the issue of sending Ryan off to pre-school, we delayed it a little more. When Ryan was about to turn 18 months, Schoolhouse by the Bay called us up (a follow up from our visit) and asked if we were still interested in enrolling Ryan. We told them we wanted to keep him at home a while more. We told ourselves, let's wait till Ryan is two. Last month, we happened to visit Etonhouse, and we thought about the topic again - we decided to wait till Ryan was 2.5 years old. Last week, we said, let's wait till he's three.

We definitely felt the pressure to follow what other parents were doing but somehow, deep down, we must have known it was not the right decision for us, which is probably why we made no progress on the issue. We were just not brave enough to make a decision once and for all.

So, I'm happy to say that we have decided to hold off pre-school and wait till Ryan is four years old before we consider the issue again. Then, we will see if we want to wait until he is five, in which case he will go straight into kindergarten, just as Richard and I did. In the meantime, we will make sure that Ryan's time at home is spent productively and fruitfully, with lots of play, cuddles and kisses along the way.

Now that finally sounds perfect to me.


Anonymous said...

Hi there,
Thanks for the informative post. I have been asking myself the same question for some time since my boy is reaching 2 years old. Parents around me are packing their children to child care, playgroup, etc. while I haven't even put my name in the waiting list. I just hesitated as I had the same feeling as you. The centres didn't have things that I thought my boy couldn't do without. Also, I worried when my boy gets sick.
Your post and the doctor's replies give me lots of assurance that my boy is just fine staying at home, with grandparents' love, and of course, our cuddles and kisses as well.

(My boy is a Jan baby too)

Pinkie Pirate said...

Hi Kamy! Yes, it's such a precious stage isn't it? Let's savour every drop of it!

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