Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Primary One: Learning about the English Curriculum

Frankly, the transition into Primary One seems to be easier on Dumpling than on me. Transiting from doing the Math, Science and English on my own to having someone deliver the lessons and not having the level of visibility that I need (yes, the tiger mum in me is growling) have been a tad hard on me. *guffaws* 

So it has been a learning journey (and I suspect that it will be the case for me daily!) but here’s sharing on what my child has been doing for the past month in school for English.

:: English

Stellar Programme

Dumpling's school uses the Stellar programme which you can find out more about here. Basically, the teacher uses a story book with the students and teaches grammar, vocabulary, etc. with it, uses it for discussions and writing experiences.

There is a list of books under this programme and there is no fixed sequence – meaning schools have the choice of introducing whichever titles in whichever order. So what this means is that your child may be reading a different book from your buddy's child. 

Based on chats with my mummy friends and with Dumpling, teachers typically use a big book for “read aloud”. Class activities can range from fun activities such as getting them to move around while learning about prepositions, to re-enacting, and to seat work.

For e.g. with the book “Hairy Bear”, Dumpling’s class has re-enacted the various characters from the story (1/3 of the class was Hairy Bear, the father; 1/3 acted as the mum and said her lines, with the remaining third acting as Baby Bear). They learn about intonation and how to use ‘voices’ when they took on different roles. 

For parents who are exposed to the 'literature based approach', then this method of teaching will not be new to you. Now, for those of you who are going "Alright, fun learning is all good but what exactly do my kids learn?"  There are worksheets and spelling, etc., in this Stellar programme. 

1) Worksheets
Seat work wise, children learn about grammar and new vocabulary from the stories. In Hairy Bear, my kiddo learnt about contractions (e.g. I’ll – I will, I’m – I am, etc.) and did a cloze passage with some of the vocabulary learnt.

She did similar worksheets for Dan, the Flying Man with the focus on prepositions.   

2) Spelling
A quick check with my friends and it seems like the spelling list for most of our children are similar and based on the words introduced in stories:

Spelling lists for Hairy Bear:

Spelling Lists for Dan:

Spelling Lists for Mrs Wishy Washy:

3) Other supporting resources
Besides the worksheets done in class and the spelling exercises, Dumpling brings home penmanship work and the work ranges from 2 – 4 pages so far. For a friend whose child's school does not use the penmanship book, they do hand out their own penmanship worksheets. 

(The above is what we use for penmanship which is part of our Stellar Programme) 

Depending on the school's practice, they may give out other grammar worksheets too. Dumpling's school uses a grammar book which the teacher uses in class. 

So far, Dumpling enjoys the work in school and finds it manageable (except for the time where she had 4 pages of penmanship work but that's another post altogether). If your child is going to P1 in one or two years time, I dare say that most Preschools would have prepped the children well in terms of reading and writing. 

The readers used in the Stellar programme are quite simple so frankly, there really is no need to get your child(ren) to read these before entering P1. I think that may kill their interest as they may find it boring having to do the activities again. It is for that same reason that I do not do any activities relating to the books/stories during our home learning time. I rather she gets that from school. But I do google for materials and watch YouTube for read alouds on those stories so that I know what she is reading in school. 

However, if your child's preschool does not introduce to them the concept of spelling, then I would suggest that you may wish to do so - just 3 to 5 words from the homefront. I personally know some children who struggle with spelling as they are not sure of the concept (for e.g. they thought that the dates indicated on the list is the date that they will be learning the words as a class and not realising that's the test date) or that they are not too sure of the whole phonics / sight word approach. We have yet to receive our Chinese Spelling list at this point and when I do, that will be another post on its own. :p 

Edit: 7 Jan 2016
I have previously shared a series of posts on Primary One which you may find useful:
What to and how to prep for Primary One Prep  

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  1. Poppy's on Stellar too so I recognized Dan the Flying Man and the words "brave", "scary", "frightened" etc are also on her spelling list!

    I must say i really like the way they are teaching now as compared to when I was in school. So many more fun methods!

    And haha Poppy also complained at getting 4 pages of writing writing writing!!!

    1. I think the Stellar approach is good in the sense that it exposes children to more literature and encourage a love for reading. But what I get from friends is that they do not know how the literature based approach works so the 'visibility' is not there. Hence, as Liza puts it, my CSI work. :p But yes, the approach is fun and am glad to know that Poppy is enjoying school too! Ooooooo... she's got 4 pages too? This, I have gripes man. Will PM you. :p

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