Monday, December 29, 2014

A teary goodbye

Dumpling officially ended her stay at her Chinese school on Boxing Day. She has been attending daily Chinese classes there since 18 months and as THE day drew closer, we were both feeling a tad unsure and a tad sad too.

4.5 years ago, I was on the hunt for a preschool for the kiddo. The kiddo, then, had just started attending a weekly mum and kiddo accompanied weekend class. We then came to know that the school started a pure Chinese PG daily drop off class and the owner (then) casually mentioned that option to me. At that point in time, I had actually made a registration with a different preschool. Maybe it is me being paranoid (likely) or me being neurotic (highly likely), I decided that Dumpling needed more help in the Chinese language and I could homeschool the rest on my own till K2. And I did just that.

A long journey of more than 5 years of home learning with 'formal' homeschooling of 4.5 years where every evening we would read, learn through unit studies, learn about Math and when we can, do Science experiments too. It wasn't a very usual decision and it definitely was not an easy journey. Having said that, anyone who knows me well, would know that I rarely make usual and easy decisions. LOL

After 4.5 years of being exposed to 3 hours of Chinese language on an almost daily basis, I must say that I made the right decision for Dumpling and for us. For Dumpling, it is that incidental learning and the daily exposure to the sound of the language, the vocabulary and the learning through play where the language revolves around craft work, poem recitation, songs, etc. that worked for her.

What I also like from her pure Chinese learning journey is also the exposure to vocabulary and words that I have never learnt before. She did a 10-week theme a few years ago on Countries and Culture with a focus on food. I was really impressed that she came home sharing the Chinese names for Taj Mahal, White House and even food names such as Pratas!

Mastering a language for me is more than just being able to do 听写 (Chinese Spelling) and being able to complete worksheets. It is being able to communicate and use the language in her daily life too. Hence I make it a point to let her queue and buy her own food at the food centre or even help me with grocery shopping at wet markets where she is able to use the language.

She likes the language so far and while her sentence structure is not all that great (spoken), her diction is spot on. She doesn't like writing that much but in the recent PTC, the teachers have both commended on how far she has grown in terms of her perseverance and penmanship.

And my goodness, look at how much she has grown over the past 3.5 years!

(Her first day of being in the school uniform almost 3.5 years ago.) 

(Taken on her last day of school on Boxing Day)

On the morning of her last day, she told me that she was a bit sad that she will not be attending her Chinese classes anymore. She also added that she will miss her teachers and her friends. My heart ached a little and I struggled to find the words to comfort her for once. I could only hug her and assure her that we will head back to visit her teachers. 

While there have been operational issues here and there at the centre (and friends have asked me why the decision to continue her in the Chinese classes), I would say that it is mainly due to 3 reasons. Firstly, I am still anal about the daily Chinese immersion. Secondly, her teachers have been really great and carting, and lastly, the environment is just the right fit for her. On the homefront I believe that we have been doing great and she's also developed into an avid reader. She has truly "come into her own" and grown to be a sensible and a confident young lady. 

For her graduation concert, she led a Chinese dance segment which she put up a wonderful performance. 

(She spotted me...)

(Broke into her trademark smile at the sight of me holding my camera LOL)

It was a Peacock Dance! The class has practised this dance for a few months and just a week before the concert, she was diagnosed with a mild case of HFMD. That gave us quite a fright but with God's grace, she got well enough to participate and even join in the full dress rehearsal :)

It has been a hard, tiring and yet wonderfully amazing journey of homelearning with her on Chinese (as I believe in supporting from home) and homeschooling on English, Math and even Science. It is through this homeschool journey that our bond is cemented and where I have been honored and thankful to have witnessed her growth and her little successes and milestones. 

It is definitely a road less travelled and not for the fainthearted. I have given up many years of social life and my weekends are burnt with kids' activities but I would not have wanted it any other way. If I were able to go back into time, I would still have picked the same journey and done the same thing :)

To Dumpling's Chinese teachers for the past few years, 
"Thank you very much for your support, love and for the care you have showered her so abundantly with. 

We have been very blessed to have you in her life and early formative years. I am often amazed at how much she loves the language and I thank you for partnering with me and 'supporting' us on our Chinese homelearning journey too. As she starts a new chapter in her life, I am sure that you have given her the foundation to bloom and succeed.”

“老师们,很感谢这些年来的照顾和关怀。我们是多么的幸福有你们耐心地教导。她对中文的那份浓厚的兴趣是用了这四年多的时间也是在老师的支持和鼓励下培养的。谢谢您!”

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