Wednesday, May 26, 2010 ;
10:32 PM
22 May

ds1's pri school Parent meet teacher (PTM) and SEED exhibition day.

First, pics of ds2's craft in school. He likes me to take pics of his work, especially when he sees me capturing ds1's work.

Btw, you see the chinese words describing the art technique used because his school has the art, PE and cookery lessons in Chinese. They have 50%-50% split in usage of English and Chinese so the kids will hopefully be more bilingual.

I did see a marked improvement in ds2's vocabulary, speech and reading after he started school here, so we (Dh and I) are very pleased.

A viking helmet they made in Chinese speech and drama class, also during school hours.

Now on to ds1's school. This is his classroom door.
I arranged to meet his teachers at 8am because we could choose timings between 8am to 12 noon on that Sat. We had already planned to be at the Jurong Bird Park that day, so I wanted to get done with the PTM and go to the bird park.

The notice board in the class. ds2 is very interested as well and you can see he looks up to his brother and wants to "go to xx pri school" just like his ge-ge.

ds1 showing off his various projects and artwork. This particular project involved using only recycled materials.

What did his teachers say about him?

Initially I told ds1 I was very nervous about meeting his teachers since his daily behaviour at home is so.... hyperactive/ mischievous.. He tries to fool around whenever he is bored and according to him, that happens all the time in school.

Also he always regales me with tales of how he joked non stop during story time, and how he'd walk around the class talking and playing with all his good friends (during lesson time)... how he fought with R and S during PE... how they play with erasers..

He even joined the girls in their "slapping game". I asked him, what slapping game. He said this girl who is one of the class leaders, and also one of his girlfriends, will stand in the middle of the circle and call out actions in quick succession. The rest in the circle must quickly do all those actions accurately. This sounded ok, quite fun... It's like "Follow the leader".

But then ds1 says whoever did not do the actions correctly will have to stand in the middle with the leader and let her slap him/ her. After she is done with that person, the rest of those in the circle gets to slap him/ her as well. I was horrified. I asked if the slaps were painful and if those who got slapped cried. He said no. They all found it very fun. But he said mostly the girls played this game. He joined them once only and kept getting slapped. The girls laughed and laughed, he said.

I forbade him to ever play this game anymore. Because I don't want him to slap others and get others hurt, neither do I want him to be slapped, however much it is a game they enjoy. I don't know if I am being an overprotective mom, but I just feel that this game doesn't sound very right.

(Anyway I can understand why this is a game girls play cos only girls slap. Boys punch.)

So ds1 also tells me a lot of other games he plays with the boys, usually during recess or lunch. They also involve a lot of rough housing. It is fortunate that he wrestles a lot with his brother at home so he can take care of himself in school, but I just wonder if he plays and someone gets hurt, will the other party's parents come and find him/ me? I still cautioned him against playing too rough. Don't know why kids cannot play zero point or five stones nowadays, so much more "gentle" in my opinion.

Ok, back to his behaviour. I am not sure if I mentioned his monitor position was taken away cos he was far too talkative. Even after the teacher reprimanded him, he was still talking with his friends, so now the class leaders (they don't use the term monitor anymore) are both girls. haha.

He also got kept in during recess time once. According to him, lots of other classmates get detained and cannot go for recess, but he only got punished just once. I was still not very happy... He is so thin already, he has to eat all the time, with his high metabolic rate. So I told him never to commit the mistakes that would get him kept in class during recess cos he needs to eat!

Other than this, he also was not allowed to participate in PE a few times. Was sidelined with a couple of other boys because they were fooling around or fighting and not following what the teacher said.

So with all these stories he relates to me everyday when he returns from school, it is natural that I would feel worried that I'd have to find a hole in the ground to jump into when the teachers complain about him.

I guess the teachers are being very nice. They forget a lot of the little mistakes and so this is what they said during the PTM, in brief.

English, Math and form teacher:

ds1 is very strong in English and Math. He finishes his work very quickly and will help his friends. He also contributes very actively during class discussions and can provide very interesting facts and nuggets.

She comments that his knowledge is very broad-based and he can point out and bring up a lot of stuff that she does not expect a child of his age to know. And the rest of the class would not have heard about it. She would ask him to explain and he would do so very well. She said that is very commendable. She said she had asked him why he knew so much and he said because he read a lot of books. I told her that was true. Ever since he could read on his own, he has been devouring many different subjects and topics on his own and knows a lot more facts than I do now.

She showed me his portfolio and his marks for the ongoing assessments in school. They were all very high. The school, in line with MOE policy, does not have any formal exams or tests till Primary 3. A lot of other elite schools still have exams and CAs because the parents want them but I think they place unnecessary stress on the child.

So the teacher showed me his oral, listening comprehension, writing, reading etc assessment tasks as well. She said I need not worry about his academic progress. He is definitely doing well.

She then talked about his weaknesses. She said he is very talkative. He can go on non stop. I had to agree with her.

