By Sholain Govender-Bateman – Pretoria-based New Media journalism lecturer, former The Star and Pretoria News journalist & editor of magazines. She is mum to two gorgeous girls, Isobel and Aishwari, and wife to Barry Bateman. Twitter @sholain
It’s happened, Isobel is turning 7 next May which means that the transition to ‘big school’ has begun…for me. Of course, she’s thrilled with the prospect of meeting new friends, swimming in the big school pool and having loads of new adventures. I’m a bit more frazzled, especially after the run-up to the Grade 1 year that hubby and I have had.
The school prep started a few years ago with online searches for suitable primary schools. I had heard from so many other parents that you need to get your kid onto a waiting list/s if you didn’t want her losing a valued spot at a specific school. I excitedly sent queries through to as many private schools in the Pretoria area as I could…and when I got the fees lists back, I had a series of mini panic attacks.
We decided to keep our options open, there’s no way of knowing if we’d be millionaires by 2014/5!?
The next hurdle was getting the whole age thing right. All I could recall was that I started school at the age of 5. I actually know of people who planned their kids’ birth dates based on how it would affect their school progress meaning will the child be too young for their class year or too mature.
Having contacted a few highly recommended government schools previously, I was already aware that we were not in the feeder area of our first choice school. Then, when filling out application forms, I realised how valued space in these schools were. We had to provide heaps of certified documents, queue at Home Affairs for an unabridged birth certificate, collect proof of bond payments, lease agreements, letters from employers and more before the big day of handing in the application forms. We were number 2 on the B waiting list of our first choice school last year, and still didn’t get her in for Grade R there so this year we kept it simple and went for the school we qualify for, even though hubby and I don’t even go to that area of the suburb and it’s the opposite direction to our both work areas.
The day applications opened, I got to the school at 6.30am expecting to battle for a place in a long queue amongst hoards of other parents anxious for those prized spots. I must say, it was a bit of an anti-climax when I arrived at the one school to find that I was the first parent there.
We’re happy that Isobel is basically guaranteed the number one spot at our first choice. Proud to be a good mum and dad, we can relax for now…until the next parental hurdle appears. I just wonder what happens to the little children whose parents just didn’t bother even showing up to collect application forms…?