Friday, April 25, 2008

New school and fears

Last night Owain and I lay on the bedroom floor just chatting. We had finished a game of aeroplane chess (which he absolutely loves and constantly pesters us to play!) and were just lying around talking. So I took the opportunity to speak to him about school.

I asked him if he wanted to change school or stay at MK. He thought for a moment and then said, quite firmly: Change school. Why? I asked. Why are you not happy at MK?

This time, more information came forth. It was the writing. He said he had problems writing. He did not know his letters and how to write them and other children could. He said tracing letters was no problem but he had difficulty when the dotted lines were gone and he was expected to write freehand. Chinese class was okay because lao shi only gave him a little bit to write. But in Teacher Gertrude's class, there was a lot more writing - and he is clearly averse to that.

Then he said something which made me both sad and angry. He said he finds it hard to write and then blurted: "... and Teacher Gertrude said she will not help me anymore!" And that to him was frightening because he was already having difficulty - so if the teacher was not helping him, then he would have even more difficulty writing. He actually looked frightened and worried. I had to reassure him that it was okay not knowing how to write now, he will learn in his own time, in his own way. And even if Teacher Gertrude did not want to help him, mummy and daddy will always help him.

But gosh how I fumed inside when I heard that!

How can any teacher be so insensitive? Maybe she was frustrated. Maybe she was trying to 'encourage' (in some weird unfathomable way!) him, or maybe she said so jokingly - though I fail to see how this can be considered funny to a child struggling to write. I am trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, but I think saying this sort of thing just reflects the sort of mindset this teacher has. And its the sort of thing that breeds fear instead of joy in learning.

It just reinforced my determination to pull him out.

We went on talking about other things and I told him how sad I was about him losing his friends. He thought about it for a while and then said with all the wisdom that children have, "But I can make other friends in the new school right?"

Of course. I guess I am being sentimental and silly to worry - I think he's got it more right than me. He is not worried - I am. And if he isn't then why should I be?

I said he could get Jason's and Nick's phone numbers and give them his. He said, "But I have no phone mummy."

"They will call our house phone. You live here remember? So you can answer the phone and talk to them."

"But what if they call while I am in the new school?"

"Then you call them back when you get home. You can ask Lolita to find out who's calling and if it was Jason or Nick, she could let you know so you can call them back."

And that was enough to calm his concerns about his friends.

We went on to talk about whether he could bring snacks to his new school and if so, could he bring crackers. Of course, I said. Then the wise boy said: You must buy a big big big packet of crackers and not small ones. Because everytime I bring crackers to school and then the small ones will finish. Bring and finish and bring and finish. Then you have to keep buying and buying. That is very expensive. If you buy a big packet, then it will be cheaper.

Hah! Basic econs lesson on economies of scale! I never taught him that.

I tried to manage his expectations about the new school. I said its not that there will be no more worksheets - there still will be. But this school teaches in a different way. I reminded him about the activities he did with Eileen. He said he liked those. Well, I said, that is how the school teaches - there will be more of those sort of activities. He was not sure if he liked Eileen or if he liked the lao shi - he said he got bored when the lao shi and I talked for so long!

We finally ended the conversation not knowing if the new school will work out, not knowing if he would enjoy himself more at Lumiere than at MK, but I felt more hopeful. This morning when he woke up, he drowsily asked which school he would be going to. When I said MK, he groaned disappointedly. But well, he's got a month to go and then there are the holidays before he can start school at Lumiere. And for me, I intend to write a polite letter to MK by May 1, stating our intention to withdraw from the school. I will feel both regret and relief at doing so, but those are my feelings and I will deal with that.

1 comment:

YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBOURHOOD FOOD JUNKIE said...

big wisdom comes in small packets. free courage inside! d:)

i am also rather worried becos ruvie is also not very good at writing. he LURVES tracing dots, but once you ask him to write freehand, he just stares at the paper, then looks up at me and says he doesn't know how to (in cantonese).

but i am thankful that his teachers at nursery are very patient. i know i will never hear any remarks of that sort from the teachers there. known them since ray began nursery there, 3 yrs already, strong bong between me and them.

god bless, you d:)