By Mira Khatib
Heart racing, feeling nervous, anxious, and worried because it’s the first day of school, and those were my own feelings dropping off my 4 year old daughter to KG. She held my hand tightly not wanting to let go, pleading eyes not to throw her into the unknown and away from the comfort of her own home. But it was time and remembering how my older children reacted on their first day of school I was stressed to say the least, but it had to be done, and although I had all the necessary talks about how amazing school will be, I had my doubts as my experience came from some schools in the Middle East. I wiped away her tears and kissed her goodbye and gave her to her teacher and I walked away. The longest two and a half hours passed to go pick her up (KG program in many schools in Toronto is only part time; meaning only 2 and a half hours a day).
All fears vanished when I saw my daughter running out with a big smile on her face saying she had the best day of her life! I was stunned, kids actually liked going to school in Canada. When I asked my older children who are in high-school about their experience compared to school back home, they loved it too and said it is nothing to be compared. I thought it is too soon to judge.
But as the year progressed, my younger daughter would cry if she fell ill and wasn’t able to go to school… I saw my older children take interest in reading and going to the library even on weekends, they loved to research and actually enjoyed learning and I never saw homework, when I inquired about homework the teacher was baffled saying kids are not suppose to have homework, they do the work in school, home is for resting and spending time with family, the only requirement was daily reading. I just couldn’t believe it, remembering the long hours I spent with my children helping them finish homework back in the Middle East… hours of frustration, yelling, repeating myself and teaching; making children reject learning and become less enthusiastic to do things on their own. Not to mention the amount of unrealistic projects given to kids expecting them to do it all while knowing that parents end up completing the tasks themselves.
Not in Canada. Kids strive to learn, high schools are filled with subjects that meet every talent and passion, kids are bound to find what they are good at and make the best of it. For primary children school is mostly an exciting place where they learn as they have fun, even I wished to become a kid again and go to school there, seeing the difference it made in my little ones.
When we left Canada and came back to the Arab world both my kids and myself missed the education system offered there and once again the agony of endless hours of homework came back, with tears and pressure to make the grade. I realized many children study just to pass not to actually learn, and what good would that do for future generations and our societies? There is so much that could be learnt from following suite to those systems abroad, and one would reap the benefits in our children.
I could fill pages talking about the differences good and bad, but would leave it for another time.
Now with the schools here in full swing, mothers need their energy to help kids finish homework and complete projects and detect fake sickness to skip school, so their work is cut out for them. At the end kids grow up and most go on to universities and become successful all due to the hard work of mothers and their determination sadly more so than the schools that taught them.