Friday, February 22, 2013

Primary School Parent Jitters

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about Lil Pumpkin entering formal schooling, even though it's still 3 years away.

The Ministry of Education {MOE} announced its Kindergarten Curriculum Framework in Singapore yesterday so that parents and educators will understand what the kids need to know and should be able to do by the end of Kindergarten 2 {K2} before they enter primary school. It all seems pretty "basic" with things like counting up to 10 and recognising their own name since preschool education isn't mandatory, but from what I'm hearing from some of the current primary-school kids' parents, if we just follow the framework, it's not enough. A friend of mine just quit her full-time, high-flying job to be with her kid who just started Primary 1 to supervise her studies better. Of course, it's probably not just for her kid's academic well-being, but it was a big factor.

I do worry if I'm not doing enough to prepare Lil Pumpkin for the big change. Will she have the academic skills to cope with primary school? Or will she be stressed and overwhelmed then subsequently hate school? The worst is if she will feel that she's stupid :( I don't remember ever feeling stressed in primary school, and I had some of the happiest memories there... so much so when I knew I was having a daughter, I couldn't wait for her to start school in my alma mater and have the happy experience I had!

Honestly, I'm quite a relaxed parent. Some might even say "slack". Compared to some other parents, I don't really do much with Lil Pumpkin academic-wise. I don't drill her daily on 1.2.3s or A,B,Cs. I don't buy assessment books and I certainly don't enroll her in 1001 classes. The only real academic enrichment class she's having is for Chinese since she isn't exposed much to it at home, and given our skills in it something best left to professionals.

I still believe a child should have her childhood - to play, to relax and to discover the world they entered not long ago. Learning isn't just in the classroom but through everyday life. We may not study science books, but we'd bring her to the zoo and nature walks. We may not drill the A,B,Cs, but we'd read with her. We may not practise drawing shapes, but we will do arts & crafts with her.

But really, is this enough? It doesn't seem so. I'm struggling to find a balance as I feel that I have to step up my game and have focused study plans with Lil Pumpkin so that she will ease into primary school with minimal "culture shock", yet I don't want to be forced to go with the flow and be a kiasu {local term for "be afraid of losing out"} parent that pushes the kid so hard that she forgoes the joy of childhood.

Add on that, a working mother's guilt of not being around much to do everything with her. Sigh. What am I to do?

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An Apel a Day said...

It is hard being a parent.

My husband worked a lot with our oldest. He has really good handwriting for a boy. It's better than some of the girls in his class. He reads chapter books in 1st grade. He's not the best with math though. I feel like he'll get there. It's just a matter of time. If he reads well, he'll pick up on word math problems.

Our youngest will start Kindergarten next year. I think he'll do fine. He has always been more shy than our oldest.

Sometimes I wish I was a full time mom. It would be a lot easier to get things done. I know I'd miss adult conversation. I love my job teaching college students Graphic Design.

Jean said...

We struggle with Chinese, but reading isn't a problem because we're all readers. We gave Zoe a headstart by sending her to Kumon for about 6 months so she can do addition with no problems. Don't worry too much! Our children learn faster and are more resilient than we think.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I was like you when my son started school. He did fairly well in P1 but his results dipped in P2. The next thing I knew, i was told by his teacher that he needed to buck up. That jolted me and before i knew it, i was sucked into this rat race of making sure he was to mark. I started to get him assessment books and making sure he did them. Like it or not, it would seem that we as parents do not hv much choice but be caught in this frenzy of our highly competitive education system. Oh, btw, my son is now in Sec 4 and we are caught in this frenzy of preparing for his coming 'O' levels :-\

Theresa Mahoney said...

It's hard to find that balance. My older daughter was and still is very intelligent. High honors classes through her whole education so far. My other daughter struggles quite a bit, so finding the balance of how much more work does she need? to when do I let her have a break and just have fun? is a constant struggle!

Grace said...

Working or not, I think we all go through wondering if we're doing enough for our kids, Ai.
Do what you feel is right. I think Chinese classes are great! But if you're really concerned, maybe ask Lil Pumpkin what activities she'd like to do.
The boys do swimming lessons and let me tell you, that takes a lot out of us!

Emily @ Have a laugh on me said...

I'm like you - I haven't been teaching abc's and 123's to my preschoolers and No.1 has just started school and I have say there is so much pressure for them to getting reading, recognising words, this is because Australia now has a national curriculum we have to adhere to. In saying that I'm not going to start playing strict teacher to my 2 boys - because these years before school are precious and I think should be about learning through play. Em xx

Ai Sakura said...

Jean: I don't think reading will be much of a problem too. I'm probably just feeling a little overwhelmed myself with all the reports and stories from friends. thanks for your support :)

Anon: It is hard to not get sucked in I guess! Good luck to your son for his O'levels!

Theresa: Yes we don't want to take away their fun in life, or push them to breaking point.

Grace: Oh yes she does art now and next year we'll prob let her do dance / music.. all things that she's interested in :) it's the "study" stuff I'm worried about. I probably need to sit down and think just what's right for her, and try not to worry too much about the system.

Emily: I do think learning through play is so important too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Aust system

Ai Sakura said...

Alissa: kids going to school certainly don't just involve them, but parents too!