Monday, May 28, 2012

The Journal homework

Sonshine brought back a blank jotter book from school. He had to write a journal as a holiday homework. Knowing that sonshine might have difficulty expressing his own thoughts and translating them into written words, i decided to incorporate Susan Wise's suggested activity in her book.

In the book, she suggested that the child read a passage  and have the child answer questions relating to the short story, in complete sentences. The parent/teacher then writes down his answers. The child copies what is written thereafter. I think it is a great way to give the child a visual on how his thoughts can be translated into words and then in writing.

So to guide him, I ask him simple questions, he answers in complete sentences and i write down his answers in full.
He copies his own verbal thoughts on his jotter book.

Example of questions that i ask;

me: What is today's day?
Sonshine: Today is Friday.
(i write down his answer)

me: What are you doing?
Sonshine: I am eating biscuits
(i write down his answer)

me: How are you feeling?
Sonshine: i am happy
(i write down his answer)

He copies his answers onto the book.

Questions i asked:
What is today's day?
Where did you go yesterday?

His answers:
Today is Sunday.
(Yesterday) I went to take the train.

He added on his own accord:
It was very fun.
I am happy.

I was pleasantly surprised that he added the last two sentences. More importantly, he actually used the correct tense i.e. 'went' without my prompting!

The teacher encouraged the children to draw pictures on the blank side of the book. I asked him to draw a happy face and this was his creation.
Mr Happy potato!

I love this homework! It not only helps to brush up his spoken grammar but also his writing. WOOT!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mandarin reads this week

Here are 2 mandarin books that i (not sure about the boy) enjoy reading this week.

信谊世界精选图画书 巴士到站了

I S B N:9787533258160

This book is written by a Japanese author. It must be a very popular book since it is translated into 2 (maybe more) languages. We own the English version and i thought it would be nice to read it in Mandarin too. Strangely, the interpretation isn't exactly the same as the English? Still, it is quite an easy read.


ISBN: 9787543479487

Another relatively easy to read book. I suspect it also translated from an English book. I like the message in this story, it is about loving yourself no matter how you look. Great for kids!

Keeping it real & Plans for June

I haven't been feeling myself for the past weeks. There were alot of internal struggle, tempers raging and tears. I lost the purpose of all that i have been doing. So it has been weeks of hibernation, tuning out just to cut myself some slack. Unfortunately, it didn't help much since i got guilty for cutting myself mentally from the kids, leaving them to the television, iPad, aimlessly (or not) roaming & exploring on their own.

These days, i keep having uncontrollable anger toward my kids and sometimes the husband. I shan't say what was the result of the anger, it wasn't pleasant to say the least. The littlest of things would spark a typhoon of emotions, mostly anger. I don't like the 'new' me. More guilt. More anger. More impatience.

I think it is the taking care of 2 kids (OK OK some of you have 3 and are doing WAY better than me) all by myself. It is taking a toll on me- without my realisation. Babydoll is gaining her independence and asserting her demands. I can't do something without feeling rushed resulting in improper or incomplete task, which frustrates me to no end. On the other hand, i have the boy, who's fairly happy on his own. But i cannot help but feel guilt for not spending enough time with him, without any interruption from the girl. Instead of cuddling with him, i spend time barking, yelling and showing him my annoyance. To add to the stress, his speech and social skills are worrying me again. Then self condemnation for not putting more effort in helping him. It does not help either that everywhere i turn i see areas that i need to clean/tidy. There are dust, mess at every step. I make mental notes to clear it all, but when i finally have the time, all i want to do is shut out and tune in to the television or internet. Babydoll, isn't helping either, she is going around digging out stuff & adding on to the mess. Then, i feel bad that the husband has to clear out the chores, although he hasn't been complaining. All i want to do is tune out but when i do, i feel bad, i feel lousy for ignoring my children. Needless to say, homeschooling is non-existent at this moment.

I know, it is something most mothers go through. And i am no super woman. We all fall along the way.

Fortunately, my spirits are picking up- thank God for my mother. With her help these 2 days, i am able to tune out without feeling guilty- hence i am here typing post after post. So, i have time and energy to plan out the 'work' for sonshine this June. I will focus our activities on:

1) Spelling
2) Writing Chinese characters
3) Continuation of 四五快读
4) Writing (English)
5) Speech
6) Geography- Map of Europe
7) Exciting project which i took part in (more about this later!)

Well, let's see if i can stick to the plan.
Recently, i have been reading some of the parents' views about our local education system as well as their stand (what's more important to them). It provoked me to re-think about this whole business of pursuing academics success.

First, there is the parents of Dr jiajia. They shared on facebook that although their dyslexic son failed 2 subjects, they took it in their stride. I quote "... (we are) not worried about his future at all. If he is happy, he will end up having higher resistance to handle setbacks. That is most important..."

