ABU DHABI // The first day of kindergarten can be stressful for many pupils, but Randell Darren Maldia was eager to begin learning at a big school yesterday.
His mother, Daisy Pamela, 30, helped ease the transition with a review of the beginning-letter sounds, the alphabet and numbers, and the various colours and shapes.
"I like this school," said Randell, 5. "I will meet many new friends and classmates."
His excitement, however, was short-lived.
Parents at the Twenty First Century Private Academy were told yesterday that classes for KG1 and KG2 pupils would not start until September 22.
"Last year, we wanted to enrol him but he didn't want to go to school," Mrs Maldia said. "Now, he needs to wait for two more weeks before kindergarten classes start."
Matteusz Magbitang, 4, said he was excited to try out the school playground.
"He woke up at 6am, eager to meet his classmates," said his mother, Jinna, 30. "He spent two months at a play school this summer and we told him what to expect here."
But like many parents, she and her husband, Jonathan, 34, were unaware of the school's decision to push back the start of classes.
"But it's OK," she said. "We know our son will learn a lot, especially about our culture and traditions."
The teachers said new classrooms were still being built or restructured to accommodate the growing number of students who have either arrived from the Philippines or transferred from other schools.
Yesterday, Maria Chleo Julienne Magsombol, 7, and her siblings Maria Rainah Magsombol, 9, and Carlos Miguel, 5, checked out their new school.
Their parents decided to pull them out of Pisco Private School after it moved to Baniyas, about a 45-minute drive from their home on Muroor Road.
"They're all excited to go back to school," said their mother, Aigene, 30. "The school environment may be new to them but I'm sure they'll learn to adapt."
Dressed in a school uniform, Maya Casin, 6, stood out among the crowd of students who wore casual clothes on their first day.
"She knows her alphabet, can count from one to 100, and read books," her mother Len, 32, said with pride. "I'd like her to learn to speak Tagalog and interact with other Filipino children."
For Marieta Malon, a Grade 1 teacher, the first day of school was crucial since it sets the tone for what is to come
"I'd like to keep them energised and let them feel that learning is fun," said Ms Malon, after leading 25 pupils in an animated song and dance activity.
Evelyn Natividad, a Grade 10 adviser, told Grade 9 and 10 students in the school auditorium there would be "new responsibilities, new experiences and new challenges".
"We expect you to be truly engaged in all the school activities and in your studies," she said.
Mikhaella Cabatbat, 15, is looking at studying medical technology at a US or UK university next year.
"This school has prepared us well for university," she said. "I'd like to enjoy my last year here in the UAE with my friends and classmates."