If you a mom planning to put your child into a primary school in the next 2 years, I can share with you that there is nothing to worry about, if the school that you have selected for your child has an Inclusive Programme.
What do I mean by an Inclusive Programme?
Picture from here
An inclusive programme helps each child makes the best of his or her abilities and do not require him/her to have advanced abilities or knowledge ahead of their expected development, so as to be able to on par with the school standards.
A selective programme in turn means that the school will push each child to have a level of competence that is above the standards of schools across the board.
Since 2012, MOE have stopped releasing statistics for the general public to benchmark the academic performance of one primary school to another. Schools rankings were changed to be based on a set of criteria known as ‘The Masterplan of Awards’ (MOA) in 2012, which will be changed again in 2014.
But this doesn’t stop kiasu parents from ranking schools themselves.
This mom refuses to be stressed by the unrealistic demands society has placed on parents and children, so the ranking of schools have little bearing on my choice of primary school for K. Besides, I have no fear about my child ‘losing out’, despite reading articles like this which will bring out the latent traits of kiasu-ism in any parent.
On the contrary, I am glad that I did not make the choice to go with hb’s alumni which has a selective programme that includes the qualifying criteria of having children of a certain race, as there is no other 2nd language options in that school apart from Chinese. Also, as the child progresses in the school year, not being to afford tuition for most subjects could likely become a disadvantage for a child in the school.
I heaved a sigh of relief when I chanced upon this hearsay from a relative whose friend works as a teacher in Hb’s alumni; The teacher don’t spend alot of time teaching the students, as the majority of them are way ahead of the required curriculum for the subjects, so she dishes out plenty of worksheets instead.
In this school that K attends, he is a minority race in his class, as there are officially 7 chinese students in his class of 30. He has to join another class for his chinese lessons, and I see the advantage of the teacher and child ratio of a small class of 16 children.
He will have little chance of becoming a xenophobic being in this school.
Just this weekend, hb and I visited K’s school for a parent’s briefing on the Holistic Assessment (HA) plans for the year. We were shared details about the Stellar Programme (btw I have yet to see a fairy tale in the range of Big Books) and the Programme for Active Learning which is incorporated into the curriculum.
With these Holistic Assessment plans shared for the academic year, we were given very clear roadmaps on the topics covered and weightage of skills evaluated for the year.
Holistic Assessments for English
Having to understand this big picture of what K will be taught for the year, tells me that :
1) I am not going to be a smarty pants and teach him what he does not know 2-3 terms ahead. As I only have myself to blame if he gets bored in class and then cause behavioral problems in class.
2) Too many moms are worried about kids not being able to read fluently before they reach Primary 1. I think this worry is unfounded especially if your child is in a preschool, especially a childcare programme or a Montessori. Most preschools have a proper phonics programme in place to provide your child with some foundational skills in learning how to read.
Inclusive primary school programmes will further support in providing explicit instruction in teaching reading in school. K’s school has a reading programme that utilizes the Leap Frog Tag Reading System, where students can being a book home to read with their parents over the weekends. This programme can help the children to revise phonics and improve their reading fluency.
K may be slightly ahead in his English language reading ability, however, he has weaknesses in other subjects, namely, Chinese.
3. Having this knowledge of the HA plans for Chinese language, I am able to help him with acquiring the specific skills that he needs.
4. I realized that there isn’t a necessity to ensure that you get the contact numbers of the fellow moms of your child’s classmates as;
- Most school issue the Student Handbook to the students at the start of the school year, where children are expected to write down details of their homework requirements daily, things to do or bring the next day or week.
- There are fixed days for English and Chinese Spelling, and the teachers will inform parents of the spelling schedules at the start of the school year.
- If there are upcoming assessments / tests. A child who is paying attention in class, he should be able to tell you as well.
I think the best way a child learn responsibility is through natural consequences. I have told K that it is his responsibility to pay attention in class, listen to instructions and try his best in learning what is taught in school. If he doesn’t make an effort to listen to what is needed, he will just have to accept the punishment given by his teacher.
After meeting K’s form teacher, my first impressions are that she is friendly and approachable person. And K likes her too, and says that she is caring while at the same time, strict and firm with the children.
This first parent-teacher session of the new school year has opened clear channels of communication between the teachers and parents, and have cleared any doubts I initially had about the academic requirements for Primary 1.
Ultimately I feel that the level of stress your child will be exposed to is related to the demands from the school. If I were to chose a school with a selective or ‘advantaged’ programme, it would be contradictory if I were to complain that my kid is stressed with too much homework, or not being able to catch up (since 90% of his/her classmates) are at least 1 grade above in their academic competence. Why complain when this is expected?
However, if you are a parent like me, who sees the importance of not quenching a child’s love for learning at an early age, and are aware that childhood is the time where our children define and develop their character. You will likely go with the school with an inclusive system, and not let unrealistic demands snuff out the joy and wonder from his/her childhood.