Friday, November 14, 2008

Report cards for the rest of the tribe!

Last day of school today for Isaac. The P6 boys at SJI Jr have the task of running various assorted games and activities for their younger schoolmates. It will be the last thing they will do in the school. The real farewell of course, took place yesterday.

His Chinese teacher treated the class to pizza and sandwiches as a farewell treat. His form teacher, gruff as ever, with no love lost between the boys and him, said nothing meaninful and just handed out the last school bulletins for the year. His English teacher had a more significant farewell. She called each boy by name up to the front, shook hands with each of them and said a few words individually. To Isaac, she asked: "Do you think you will do well?" Isaac, in his typically deadpan way, avoiding her gaze, said: "Er, I don't know." She said firmly: "I think so. I think you will do well."

Well, I hope so!!

Next week is the PSLE results day on Nov 20. The boys have to be in school by 12nn in full uniform to collect their results. Even I am feeling the jitters about this! It would be the first time I do this as a parent - go to school with my child to collect results. Last year, with Gillian, we were in Japan - but I had a lovely SMS from her teacher to say don't worry, she passed!

So this collecting-results-from-school thing will be a new experience for me. I asked Isaac if he wanted me to go with him, or preferred to go alone. He said he wanted me there. What about dad, I asked. KH had volunteered to take leave and come. But Isaac said no to his dad being there. I asked why and he looked a bit sheepish as he said, "Well, if the results are bad, then dad is going to kick up a fuss and go on and on..."

"And I won't? I believe I have given you earfuls of nagging when your results were not up to par!"

"Yeah," he muttered. "But you're different from dad..."

Okay. I thought it was not quite fair to KH though because I didn't think KH would really kick up a fuss if the results were bad. He would not scold or harangue Isaac, but he might make many of his corny jokes and observations which are not very funny nor useful and he would not know when to stop! Yes, my neanderthal of husband gets an A-star for insensitivity sometimes.

I'm happy to go with my boy and be there for him. He's cool as a cucumber about all this though. But I am very jittery and nervous! Probably more than him!

I am not going to hex him by saying he will do well and definitely get to SJI. I am planning contingency plans - St Gabriels if he does not do well enough, and St Pat's is third in the running. Dad suggested Bartley Sec - his and my brother's alma mater... but KH gave a very horrified NO. Choose a better school. Of course I am not telling dad what KH said - heh! KH is planning to take Friday off to drive his son around to visit his various school choices so that the final decision can be made.

And as for my fishball Owain, well, I attended the Parent-Teacher meeting and his teacher had this to say: Owain is very bright. Has a photographic memory. Just need to show him something once or twice and he remembers it. His grasp of maths concepts is good and he catches on very quickly. In terms of readiness for P1, there should not be a problem. What this means is, he is pretty much on track to be ready for P1 and there looks like no real bumps ahead in the horizon. The only thing is, he is not interested in, and cannot grasp as well, the phonetic concepts of sounds and blending - so this will hamper his progress in reading. No problem with sight words - articles like 'a', 'the', them', 'there' etc. But he has problems in associating letters and sounds and blending them to form words. Still, his teacher seemed sanguine. She said its just a question of readiness. Once they are ready and they cross this last hurdle, there is usually no stopping them. All children have to make this leap and some just take a bit longer than others, but inevitably, they do.

His Chinese teacher said more or less the same thing: Owain is very bright. Learns very fast. No problem with writing or reading, or word recognition (do I thank Berries for this big leap? He was nowhere near this level of proficiency when he first started Berries earlier this year). The only issue she had with him was the lack of Chinese conversation. Cait's Chinese teacher said the same - no problem with most areas except for speaking. And if one does not converse enough, it will inevitably affect composition writing later on, zhao ju (sentence-making) and comprehension.

I've heard this often enough but the thing is - how to speak more when no one in my house speaks Mandarin!!! I am toying with the idea of getting a Mandarin tutor - not to drill them but to just converse in Mandarin - two hours a week better than nothing. Think it will work? Sigh...

