Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Birthday Party

After more than a week of heavy, depressing posts about schooling and homework, here's a happy one. Laura and Adam celebrated their birthdays a couple of weeks ago with their friends.

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We have had a poolside party from the time Laura was two years old. Pool party suits me just fine as kids keep themselves occupied in the pool. However, we have to be really diligent in looking out for the kids as it can be quite dangerous being in the pool. Every year, we will have balloons filled with water to make water bombs. Always lots of fun :D

Adam wanted a cake with a train station, tunnel and train tracks so he can put his new die-cast train, Arthur, on the cake. Laura wanted to have the Baby Ballerina I made at the Debbie Brown workshop on her cake. Adam's classmate, Leon, shares the same birthday as him and is Adam's best friend in school. So we had Leon's name on the cake too to celebrate together.

There aren't many photos in my camera as Don was to be the "official photographer". I have yet to collect the CD from him!

Everyone had fun. I am glad both my kids' birthdays are 4 days apart so there only need to be one party a year. Phew!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Am I brave enough?

Am I brave enough to homeschool my children? Am I patient enough? I am exploring all options before deciding on one.

As I've posted previously, I know next to nothing about homeschooling. However, I have gotten in touch with someone in Malaysia who runs a homeschooling website. At this point, I still know very little but hopefully will gather more knowledge to make an educated decision.

Let me give an insight to what I daydream about...

For my children to have fun learning and learning is beyond the classroom. Instead of learning flora and fauna from books, to actually be outdoors touching and smelling to learn. To learn about life cycle of an insect, to observe a caterpillar morphing to a butterfly in our own backyard. To visit science centre to explore, to do experiments at home and to gather information together.

All that is fine and good except, we don't have a science centre which is fun or equipped for such excursion. I do not have a backyard where butterflies will lay eggs. I suppose there are ways and means. My main concern is really the onus of teaching of my children will be on me. Am I good enough? Qualified enough? Patient enough?

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Opposition leader not allowed to attend her former school's function

This is absolutely ridiculous! Hannah Yeoh, ADUN Subang Jaya have been banned from attending a Prefects' Reunion of her former school because she is an assemblyman from Pakatan Rakyat. Read here.

What is Malaysian schools coming to?


Monday, June 23, 2008

Laura's homework weekend 21-22 Jun

BM - Master Penulisan Bahasa Melayu Pages 4 - 7
Jumbled words to be reconstructed into sentences. I have a beef with this. How to reconstruct sentences when the child doesn't know how to construct in the first place?

Chinese 3M hua bao (magazine)
This is what Laura's teacher deem as fun homework. The magazine covers Chinese, Moral, BM, English and Maths in two languages. We used to struggle with this until Laura discovers she doesn't have to do the whole book. And it's ok not to do as her teacher will go through the questions with them.

Mathematics in English Activity Book Pages 6, 8, 9
This is one of the workbooks that are fun. Calculate and solve puzzles.

Isn't it bizarre that there are less homework in the weekends? I shouldn't complain 'coz at least Laura had time to spend with the family.

Last Saturday, parents were to meet the teachers and pick up their children's report card. Laura's teacher said she did pretty well considering she's from an English speaking family. Now, if my teachers had thought like that when I was in primary school, my command of the English would have been next to zero. My father used to work late and my mother was educated in the Chinese medium until she was 9 years old.

I am very proud of my little girl as she got all A's and B's, average mark 87%. Position in class 24/46, in standard 50/218. Goes to show Laura is a smart little girl. If only there was less punishment and more positive reinforcement in school, my daughter would shine!

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Laura's homework Thurs, 19 Jun

A few phrases are picked out of a passage from the textbook. To identify the "radical" of these passages, number of strokes and the pinyin. Then make sentences with these phrases.

Bahasa Melayu Tulisan Rumi (pages 1-4)
Writing exercise. Most of the words, Laura don't know. She just writes them.

Thursday's homework has been like a holiday compared to the previous days! Laura read a book for leisure before going to bed. If only it was like this every day.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008


What is homeschooling? I've heard this buzzword for some time and it's usually linked to Christian groups. I have nothing against Christianity but I am wary of overzealous people out to convert all and sundry, whatever the religion. I will like to keep an open mind on religion, let my children learn all they can learn of different religions so they can make an educated choice in the future. So, having over enthusiastic people on one religion around will make clouded judgement in the future. I digress.... What is homeschooling?

This is the limited view I have of homeschooling.

1. The onus on educating my children will be on me, sitting one to one with them.

2. Children who are homeschooled miss out on interacting with other children from all walks of life. Limiting their chances to learn social skills as well as dealing with trials and tribulations of childhood.

