Half a year has passed and I saw a significant growth in my 7-year old son. While he remained babyish in some areas, he has developed self-discipline and confidence after attending primary school for just 6 months.
I am writing the post from my perspective as a parent rather than his and I think I was more anxious than him about starting school. From whether he was able to get his own food during recess, to whether he was able to request for toilet breaks and if he would possibly miss his bus home.
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What I think I have done right
1 week before the start of his primary school journey, I made him a timetable. The table sets out the time to rise, return, homework, play and sleep.
This gave him a preview of school life and had helped him transit into his new lifestyle. I made sure to include play time in the timetable as I did not want him to misunderstand that school life is all work and no fun. I think that helped to address some of the uncertainties he had about entering primary school.
Pack his own bag
For the first term, I packed his school bag and checked his folders every night. By the second term, I decided that it is time to let him learn to take care of his own stuff. But I will be lying if I declare that I am totally hands-off. I checked his bags frequently and gradually less frequently after he goes to bed… No surprises except for the half-eaten snacks which he did not throw away, and the crumbled books that he squashed into his bag.
Similarly, I requested to see his handbook which he uses to record his homework every day for a start. By the second term, I figured that it was his responsibility to inform me of his homework.
Thanks to the timetable I made for him, he recognized the need to start doing his homework by 3 pm or latest 3.30pm Honestly, he won’t just drop his toys at 3 pm sharp and turn to his books. But at least there is a schedule in place and he didn’t negotiate to start his homework after dinner. Of course, there were days when he just didn’t have to mood to complete his tasks and we fought over it. After a while, I gathered that I should give him the leeway to decide but told him that he is accountable for his own actions. It worked… Our fights gradually transformed into his internal struggles which he ultimately overcomes.
What I think I have done right but needs improvement
MOE holds Holistic Assessment (HA) instead of mid-year and year-end semestral assessment for Primary 1 and 2 children.
The weight of the each HA (per term) is lesser than a regular half-yearly examination for Primary 3 to 6 students and supposedly helps the young children to transit into the examination by Primary 3. Personally, I don’t quite like the idea of having regular tests of the same weightage every term. We just received the schedule for the HA in term 3 and it seems like we will be revising very frequently for tests that weigh equally important. Regardless, we still have to fit into the system.
On my part, I drew up a family wall calendar and indicated the test days for his awareness. While at the back of my mind I wanted the revisions to be bite size, I underestimated the amount of information and concepts taught by the school and started the revision late. As a result, I had to push my boy harder near the test dates. I cannot imagine the stresses a working mum will have to go through when dealing with such challenges. I won’t be able to cope while working for sure, given that my previous job required me to work late and see them at bedtime.
What I am still struggling with
My boy needs to wake up at 5.40 am. He is not special because many children in Singapore wakes up early in the morning, especially if they take school bus. But it is just ridiculously early for young children like him.
I think this will remain unresolved unless I learn to drive…
Chinese is a torture to him… I tried to make it for fun for him and have succeeded with card games, i.e. piecing individual characters together to form phrases or sentences.
However, I need variations. Some may suggest tuition which contradicts my idea of developing an interest in Chinese from within and he is only in Primary 1. But yes, I heard some of his classmates are going for Chinese tuition… How should we handle this?
My plan for the second half of the year
Train my son to complete his homework independently by himself and to check for mistakes by himself before I conduct a final check.
Get him to write down his test dates on the calendar so that he has a better awareness of the important dates.
Encourage him to speak up more.
As for Chinese, I have to find more ways to help him like the subject better. If you have successfully get your child/children to like learning Chinese, I will really appreciate if you can let me know how you do it.
Note to me
My mum just commented last evening that she didn’t have to interfere with my studies ever since I entered primary school. Why is it so different now? I don’t want to be a tiger mum, nor I want to be helicopter parenting or overdoing for my children. But at this junction, I just can’t bring myself to let him figure out everything by himself. Maybe all I need is time, to let him mature and to let me ease my anxiety.