Saturday, October 25, 2014

United We Stand

October certainly is shaping up to be "dress up" month at Little A's school. Hot on the heels of Literacy Week and Language Month is United Nations Day, usually celebrated quite close to half-term. This year, Little A's school held it a week before their Halloween event so as to have two chances to come to school in fancy dress.

In the weeks leading up to UN Day, the students did arts and crafts work celebrating different nations - cutting and glueing flags and that sort of thing. For the day itself, they were asked to come to school dressed in costumes from different countries, and Little A came as a Middle Eastern. It was the only costume among the choices at the department store that I know he would wear without much fuss, and luckily he was the only one so garbed among his schoolmates.

A week later was Halloween Day, on the last day before the half-term break. Again, fancy dress, and this time Little A came as a scuba diver in a pair of trompe l'oeil pyjamas. Carrying his pumpkin and standing in line, each of the classes visited the assigned stations at the school to pick up treats.

We have another week until Halloween proper, so I do hope Little A is just as cooperative when it comes to donning a costume again and this time trick or treating around the houses in neighbouring villages. He has a third outfit to put on, one that matches mine and Big A's as we attend a yearly Halloween themed birthday party for a dear friend. There are prizes for best costumes, and this time we aim to take home the family one.  Happy Halloween, all! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014


By the time Big A and I were ten, we were seriously into competitive sport. He trained with, and swam for, the Philippine national team for about a decade, while I was on my way to a performing arts boarding school with the end goal of dancing professional ballet.

Little A, at 7, has not yet joined a proper sport workshop, though he does swim far better than other kids his age, an amazing feat for a self-taught child.

Still, team sports are something we want him to experience, and the perfect opportunity came up when a local football teaching club recently set up a set of sessions specifically for the kids at Little A's school.

Before starting classes, the football club spent two full days at school getting to know each of the interested students, and testing their skills with the help of the school nurse/PE teacher and Occupational Therapist. This was done during school hours and I received no feedback on Little A's trial, so when I signed him up for the classes I had no idea what to expect.

Football sessions are held at a covered basketball court near the school, and thankfully near our home as well. We were late for the first one, but only by a few minutes, so I rushed Little A into the middle of the group, but he didn't want to let go of my hand as it was a new environment and a new group of "teachers".

While the drills were nothing he would have difficulty with, I worried about his social integration skills. Thankfully, a friendly coach and the school OT took him in hand midway through, and he joined in the rest of the drills without much complaint.

Lesson one went well, and I was particularly impressed with the coaches, who knew the name of every child upon arrival and both engaged the kids and kept their attention and focus amazingly well for the entire hour.

Team Sport
At the end of Lesson One, I was given a uniform for Little A to don in future sessions. Come the second lesson, he looked almost a proper little footballer, save the socks and shoes which I have not yet purchased, bad mother that I am.

Lesson Two went better than the first, because most of the children knew what to expect and were generally going with the flow. We look forward to seeing their progress in the next couple of months.

While it may just be a pipe dream for most of us that any of our children will turn into the next David Beckham, I think everyone involved is pleased and proud at how children generally perceived to be in their own little worlds willingly come together and develop new skills. I hope things only get better and more fun for them. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Our Heroes

Teachers' Day is celebrated in September and this year at Little A's school, the theme was "Our Teachers, Our Heroes." I couldn't agree more.

Finland might have the best educational system in the world, but I believe teachers in Third World nations are far more deserving of accolades. Many of them have not had the opportunity of a first-class education, and can easily get jobs that pay much better at big corporations. Third World teachers, whether at public or private schools, are notoriously poorly paid, and to choose to become one is akin to entering into the Holy Orders.

People I have met in the corporate world who started out as teachers, or who still teach on the side, are some of the best people I know. They are good team players, good leaders, visionary and often rise up in the ranks quickly as a result of all this.

The admiration one might have for a regular teacher rachets up  exponentially on meeting a special needs teacher, particularly some of those Little A is fortunate to have at his school.

I was asked to give a brief welcome remarks at the school's Teacher's Day Celebration. I couldn't say much besides a heartfelt thank you to the teachers comprising the "village" that raises my child seven hours a day, five days a week for what will be thirteen years. Words, truly, aren't enough. I think they get the most satisfaction out of seeing results, and the hugs and smiles they get from non-verbal kids like Little A, who can show, without words, how grateful they are.