Recently, M remarked that school lessons can be really boring. On most days, that is.
He finds the schoolwork, specifically for English and Maths really easy and wishes he learns something new in the long hours he spends in school. The Chinese lessons are slightly better, in his words, because there may be occasional difficulty which requires him to think a little. But they are still not as tough compared to what he learns at home. He asked me tonight why I only spend time on difficult stuff whereas his school teachers teach such simple things. Duh. I had to explain the logic behind it.
Actually I am not even going ahead of curriculum. I recognize his strengths and weaknesses so I only revise areas where he is weak at. As always, I also concurrently provided opportunities to stretch him further in areas where his strengths lie.
He even mentioned several times this month that he wants to do lapbooking with me again, so he could learn something more challenging and interesting again. We have taken a break since last December and I have since concentrated my lapbooking efforts on N. I still spend time with M daily but our focus has shifted.
I have expected this comment (about schoolwork being too easy) from him and also accepted it as inevitable, at least for the first few months of Primary one. Which was why I was hesitant to send him to local school before. But I realized quickly that unless I homeschool him, it will be 'boring' in the beginning no matter if he enters local or international school after K2, so it is a moot issue.
Though, I must say, it is not entirely true that there is nothing for him to learn now. There may not be new concepts, but there are certainly skills to pick up. Skills such as how to ace the assessments, how to avoid careless mistakes and not to be complacent etc...
Even when there are new concepts, he learns them very quickly because he is a fast learner to start with and has a strong foundation. I'm certain his ability to categorize the new info and recalling at ease, plus his good memory helps him a whole lot (thanks to all the practice and training during our lapbooking classes). Perhaps this gives him the impression that there is nothing to learn.
But I am sure at some point, schoolwork will become more interesting and challenging as the pace picks up, especially after P2. For now, I try to stimulate him at home, as much as he’s willing.
Some asked me recently if it would be better for him not to already know so much, so that he would have something to learn now. I find this a very odd question.
If a child is interested in learning more before he is 6 and has the skills, attitudes and abilities to keep up with his interests, it would seem unnatural to discourage him or slow him down. Especially if our sole reason is just to leave him something to learn in future when he enters mainstream school. Doing so, will only kill his interest to learn as I have mentioned before. The constructive approach should be to teach the child to manage his own perspectives, adjust his attitudes and still meet all learning objectives.
The fact is, primary one work is really simple since the bulk of the curriculum is just a revision of K2 work. Many schools aren't even teaching much in P1. According to M, his teachers just handed out the work with basic instructions and kids get on with them. All tests and assessments are on ad-hoc basis without advance notice and by the time we get the marked assessments back, it is too late to revise for the next test. I suppose one would consider his school to be a really relaxed one that promotes a holistic education (read: kids are not pushed academically, at least not at this level).
So if a child doesn't already have a strong foundation by the time he enters P1, it is most likely that he would find himself among the minority who struggles with daily work. Not good for the kid's ego.
Worse, if the child is in those schools that are ridiculously academically focused. Some, I have heard, hand out worksheets 25% tougher than typical P1 during lessons, assess the kids every two weeks to track progress, start remedial classes for P1 kids in February for those whose assessment marks are below 90 (out of 100) and the kids have to complete between 200 and 300 pages of additional worksheets prepared by the school annually for each subject.
Naturally, these schools place immense pressure on the parents who have all turned super-kiasu, comparing scores of every assessment and making a mountain out of every molehill. From calling the teachers to bargain for an extra mark for the kid's journal writing to sending the teacher a home video of the perfect show-and-tell home practice by kid who fumbled in school; it has all turned into a circus. Ok, now I am digressing.... I shall ramble no more.