Browsing "School"
Jun 18, 2011 - Learning, Parenting, School    6 Comments

Is the Weatherman a Scientist?

Weather StationA couple of days ago, the other Reception class stuck this weather station outside their classroom. Now as all the Reception children share the same yard, the label seemed infintely loaded.

But anyway, seeing it the first time after school, making our way home, my first reaction was to tell Georgia to leave it alone. Too late.

A combination of selective hearing and curiosity meant that she dashed straight off to pick up the rain water funnel.

As the other class’ pupils spilled out, one ‘told’ on her shouting loudly, “Georgia’s touching the weather station”.

It so happened that by that time, I had caught up with her, and had told her to put it back, and leave it alone. But a man who was at the door, of the other class room, one whom I’d never seen before, took it upon himself to berate her or at least it seemed like it, at the time. (Given that I myself had told her to put it back, and he had witnessed the whole incident.)

He shouted loudly and went on and on, insisting, “You are not supposed to touch that only real scientists can, and it takes years and years of training to become a real scientist”.

Now , while I was absolutely appalled that Georgia had picked up the rain funnel, disregarding the sign on it, I was completely cheesed off at the unnecessary reaction to her curiosity and inquisitiveness.

Having been (do you ever stop being?) an actual ‘real’ scientist, I had on the very tip of my tongue a retort, which would probably have shut the man up, but I held my tongue. In hindsight, probably rightly so, for it would have been unnecessary and pointless to get in to an argument.

However, I am a firm believer that nothing promotes or encourages science more than kids getting their hands dirty. Encouraging curiosity and certainly encouraging experimentation.

To put up a sign that says Scientists Only, discourages the fact that everyone, especially children, are probably the best scientists around. While I am a member of the Permanently Head-Damaged, I certainly do not believe you need letters after your name to be a scientist. It would have been so much better if the sign had just said Do Not Touch.

If you had been there, would you have said something?

Conversations with Georgia: Mrs Mooncake?

As we gleefully left school on Friday afternoon, after what had been a seriously long week, we walked along the shaded path heading towards the car.

Two ladies came walking in the opposite direction. And G whispers,

G: There’s Mrs Mo…

And because they were drawing nearer, I looked up, to smile as the one that Georgia knew smiled at her. And as soon as they were out of ear shot, I stopped Georgia and asked,

Me: What did you say her name was? Mrs Mooncake???

At which point we both burst out laughing.

G: Her name is Mrs Morgan. But you know, they have such strange names, like Mrs Kershal.

Turns out, she thinks Sam is normal, but Jin Aik is strange too – Poor Daddy!

In case you’re wondering, Mooncakes are a type of Chinese sweet-cake associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival, along with the Lantern Festival. There are legends that go with it as well – read more about it here.

May 5, 2011 - Books, Learning, School    No Comments

The Drama of Reading Books

Now I’ve gone and done it!

Over the Easter holidays, Georgia was given two new reading books, again from the Oxford Reading Tree series. One was OK, thankfully, but the other, Gosh! ‘The children were fed up. “Yuk!,” said the children’

So while we are working to instil a positive mindset and to encourage Georgia not to say Yuck to food – how can it be right to the encounter all of these in reading books?

Time for a change. Thankfully, her class teacher Miss Jones was really understanding and recommended that we try books from another scheme, which she called Ginn books.

Apparently these books are quite ‘old’ but hey…as long as they’re not so depressing! I promise I’ll come back and provide a verdict after we’ve read them.

Apr 26, 2011 - Conversations, Learning, Life, School    4 Comments

Conversations with Georgia: Tongues in School

Of all the things, 4 and 5 year olds get up to in the school yard…

G: Do you know what Mrs Thomas said the other day?
Me: No, what did she say?
G: She said, “Everyone must keep their tongues in their own mouth and NOT touch other people’s tongues with their own tongue!”
Me: Oh…why did she have to say that?
G: Because they were touching other people’s tongues with their own tongue.
Me: !!!

Observations and Reflections: Hard Reading-ers

Lately I’ve noticed that I’ve started reflecting a little bit more about what I remember from my ‘growing up’ years and how Georgia’s experiences are.

The phrase ‘Hard Reading-ers’ that Georgia dropped in to conversation yesterday morning, just before school, made me reflect about how and when I first realised that  academic achievement was or rather had to be an important goal. I actually remember the exact moment the realisation occurred.

It was in Standard 3, I was nine, I was walking up wooden steps in the ‘old’ block of my primary school, Convent Pulau Tikus, Penang, Malaysia. It wasn’t as if, prior to that, I didn’t know about results and Report Books or that I did not know we had tests to take. I suppose prior to that, it never bothered me, luckily I suppose, because good results came fairly easily. Perhaps because, thankfully, my parents didn’t quite make an issue out of it.

