Monday, August 29, 2016

Parenting with Love: A weary soul dealing with tests and more tests

Like many parents, when the kiddo first entered Primary school, I was under the impression that life is pretty much holistic and there are hardly any tests. But I soon realized that those tests are a rose by any other name.

In the past, children in P1 will be taking CAs and SAs where the papers will be cleared over that said date. With the current system, tests are now “bite-size” and are basically named as “holistic assessments”. So this means that most of the time for Dumpling, her tests start from Week 4/5 and it is almost the full range of what one would expect in an SA.

So for each term, her scope will include:
  • Oracy elements (Show and Tell / Stimulus based conversation + Read aloud + Picture Conversation*)
  • Listening Comprehension / Sound Discrimination (for both languages)
  • Written Papers for all subjects (In fact, for the kiddo, she has to usually take 2 Math review papers and 2 performance assessments with the latter not graded)
  • Composition (for English) was introduced in T3 in P1 where it was also tested and graded. For P2 this year, compo is graded for T3 and T4. For Chinese, they have been doing 看图写话 exercises since T2 but we have yet to hear formally from her school if this element will be included in her SA.
* For Chinese

So, splitting that over 4 – 5 weeks and the weeks are packed with 2 assessments weekly where there’s also spelling for both languages.

So how are we doing? We are “managing”. From a parental standpoint, all of us want our children to do well but the reality is, to stretch these over 4 – 5 weeks every term, it basically also means consistent revision over the same stretch of period. It then becomes a very fine balance of ensuring the kid has done the due diligence of revision and peppering in good breaks and activities as we are also often bored with all the revisions.  

And before I forget, I have to add that for her school, their results will be used for class banding where they will then move on to a new “class” for Primary 3 (she has been in the same class for the past 2 years). So yes, it feels like “streaming” has arrived early. 

With all these whirlwind of tests and more tests, truthfully they are weighing me down a bit. Added to the mix is this crazy intense competition within the class where there's also class politics (between the girls and amongst the mums!) I often find myself tense and worried. When she makes careless mistakes (arrrhhggg!) which are hefty mistakes (especially in this P1 and P2 period where half a mark makes loads of difference), I’d find myself grumpy and I sometimes come down quite hard on Dumpling. Added to the mix where I am a Type A, you can only imagine the mood in the house during the test period. Reflecting on the grumpy moments over the weekend, I ended up wondering how life would be when it is SA2 end of the year and (gasp!) during her PSLE in 4 years!

Dumpling, on the other hand, was a total trooper where there weren’t many complaints from her. Instead, she started showing interest in WWI and we ended up reading up and learning more about this modern war. We enjoyed ourselves and had a great time discussing the weapons used, the alliances formed and the Battle of the Somme. There were many lively chats and sharing over this topic during meal times and during car rides. AND IT HIT ME. It is all about perspective. Being caught up in this rat race, I have lost sight of what matters.

Education should not be just a testing of “textbook knowledge”. While children acquire knowledge, it is what and how they make sense of it that is important – interpretation, analysis, application and reflection. In Einstein’s words, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.”

While it is inevitable that the kid will have to take tests after tests in school, it is what we make of it that matters. Yes, unfortunately, the system in SG is where it is meritocratic and everything is based on those numbers on those score sheets. But I am quite adamant that I will learn to look past it, that she is learning loads more about the world than just building on textbook knowledge. And as a parent, I am merely the shepherd, to guide and support her along and more importantly, to maintain that joy of learning and continue to fuel that curious mind of hers. 

With the September holidays around the corner, we are taking the chance to wind down and enjoy the things we like: movies, workshops, play dates, etc. before we take on the last term for this year. Here are some books / areas that she has shown an interest in which we will be finishing up during this period: 

On Bones: 

This series of titles is quite interesting and engaging. It provides bite-size information on quite a technical subject. Each title also provides a pair of 3D glasses which gives the reader an "X-ray" vision where he/she can see the bones in some of the images. 

On WW1 
(part of the 7 titles which we are reading ~ I will share more in an upcoming post)

In just 2 years time, the kiddo will turn from a single to a double digit age. Time slips by us so quickly and I do not want to have any regrets. Hence, I do not want to lose sight of what truly matters to me and I hope that you too, will not lose sight of yours. 

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