When Baby1 started Primary One last year, I got her to write a weekly journal at the end of the first week of school. The mantra to her was “so that you’ll remember what had happened, and to brush up your writing”. But the real reasons were multi-fold:
- improve on writing
- improve on spelling
- improve on grammar and expression
- improve on speed
- aka masked “English revision”
- to pen down milestones like tests and events, and sometimes
- as punishment to write down her wrongs
In the beginning, it was very painful. Baby1’s spelling was horrible; I literally had to spell out every single word for her. And she took forever just to complete that week’s entry, resulting in me scolding and nagging and chasing her all weekend, sometimes spilling to the weekdays too. She cried, when her mind goes blank with nothing to write about; my temper flared, when her work was utter rubbish. I learnt to open-one-eye-close-one-eye, this is after all merely a collection of her memories and progresses.
By the time Baby1 started Primary Two, you can see that she has improved tremendously. I got her to write down more of her feelings rather than details of what happened, I incorporated what she had learnt in school on combining sentences and omitting repetitive words, and I pushed her to write 1 page in 15 mins rather than the usual 1 hour. For the first time since Primary School, one day she proudly declared that she got high marks for composition. I happily chirped in and attribute this to her weekly journal writing plus consistent reading.
When a child gets higher marks than her ‘smarter’ peers, she feels immense satisfaction. That reminds me of the words by a Caucasian elder who had been in the education sector for many years. For her, she got her kids to do homework for the next grade throughout the whole holidays. At first, I thought “ang mohs are so kiasu too?” But her kids turned out to be more inquisitive in class when they had already known the work that the teacher was teaching.
Does that mean that I’ve got to start teaching Baby1 algebra (which is taught from Primary Five, I believe)? I shudder to. I’m pretty sure that my tempers will flare very high so let’s not go down that path.
Instead I console myself that what I’ve been doing so far (for Baby1) is alright. I’ve printed and pasted the periodic table in the children’s room, and resolve to refer to it when there’s learning opportunities. I think Baby1 has some inkling what H2O which frequently appears in my recipe books, is, because of my short hand writing, opps.
Borrow more books from the library, and not slacken in our bedtime stories. Spend at least 30 to 45 mins on reading. Yes, I need to remind myself and not give excuses on this.
But for Baby2, here’s the dilemma: I’ll want her to enjoy her preschool years, but there’s increasing pressure from all over to hasten her learning. Multiplication will be brought forward from P2 to P1, there’s still no spelling from her school, her numbers and words are still written on the wrong side and increasingly she’s displaying more anger management issues.
Singapore’s society is really too demanding, our children are being expected too much at a younger and younger age.
I gotto remind myself that all kids are unique and different and we shouldn’t compare or benchmark any of them. Let them all enjoy the process of growing up, in our warmth and love.
Baby1 seems to enjoy playing the “teacher” to Baby2. On one hand, it reinforces what she had learnt in school, on the other hand, Baby2 learns higher level methods from her “teacher”. She is quite proficient in the Primary One method of addition, and is at subtraction now. “Ms Tan” has plans to move on to multiplication, then division by the end of the year to prepare Baby2 for Primary One.