Starting Primary One: The April Update

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In the last couple of months, life has been really hectic. This is especially so when our boy started Primary One this year. I have to wake up at 5:20am, make breakfast, prepare myself for work, prepare our boy for school and finally send him to school.

I usually leave my office slightly early at 5:45pm. By the time I reach my parents-in-law’s house at 6pm, I will start the revision session with Little Edison. I hate it actually, to have to do spelling test or ‘ting xie’ with him the moment I step home. But I have no choice.

Then, I’ve to check his communication book and get him to do his school homework. At this point, he’s still unable to manage it independently. It’s not entirely his fault, but more on mine for not training him to do it all by himself.

I know I should change this – to let him manage his own school works by himself, without giving him too much assistance. For a start, I’m teaching him how to pack his school bag, follow his time-table and tidy-up his pencil case as well as stationeries every day.

Anyway, I’m glad that there isn’t much school homework. On an average, he has it once a week but he has English and Chinese spelling test almost every week. English spelling is still manageable even though I find that words like “imagination”, “frightened” and “favourite” are a bit too challenging for Primary One.

Chinese spelling test, on the other hand, is the one that is ‘killing’ us every week! For the first term, his Chinese spelling test is all on HanYuPinYin. From Term 2 onwards, the spelling test will be on Chinese words.

Using pictures to help him to remember his ‘ting xie’

Every day, we will spend some time revising his textbooks and workbooks before the dinner is served. By the time we get back to our home, it will be around 8pm. We have half an hour left to pack the school bag and read a book before his bedtime.

I’m still sticking to my personal mantra that he needs to do revisions daily, be on-track with what the teachers are teaching in school, and to avoid the frenzy of last minute pre-exam revision.

Most of his classmates have tuition classes in the afternoon after school. Recently, I had a talk with a friend whose son is Edison’s classmate. I was completely taken aback when she told me that she sent his son for Science enrichment class. They haven’t even started Science subject in Primary One!

She also sent her son for Maths enrichment class. At this point, I find that Primary One Maths is still manageable and I don’t need to send him for any tuition classes.

Stumbled upon some challenging P1 Maths questions in one of his assessment books

Different parents have different perceptions when it comes to enrichment and tuition classes. Some parents may want to advance their kids, or at least adequately prepared them before the subjects are being taught in school.

Some parents may think that they don’t have time to teach their kids (especially when both parents are working), so they send their kids to tuition classes. And some parents send their kids to tuition classes because they have difficulties coping with their study.

As of now, I haven’t enrolled Edison for any tuition classes. But he has 1.5 hours each of Chinese and English enrichment classes on weekends. The reason is for him to enhance his understanding of languages.

I still believe that he should be learning all the subjects from school – not from tuition classes. I don’t want to ‘over-tutor’ him unless he really has difficulties coping with his study. It is also my wish for him to enjoy as carefree a childhood for as long as possible, rather than be smothered by homework and tuition classes.

These are my goals for him this year –

  1. Read for enjoyment at his own pace
  2. Manage his school homework and time-table independently
  3. Able to learn his spelling independently
  4. Have fun at school and enjoy learning

Instead of racing for As, I’m happy for my son to discover his potentials at his own pace and enjoy the lifelong learning process.

P/S: No offend to any parents who send their children to tuition or enrichment classes. I never label anyone as kiasu because all of us, parents, want to give the best to our children.

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Nic April 5, 2014 at 10:42 PM

Hi, thanks for sharing your experience. It gave me a clearer picture of our life’s gonna be when our boy goes to P1 soon *sweat*. May I know what’s your boy doing after he reaches home from school up til 6pm? We’re Full-time working parents too, and the timing we reach home is similar to yours. Why don’t u let your boy does his homework in the afternoon so u can squeeze in more ‘play’ time when you’re back instead of 100% study. I don’t intend to send my boy to after school care but to let him stay at home with my helper who’s also taking care my other children. Then I intend to let him do his homework as much as he can and when I get back I will just go thru it quickly with him. Sounds so ideal huh…hehe. But at least your boy is cooperative when u ask him to do daily revision. I think he’s super good boy. How about weekend, do you do revision as well? Does your boy take his nap? What time does he sleep at night and wake up in the morning? Sorry if I have too many questions.

