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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pretend Play

It is the first day of school holidays for my girl. So what have we been up to?

The kids decided to open a restaurant. The restaurant took a few days to set up. If I am not mistaken it took about 3 days for the kids to decide on the name of the restaurant, the menu as well as the food which they painstakingly prepared by cutting up coloured strips of paper and placing them into toy cups and plates and arranged to resemble real food.

During the "renovations" I was not allowed to enter the playroom. They hid their stuff under the table and made me promise not to look. Finally the restaurant was open and I was invited to dine there. Dining is free by the way because it is meant to be a fun restaurant, they explained.

The restaurant is called LC Restaurant which stands for Little Children restaurant because it was opened by little children, however adults can eat there too, they were quick to add because they wanted mummy and daddy to join in the game.

The menus. All carefully drawn with the same design on the cover.

Each and every one of the menus has the same items written in them. Wow. So hardworking.

Orders were taken by the owner of the restaurant, a sweet little girl, who was very busy this morning, since her waiter was busy attending a kindy party. So she had to take orders, serve, cook and clean up too.

This is the kitchen where food is prepared. It can get quite hot in here like most real kitchens...

This restaurant is the brainchild of the girl who managed to get a little assistant to help her. The assistant was more than happy although he did take one or two game breaks.

When dining here, you can even ask for extra plates and take out, although you might have to wait a quite a while for takeout since wrapping is involved....

During school days the kids do not have time to play like this. It is a bit sad. I wish they have more time to play. Nevermind, we'll make up for it as we have 6 weeks to play. Yahoo!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I didn't know he could sing

Two days before the boy's concert, he came home and informed me that he had volunteered to sing in place of another boy. It was supposed to be a group choir led by one boy and one girl. I don't know what happened exactly, but when I checked with the teacher, true enough the teacher said that he had volunteered and was very eager about it. So they had no choice but to give him a spot. lol.

He didn't even know the lyrics of the song! So his sister and I coached him in one day. He practised on the home microphone for two days and on concert day, he got up on stage and sang along with his other friends the original performers, the other girl and the boy.

Too bad he wasn't given a mike because they did not have enough. I found during the home practise that he could really sing. He sang with full of expression and melodiously in the correct tune like a real little singer. I don't think the teachers took him seriously nor realised how good he was in the singing or they would have given him a mike. Still, they did give him a chance for being so enthusiastic about it. :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What should parents do when their child is being bullied in school

This is a tough one. Firstly, it is not easy to establish bullying. Just what exactly is bullying? I read from KidsHealth.org that....

"Most kids have been teased by a sibling or a friend at some point. And it's not usually harmful when done in a playful, friendly, and mutual way, and both kids find it funny. But when teasing becomes hurtful, unkind, and constant, it crosses the line into bullying and needs to stop.

Bullying is intentional tormenting in physical, verbal, or psychological ways. It can range from hitting, shoving, name-calling, threats, and mocking to extorting money and treasured possessions. Some kids bully by shunning others and spreading rumors about them. Others use email, chat rooms, instant messages, social networking websites, and text messages to taunt others or hurt their feelings."

I think that is a very good definition of bullying. After reading the article, I have established that my girl is being bullied in school by the boy that sits beside her. This is what he does to her
  • calls her "stupid" and says bad things about her to other friends
  • bangs on her table and shouts at her
  • blocks her way when she wants to leave her desk to talk to teacher and erases the work that she has copied from the black board so she has to redo it
  • tells her "I will beat you" though not actually doing so
  • mocks her 
  • tells her he hates her, she is his enemy and all other sorts of name calling
  • takes away whatever books that teacher hands out to her saying "this is mine" and gives her the other one instead
So what do we as parents do? I am afraid that we have been inconsistent. First we told her to ignore him. Then we told her to stand up for herself. We told her that since it is the end of the term and only 2 weeks left, we will not be talking to teacher so we taught her how to deal with it. Then daddy walked her to class one morning to access the situation. The boy saw him and this made matters worse. He banged on her table and said "You told your daddy, didn't you? Tell me the truth! Tell me the truth!" This frightened my girl even more. We told her not to be frightened. We told her that the next time he bangs on her table she should tell him "Go and bang on your own table."