3. I will be breaking the law as children are required to complete Std 6 education in school.

4. Homeschooling centres are usually run by church groups, which I am ok with as long as they do not try to "convert" my children.

5. There is negative connotation to homeschooling. Kids who are homeschooled are square.

These are what I can think of offhand. From what I read here. This paragraph caught my eye:

To homeschool is to take responsibility of your child/ren�s learning because parents want to assume a bigger role in the education of their children. We want children to learn naturally � meaning, that they are able to use their naturally inquisitive and full of wonder kind of minds to explore and learn about the world around them. To do this, parents must view and value their children with love and respect and trust them to learn with all their physical as well as mental senses. We must give them space to express themselves through movements, art, music, songs and poems, whichever that attracts them most. We must allow them to speak their minds and say what is in their hearts.

What I want for my children but is homeschooling an option? I don't know enough to make that decision. Where can I find more information? Who can I talk to? That's what I'm going to find out.


Laura homework Wed, 18 June

Today's homework is very little compared to the other days.

KBSR English workbook Pages 14-16 (3 pages)
Teacher did not mark homework done on Monday and Tuesday and gave more homework on Wednesday.

Mandarin 3M Children Magazine
Based on examples given in the magazine, Laura needed to write a short paragraph on her daily "news", eg, what she did today. Even so, that's what my niece and I guessed she had to do 'coz she didn't get what her teacher wanted them to do. Her teacher also discourages students asking questions, so she dared not ask.

Mathematics in English workbook Pages 1-5 (5 pages)

Bahasa Malaysia
Read passage on page 60, then answer questions on the workbook.
Laura's BM teacher is known to provide answers to the students. She goes through the questions once and tells the students the answers. Students who go for tuition will be able to answer, those who don't like Laura, will be utterly lost. It's been 2 years since Laura learned BM and the syllabus is quite tough. Frankly, Laura is struggling to keep up. I do not understand how the syllabus is derived. Definitely not teaching children from scratch!

This is a list of "less" homework. Laura managed to finish everything to get to bed by 10pm.

Because I need to sit with Laura to do her homework, Adam is not getting as much attention from me. There isn't time to be together as a family before the kids go to bed.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Laura's Homework Tue, 17 June

Mandarin workbook Pages 4-6 (3 pages)

Mandarin exercise book
Part 1 - Copy a short story (2 paragraphs) from textbook. Provide illustration.

Part 2 - Complete a poem with some pinyin words. Write out poem, with chinese character of pinyin words.

Mathematics in Chinese workbook Pages 1-5 (5 pages)

KBSR English workbook Pages 7-13 (7 pages)
Teacher did not mark homework done on Monday and gave more homework on Tuesday.

Art & Craft: Make a mask

Laura did not manage to finish her Music class homework yesterday, so she did that today. Finished homework about 11.30pm.

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Link on corporate punishment and discipline in school

When I was searching for information on education in Malaysia, I stumbled upon this link. These are articles in the newspaper from 1998 regarding corporate punishment and discipline (or lack of) of students in school nowadays. Interesting read!

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Laura's homework Monday, 16 Jun 2008

This was what Laura had to do for homework today:

Mathematics Pages 118 - 124 (7 pages)
These pages involves problem solving using division.

Mandarin Page 3
To copy a paragraph/poem with some words in pinyin. Write out the word in pinyin and the Chinese character.

Pasti Skor KBSR (English) Pages 1 - 5 (5 pages)
Additional workbook to prep students for KBSR. As if they do not have enough workbooks already!

Mandarin (Writing) Pages 6 - 8 (3 pages)
To write out Chinese characters, count the number of strokes.

3M magazine for Std 2 Pages 1, 2, 4, 5, 8 & 9 (6 pages)
To do only (only?) Mandarin and Maths in Chinese sections. Some of the questions asked:

Mei Hua bought a school bag, gave the shopkeeper RM50. Shopkeeper gave her change RM3.70. How much was her school bag?

A packet of nasi lemak costs RM2.50, a packet of fried noodle RM3.50. If Hua Ming bought 3 packets of fried noodle and one packet of nasi lemak, how much change will he get back?

How much is RM49.10 - RM21.30?

WTF! Children are taught decimals in Std 2 already?? This is the Std 2 standard?! And why are there additional magazine type workbooks?!

Bahasa Melayu (Tatabahasa) Exercise book
List of 13 items. Give the "penjodoh bilangan"

Music Exercise book
Write out lyrics of a song taught in school and draw a picture to the song.

