Monday, July 5, 2010 ;
4:12 PM
26 June
12.30pm - 1.30pm

ds2's Parent Meet Teacher session

I had my mom's help, thankfully, and she stayed home with baby. Initially there was no need for ds2 to go with me, but when he heard I was going to his school, he insisted on going. A call to the school principal okayed that, she said he could play in the school playground. Ok then...

When we reached, I had to wait a while, so I stayed in the playground and played with the older sibling of ds2's classmate and his friends. 3 of them piled up on one end of the see saw to balance my weight. They laughed and laughed when I pretended I was super fat and heavy. Aiyah, kids...

Ok, so I met with the main teacher and the Chinese teacher. Overall, it was a glowing report. Naturally, they save all the best things to say during the PTM.

I was first shown his portfolio.

Here are some sample pics.

For Math, number bonds up to ten:

For Chinese: songs, rhymes, various activities like skit scripts they did, some writing and other worksheets and craft work.

Crafts and projects and stories revolving around the themes they cover. This is a short story they wrote.

Every Mon after lunch, they have FastracKids activities. This is something from the topic where they learn about cultures and customs around the world.

Activities they do in LetterLand. Even though ds2 can read many words, he did so by whole word recognition, purely from remembering the words in books I read to him since young. So it is still important for him to learn this in school. It is not repetition and he doesn't get bored learning how to pronounce words he already knows because he is now learning the phonetics and it will help him sound out words he has never seen before.

The funny stories used to teach digraphs and blends and so on are so entertaining that ds1 (who has never done phonetics through the Letterland method) and I will ask ds2 to retell all of them to us.

2 eg.s I attempt to retell are here. I don't do it justice cos I don't know if I am telling the full story but it's just very interesting.

For eg, why do we spell words like "kick", "pick" with c and k together? Both c and k produce the same "ker" sound. And why put c before k?

In Letterland, each letter has a character. K is kicking king who loves to kick and the kids are shown a k with the king's head and body within the K and the legs and kicking outwards.
So "c" has to be placed before "K" because curious cat does not want to be kicked by Kicking King, ouch!

(if you put the cat after the king, the king's leg (k) will kick the cat (c))

Not sure if I am clear enough here.

Then there is the story for "sh" and how to pronounce this sound.

"S" is silly snake I think, and "H" is the Harry Hat man.

Harry hat man doesn't like noises and Silly Snake hisses all the time "ssssss" (make the sound for the kids).

So when Silly Snake is placed before Harry Hat Man, he will turn around and tell Silly Snake to keep quiet ("shhhhhhh" sound produced for the kids).

That's how they learn the sounds in a fun way.

There are tons other stories, all quite funny.

This is craft done after the Hungry Caterpillar story. And they learn about metamorphosis where the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly.

Another short story writing segment. I will type out what ds2 wrote, but it doesn't make too much sense at this point. He just wrote whatever came into his mind, I think. Not much logical sequence to me.

"One day the astronaut went to the moon and Jupiter came out together with an alien with six eyes. Then Uranus came out too and I floated on the moon. The Earth kept spinning around the moon. I went back to my spaceship and blasted back home."

This one was done for Chinese, he said. Learning about garden animals in Chinese.

After that, I was given a report.

I'll try to list some of the categories in the detailed report, so it will be useful for my own records in future, to see how he progresses.

The progress evaluation report:

Broad categories reviewed -
1. Gross motor skills e.g. hop on one leg with even gait
2. Fine motor skills etc one handed cutting, cut food with knife..
3. Auditory discrimination. e.g. Identify words with similar short vowel sounds as the model
4. Auditory memory sequencing. e.g. name the months of the year in sequence, pronounce correctly words with 5 syllables..
5. Language Classification. e.g. indicate how situations are the same or different like in an emergency
6. Language Association. e.g. Name a situation described in terms of feelings; respond appropriately and logically to open-ended Qs
7. Social-emotional development. e.g. say home address, work independently, work cooperatively, accepted by peers...
8. Math skills. e.g. Complete number sequence with missing digits (0-30), number bonds up to 10, write the date...
9. Chinese language. E.g. sing and recite rhymes, explain the content of the rhymes, write characters with correct strokes, write own name, communicate verbally in Mandarin to teacher and peers, reply verbally in Mandarin to Qs posed, enjoy stories, retell stories...

So the teachers will put A, I or O in the boxes next to the skills or items. A for "is able to", "I" for "is beginning to" and O for "not able to".

No prizes for guessing which category ds2 had "I"s. He didn't have any Os at all, at least. But he had 9 Is under Chinese (and another 6 As).

For Math and Language (refering to English), he had As. Certain things, he had Is, like Identify from choice the picture that represents the meaning of a sentence. He can't interpret meanings as well, i.e. sometimes he doesn't fully understand a situation.

For social-emotional devt, he had all As. Not a surprise cos ds2 has always done well in this aspect. More so than ds1. ds1 being more headstrong and stubborn, can sometimes rub people off the wrong way. But ds2 mostly has very good EQ and gets along very well with others.

The final overall note from the teachers:

Main tr:
J is a pleasant and soft-spoken boy. He is a fluent reader and is able to attempt more advanced readers on his own. He is able to recall and apply prior knowledge to his work, completing given tasks independently. His acquisition of general knowledge is commendable, and he shares these readily with his friends and teachers.

J has a vivid imagination evident in the way he creates his models from Lego bricks and the different characters he infuses in his play.

A joy to have in class!

Chinese tr:
J 在上个学期的华文学习中,华文认读,华文书写方面表现很好。上课时能够认真听讲,积极回答问题,期待他下个学期的优秀表现!