The next day he banged on  her table again and she came home with a note to us. It said

"What Alan did to me. He banged my table, called me stupid and sang a song about me like stupid. The song that Alan sang.... "I hate you. You are a bad girl. You are stupid..." and a lot more things that are bad about me. But daddy, I was too scared to say bang your own table."

Looks like we had handled this in the wrong way. I read the article which states some reasons why kids are sometimes afraid to tell their parents about bullying which includes...

"Sometimes they're scared that if the bully finds out that they told, it will get worse. Others are worried that their parents won't believe them or do anything about it. Or kids worry that their parents will urge them to fight back when they're scared to."

That is very true. My girl is very afraid that telling will make the bullying worse and she is afraid that we will ask her to fight back because she is afraid to. She has become so afraid of the boy that it spoils her weekends and her bedtimes as she worries about him.

I asked her what does she want to do in her heart and she says "Tell teacher" but when I said I will tell teacher, she said "No! Please don't!!"

Finally we decided that we had no choice but to step in. She was afraid of the boy. She was afraid to tell teacher. She was afraid of us telling teacher. She was afraid that teacher may switch their places and the boy would be angry. She was even afraid to be seen with us in case the boy got mad. She was plain afraid and she didn't know what to do.

Deciding to intervene is not an easy decision. Firstly, we want to teach our children to be assertive and stand up for themselves. Secondly, we do not want to be overly protective of our kids. I read that many parents hold back from speaking to the teacher for this reason too... ie worried that the teacher may think that the parents are being over protective.

However, at the same time, we also want to show her that we support her and believe in her when she comes to us. In order to do this, we must take what she says seriously.

It is a fine line... deciding whether you should or when you should intervene. Who said parenting was easy? It is a growing process. We grow along with our children and face new and different challenges along the way.

Eventually, I read the whole article about bullying to her. I praised her for being brave enough to tell us about it. She does not dare to tell the teacher because she is afraid the teacher may brush her off and she is afraid of repercussions from the boy. I told her what is the difference between aggressive behaviour (the boy's) and assertive behaviour (which everyone should have to stand up for their own rights.) I do not believe that it is too early or too young for my child to understand this. No one every taught me about being assertive and as a result, I was less than assertive for most of my life.

I told her to ignore the boy so that he would get bored. I told her what is a "poker face" from the article and we practised it which made her laugh. I told her that she can busy herself with drawing comics (which she likes) or reading and ignore him if he disturbs her again and then we role played the situation. First she pretended to be the boy and I practised ignoring her and then I became the boy and she practised ignoring me while I pretended to call her names. That was good fun.

Finally, I went to see the teacher. (even though there was only a few more days left to school). I had the impression that the teacher felt that I may be overeacting because she said "This is very common. The kids call each other names all the time." I would not call it bullying she said. I would say it is teasing."

Oh well. I agreed with her that it is common and it makes a teacher's job very difficult if every parent were to complain each time their child is called stupid since there are 40 over students. I did not want to disagree with the teacher so I just smiled at her and said yes maybe she is not used to it but I hope you can do something about it.

Though, I personally think that if the teasing is constant, spiteful and mean to the extent that it hurts and scares the child, then it has crossed the line and is no longer fun or funny teasing. If the teacher thinks otherwise that is her prerogative and I do not blame her for thinking so in her position. I am not there to argue with her but to get things done.

The teacher agreed to switch their places. I also gently asked whether the teacher could have a word with the boy to leave my girl alone and to have a word with my girl to go to her if it happens again. I told the teacher that it is better for this to come from her than from us because to a child, the teacher is always right and the teacher's words "is like gold". If I were to tell her, she would just say "No mummy, I am scared. I don't want to tell teacher." This, I hope would prevent the situation from getting worse.

The boy saw me and looked at me with knowledge and recognition in his eyes. I just pretended not to see him though I would have loved to give him a glare and a word or two. However, I don't think it is in my place to give him a lesson or teach him. Not unless the bullying is physical, in which case, I think his parents should be involved.

And that was that. I hope we don't hear anymore of this.

