When we decided to have kids, we were comforted that there were childcare options readily available in office, or various centres near home/office. When they started pre-school, we had to tighten our belts to send them to full-day childcare centres. There was no way we could do those 3-hr kindy since we are working full-time. Then came Primary School. And e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g changed.
Of course there are after-school care centres and these are great esp for parents working full-time. However, due to budget constrains, and our personal preference not to leave the kids in a centre when they are at an impressionable age, we had to seek other options.
For those not in the know, Primary School kids end school at 1.30 p.m. (for those in the morning session). Someone has to take care of them from then till I get home at about 7 p.m. They have not had lunch, and in their bags, there’s possibly homework for the day, or spelling or tests to study for. On top of that, there’s revision they need to work on (e.g. know their times table, practice those math sums etc) I’m not a Tiger Mum, but knowing my genes, there’s a high chance my kids need help in Mandarin and Math.
Question: How do we plan the Primary School Kids’ After-school Schedules?
We discussed this and realised the best bet is to have all these extra tuition on weekday afternoons. That way, the kids are freed up to relax and go out on weekends when we are around. To do that, there’s a huge obstacle: TRAVELLING
Who is going to send the kids home? Who will send them for these extra tuition? Who will bring them lunch? Who will take care of them when they are home? The only who available was our trusty helper, who was only used to cooking and cleaning in our home. You see, the school bus wasn’t an option as the kids may not necessarily go home after school daily. And we didn’t want any of the kids alone in the house. So in 2012, when Nicole entered Primary 1, our helper started her quest to get the Platinum Gold Ezilink Card!
One Child in Primary School:
This was what our helper did: Pack lunch and bring it to Nicole when school ends. Depending on the schedule, they would either go for the next class after lunch or go home. This went on for two years. Look at Nicole’s timetable!
Two Children in Primary School:
Then Nathan started Primary 1. And it was IMPOSSIBLE to schedule his extra tuition timing to be at the same time as Nicole’s. Also suddenly, at Primary 3, Nicole had to stay back in school for some workshops, or had extra classes. There was once, my helper and Nathan waited an hour for Nicole to end so that they don’t have to travel out again just to pick her. So we changed plans. We started home tuition! Yup, we engaged the tutors to come to our home, instead of us traveling all over for classes.
Three Children in Primary School:
This worked well until 2015. Yes. Nadine is now in Primary 1! And she’s in a different school. And she also ends school at 1.30 p.m. And Nicole now ends school on different times each day due to extra classes and CCA. And Nathan started Taekwondo classes in an external school. And Nadine has gym classes, as part of her physio-therapy twice-weekly. And all of them have swimming lessons together on a weekday evening. And there’s only one helper.
Thank God for parents!!! My most amazing parents decided last year to move to an apartment just 5 min away from Nicole’s & Nathan’s school. And they offered to pick them up, settle their lunch and dinner (if necessary)! What a tremendous tremendous blessing! So my helper can focus on picking Nadine from school. Woohooo!!
But I had a little problem. Someone has to bring Nicole and Nathan home from my parents’ place. Someone has to bring Nathan for his Taekwondo. Someone has to bring Nadine for her therapy sessions and gym classes. And that someone can only be my helper, SK!
I spent the better half of last week working out all the kids’ schedules. After considering traveling times, checking out class timings and tutors’ availability, I finally worked out their schedule. Here’s a quick glimpse at SK’s schedule:
And so this is how we will go through 2015. This is possibly version 13 of the schedules. And I think I may need to make amendments if class timings change or if the traveling time just doesn’t work out. The true test starts this week, and I pray everything would fall into place for everyone. And really, every day, I thank God for my parents and SK.
Guess this was something no one ever shared about having more than one school-going kid in the family at the same time!
Update – 2016
This year, Nicole is in P5. The challenge is greater cos she has after school classes, plus CCA. Only then, can we slot in the Chinese Tuition or Math classes.
Nonetheless, we are still so so grateful that my parents live so near the school. She still gets homecooked lunch cos there’s enough time to either go over for lunch or for my mum to bring lunch to her.
Traveling wise, our helper SK has left. Now we have a new helper–MH. She is just as powerful. Within the first week here in S’pore, she has mastered the Bus and Train routes for school, therapy, Taekwondo, Gym etc.
You can see, every day, there’s so much to be thankful for!