First Day of School in 2012…

Tobias' School Bag

…after a 2-week Christmas/New Year break, today was back to the school routine, where we (meaning Mummy) are up at 6am in the morning, getting ready & fixing breakfast, then waking the Little Guy up & getting him fed, teeth brushed & clothed. Then the Little Guy wakes his Daddy with a goodbye kiss before he gets shooed out the door at 7.45am to meet his friends downstairs & they walk to school together.

Mummy’s favourite part of this early morning routine is standing at the bedroom window & watching the Little Guy walk down the street, happily chatting with his friends on their way to school (auf dem Schuleweg, in German). It sooo fills Mummy with pride to see her Little Guy growing up & being independent. While Mummy loves watching this, her heart aches a little knowing that there is no turning back the clock… so she is treasuring moments like this…


PS: this is not to say that there are no hair-pulling-child-discipline moments… there are… but Mummy knows that many many years later, she will likely remember more precious moments such as the above than frustrating moments šŸ˜‰

What Are They Thinking?!! – article from TODAY online

What ridiculous entry tests for children as young as six, just for enrichment classes!

Read the article below to find out more…

TODAYonline | Singapore | Sorry, your child is not bright enough.

i’m appalled that the education scene in Singapore has come to this! Children getting tested even for classes that are supposed to help them do better in school.

These people are just after the money – they don’t really care about the children who come to their classes! All they care about are results (the kids getting good results so they can brag & get more customers); & with results come more money. i say if you don’t truly care about the kids, then don’t join the education business… (incorrect to say business cos then it will be about money)… don’t join in educating children!

When i went to school, sure there was pressure to perform & be the best but never to this extend where everything is dependent solely on the results you produced. i’m ever grateful to my parents for being who they are; for neverĀ pressuringĀ me to do more than i can; for saying that as long as i have done my best, it’s good enough.

The other thing which makes me mad about this is this – What about the kids who truly need that little extra help to get up to standard (which is constantly shifting)?? They are the ones who do need the extra classes & attention. What about them? Whose helping them? By allowing only the “smart” kids to join these classes, they are just making the rift between the education of “smart” kids & “normal” kids bigger; which leads to an even bigger middle-class gap in society! Isn’t education about allowing every child the opportunity to do his/her best & to excel in doing what they do best & love best. To educated them, notĀ discriminateĀ against them!

A friend commented on her Facebook about this, speaking about whose is to blame – she is right & here i quote her cos i could not have said it better:

Some say it’s the education system’s fault. Some say, it’s the parents’ fault. To me, both have their share in this whole rat race. It’s scary, but it’s very real, and our children are living in this kind of environment and expectations. How they’ll ‘survive’ will greatly depend on us and the values we instill in them since very young …Ā 

This article just makes me appreciate the education system in Switzerland even more. That is not to say that it is a prefect system; far from that, it has its flaws but at least they realise & see the need for children to be children, to enjoy their childhood & playtime; which will teach them social & coping skills which books/academicsĀ can not! i share a tiny bit about the differences in the systems here.

This article has sparked much debate in Singapore now. i hope & pray that such debate will lead to positive action & improvement for the sakes of the children.


Exciting New Adventure… 1st Grade… or Primary 1…

…or as they say here in German, 1. Klasse, said as “Ersten Klasse”, or direct translation – 1st Class…

Tobias started 1st grade about 3 weeks ago & he loves it!!
Here he is at his desk on the 1st day of school, 16th August 2011, Tuesday:

His teacher is a real nice lady, very smiley & seems to truly love teaching the kids.
Here they are at storytime with her:

Tobias is enjoying the much larger variety of ‘subjects’ as compared to what he got at Kindergarten, which was a lot of crafts (he’s not a very crafty boy). He has German (of cos), Math (which he loves), Science & Brain Teasers (i think this may be just a general knowledge of the world around us type thing & the teasers are just for fun & a little something more challenging for the kids to do). There is also Music, Gym, Workshop & Religion, which are all in different classrooms. So there is a fair bit of coming & going which suits Tobias just fine as he is such an energtic boy šŸ™‚

There are a couple of firsts for our little village school – this is the 1st year they are having a mixed 1st & 2nd grade class. At the Parents’ Evening last week, they explained that practically the 2 grades are really together for one whole day in the week – other than that, they have different classes, e.g. 1st grade goes for Music while 2nd grade stays to do German. Of cos break time is together & some mornings they do start the day together. i think it’s great that they have such classes – it helps for the 1st graders to have someone to follow when doing things or when they don’t understand. i’m also hoping that it may be possible for Tobias to do some 2nd grade work if he gets a little bored, like in Math, i think he will enjoy the 2nd grade work more cos he is already at that level. Just to let you see the difference, 1st graders are expected to learn to count to 20 (forwards & backwards), while 2nd graders up to 100 – & Tobias can already count to 100. But we’ll see…

This being Switzerland, they are very organised, even with homework – there are fixed days on which your child will come home with homework – for us it’s Monday, Tuesday & Thursdays. They also tell you how long your child is expected to spend on homework each time – 1st graders no more than 15 or 20mins after which they recommend that the child stop working & should the homework not be completed by then (which should be never as the work is very easy), the parent should include a note in the homework folder to indicate that the child worked on the homework for 20mins & still could not finish. & that would be accepted. Notes from parents are also accepted if you have a special family event (e.g. Grandfather’s Big Birthday Bash) & can’t finish or do your homework.

So very different from Singapore…

& that’s not even talking about the homework situation in Singapore today but even when i was in school, i remember coming home with hours of homework from about Pri 3 onwards – here Pri 3 level students are expected to do 1hour of homework only.

Here’s Tobias concentrating really hard on his homework:

This one happens to be a drawing assignment – just to draw a nice picture for a classmate whose birthday is coming up. All the other times so far, he’s come home with either Math or German homework in a workbook.

Here he is with the half finished drawing & the finished one:

Oh, the 2nd ‘firsts’ for our school is the giving out of actual grades or marks for the lower primary classes. It’s so new to them that they still haven’t quite worked out how it would function. What we found out last week was that it is really for the teachers to be able to keep better track of each child’s progress & to know if there are any areas where special attention might be needed. But it looks like we, the parents, won’t see any of this till maybe January. They want to have it all worked out 1st & they really don’t want it to give added pressure to the kids so they want to make sure that the way marks are given will reflect that.

Once again, so very different from Singapore…

& i think it’s good… young children are like little sponges & should be encouraged to learn & learn & not perform… getting good marks can take over & make a child more worried about the marks than about actually learning & enjoying the learning experience which will make them into life-long learners.

So here’s to having fun in school & life-long learning šŸ˜‰