Tuesday, May 4, 2010 ;
1:20 PM
Long backlog on getting my photos out of my cam, and backlog on blog posts too.

I should keep it short and brief. But I always find comments and stuff popping into my head when I blog... Now that Dh is away for a month, I am really hard pressed for time.

There are days I have no time to take a shower, or eat my lunch, or go to the toilet.
Fortunately my mom is helping me during the weekday mornings and evenings when the boys need to go to school and when they return. And she cooks dinner. Otherwise it'd be much worse for me.

I still have to cope alone during the weekends when my mom goes to Msia with my dad. Driving to church and back home on Sun stresses me out but at least the distance is really short.
Teck, I have made a few changes to my routine, like leaving the car seat in the car on Sat so I need not lug that on Sun, so now I gather the troops and we all trudge all the way to the multistorey carpark and climb the steps to get to the car, all together. Each boy will carry a bag too, so I just need to carry dd and my own bag.

Ok, so let's get back to some old pics.

16 Apr, Friday

ds2's school had a Parents' Tea where it is a kind of Open House.
It's from 3-6pm so I had to bring ds1 who was home from school already.

I had to bring dd also, cos it was a long stretch of time and she definitely needed to nurse during that period. With ds2 also in school, ready to be dismissed and join me at that time, I thought I better bring my mom so she can help bring the kids aside if they're noisy. It was my first Parents' Tea and I wanted to pay attention to everything that was going on.

It turned out well. ds1 sat quietly and read his book for the 1st hour when there was a video screened on alumni of the school who have achieved great things in life now and were saying how big an influence their preschool was to them. They purposely got their alumni who became doctors, actors, lawyers and such for the video. (It's like the commercial video Hwa Chong made some yrs back, so funny.)

And then the 2nd hour went on to tell all the parents what the kids will learn in K1 for all the various subjects (Eng, Math, Chinese, and the enrichment programmes). The various teachers also showed us the games and activities the kids play in class to learn concepts, since this is a preschool that believed in play-based learning.

They got us parents to play also. But I was nursing dd. So the facilitator asked ds1 to join in on my behalf. That got ds1 started on becoming noisier.

So he got to eat Oreo cookies while learning the different moon phases (he was given the gibbous phase and asked to create that with the cream on the cookie). He looked to me for help but I told him I had no idea what the gibbous phase is. So he had to ask the kids who went through the prog - ds2 and his classmates. So amusing.

Then after that there was a segment on dinosaurs, and the facilitator asked if any parent knew the name to a dinosaur that had a scaly armour and a club at the end of the tail. ds1's fav! He blurted out the answer. Anyway, no other parent knew the answer, and I only know because ds1 draws it all the time at home and tells me about the facts on the Euoplocephalus group which includes the ankylosaurus. So the facilitator was very impressed and praised him and all the other parents clapped for him.

Ahh, that's when ds1 started answering every other Q that was asked, even the rhetorical ones. I had to ask him to go back to his book repeatedly but he was just too motivated by the applause.
The facilitator who is a cluster superintendent of the schools, was very proud of him though, and assumed he was an alumnus too. When she found out he wasn't, she stopped being interested in him.

I then discovered that the other parents have been with this preschool many yrs already, and I was the only new parent. No wonder they all seemed so friendly with each other. Their kids had been with the school since nursery (3 yrs old) or playgroup (2yrs old).

ds2 also got a math Q correct and everyone was surprised cos the teacher said she hasn't covered that topic yet. The activity was shown to us parents because it is a fun way of learning number bonds in math. It involved this box with a divider and the kids toss toy dinos into the box randomly, then it is covered and shaken. When it is open, there will be some dinos on the left column and some on the right, and the kids have to add the 2 numbers up. They keep doing it, and learn the various ways 2 numbers can add up to 10, for example, or 6 or 8, for that matter. Quite interesting.

I was most impressed with the Chinese games though. Because I learnt Chinese in the most boring way ever, in the past. Teachers just showed us how to write a word, and we write the same word in our xizi (exercise book) many times. Then we had tingxie (spelling) on those words learnt in the week.

So I tend to just read Chinese story books to the kids, maybe 1-2 a week. Definitely not enough. We don't use it so much in our daily lives too.

