Archives for June 2010

School dilemma

K almost did not need to go to school today…until next year January, that is.

Dh and I had a talk yesterday about taking K out of school, as dh felt that K was not really getting much out of school and his routines were badly disrupted after school. He will battle to take a nap during the late afternoons, and get extremely cranky in the late afternoon after school. Dropping his nap is not a solution as he will be very get extremely difficult and will battle to sleep early for that night. So the pros kind of outweigh the cons of attending school. I agreed with dh and was prepared to call the teacher this morning to let her know that we will be taking him out of school and will be on wait list for the morning session for Nursery in January.

Somehow, this morning I took my time to make the call. I had a feeling that we will be facing some resistance from the little guy. And I was right. When I told him that we will not be going to school today until next year, he asked why. Dh explained to him was that he will be going to big boy school in January and there will be no more small boy school today until then (at this moment, I nudged dh and reminded him that he should not lie to K).

I went into his room and wanted to put his uniform back into his wardrobe, but K got very upset. He took the uniform from me and insisted that he wanted to go to school and wanted to leave the house now. He was in tears and exclaimed, "I like school!" I gave in and got an earful from dh about not being determine in my choice and told me that in times like this we need to make the decision for him. Despite what dh said, I went ahead and sent K to school.

When we were in the car, he asked me, 'Will my classmates be in school today?' I answered yes to his question and he asked, "Why did daddy lie to me?" I managed a "Umm…daddy did not want you to go to school because he gets concerned that you always misbehave and refuse to  take your nap when you come back from school." K look at me earnestly and answered, "I will sleep well, come back eat my snacks, watch tv and then take nap."

When we got to the foyer of the school, he was the first to enter the lift when his teacher arrived to gather the children to the assembly hall. And he was so determined that he wanted to attend school today, that he did not even bother to wave goodbye to me.

So K's going to attend school for another term.

How do you quench the enthusiasm of your child when he seems to enjoy going to school? Even if the enthusiasm only lasted for a day.

However, a hiccup has surfaced. He is on wait list for the school bus, and if he is not able to take the school bus to school, I might have to really take him out of school :( There is also this potential hiccup for next year; morning session for the nursery is full and he is on wait list at this moment. So it looks like I have to start to look for an alternative school, or just make that decision to home-school him for the whole of next year.

Parenting can be so full of mundane (perceived) issues, and these things can throw things off balance at times.

(Additional parenting note : I have learnt that no matter what the circumstance, we should never lie to our kids. We are not showing a good example to our child, and it confuses him when he is constantly being told that lying is not good thing to do).

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Sand Play


K has always seem to prefer playing with water to sand, and I tend to keep those 2 elements quite separate (for play at home) for the convenience of cleaning up thereafter. However, I did not know what came over me about a week ago when I gave him both sand and water to play with at home.

It was only then I realised that sand and water is a good idea at the beach or in Jacob Ballas Children's Garden, but it is never a good idea to be explored at home. I reminded him to restrict his area of play to the balcony and not to venture to my sofa or the living room, however forgot to mention the walls in the balcony. He is at the age where it is safe to leave him by himself while he plays, or so I thought. When I left him alone at his sand and water table for 10 minutes, he discovered the thrill of making mud balls and threw it all over the walls and the floor of the balcony. He made such a huge mess that my helper and I ended up scraping the sand off the walls and floor for the next half an hour. Being the budget conscious mom, I made sure that we collected the sand in trays put them out in the sun to dry, so that K could play with it again.

So for this week, I made sure that sand and water play is restricted to the outdoors at Jacob Ballas. He hasn't reach the age of building sandcastles and had more fun filling the buckets, mixing water with the sand, pouring it all out and then filling again.

We have been to Jacob Ballas countless number of times, however we have never ventured beyond the water and sand area. It never fails to rain every single time after K is done with water play, it is quite strange really, how we tend to go there when the weather seems perfectly fine in the morning but will be pouring in the early afternoon.


