Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Owain is now officially an SJI Junior boy.

I was toying with the idea of sending him to Maris instead of SJI but he was balking at the thought of too much Chinese. As Sam said, being in a place where disliking chinese is the norm or even 'fashionable', vs a place where chinese is in the environment, is important and can make a difference in terms of one's attitude towards learning the language.

But my gut feel from observing Owain says that SJIJ might be a better fit for him. He's always been the sort who learns best when he is (a) not bored and (b) not discouraged/turned off the subject. As we all do of course. But I read Owain as a bright kid and I would not want to stump his efforts to shine in other areas - which might be hampered if I put him in an environment where he is totally unhappy in. As was the case in Magdalene's Kindy - hence the switch to Lumiere, where he is much happier and has made big strides in learning.

My key worry, be it SJIJ or Maris, is still Chinese. We're going to pump him with as much help as necessary. Berries will continue, Wink to Learn and YiXiu are now household DVD staples and if necessary, we'll have to hire a tutor to keep Chinese going. I don't want Chinese to be the archilles heel that loses him the race in the long run.

Owain, half tongue-in-cheek and half seriously, told me to get him exempted from Chinese like his elder brother and sister. And to be honest, I am considering this. When I work with him for chinese, I can really see the difficulty he has in differentiating the tonal values of each word. He just can't seem to grasp the differences in sound/tone. I saw the same thing in Isaac. Which makes me wonder if his phonological awareness is just as poor as his brother's. We'll only know through a psych eval. I'm not going to do this now, but will keep plugging at it with him, at least till the end of the year or next year.

So while I am not just throwing in the towel just yet for Chinese, I am keeping my options open. With Isaac, I regretted that I did not seek exemption sooner. Had I done that, he might have taken a different path in his primary school life since the kids are 'streamed' into classes of varying ability depending on their overall grades in P2. With Isaac scoring well below 25marks most of the time, his overall grade was natually pulled low and he spent about 2 years in a class which did not match his ability for English, Maths and Science. Still, the boy says those were the best days of his school life in SJIJ.

With Owain, I'll see how it goes for P1. His Chinese teacher in Berries told KH that he cried in class on Saturday. He either could not recognise the word, or pronounced it wrongly. He cried out of frustration. When I worked with him, I saw the same thing - not recognising the same words, not able to retain the meaning and sounds etc. I could see that he was frustrated but I'll say this for him - he has determination and grit. He moaned, groaned and complained about 'doing Chinese' but you could see him trying and trying. I love him for that and I feel for him.

That same grit was seen in swimming class on Saturday.

He was told to swim the length of the pool (50m) - and he did. When he reached the end, he was told to swim back. KH was swimming beside him. Midway through the lap, he noticed that O was gasping up to breathe, clutching at the wall with every stroke. Each stroke was degenerating gradually. Whereupon KH stopped him and asked why he was swimming like that. And only then did he realise that O was in tears. He was too exhausted from swimming the first length and found it "too hard" to do the return lap but had to do it. So he pushed himself but was also so tired and frustrated that he cried.

When he related the story to me, my heart hurt for him and I was rather indignant: "Why did the coach do that? You know his strokes aren't even right yet, so naturally all this takes a toll on him. Two laps for this little boy at this stage is really a bit much!"

To which my dear husband, taking on the boot camp instructor role, retorted: "Good! Toughen him up! He is a BOY. If he does not push himself now, NS would be worse!"

Well, I can't and don't buy that. My heart went out to my little fishball. How to protect him and his spirit?

With all this running through my mind, I registered him for school at SJI on Monday. Owain seems happy and I think I made the right choice. Next step - Orientation on Nov 7.


The Chengs said...

I guess in view of Isaac's experience, you'd need to observe him in p1 & p2 for Chinese then. Daniel had a tough time in p1 & p2 for Chinese , gee, for a boy who can't read, to hv to handle hypy as well is quite impossible. And he just couldn't differentiate the 4 different tones. ;( Yea, and he cried at his inability. I remember getting so frustrated while coaching him on that. Gee, he even rmbrs it qt vividly and recounted those incidents in p1 just the other day!

But these days, Daniel is KS like anything, ah.... it's amazing to see how he developed fr p1 - p6. It's not worth dropping CL for him after all the effort he's put in.

Well, if Owain ends up managing quite alrite with CL, but tests positive for some LD, you could still just let him continue w/o CL exemption, altho they will be given more time for every paper. My neighbour's girl (Sarah's pri/sec classmate) is that way.

The Chengs said...

BTW, Owain just goes under sibling phase for application, doesn't he?

Momto5 said...

Yes. 2A2.

The Chengs said...

Oh, it's not the same as Phase 1 for current siblings, eh?

So Jacob will be the same then. Phase 2A2.