This year, I was more prepared during my children's Parent Teacher's Conference Day, the day where parents get together with teachers to collect their child's report card and talk about the child.
Yes, talk about the child and not about any other things because the time allocated for each child is short. Short is sweet because if it were long, it may mean that your child has some issues the teacher may want to bring up. If there is no issue, the teacher will probably want to just hand over the report card to you and get you out of the room ASAP, much the same way as some specialist consultants do. You wait for a long time, only to see this "specialist" for 10 minutes.
Knowing this, I went more prepared this year. I organised my thoughts by writing them down on a piece of paper. I listed down the questions I would like to ask teacher and an objective I would like to achieve. One objective was good enough because there isn't much time. Then I waited for the teacher to finish speaking to hear her thoughts before presenting my questions.
Eventually, I think it turned out well and my objective was achieved. For the boy, it was to remind teacher that we do not speak Mandarin at home and as a result sometimes, he does not quite understand what she says at times. She admitted that she "lost her temper and control" when she hit him because "he was just standing there not saying a thing and the rest of the class was waiting." That is exactly it. He was standing there because he had not understood the situation. I wanted to know whether she thought he needed extra help but she merely said, "you can if you want to" and did not stress the need because his results were ok. So I guess we will plod on ourselves first and see how it goes.
As for the girl, the objective was to let the teacher know that she was timid and though she likes teacher she is very afraid and this is affecting her sleep and stress level. Her homework is also overwhelming her. Teacher says that she gives time for them to do their homework in the classroom so that they won't have that much to bring home and we suggested to teacher to remind the kids about this because it will be a great help.
Teacher says that she is aware that this girl is timid although she is a good girl. She told us to tell the girl that we have spoken to teacher and she need not be afraid that teacher will scold her for occassionally forgetting her work. Teacher says to tell her that she is free to go to teacher at any time to talk to her but she should do so in the teacher's office, not in class unless it is lesson related. Teacher says that she will also speak to the girl personally and she circled her name in the list to remind herself to do this. Lets see if she follows through.
The boy was within top 15% in class and top 10% in the standard whereas the girl was within top 20% in class and top 3.5% in the standard. I suppose it is because this year's Std 1 paper was easy so every 1/2 or 1 mark made a big difference. Although the boy did quite well in some of the Chinese papers, it was due to practise and hard work rather than an understanding of the language. You can get away with this in Std 1 but not later on. So my job is to get him up to par in his Chinese Understanding.
As for the girl, the teacher told her that she has to depend on herself because her parents do not speak Mandarin. The teacher advised her to read up a lot of Chinese Essays and copy them. Teacher said that reading a lot will not be good enough, she has to copy them out. By reading a lot, she may be able to recognise the characters, but she will not be able to write them out so she has to familiarize herself by doing a lot of reading and copy work for a start.
One mother told me that the standard from Primary 4 onwards really take a big jump because of the Chinese Essay writing and BM Karangan requirements. I used to shake my head on how Chinese Students learn by memorizing essays but after speaking to the teacher, I now understand that learning the Chinese language is slightly different from other languages. There are just so many Chinese Characters to learn, you can't know them all. The only way is with constant practise, hence the need to copy passages.
If I have the time, I will share some Chinese, English and Malay Essay learning "jewels" I found at the bookstore not long ago. I know I was supposed to share some of the useful Primary School workbooks but I have been lazy....