The Primary 2 Form Teacher

Have you had a teacher in your primary / secondary schooling years that fit into this profile:

Unmarried woman in her 40s, with a perpetual scowl on her face.

I still can recall a teacher known as Ms Tay, that I encountered in Primary 5, who didn’t rank too highly in her personable attributes. Being 11 then, I think it was easier to manage a teacher whom I don’t feel really compelled to give gifts to when Teachers’ Day came around that year.

This reminds me of a retro card game I used to play in Primary School;

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So how do I manage when it is my barely 8 year old that is experiencing a form teacher of this profile in Primary 2 this year?

This experience with K’s new form teacher is like an understatement to experiencing a fast track education in Singapore. Not just in academics, but also a fast track lessons in learning EQ.

I suspected that this teacher is quite ‘different’ during the 2nd week of a teacher-parent briefing, when she insisted that she will not give her mobile number to the parents but will prefer to communicate through email. Many of K’s classmates parents expressed their preference that it will be a more effective form of communication with her. Besides last year, we could call or drop an sms to the previous form teacher. With reluctance, she wrote her mobile number on the white board, and highlighted that we should only call/message her when absolutely necessary.

As for how K feels about his form teacher? It can be seen through these short anecdotes after 3 weeks of school;

“I think Ms Ong is not a happy person, I hardly ever see her smile.” :(

“You know what happened today, C (his classmate) broke her water bottle and was really upset about it, and you know what Ms Ong said. She said that she does not care! She actually said that she doesn’t care!” – with a look of disbelief on his face.

“Ms Ong is really not sharp, she ended up scolding the wrong person in class. Instead of D who was the one who started disturbing E, she punished E. I pity E, who did not deserve the punishment.”

“Ms Ong punishes the whole class, when just one person makes the mistake. The rest of us get punished even when it is not our fault” (I told him like it is in being in the Army, as that happens when someone makes a mistake in the platoon).

“Sigh…I really miss Mdm Tan (his teacher last year). Even though she is strict and firm, she is caring, but Ms Ong…(sigh again)”

 

What he needed was fast track lessons on EQ;

- To learn to be alert and watch her emotions and body language during class time.

- And be really, really attentive during her lessons so that he knows what he to do for her subjects that she teach.

So far he hasn’t experience any issues with her, but have been sharing stories about how some of his classmates, the not-so-alert ones, who have been getting it quite bad from her.

Still, I can see myself writing her this note to her;

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As much as I wanted to send this to her through K, I decided not to.

Having come from the ‘school of hard knocks’, I have come to realise that often in life we are not able to change the circumstances surrounding us. Until we take drastic measures to change the situation with these bad bosses or not-so-good teachers, and look to switching jobs or the schools.

Having a not-so-good teacher may not be that bad after all, when this becomes an opportunity to teach K to manage challenging situations by changing his attitude towards it, rather than always expecting things to change for him.

Nonetheless, we find ourselves praying for her nightly before we go to bed, in the hope that she can experience the love of God, so that she can be transformed to be a more loving person towards the children and others.

To be frank, I am not really that excited to meet her again for PTM in May, as she just made it more challenging for me to motivate my child in his second year of Singapore’s School system.

And if desperate measures are ever needed, this letter that I just imagined myself writing to her, might just reach her one of these days.

—–

Read here on my take of how a parent can manage the pressures of the Singapore School system, Part 2 of post here.

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Managing Money

CNY 1

This is the first Chinese New Year that K will be able keep the money in the red packets that are given to him. For previous years, hb and I have been rather sneaky to pocket the money to make up for the ‘losses’ on our end, besides, the little boy didn’t quite understand the value of money then.

This year, we are doing things a little differently.

For a start, we don’t have plans to visit relatives, all except my dad and his family and my MIL. So it wouldn’t be exactly a big bountiful harvest of red packets for him, however, he will get to keep all the money from his red packets this time round.

After getting almost 4 weeks worth of pocket money, he seems to be getting into the groove of spending and saving money, and I have found him pouring out all the money he has in his ‘can-coin bank’ and counting them, at least twice in these 4 weeks. And he has never taken a single coin from it to spend, not once.

He has glee-fully announced that he has has $31.00 worth of new coins in his can.

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Earning his money

I don’t reward him for picking up his dirty clothing and putting it in the laundry basket, clearing his toys after play or helping with any form of chores at home. I wouldn’t give him extra money for doing things that are part of his responsibility. And he would likely find that he has to do them for the rest of his life, so I do not want to give him the wrong message that he will be doing these things at home, just because he will get something out of it.

I don’t believe in rewarding him for good results in school either. He need to know how to intrinsically motivate himself to learn, and not be pushed to learn or do well academically through extrinsic rewards.

He is however, allowed to look through my coin purse for new coins, if there is a positive review of his overall behavior at the end of the week.

Just last week, he has been penalized for lack of self-control and did not get any extra new coins from my coin purse, and had game-time deducted from playing on the iPad/PS3 to only 30 mins during the weekend.

I don’t pressure him to save more daily. He is given the freedom to decide what he wants to eat. He has only once, since school started, bought a ‘sweet’ drink, while all other days he has been contented with drinking water from his water bottle and has bought 1 eraser from the school bookstore.