He would also walk around the class to talk to his friends. When he does sit in his seat, he would be restless and do a lot with his hands and feet. Distracting movements and so on. She would always ask him to help his friends or read a book when he finishes his work ahead of the rest. She said when he reads, he will concentrate and he will be very absorbed in his book but when he comes to a funny part, he will laugh very loudly. (oops, that means I cannot let him bring funny books to school to read...)

He tends to dirty the classroom with his many projects as well. For example, he would tear up many pieces of paper to fold into different objects. There was once, he divided a piece of A4 paper into 100 smaller pieces to make 100 boats. But in the course of doing that, he created a lot of bits of paper rubbish around his table area and was asked to clean everything up.

Other things, like fooling around when asked to line up, or making corny jokes non stop when the teacher was reading a story... and changing names and words and diagrams in the test papers and worksheets...

She showed me a test paper where the setter's name was Mrs Sandra Soh. It was printed at the top of the test paper. He changed it to Mrs Sand Oh.

Then he changed the timing of the test from 30min to 30 hours and changed diagrams within the test paper to nonsense drawings. For the multiple choice Qs, he would answer correctly but would change the other options to some nonsense funny words too.

She said she understands he has too much time and feels bored. So he does all these extra things. But she has to constantly remind him not to fool around. I agreed with her and I told the teacher I would reinforce this at home. I said it is about respecting rules and respecting the test questions, and the teacher, so I would definitely talk to him about it.

She rounded it up by saying he is a very lively boy and she loves having him in her class, and enjoys his antics sometimes actually. So hopefully it is just a phase and he will outgrow it soon.

Sigh... this fellow...

Then the Chinese teacher:
She also showed me his various marks for academic tests first.
His tingxie (spelling), written tests and listening comprehension were all pretty good, surprisingly because I expected his Chinese to be weaker than his other subjects, since he hardly spoke or read in Chinese. But the tasks weren't difficult, so maybe it was still sufficient to just listen to the teacher in class and then perform well.

His oral however, was the part that pulled him down. The teacher said his vocabulary was not adequate enough for him to do well in the section that required him to look at a picture and talk about it. He was not hesitant but he had no further contributions apart from a lot of 这个,那个。 Eg, if it was a picture of the playground with kids playing in it and families having fun/ picnics, he would be unable to name the slide, swings, sand pit etc in Chinese, so he would just say, "they are playing this", "this boy is playing that", "the family is eating this"... that kind of thing. Which only got his 3 marks out of a 5.

She says while this is still ok for P1, she says it would get harder and harder as he progresses and she foresees this component will pull him down if he doesn't improve soon. I agreed, because now, the emphasis and focus should be on speaking skills. If we learn a language and cannot use it to communicate effectively, then it is useless.

Very often, the most useful thing about knowing a language is being able to talk to others. Eg when ordering food at a stall where the owners are Chinese.... or doing a business, or making friends... or visiting the countries where it is being used...

Writing skills are not that often used in daily life, in comparison. So I think the order of importance would be speaking, listening, reading then writing? In terms of usage...

Anyway, back to the teacher. I asked if ds1 was being banded because he mentioned some of his classmates not being in the same class as he is. She said there was no banding in their school, not at lower primary levels. The split of his class into 2 was because there were kids taking other mother tongue like Malay language and it was to make up rounded numbers. It was a totally random split. I was rather reassured to hear that because despite a simpler Chinese syllabus being offered in Singapore, I want my kids to learn a higher level of Chinese if possible.

I don't wish them to lose their language... So I must myself buck up and use more of it at home as well. It is tough to change because we are so used to it, but I have to start using more Chinese...

Then she also went on to his other aspects. She said his voice is loud and clear and she liked having him recite passages. She will also often refer to him if she could not hear what his classmates said. He would repeat what they said to her loud and clear. I said that must be his dad's genes. haha

Then she said she noticed his hands cannot keep still. At the beginning of the year, when she first saw his fingers always busy with twirling pencils, playing with the eraser, poking it and erasing on the table blindly, or fiddling with all kinds of things like sharpening a pencil that is already sharp, she thought he was not paying attention to her lesson and would regularly ask him questions.

He always answered correctly which led her to conclude that his restlessness did not affect his attentiveness or understanding. However, she said it could distract his friends and the teacher herself. Hence she would often remind him to keep still.

Her remarks brought me back to his kindy teacher, who told me she would often see him peeling skin off his fingers. You know, those bits of skin at the corners and edges of the nails?

It seems it is his way of coping with having to sit still. He doesn't like to sit still but he has to, hence he transfers his need to remain active and moving to his fingers/ hands and feet. I just hope slowly he can outgrow this and channel his "activity" to just his thoughts?

I read about it in articles and on some parenting websites too. It seems boys, and some girls, at this age, have the need to do so. It at least keeps them sitting still.

Finally, the teacher informed me that she is leaving the school to go to NIE for further training. Argh... just when ds1 got used to her. Sigh.. No choice, I used to have to take maternity leave pretty often last time and my classes would have relief teachers. It is a fact of life...

So they will have a new Chinese teacher next semester.

Today is the last day of school for ds1, he has a full month of hols coming up. Woo-hoo!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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