Will probably be finding more excuses (especially when dh is away and I have the car) to skip school in the mornings and visit Jacob Ballas a little more often in the next few months.

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Teacher’s Pet

Recently I came across a 'complaint' letter from a mom in TODAY newspapers about how her son is asking her to buy teacher's guidebooks for all his school's subjects from the net, so that he can get all the answers from the guidebooks for his school workbooks. Apparently, her son claimed that alot of his classmates parents bought the guidebooks online and they always know the right answers to complete their workbooks. 

She then went on to complain that the authorities need to ensure that these guidebooks are not readily available for purchase online, as it is unfair that these children get the advantage.

I was appalled to read something like that on the papers; not on the premise that children was getting the unfair advantage over others, but rather, how parents' kiasu-ism have 走火入魔 and have resorted to the easy way out to ensure that their child excel in school. I wonder what kind of values these parents are imparting to their children? Something to the tune of; it is important to always have the right answers and it does not matter how you get it. Or maybe getting the teacher's guidebook does not constitute as cheating as the parent have the license to the right answers to help them to coach their child at home. 

As for the mom that wrote the complaint, she seemed more concerned about other children getting the unfair advantage (sounds like another kiasu parent who gets extremely concern when other children seem to be doing much better than her own), rather than being concerned that parents were imparting the wrong values to children.

So many thoughts crossed my mind when I read this article; these parents were just victims of the Singapore educational system, a system of meritocracy, a system where parents fumble to get their child ready for primary 1, ensuring that they have the necessary 'skills' and 'knowledge' before they enter primary school. A system where teachers will be calling you up to tell you that your child is lagging behind when your child got 95/100, while the rest of the children got 98-99/100 for their test. It is important to encourage children to give their best effort for everything that they do, however, is constantly telling the child that he/she is 'never good enough' the only way to get that message across?

There is something fundamentally wrong with the educational system when parents prepare children for education, rather than allowing what education is suppose to do in its definition; to develop the knowledge, skill, or character of students.

Education in Singapore has been confined to the four corners of subject content of math, english, chinese and science when children enter primary school and will be further confined when they reach higher levels. Late developers rarely get a chance in our system. They often get stream-lined in lower secondary, and most will not get a second chance unless parents can afford an overseas education during university.

Think about this quotes about education;

“The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think—rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with the thoughts of other men.” ~Bill Beattie

“The one real object of education is to leave a man in the condition of continually asking questions.” ~Bishop Creighton

Is education in our local context really helping children to think for themselves, or encouraging them to ask questions? Maybe some things have improved these few years, but there is still alot of room for improvement. One way to start is that parents' need to take stock of their actions. I cannot understand why many parents are in a great rush, always anxious for a greater development in their child. Does it make a whole world of difference when the child is an early reader at 2 or 3? Is it really to the benefit of the child is he/she learns to read well ahead of their peers or are achievements like that there to feed their parent's ego? Is this something to be so proud of when a child in primary 3 is able to do primary 5 or 6 workbooks and assessments? And the one that really takes the cake is that of parents that send their child for gifted enrichment to ensure that they ace the gifted exams in primary 4.

I understand that parents all care for their children and want their best for their them. But surely this is not the way to ensure that your child gets ahead in life. We have to reflect by doing all of that, our child will indeed have a great future ahead of him/her. What good is a person to society if they are highly intelligent and are great academics, but have no regard for integrity, shows no responsibility for their actions or the world around them, no compassion for the poor, old and sick or have no respect for young and old. All they will care is for themselves. Is that how future going to look like? A vast population of selfish and conceited adults?

Despite all these whinge-ing about the education system in Singapore, my child will still go to in mainstream school when he enters primary school. The only difference will be that I will be that mom who will be concerned over the process rather than the product, will want my child to have a love of learning (most likely not acquired from school), will give my child ample time for fun and play, help my child to learn about life and hope that he will one day become that person of character and integrity. 

So what if my child is average? What matters is that he will be happy. And I will not be expecting that he will become a teacher's pet anytime soon.

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