School has started! I think we were all ready for a routine and to get on with normal life. Liam especially was ready to go to school to meet some friends (not that he doesn’t love his sisters…). However, I would be lying if I didn’t say we were all nervous.
The kids are attending Stamford American International School. The campus they attend is grades 1-12 and has 4 buildings separated by a large soccer field. There are about 2500 students which for Singapore international schools puts it at a mid sized school. We chose this school because it was an American school, but it followed the international baccalaureate educational structure (if you’re curious about IB: https://www.ibo.org/about-the-ib/). We thought our kids would benefit from the change in educational structure while we were here. The school is also slightly more diverse, being only 35% American. As Avery said after her first day, “I am the only kid with yellow hair!” Walking around campus, it is truly a melting pot of cultures.
Why is it named Stamford? Not for Stamford, CT! But that does give us a chuckle.
It is named for Stamford Raffles who was the British naval officer that was sent here to colonize Singapore. Many countries in Asia have a complicated relationship with their colonizers. Singapore seems to have a very comfortable relationship with their history. My guess is that this is because their period of British colonization ended peacefully (they were originally part of Malaysia after the British left but shortly after that, became an independent city nation). Singapore also is very business driven. I think the government realized early on that to retain a peaceful relationship with western nations was to their economic advantage. What do the local Chinese/Malay populations really think? I don’t know that answer.
Back to the kids!
During their orientation last Thursday, I asked if I should bring them or put them on the bus for the first day? I was immediately parent shamed. “Wouldn’t you want to bring them the first day?” Yikes, we’re not in CT anymore!
So we took a grab to school on the first morning. We arrived at 8am. They had all the new families in a courtyard and cones with grades on them.
With 3 kids, I couldn’t be with all of them. Luckily, Ella was whisked away quickly, I hardly had time to say goodbye! Liam was nervous, but happy to stand by himself. So I waited with Avery. There were 2 other new girls and a boy. Avery was in her new class with the boy, Jayden (his western name, he’s actually Korean). His mom, Diane was very nice. She and I grabbed a coffee after drop off in the parent cafe (again, not in ct any longer). They let parents walk the littlest ones to their room and I got to meet Averys teacher, Mrs Sunder and her assistant Miss Vickie. They both seemed lovely and all the kids couldn’t wait to meet their new friends. I knew Avery would have trouble, and sure enough, the tears began flowing. I almost cried myself. The reality of what we were asking the kids to do was heavy in that moment. I knew she would be fine, but it didn’t make it easier. I quickly left as to not cause further disruption to her or the class. Then I popped upstairs to check on Liam, who looked like he had always been in that class.
After school, they rode the bus home. Everyone seemed happy. Liam already has a couple of friend potentials. Avery did too, but she couldn’t remember their names. Ella said a few kids were nice but no friends yet. As expected on all accounts.
Liam and Avery come home on a different bus, about 30 minutes before Ella. They all take the same bus to school. They’re picked up right at the end of our driveway by a coach-like bus. My favorite thing about the bus, is the bus “auntie”. In Singapore it is common and respectful to address adults as “auntie” and “uncle”. The bus auntie makes sure the kids are buckled, behaving and for the littles, that a parent or caregiver is there to receive them off the bus. The kids bus aunties seem kind and properly strict. I’m sure Ms. Gina on bus 5 in Fairfield would love a bus auntie!
There are a lot of kids that get on at our stop. Most of them are older. There is a girl that is also in 6th grade that lives in our complex and in the building next to us. She is in ella’s advisory group (like a homeroom). So far she and Ella have not seemed to acknowledged each other’s presence. A big part of the problem is technology. The girl always has ear buds in. It’s hard to make a friend if you can’t talk to them. Every kid middle school aged and above is 100% plugged in for the bus ride, so that eliminates that as a friend making opportunity. At school they have a no phone policy thankfully. Ella received her long coveted iPhone 11 last night so I’m sure she will be plugged in as well.
They all seem to be loving the classes so far. They’ve all had mandarin and are busy telling me Chinese names for things. Ella has a new MacBook Air for school which she loves. Ella’s adjusting to the block schedule and seems to really like it. Liam played touch rugby in gym which sounded fun and Avery has “a naughty boy” named Nacho in her class.
They have long days, the morning bus comes at 7:38 and the littles get home at 3:45 and Ella at 4:20. Their after school activities begin on the 28th, so it’s hard to see how a longer day will work but I’m sure they will adjust. For now when they get home, they are loving pool time and yesterday Liam spotted some boys his age so he’s on the lookout!