Anyway, I digress (this is a blog about Parenting Georgia!) what I wondered really was, how aware she was of what she was capable of (in terms of academics), and whether this had any bearing on the things or work she had done in school.

She has never felt the need to tell me about what other children are doing in school, or in particular how able they are in their learning, but what I have noticed is that several of her little friends have commented on her reading books, and they have asked, how come she gets different, (harder) ones.

Clearly (or it seems clear to me) from these types of comments, they are quite aware of how they are compared with their peers (self-comparisons?), although I have never noticed this with Georgia, I do wonder why? Yet, perhaps it’s because we do so much with her that it’s a given, the work from school is going to be easy, and our conversations on her school experience focus mainly on the social aspects of it. Who did you sit with at lunch time?  What games did you play? Learning questions, are always secondary or maybe even tertiary :).

I wonder if someone will come along and point out, that my realisation of results and academics equate to a ‘loss of childhood’. I am most certain that was not the case though, as the thing that struck me most was, all it did was ignite a hugely competitive fire, I HAD to have straight As, bar Art, PE and Chinese.

Do you remember your first important realisations? Have they affected you or the way you parent?

Conversations with Georgia: Hard Reading-ers

This morning as we were getting ready for school, we had this conversation.

G: James said that all the Hard Readingers have to go to the front.
Me: What is Hard Readingers? And where is ‘front’?
G: Hard Readingers are the people who read hard books, loh (Hokkien accent). We have to go to the front at Assembly.
Me: OIC.

So apparently, Georgia is a Hard Readinger. I suppose if they knew, she would also be a Hard Math-er, Hard Cello-er, Hard Writer (that one’s correct ;)) and we would be Hard Demanders!

Apr 9, 2011 - Books, Learning, Parenting, School    6 Comments

You are what you read…

If the saying ‘You are what you read’ is true, and a large part of me firmly believes so, I am seriously worried about the reading books that are being sent home from school; Georgia’s school and I imagine hundreds of other schools around the country.

If I digress a bit, and generalise an awful lot, and very much through an immigrant’s eyes, Britain and the British are well known as a country of ‘moaners’. They admit it themselves, everything and anything is always ‘dark and gloom’.

In fact, I have a lovely lovely sweet neighbour who is a lovely chap except everytime I’ve ever spoken to him, he complains about something, or other, usually the weather, which he has absolutely no control over! Nothing is ever right.

Anyway, back to those dreaded reading books. Georgia’s reading books from school are from the Oxford Reading Tree series. They’ve been around a while, I gather and I suppose in itself, from an educational perspective, they are fairly well written with step-wise developments on words with progressively more words per page.

What I just can’t get over are the stories and how depressingly negative they are! Bif, Chip and Kipper along with Wilf and Wilma, are on the whole pretty interesting characters (well, as interesting as pen-drawn characters can get). But the things they get up to and the conversations they have though are enough to make me want to slit my wrists! (No kidding!)

At The SeasideTake for example, the latest story Georgia brought home. It’s called At the Seaside.

The words of the story go like this:
The family went on holiday. Wilf and Wilma went, too.
The hotel had burned down. ‘Sorry’ said the man.
They looked at a new hotel. ‘Too expensive,’ said Mum.
They looked at an old hotel. ‘No, thank you,’ said Dad.
Every hotel was full. ‘Sorry!’ said everyone.
They had to go home. But the car broke down.
A farmer stopped his tractor. ‘Can I help?’ he said.
The farmer had a bus. ‘You can stay here,’ he said.
‘What a good holiday!’ said Wilf.

Copyrights OUP 1989

At least this book ends in a slightly more positive note, but really, surely it’s not necessary for children to have such a depressingly negative start. I must add, though, even in the books with slightly perkier or funnier stories, they typically end with ‘Oh no!’

Do you think these (infant and primary school) 5-year old’s reading books could have been a significant contributing factor to how ‘negative’ (again, gross generalisation here!) British society has become?

I’m sorry but give me Dr Seuss any day!

Apr 7, 2011 - Family, Learning, Life, Parenting, School    4 Comments

When I Grow Up…

Georgia came home with a homework sheet on Monday. In it, she was supposed to draw what she wanted to be or do when she grew up.

This was what she drew.

When I Grow Up...

I know Obstetrician is a big word for a 5-year old’s vocabulary, but it’s very specific, she’s not interested in doctor-ing children, just babies, particularly helping mummies with their babies being born.