The games are very lively and fun and allow for word recognition and oral practice. I at once play the same games with the kids at home now.

Dh was not impressed with the Postman game though, when we were playing at home and he heard us. Cos the teacher is from China and she used "you2 di4 yuan2" as the term for postman whereas in Singapore, most people say "You2 chai1". But the 3 words fit in better with the rhythm of the rap in the game, and make the whole game sound lively and fun. However, Dh was very against it and say the kids should learn the proper local terms. haha.

Ok, so the 3rd hour was for Q&A and then refreshments. Then the parents got to look around all the kids work.

The Sara Lee cakes and chips were meant for the parents but the kids ate so much! I had to stop them from gorging themselves.

Some parents asked Qs that I felt I disagreed with, but I wasn't that able to voice my opinion cos dd was really cranky by then. 3 hrs of sitting down wasn't going down well with her. So I had to walk around. I managed to email all my views to the facilitator, and CCed the principal and ds2's teacher later at home though.

One of the Qs was preparing the kids better for hanyu pinyin in K2. A parent noted that too little time (2 months) was given to teaching the kids hypy. Thus the kids are not prepared well enough for Primary 1.

I was very alarmed. I had picked this kindy because there was no drilling. No homework. No excessive rote learning. No spelling or tingxie. Learning through play is very important, and hands-on acquisition of concepts much better than being seated and taught by a teacher orally only. Now, if ds2 needs to go through more than 2 months of hypy in K2, then go to P1 the next year, and learn hypy (the same thing) all over again, won't he waste all those time those months??
It would be so sad. Can kids please have their childhood? Must they be drilled repeatedly?

ds1 did not go through any hypy lessons. We were overseas. He came back, played the rest of the year, and then went for P1 happily this year. The Chinese teacher duly taught them hypy. He learnt them in class. If the P1 Chinese teacher taught properly, I don't see how the kids will have problems. ds1 certainly had no problems with hypy and he aced all his tingxie on hypy the 1st term. He learnt them by himself, and in fact came home and taught me a song to remember the different pronunciations better.

(It's a very funny song, the 1st line goes "bo po mo fo, E mi tuo fo". E mi tuo fo is the phrase Buddhists use as a greeting right? They use it in the song cos it rhymes. But it is so weird when the kids sing it so happily.)

So I said I don't want any more months of hypy. I am willing to compromise and still have the 2 mths of hypy lessons in K2 (status quo) but I will not be agreeable if they add more months of lessons. (They replied yes, they are sticking to only 2 mths at the end of K2).

The other Q was from a parent who said, if the school doesn't assign homework and worksheets, and doesn't give spelling or tingxie weekly, then when the kids reach P1, they will not be used to having to do homework and will feel miserable at the change and loss of freedom.

To that, I also had a lot of comments. Kids will have the transition at one point in their lives anyway. If you introduce the homework or spelling now, that's just bringing forward their misery and transition 2 yrs forward. Shall we just let them have their short carefree childhood?

The facilitator had a good answer though, with the help of another parent. She said you can let the kids sit down with you at home now or next yr, closer to P1, with some time set aside each day. Let the kid do some worksheets or activities in activity book. Let them just get used to having to sit down and do writing and some quiet work.

She said the school is still focused on learning through play and will not be introducing tests or HW yet. Phew.... I heaved a big sigh of relief.

Here's ds2 enjoying his bright cheery classroom with his friend.

ds1 happily playing with the dinosaurs and toys in ds2's classroom. ds1 now knows all of ds2's friends and calls them his friends too. haha.

dd, in her car seat, sitting through the presentation as well. She was still happy at the start, when this pic was taken.

ds2 was so happy to see us there, he proclaimed loudly to everyone, his teachers, friends and other teachers from other classes, that this is his baby sister!

So now, the whole school knows her name and that she is his sister. All the teachers came to look at her and carry her around as well.

After the Tea, it was time for a feast. It was the celebration of my parents' 34th wedding anniversary as well as my dad's birthday. He is 73 this yr! Really old... We hope he has many many more years!

We dined at Long Beach seafood restaurant. Dh went there from work. My sis and her family were there too. They all arrived late, so there were no pics with them!




rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
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