Coincidentally, Of Kids and Education recently wrote this post with the same message. She shared: "To me, kids who have not tasted failure are in a much more vulnerable position. In an achievement-centric system like Singapore's, kids like Lesley-Anne tend to link their self-esteem with their accomplishments. This comes about because they are constantly praised by teachers and parents for their academic and other achievements, so that they internalise the message as, "I'm valued because of what I've achieved, not who I am.":

Words of wisdom.

Most of us would show our disappointment and even reprimand our children when they fail to achieve the desired academic results. We push them to aim for the As, we send them to top schools, the best enrichment classes in hope that they will score in their examination. We equate being top in the class to a successful future. When our children end up last, we panic, we get angry, we question why. We think the worst for our children, we think their future is doomed.

Many of us have forgotten that failure is a form of success. We missed the opportunity of teaching our children to handle setbacks, to be resilient,  how to pick themselves up and move on. Instead, when they fail (despite much effort sown), we give them hell. In truth, we are telling them that it is NOT ok to fail, that failure is the end of the world, that failing means that they are weak, they are no good. At worst, they grow up truly believing they are good for nothings and self fulling prophesy sets in.

These 2 parents did me a HUGE favor with their insights. It reminds me that there are equally important skills, values to adopt other than academic success. Someone said it is not the product that counts but the journey. I have to disagree. I think the product is important but it is the journey that determines the product. We may have the As during the journey, but if we are not taught the right attitudes, skills, we will still end up a wrong product. Many of us are too blinded by the desired end that we forgot about the importance of the journey.

Time to time we need such reminders to get ourselves back on track. With each failure, therein lies a life lesson to learn that will only make us tougher for the road ahead.

Monday, May 21, 2012

I just had a parents-teacher meet today. I left feeling not too good about the session.

We didn't talk about sonshine's academic progress. It was his social skills that dominated the entire session. He's teacher feedback that he doesn't interact with his classmates and while he does answer her questions but mostly keeps to himself. He also avoids eye contact with her. Still, she acknowledges that he is aware of the going-ons just that he refuses to converse with anyone.

Ironically, he is very noisy at home- talks and talks until we have to get him to stop because mummy & daddy need to talk to each other! He demands for our eye contact when we don't give him our attention.

Although, what's been said were nothing new to me, still, it left my inside crumbling.

Ever since sonshine was a young boy, i just find him different from most kids. For one, as I've shared here, his interest isn't that of a typical child. He is different but normal. Yet, i can't point a finger to in what ways he is different.

Still, i am certain sonshine is normal just that he prefers not to socialise with other beings. Although, i have resigned to the fact that it his personality, i would still try to encourage him to interact with others more.

His Mandarin teacher remarks left me puzzled. She said sonshine didn't know his work, doesn't understand Mandarin and is very slow. Her comments weren't in sync with his past and present teachers who told me that he can understand Mandarin well. I was also baffled since sonshine has been reading mandarin sentences at home and understand simple contexts.

Further into the session, i found out she just joined & hence taught N for a month only. Hence, I felt what she said was very unfair to sonshine. Just because he didn't answer her questions and doesn't raise hands in class she jumps to the conclusion that sonshine doesn't know any mandarin. I thought that was very assumptous of her. But i explained that it is in his character not to respond to someone he's not comfortable with. Moreover, not all kids would readily raise their hands even though they may know the answer.

But what really ticked me off was her reaction when i shared that we don't speak Mandarin with him at home. She immediately said agitatedly, in her native accent 'Why all the SINGAPOREAN parents don't converse with their children at home?!!'., her hands up in the air. I don't know why i got mad but it could have been the way she said it, the tone and her expression. I was offended for me and my fellow Singaporeans. I mean how she said it was really demeaning to us. I wasn't shy about showing it and i think she got it.

She gave me a blur look when i told her i HAVE been teaching sonshine to read & write and he CAN read in Mandarin  and all his past teachers said so too!   I also asked her what is the point in speaking in half mandarin and half English (since my own spoken mandarin is so poor) to him? How and what would he be learning? She quickly suggested that i should then read to him more mandarin books to help him converse in Mandarin. But i told her point blank that i HAVE been reading to him mandarin books- so what's next?!! Her response 'er, read more books?'. Duh. Thanks for the great tip! Like i didn't know that!

So I left the school with 2 thoughts:

1) That's the difference between a Montessori teacher and a 'normal' teacher. The former would be very clear about the child's academic level while the latter may be left clueless simply because she has too many children to mind. I don't know. I mean, if the teacher is misled in my child's academic standing, how can she teach my son properly? I am very tempted to pull him out and send him right back to Montessori school!

2) If i should take the teachers' feedback word for word or a pinch of salt. After all, i am the parent. I should know my son best. But what happens if their report doesn't align with mine?

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