The boy gives me the impression that he comes from a well to do family. My girl tells me that he is often talking about going for overseas holidays. He would buy gifts for friends and discard them if they didn't want them only to buy the very same thing again the next day at the school shop. When there is a school funfare, his parents give him a lot of money to spend to his liking. He likes to sing pop songs in class and has 200 over facebook friends. And he is not stupid. He was number 1 in class in std 1. He sounds like a poor little rich boy to me since he has to behave this way to get attention and feel powerful.

Many people think that bullying must be physical, pushing, shoving, extorting money etc . However, verbal bullying can hurt and nowadays even cyber bullying has even caused youngsters to commit suicide. I think that as parents we must be sensitive to our children and believe in them. Never brush them aside and tell them to "just stand up for yourself." We should give them our moral support and encouragement but not overdo that too because children must be given the room to learn and discover ways of dealing with people and situations on their own too. It is a fine line... deciding whether or when to step in.

If you think your child is being bullied in school by his peers, here are some advice for kids or more ways to help your kid deal with bullies from that same article I read.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Standard 2 going on to Standard 3

It is coming towards the end of the school year. Just for remembrance, I want to record down my girl's loves and pet peeves for this year, her standard 2 year.

Her Loves
  1. Her class teacher whom she adores
  2. Art Class
  3. A handful of girlfriends whose names changes all the time. She does not have a fixed "gang" of girlfriends and her friends change from time to time. No boyfriends.
  4. Children's Day and Funfair Day
  5. Getting rewards for all sorts of things from newspaper collection to recording how many number of books she has read
Her Pet Peeves
  1. Her current partner, the boy who sits next to her. He tells her hurtful things like "No one likes you" or "You are my first enemy." etc. She hates going to school because of him now. "I can't escape him mummy, he sits next to me!" is her response when I tell her to just ignore him.
  2. Nasi Lemak day for her recess time catered food.
  3. Computer Class. She says she likes the computer teacher but she hates the way she teaches because she is very fierce. Quite often she says she can't follow the class and none of her friends would help her. She gets very worked up whenever computer class is on the next day.
Apart from that, she mentioned that she likes her English teacher but dislikes the way she teaches as well and she does not like her BM teacher and does not like the way she teaches. She goes too fast, does not stop to help anyone or brushes her aside when she asks or says she will get back to her but doesn't, she just wants to get the teaching out of the way.

That is Standard 2. I wonder what Standard 3 holds for her?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Chinese School "English"

My girl has to sit for a bilingual computer paper. I was horrified to read this question in the English translation of the question....

"The followings are the uses of computer applications increase day by day, except.....
a. size becomes smaller, b. speed becomes faster, c. the quality of peripheral devises decreases, d. price becomes lower."

Ouch! Everything is just so totally wrong with the question I don't even know where to begin to correct it. In the first place, the word following should not have an "s", "increase day by day" should be "improvements" and we're not even talking about "computer applications" here. The question should probably read.

"Over time, the computer has improved in the following areas except...."

My girl does not have any English tuition and the English subject taught in school is pitiful. I just had a glance at her new Standard 3 books syllabus. It includes... "numbers 21 to 30"

Oh dear, with that kind of level,  no English tuition and if I don't intervene, she will soon speak and write Chinese School "English".

No offence to anyone from Chinese school but it is no wonder that many students from Chinese schools have such poor English. There is no priority and no checks for such gramatical and other mistakes. Even their English teacher frequently makes mistakes when giving them words for spelling and dictation.

Sigh. I just don't know what to do about this. Most of the time, there is hardly enough time to complete the daily homework let alone teach her English. I guess I will just continue to encourage her to read more story books.

Monday, November 01, 2010

I love the year end

We're early this year. It is only the 1st of November and we are done with exams and concerts. Hurrah!

Now the kids just go to school for parties and funfares so they're not complaining about school .... that much. What's there to complain when you get to eat junk food, play with your friends all day, get to watch a live magic show and other cartoons and play carnival type games.

Ok ok its not all fun and games. There are still some studies to be done but there is less pressure overall and of course less homework.

The part that I love most of all is the less homework part. Aahhhh 2 months of pure bliss and serenity. That means I only have to shout "Hurry up!" about 10 times a day instead of 20. Yippee!

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