We arrived in Cebu on Monday, June 1, in the wee small hours of the morning. At 9am on Wednesday, Daniel and Zion were just sitting down to take their admission/placement tests at Singapore School Cebu. Thursday morning at 9am we went back to the school for the admission interview, and on Monday, June 8, the ’15/’16 school year began.
Let me go back and fill out the details a bit more.
Part of our contract package for this year in Cebu includes tuition to private school for Daniel and Zion. I had chosen to homeschool Daniel and Zion last school year, knowing we would likely be in Cebu this year, and assuming that homeschooling would be our only option. When we found out their schooling would be paid for, we were–needless to say–very excited.
Singapore School Cebu, a small international school only five years old, was our first choice. When Ben and I came to Cebu in January, learning more about Singapore School was one of our top priorities. We met with the admissions director, got a tour of the school, and were very impressed with what we saw. Then we learned that Singapore, as a rule, does not assign homework to their students. Call it a done deal. We chose Singapore after visiting only two other schools in Cebu.
As I said, I homeschooled Daniel and Zion for the ’14/’15 school year. Knowing that Singapore School classes began on June 8, we decided to call it a year in March when Clementine was born. March, April, and May were “summer break.”
After three months of no schoolwork and two days of serious jet lag, Daniel and Zion went to take their admission tests. As I thought about my own shortcomings as a homeschooling mother, their particular challenges in school, and our three months off, I thought, Great. They’ll probably get placed in K and 2nd instead of 1st and 3rd. Oh well, not the end of the world. You can imagine my intense relief when we sat down to the admissions interview (holding Knox and Clementine, of course) and the school president said, “At Singapore School, we have very high academic standards. It can often be a challenge for kids coming in from other schools. I have looked over Daniel and Zion’s tests, and they are on par with our students, ready to begin 1st and 3rd grade.”
She went on to tell us that Daniel was very meticulous, but didn’t have much concept of needing to complete the test in a given period of time. No surprise there–HOMESCHOOLED. She said that both boys did well in reading and math. They, um, really struggled with writing. Again, no surprise. There was one surprise, though. She said that Zion was very talkative. ZION, she said. On day 3 in Asia, with complete strangers, ZION was very talkative. If you know our family, you are as surprised as we are that, of our two older sons, Zion was the one described as talkative. She also mentioned that Zion had listed his nickname as “Zorro,” and she referred to him as Zorro through the rest of the interview.
On Sunday night we laid out the boys uniforms, shoes, and backpacks. Monday morning I was up at 5:30. Clementine was beside me in bed, wide awake and cooing happily. I stretched, read the Bible, and got dressed. At 6:30, Ben got the boys up, and at 7 we sat down to a breakfast of toast and scrambled eggs. The boys washed their breakfast dishes, got dressed, brushed their teeth, and combed their hair. At 7:20, Ben called for a taxi, and we all prayed together. At 7:30 they rode away–Ben to his first day at the office, and the boys to their first day of school.
Knox got sick on Monday afternoon, and on Tuesday morning I woke up at 6. By 6:40 I was downstairs starting the coffee, toast, and eggs, but we didn’t sit down to breakfast until a bit after 7. Daniel and Zion were insisting that they were supposed to bring a snack to school (even though the administrator had told me snacks were provided), and things were a bit more harried. After breakfast, Daniel and Zion had to get toothpaste and toothbrushes to bring to school for after-lunch brushing–apparently Singapore takes dental hygiene very seriously. But they were more-or-less ready at 7:30 when the taxi pulled up.
On Tuesday night, I didn’t set my alarm because hey, I’ve been waking up on my own between 5:30 and 6 each morning. Knox was up in the night, though, and I awoke to Ben’s alarm at 6:30 and dashed downstairs to get breakfast ready. Daniel had said something the night before about needing to bring some papers back to his teacher, but I hadn’t realized it was forms to be filled out. As the family ate a slightly-later breakfast, I hurried to fill out medical forms and additional information forms for both Daniel and Zion. The medical forms were pretty easy. But the other form–I didn’t know the answers to any of the questions.
“What’s our address again? Where’s that post-it with our home phone number? Do you know your work address? Where’s that paper with our neighbor’s cell number? I’m supposed to have an emergency contact, and I don’t think a U.S. number is going to do them much good. Ugh, I can’t remember her last name… And what’s this about needing to fill out the fetcher’s ID for after-school pick-up?”
I finished filling out the forms just as Ben was calling the taxi. Daniel was trying to find his sock, Zion was on the verge of tears, insisting that he had put his water bottle back in his backpack and that now it wasn’t there. We heard a beep out front, and Ben ran upstairs to get something as Zion and Daniel struggled to put their shoes on. They went outside to get in the taxi, but it wasn’t there. Had it left? Ben called the guard house to ask them to stop it at the gate and send it back. “There was no taxi, sir,” they said. They had been unable to get a taxi for us. The beep we heard must have been for someone else.
Ten minutes later, a taxi finally pulled up. They ran out of the house and jumped into the taxi. Feverish Knox was wailing inconsolably at being left behind. A few minutes later, when Knox’s wails had diminished to sobs, I heard the cab pull up again. Ben dashed in the door and grabbed his brief case, leaning against the wall near the door, and ran out again. Knox renewed his wailing with fresh vigor.
Wow, I thought, that degenerated quickly.
All things told, Daniel and Zion got to school only 1 minute late, just as the national anthem was being sung in morning assembly.