At the end of each week at school, he will have a dollar or more saved from his pocket money, so he will change the coins for a shiny new coins to add to his can-coin bank.

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His coins in this Fruit Tree can is about 3/4 filled and he hasn’t taken any out to spend since he started saving since 5 months ago.

 

‘For the love of money is the root of all evil…’

You must have heard this saying before, that is from the bible by the way.

I can probably write a whole thesis about how the love of money is the root of all evil. From how families are being destroyed by divorces as the result of financial issues. Or how men through the ages have laid their lives to serve money. Some cheat and deceive many, while others are driven to commit crime for the sake of money. Or how the world tags a social status to how much money or material things one own.

Money in itself isn’t evil, it is only when one loves money (greed) then it becomes the root of all evil.

As a parent, I see the importance of teaching my child about money at age 6. So to prepare him to make good financial choices ahead, ensure that his money habits leans towards being more of a thrifty person, rather than a spendthrift. And how to help him NOT to be be a ‘money-face’, materialistic adult.

 

What to do with Savings? 

I have asked him what will he plan to do with the money once the can is full to the brim.

He has said that he wants to give the money to the poor and then keep aside enough for buy just 1 toy for himself. I was rather surprised with his response, as he has always been rather stingy with the money he has saved. Looks like watching videos of poor and less fortunate people and discussing about how we can help them, has helped educate him that it is a blessing to give to others.

So, we will be setting aside a percentage of his savings to give to the poor. Some savings will go into his POSB Savings bank and he can still buy the toy that he wants.

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Apart from occasions like Christmas or his birthday, he does not get toys all other times. I think buying for him whatever he wants will not help him at all, instead he will learn to earn and help pay for the things himself from his allowance. Also with the ‘new’ economy that we are living in these days, he needs to learn how to delay gratification, stretch the ‘dollar’ and live beneath his means.

So likely all money got from the red packets from CNY this year will go into his savings. And in the next few months, I will start giving him a weekly allowance, to see how he will learn to budget his pocket money weekly.

How do you teach your child to manage money?  Do share. 

Linking up with Dominique’s
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Parenting Success is Heart Work!

What does success look like to you as a parent?

Does your definition of successful parenting look anything like Amy Chua’s “Tiger Mom” approach? Her approach relies on a tight control of her child’s time and demand more from her child to ensure success (in her case, it meant academic and musical success). There have been plenty of write-ups criticizing her approach and there have been plenty of back and forth on the benefits of the relaxed or laissez-faire parenting, vs the Tiger Mom’s strict and demanding approach.

In our culture, most parents measure success a certain way, such as, in the hope that our children grow up to have a good job, nice comfortable house and have enough to enjoy family vacations annually.

So what does successful parenting looks like in my world?

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For sure, a child’s achievement is good to attain for a successful parent. Nonetheless, no matter how successful my child is in terms of academic achievement, sports, art or music, it will matter little, if as a parent, I fail to set his moral compass for life. I think good character is a best measure of my child’s success than all the other successes add together.

 

Character Development is Heart work!

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A child’s character doesn’t just happens when they become a teenager. I have heard from many parents (from my parents generation) that these things can wait till a child grows older. Character development can’t wait, as character traits are learnt from the experiences a child has in life and from observing people around them, especially their parents. So parents are the best model in shaping their child’s character.

To shape a child’s character, I believe it is important to get to the heart of the issue. To mold a character or address undesirable elements of character, I have to address the heart of my child.

I start at the beginning with God. I teach my child to to love God, who is his creator that made him, knows him inside out and loves him. His accountability to God becomes his internal compass on what is right and wrong. Even when no one knows or sees what he does, God sees it all.

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What are the character traits that I want to instill in my child?

  • Put Family First
  • Work hard and persevere
  • Manners
  • Courage
  • Loyalty and Dependability
  • Kindness and Compassion
  • Self Discipline
  • Self Control
  • Honesty and Honor
  • Trustworthiness

How to start character training? Start when you child can understand the consequences of their actions and focus on transforming your child’s heart. Work at developing a close bond with your child, as I am certain that constant encouragement will help to build your child’s character. Do try to spend less effort on punishing undesired behavior, and more time and effort on reinforcing desired behavior, something that I need to be reminded to do more of!

 

Need resources or help on Character Development? Here are some useful sites :

- Character Notes

- Character Training

- Teaching Values

 

Christian Books on Character Development :

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God’s Wisdom for Little Boys : Character-Building Fun from Proverbs by Jim and Elizabeth George

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God’s Wisdom for Litle Girls : Virtues and Fun from Proverbs 31 by  Elizabeth George

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Child’s Book of Character Building: Growing Up in God’s World – At Home, at School, at Play Book 1 by Ron Coriell (I got my copy from SKS Bookstore)

 

So what does successful parenting look like for you as a parent?


Follow our series of blog hops on Character Development and look out for these posts lined up in these blogs :

12 Feb 2013 – Sarah of http://www.theplayfulparents.com/

19 Feb 2013 – Elisa of http://www.loveourchildrennow.sg/

26 Feb 2013 – Sharon of http://www.oaktreebaby.com/

5th Mar 2013 – Jean of http://jeanstitch.wordpress.com/

 

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