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?


  1. I always believe in a mother's instinct, if you don't think its something to worry about, take what was said with a pinch of salt. Maybe ask the opinions of friends/relatives that are close to him? There is nothing wrong with being different :) imagine how boring the world would be if everyone was the same

  2. Hey. I say take it with a pinch of salt. Mandy is not the sociable kind too. She takes ages to warm up to new people and surroundings. To illustrate this point, ever since I could bring her out as a baby, I had been bringing her to my mum's place once a week. She only let my mum carry her when she was 8 months old. That's how long she took to warm up to my mum. Till today, my mil has never carried her. I think. I know EXACTLY how you feel because that's how I felt about Mandy. She's so different from the rest but yet I just knew she was normal. Many people asked me to have her checked because "there's something wrong with her". Until I read this book about the highly sensitive child (HSC). I alternated between squealing in joy and excitement and crying in relief when I read the 1st chapter. The author was like describing MY child. HSCs are different, but perfectly normal. You might want check if sonshine is a HSC. There's a checklist on one of my blogpost:

  3. And as for the school... You know, there are bound to meet teachers, friends etc who value certain personality traits more than others. Mandy is so sensitive and cautious she often gets misunderstood and left on the sideline. She also struggles with peoples' opinions (real or perceived), friendship stuff etc. But they have to learn how to cope with that. With the 2 kids, I can see her having a much harder time out of home than her brother. But she's coping. Teachers leave all the time, no matter which school. As long as we know and support and love our kids and they know that we do and we stand up for them when there's a need to.

  4. Hi jil, he tends to behave like this with people other than my hub & I. But he does respond a little to his gramps. Most of the time I've to bark at him to reply THEN he would acknowledge the person. Otherwise he acts like he didn't hear what people are asking him! Yet, he's fully aware of what's going around him. I'm praying that he's 'different' is a good thing & wouldn't hinder his social growth. It's very worrying but at the same time he's happy being the loner, being out of the limelight. So it's a question of do I force him to change just because his teachers or outsiders keep saying he keeps to himself too much? Or do I respect his Unqiue personality since he's not showing any signs of abnormality at home? Come to think of it, I was a little like that too. And I detested when people around me kept forcing me to come of my shell. It made me more terrified. ... Erm I just told myself the answer didn't I?

  5. Hi k, yah I read abbot hsc before. But I hesitate to assume he is one because he doesn't really hit the nail with the 'deep in thoughts', 'ask thought provoking questions' etc. Although like Mandy, he cries (dramatically) easily, HATES it when he's clothes get wet, not even 10 cents size wet, hates tags on his clothes, gets very terrified with v loud noises. I smiled when I read about how Mandy refuse birthday celebration, because that's EXACTLY how he reacts too! He doesn't want us to hold a celebration for him in school, closed his ears & hid during baby doll's birthday song (because it was like pple were singing to him since we were all at the cake). Hahaha, and yah I've alot of problems getting him to taste new foods!

  6. Hiya, I used to face the same frustrations whenever I went for my son's PTM. The teachers would be telling us that he's slow, he does not respond, he does not understand, he does not talk. But he is a completely different child at home. He's super chatty, he's inquisitive, he laughs etc. It is as if they were describing someone that's not my son! It suddenly occurred to me at a PTM to show the teachers a video of my son at home. And I could see the shock on their faces. They could not believe that it is him. After that, I think they started to appreciate that they need more time to let him warm up to them and coax him out of his 'shell'. With the teacher's cooperation and understanding, my son became more comfortable in school. This year, we are getting much better reviews about his social skills. :) Perhaps you could try showing them a video of what your son is capable of doing at home. :)

  7. Hi Violet! THanks for sharing. It is very frustrating when the teachers have misgivings about our children. Worse is, because of their wrong judgement they don't teach our children appropiately. Today, the mandarin teacher said she got sonshine to read something to her (upon my suggestion, i guess). She said he could read 98% of the words and gave me thumbs up. Lesson learnt, i need to take the extra step to speak to his new teachers at the beginning of each year regarding his reserve nature & not wait for the meet in the middle of the year. Since it is very easy to assume that he doesn't know anything because he isn't very communicative with them.


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