Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Face of a First-Grader??

Owen watching the girls' school program last week

Last Tuesday Owen took his entrance evaluation exam for first grade. Yes, first grade! His current school ends after Kindergarten and he will be "graduating" in December, so our plan has been to enroll him at the girls' school for March. Naively we thought it was a "given" that he would be accepted, until we were informed that he would join the dozens of other first-grade applicants being tested in groups of ten and competing for open positions in the coming year.

Signing up for the evaluation consisted of providing a birth certificate and paying a fee of 3.000 pesos ($6 USD.) Attending the exam involved bringing the would-be students at 5 p.m., watching them walk nervously into the school library, and waiting for 1 1/2 hours while they completed the test (which was administered by two separate teachers.)

It was eye-opening to listen to the whispers of other parents as they discussed what other schools they were applying to, which was their first choice, and what the back-up plan would be if their child was not accepted. To be honest, it was both funny and painful. At times I thought, is this for real?? I mean, after all we are talking first grade, not college!

I was not nervous (thinking this was all rather silly) until I started talking with another parent who informed me that she had heard this exam was quite hard and that only one child from her daughter's Kindergarten had passed last year! A few days later I spoke with another mom whose child had graduated last year from the school Owen currently attends and she told me her son had not made the cut, either. Talk about pressure! It is all so crazy.

My main concern was that Owen not be disappointed, as he is very excited about going to school with his sisters. In fact, when he finished the evaluation and we got into the car he told me he had asked the teachers if he would be coming to school tomorrow! He was a bit disillusioned when I explained that first grade won't start until after summer vacation. :)

We actually have about another six months to go, much to Mommy's relief. In the States, Owen would not be starting Kindergarten until late August but due to the seasons and semesters being reversed here he will begin half a year early. The official cut-off for first grade students is March 30 (Owen's birthday is in April) but apparently schools are given the prerogative to accept students with birthdays through June if they so choose. The girls' school will begin to enforce the March 30 deadline next year but for parents of existing students such as us they agreed to make an exception this year, and we feel that Owen is ready to begin. He enjoys school and even does homework pretty happily!

That being said, we do not know yet what the results of his evaluation were. On Tuesday we are to call the school to be told if he is "in" or not! Hopefully so. If not - well, I guess we will cross that bridge when we come to it!


Terri Fisher said...

OK...I'll bite...what's he looking at?!

Terri Fisher said...

You have got to be kidding me!!!! Don't even get me started...(except that I guess when you are paying for your child's education vs. public school, the school can do whatever they want with their entrance requirements!)