What the main tr reflected to me during the meeting was basically that he is very endearing, sociable, obedient. His reading is very advanced, way beyond the level of his peers. He often shares extra knowledge with them. She asked me where he got all those knowledge from. I said probably from the books he reads or from his older brother.

She said his memory is excellent. Sometimes she quizzes them on stuff she taught 2 weeks ago and he would be the only one who can remember. Hence, there was once she rewarded him with 2 lollies. I recall him coming home with lollies but he didn't tell me what they were for. Nice to know he is also doing very well in school! Sometimes, people around Dh and me tend to praise ds1 more. Upon comparison, many people usually feel ds1 is smart(er). Perhaps just because he is more vocal and more confident.

I was kaypoh (busybody/ curious) and asked what was the answer he gave that earned him the reward. It was the name of a constellation, apparently, when they were doing Outer Space. The tr mentioned Canis Major, but then now I am not so sure if I got it correct. Maybe Teck can help, if he reads this. The constellation like a dog, I think.

She said it had been 2 weeks since she taught that, so she was surprised he could recall. At home, we definitely do not talk about constellations since I don't know much about it, so I am happy he is learning all these in school.

About stuff he can improve, she mentioned him being more on the quiet side. I think she doesn't want to label. But I can think of words like "shy", "introverted" and "reserved" or even lacking on confidence. The tr didn't say any of these but she said when ds2 is amongst his good friends and teachers one on one, he will talk a lot and talk loudly, but once it comes to whole class discussion, or his turn to present his topic, he will talk very softly, or he will be happy to listen to what everyone has to say and not want to speak up much.

I will work on that at home, asking him for his opinion more. And he needs to be able to say it freely without his elder brother interrupting. That almost always happens at home when they are together. Older brother dominates the conversation and will comment on whatever he thinks, which is why he just listens, I guess.

The other thing is his reluctance to try different fruits or veggies. Generally, not an adventurous eater. Both teachers (they take turns to have lunch with the kids each day) say ds2 never cries in school and is always attentive, cheerful and happy, except when he is asked to eat something he doesn't like, then his tears will flow.

I wanted to laugh at that. Cos that is what happens at home too. Anyway, the school serves different fruits everyday, and when it comes to honeydew, papaya etc, he hates these and would refuse to eat. However, teachers try to ensure all the kids eat the fruits, so he would be given an extra small piece. Both teachers say he will hold the piece of fruit with his fork and dangle it around till it drops on the table or floor then he will quickly announce that it is dirty and then promptly picks it up and throws it away. (Oh man, really so like him)

So they have then served fruits to him on a plate. The rest of the kids still just eat from a communal dish. Now he has no excuse, sometimes he will comply. When he does eat it, the teachers and all his friends will applaud him! So he has come to try some papaya and honeydew now.

I told the teachers I am thankful they are working with me. They said they both used to dislike the same things as him when they were young so they can understand. I also try my best to introduce different foods to him in a non-threatening way. In this aspect, I am most eager to see progress!!

I think this is the bonus in sending him to a kindy that also operates as a childcare (didn't expect to gain help in this area when I sent him to school). Having his friends to eat one meal (lunch) with him, and having others reinforce what I tell him at home (that veggies are important and good for him), seems to make him trust me more and make him be more receptive to food outside his usual repertoire.

His school won an award (amongst preschools in Singapore) for healthy eating/ lifestyle thingy, and I have scrutinised their menus, so I am very satisfied that the food they serve is nutritious. In fact, the variety and portion is more than what I can offer at home!
(For a small household like ours, we usually buy and cook only 2 kinds of meat each week. I can't possibly buy pork, beef, chicken AND fish each week and cook up many different types of veggies for a meal. There'd be wastage and doesn't make economical sense. But for a large school with many branches, they can buy and cook in large quantities so they can offer a very varied menu.)

The other thing I like is, the teachers always eat with them, the same food, at the same table. They sing a song (to be thankful about the food they eat) before eating and then converse with each other as they eat. They don't sit in a row but in a group, almost in a circle. That's very motivating for ds2 when he sees the rest eating different veggies and so on. He also gets to enjoy his meal a lot while he talks with his friends and teachers.

I also like the big family feel. He knows the kids in K2 (all their names) and he knows the little ones in Nursery and Playgroup as well. I saw him so gentle and loving with 2 little girls from Playgroup. They were perhaps only 2yrs old? He called them by their names too. On his school bus, there is this little girl, very very cute darling. The school bus driver says he will entertain her and sing songs to her on the journey home.

Of course, some of them are really family. The principal's grand daughter is in the Nursery and the music teacher's son is in the toddler's class.

I also appreciate ds2's teacher smsing me every single incident that happened in school right away.

One time she smsed me after lunch telling me ds2 complained of a tummyache. She put some oil for him already but did not have bowel movement so she asked me to monitor him when he gets home, to see if he was better.

She also cleaned ds2 up once when he didn't make it in time to the toilet, and she asked his friend to lend him a pair of shorts (ds2 didn't bring spare clothes to school that day), and she also smsed me. She assured me he didn't cry and that he went back to his activities happily.

When he says something funny or cute, or when he does something nice, she will also sms me. And she checks the comm book very faithfully everyday.

Initially we thought we would take ds2 out and place him in the kindy just downstairs where our apartment block is when there is a vacancy but now we have changed our minds. His school is really fantastic and we have every wish to let him finish his kindy education there.

We'd definitely send dd there when she is 5 as well. :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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