Things I learned from kindergarten

Susan Flanagan
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Students aren’t the only ones on a learning curve as the school year begins

— Telegram illustration

Surprise Baby started kindergarten last week. Like many before him, he finished his first morning and thought that was it, he was done. What do you mean, I have to go back? Been there. Done that. Let’s go play “Mario Kart.”

Someone told me the story of a boy who started Grade 1 a couple of years back. On the first day when the bell rang for lunch, he started to pack his bag to head home since the year before he had always gone for only half a day. When the teacher said, “No Billy, you’ve got to stay for the full day now that you’re in Grade 1. You eat lunch here with us,” he was indignant.

“Who signed me up for this?” he asked.

Some days I’m not sure I want to be signed up for all I have to do, but, alas, I enjoy the school year and the activities that come with it, although there is always that narrow line that I teeter across once in a while where activities become stressful rather than enjoyable.

So, to help keep me on the sane side, I have a few time-saving techniques. For example we have a homework cupboard in the kitchen within arm’s length of the kitchen table where forms are signed and homework is done. Inside is everything you need for school, including everyone’s class schedules taped to the inside of the doors as well as MCP and other relevant numbers so I don’t have to dig out a card every time I fill out a form.

And God knows, with one in kindergarten, one in junior high, one in high school and two in university, we fill out our share of forms. The logistics of four different schools makes life interesting. Luckily, we’re close enough to all of them to walk, but the junior high student is spoiled and a bus picks her up just outside the door. No. 2 heads out to MUN at 7:30 for an 8 o’clock class. Next it’s bus girl at 8. Within minutes of her departure Surprise Baby and I walk Rennies River Trail to kindergarten. The stroll is peaceful and mind-cleansing. On my way back home I usually cross paths with Nos. 1 and 3 on the path. We are lucky to live in a city with such an amazing, well-kept trail system.

I also enjoy the learning that comes with going back to school, both for the children and for me. Every year we learn more about the school system. And how to navigate its finer points.

This year, for example, we finally learned how to decline MUN’s health and dental insurance. Tuition for MUN is roughly $2,500 per semester. On top of tuition, students must pay a student union fee of $108, a recreation fee of $110 and a health and dental plan fee of $292.

Last year, knowing we had insurance elsewhere, No. 1 wondered why he was paying hundreds of dollars a year to the MUN student union (MUNSU) for insurance he didn’t need. Well, this year we found out you can opt out. Mind you, it has to be done by tomorrow, Sept. 19. You go to the MUNSU website ( and click on the green Opt-Out box on the right side.

“Opting out is a simple two-step process that can be completed in about five minutes,” the site reads. “Before starting your opt out application, please ensure that you have the following information, as you will be asked to provide it during the application:

“• A valid student number;

“• A functional email address; and

“• Proof of comparable coverage from another insurance plan. In order to opt out of your benefit plan, you must be covered for similar benefits under another private or government plan.

“You will be asked to enter the policy and/or certificate number during the application process. Please ensure you have this information available.”

This month, we also learned how to redeem RESPs. I’m sure you’ll have help from your financial agent, but here are the basics.

You’ve made your contributions. Your child is now registered for post secondary. How does he get that hard-saved money into his MUN account?

First he requires a letter from the registrar’s office stating that he is registered. The letter of acceptance automatically sent out by Memorial is not sufficient as he can be accepted but never register.

In order to get the RESP money deposited directly into your MUN account, you have to get it sent to your bank, choose MUN as a payee and attach your student number. We did not go with this method, but chose instead to get the money sent to the account. Then we can write a cheque for him to deposit to his MUN account by bringing it to the cashier’s office.

We didn’t get the forms from the registrar’s office in time for tuition deadline, so to avoid paying the late fee we had to make up the difference and reimburse ourselves after the fact. But there was no real harm done and another lesson learned. I’m sure there will be many more.

Susan Flanagan can be reached at

St. Pius X Golden Jubilee feedback:

Marie Ryan (White) writes: “First — congratulations on your column … with your brood you have lots of material … of course the goings on in our world today also are excellent fodder.

“I am contacting you in relation to … an article (on) the (St.) Pius X celebrations.

“Ann Brennan (Connolly), her sister Liz (Philpott) and a couple of others including me … were sparked by a Grade 2 communion picture to decide to have a communion reunion later this month. One of our Pius X classmates found a picture of us in our wee communion grandeur complete with the required priest and sister and posted it on Facebook in mid-summer. And this sparked a desire to get together. We have found many of the girls and reconnected long-gone friends and friendships via Facebook — but a few remain elusive.

“When I saw your article yesterday I wondered if there was any way you might be interested to do a follow-up on our reunion — and this could help us find the others. We are holding our reunion the end of this month — Sept. 28-30th.”

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Recent comments

  • Tiffany
    September 19, 2012 - 06:55

    Great to read articles about everyday lives of working parents with kids!