Gillian also ended the year well. She scored As in her science grade and overall, Bs in general for her D&T, Home Economics and Cs for the rest. More significantly, for the first time in her life, she passed ALL her subjects!! She's moved up a couple of notches in her class placing to be among the top 15. So we are very pleased. She is fitting in well academically and we are glad she now has this sense of accomplishment. Last year's PSLE results were a good boost for her self-confidence and this year's year-end results do the same. With this, she can see that hard work gets her places.

This is precisely why I believe in streaming. Had there been no streaming, she would have been lumped with everyone else and been at the bottom of the barrel, and it would have been very demoralising for her. In pri school, until she officially streamed to EM3, this was the case. Her classes was mixed and she always ended up scraping the bottom. And in case you think girls of a higher academic ability are necessarily kinder and help their lesser-endowed counterparts, you're wrong. Gillian was very often the target of many malicious and spiteful comments. There were only one or two exceptions.

Socially, she seems to have settled down to one good friend - Abigail. This girl seems to have her share of problems, but does not exhibit as much outrageous behavior as some other girls in class. Gillian still remains very connected to us at home, so while there are some stirrings of rebellion, she still largely remains close and this negates the influence she gets at school. I don't know how long this will last though and it will get trickier the older she gets.

All in, this year was also a good year for her. It gets harder next year though! KH and I scanned the maths syllabus for Sec 2 NT and we were cringing - ack! algebra! How to explain algebraic concepts to someone who barely grasps basic mathematical concepts! KH is not looking forward to next year...

Finally, Trin. She will start regular therapy in Jan next year. She went for a test and showed normal development for her age range in articulation. But the second test for expressive vocabulary was cut short because she was not co-operative. They will test again six months later. We do see some more emerging language skills. She is still not as proactive as we'd like her to be, still has a great deal of baby-talk, but there are hopeful signs. She can babble something like: "Moon ky!" or "Is raining!" or "Car blue! I dri car."

All we can do at home is to speak more, articulate clearly and speak in proper sentences so that she can see the place for articles eg we will say, "THE moon IS IN THE sky!". We will repeat what she said in its proper sentence. We will keep labelling what we see everyday, keep reading to her. I've bought her a big word book which she loves. She enjoys flipping through, pointing and labelling the objects/pictures. Right now she can identify colours, identifies numbers, can rote count to 12 and has maybe about 300+ words in her vocab. We just need to show her how to link them up in sentences and encourage her to use these in her speech. Sounds easier than it is.

So there it is - this is how my tribe stands at the end of 2008. The chapter is not fully closed until Isaac gets his PSLE result on Nov 20. But I think its been good so far. Praise and thanks be to God for giving us this lovely year - more ups than downs.


ee lin said...

Re: streaming. I now understand better why you are for streaming. I'm glad for G. Well done! Hers is a case where the streaming served its purpose n truly helped. I'm sure her strong connection to you and your unflagging efforts to help her played no small part in her progress.

Re: O. His feedback sounds very much like A's except tt A was very keen to blend sounds and to learn to read even before 4yo. This lazy mummy just didn't get round to helping her with it till she turned 4yo but the moment I showed her how with tt book (tt I still believe in) she took off. I believe O will have his rocket moment soon. But meantime, his reluctance to blend sounds etc sounds like my M. I wonder if it's a boy thing?

Re: Trin. She is sooo sweet. Good tt she's starting therapy. Have faith, I believe tt you will hear her speak soon. We've seen the fruits of M's therapy and general development. He's much clearer now after 1 year of therapy, correction and careful articulation. He is still not speaking at the speed or clarity of his peers but the great thing is we now understand him so much better.

And finally, all the best to Isaac! Will be praying for him and waiting with bated breath to hear from you.

makeupmag said...

Your children are doing so well! Well done, Pat! I have been so slack with Isaac you wouldn't believe it. :P Have a great holiday; you deserve it!