Laura started homework about 8.30pm (after she had showered and had her dinner). At almost midnight, I stopped her as she was too tired and simply could not think anymore. She had completed almost all her homework except for Music and some of the Writing. Is this not child abuse??

What I am planning to do this week is to list out all of Laura's homework daily. So far, I have made a photocopy of her homework today. I shall be writing her a letter with a copy of the homework to be done. I am not planning on wasting paper to photocopy every day but the principal will need to answer to me. If she doesn't give me a favourable answer, I may be forced to complain to the Ministry of Education that children are being abused in school - mentally and physically. Children are being robbed of their childhood!

Today is Adam's 5th birthday. I would have liked to have some fun time with Adam and Laura. Maybe we play some board games or just have a good cuddle together, so Adam will have good memories of his birthday with his family. We couldn't do that as Laura had tons of homework to complete or she'll be punished by her teacher in school!

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Monday, June 16, 2008

School issues again...

This subject has come up again. My poor little girl is trying so hard to do well and please her teacher but her school culture seems to be concentrating on putting fear on the children. Children are given a whole book of "Holiday Homework" to do during the 2-weeks school holidays. One boy didn't know how to do one page (something which his teacher hadn't taught), he was caned by his teacher. His mom went to school to see the teacher. His teacher admitted to not having taught the page in question, briefly went through the page with the boy and gave mother and son permission to go to the canteen to complete the homework. Vice Principal comes along and scolded the mother for not knowing that he should be in the assembly hall. This was 1/2 hour before school officially starts. Children are required to gather at the assembly hall from 12.30pm - 1.00pm. Said something to the effect, "Been 6 months of school already, how can you as a mother not know?" To talk down to a mother in front of her child is a definite no no!

Children are penalized by teachers and branded "lazy" and "stupid" if they do not know how to answer questions or miss out on doing homework. These children are so bogged down with homework, I have a tough time keeping up with what needs to be done!

Laura gets home every day about 7.15pm, dinner and shower and starts homework about 8.15pm. She doesn't finish till 11.00pm, sometimes midnight. So fatigued already, how to concentrate? Weekend homework is ridiculous. When are the children supposed to have time with the parents? Time to play? This weekend, this was what Laura had to do for homework - construct sentences in Mandarin, hanyu pinyin, copy a page from her Mandarin textbook, counting number of strokes and recognizing the radicals, Maths in Chinese, Maths in English, Bahasa Malaysia, Pemahaman in BM and Moral. Her birthday party was scheduled for Saturday, so she wanted to finish all her homework on Friday after school so she can have the whole weekend free to play. Laura stayed up till midnight on Friday and she could not finish. This morning, to have time to play the rest of the weekend 'coz we have house guests, she finished the rest of her homework.

I myself have not been the most patient with her. I feel really bad about it. Not having been educated at a Chinese school, my knowledge of Mandarin is very limited, not up to the standards of a Std 2 student. Laura will like me to sit with her to do her homework, helping her look up words in the dictionary, etc. Evening is also the time when I usually work on cakes, as day time is spent running errands and picking kids up from school. If Laura finishes close to midnight, that's when I start my work on cakes and I do not get to bed till 3-4am sometimes. Sleeping late is really putting a strain on me and I am such a grump when I do not have enough sleep. My children suffer, PT suffers and our helper suffers my wrath too.

I see my daughter changing. She has been forced to grow up faster than she should. At 8-years-old, she should still have the "Wow!" factor in her. To be curious and amazed by what's around her and the world around her. Laura should have time to daydream and read what she wants to read.

My daughter used to be a confident, outspoken little girl. At 3 years old, she told off some 6-7 year-old-girls for being rude to her at the playground. I was so proud of her for standing up for herself. However, that quality is frowned upon in her school. They are supposed to listen, sit down and shut up.

Private schools like Sri KL, Sri Cempaka or Sri Garden are not options for me. Also, I feel cheated having to pay almost RM10,000 a year in fees to learn the Malaysian school syllabus. RM10k is only fees for lower primary, have not taken into consideration the deposit, material fees, extra-curricular activities, uniform, etc. OUCH!!

Laura is also feeling a little left out in school. She has been raised by us to be affectionate and has always talked like a little adult. I don't think she can really relate to her friends in school.

Anyone know what Convent Bukit Nanas is like? Or Stella Maris? Does St Mary have a primary school? Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting Sek Men St Mary and met the principal. I am very impressed with Miss Goh, the school principal. Miss Goh is a principal who cares about the students under her care and it shows. Unfortunately, the school is too far from my home.

I am desperate! I need to find a good school to transfer my daughter to and eventually for Adam to start school in before my children lose their innocence and drive.

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