Emily April 8, 2014 at 8:25 AM

Hi Nic,
Thanks for your comment. Yes, I do send his homework to my PIL’s house everyday after I send him to school. I’m lucky to have a super good MIL who will make sure he sits on his desk to do his homework at 3:30pm everyday. I ask him to do a few worksheets and practice his spelling in the afternoon. When I get home, I will test him and quickly go through the homework with him.

I also dislike the idea of after school care, unless my PIL is unable to take care of him. Imagine after 6 hours at school, the kids still need to go to after school care – it’s really tiring. Nothing compares to being at our own home. They can rest, relax and do some homework or reading on their own in the afternoon.

I try to spend more time on weekend mornings to do revisions with him. He doesn’t take any nap now, so he sleeps at 8:30pm and wakes up at 6:10am.

Vivienne April 7, 2014 at 9:07 AM

Hi Emily

Glad to see your update and know I am not the only one who believes my son should be learning most of the subjects taught in school and not enrichment classes or tuition. Though at times it is simply quite tiring for us parents to be guiding them after work but I tried to think it positively as a bonding time with my son when I am guiding him.

All I want for my children is for them to be happy also though at times I will be questioning myself whether I am “shortchanging” them by not pushing them too hard academically but then I have to remind myself life is not all about grades and awards 😉 As long as they are not performing way too bad in their studies, I am fine… Children should still be enjoying their childhood. You are doing a great job! 🙂

Emily April 8, 2014 at 8:33 AM

Hi Vivienne,
Thanks for your comment. I’m happy to hear from a mom who thinks exactly like me. You highlighted a very GOOD point here – the bonding time! My boy is the kind who needs a lot of encouragement, so I think it’s better for me to teach him rather than getting a tutor.

I fully agree on the “tiring” part. Sometimes, I’m really very frustrated and exhausted too. I told the hubby if my FIL can send him to tuition classes after school, then I can fully let-go and relax when I get home. But deep down in my heart, I don’t want to take this shortcut way.

I don’t expect my boy to be the top students and race for As / awards, I just want him to enjoy learning, enjoy childhood, learn to be a responsible person, be healthy and happy.

You’re doing a great job too, Vivienne!

Divya June 7, 2014 at 10:53 PM

Hi Emily, I stumbled upon your blog today when I was redirected by doctor.parenting blog on Shichida method linking memory. I’m hooked on to your blog and have been reading many many posts for almost 45 minutes now! You’re an awesome inspiration for a working mother like me 🙂 My son (my first one) is only 19 months old now but I’m already hearing many negative things about life in Primary school, both for kids and parents alike. So, taking him to Heguru (another right brain method like shichida) since last month….As you know, It’s very expensive and I can’t help wondering whether they will eventually pay the output that we’re looking for….Since your son is 6+ years now(the time that’s said to start showing results), it’d be great if you could share your honest views on what you see in him…Does all the time and money spent on Shichida lessons yield a good return ? 🙂 Thanks so much!

Emily June 23, 2014 at 11:08 PM

Hi Divya,
My son only took the Shichida course for one year, and we withdrawn him due to some personal reasons. Thus, I’m unable to give any feedback about the effectiveness of the course.

Fiona December 9, 2014 at 8:42 AM

Hi may I ask if you still continue berries as his Chinese enrichment? Thanks

Emily December 9, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Hi Fiona,
No. My son didn’t get a place at Berries because they were all full. We were put on waiting list after that, but no luck to get a place for weekend classes.

Fiona December 9, 2014 at 3:20 PM

Actually for P1 & P2, a need to go thru enrichment? My gal be in P1 next year but she seldom or never speak to us in mandarin.

Emily December 10, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Hi Fiona,
It really depends on individuals. My son seldom speak in Chinese at home. Moreover, he’s taking Higher Chinese in P1. Thus, I feel the need to send him for Chinese enrichment classes.

For Chinese enrichment classes, their syllabus are quite advance. If you want to start, I will advise you to start early. Else, it’s quite difficult to catch up.


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