Starting Primary 1 and my laid back attitude towards grades

I remembered how XX started her first day of school 2 years ago. It seems like yesterday. And this year, it is YH’s turn to go to Primary 1. That reminds me of his first day in childcare when he was 3, and now 4 years later, he is a grown up boy, still a mummy’s boy in my eyes, starting formal school.

Just like how XX did, YH settled pretty well in his first days in primary school. I was surprised at his relaxed attitude on the first day. It wasn’t this way during the orientation organized by the school. He clung on to me and was not too keen in meeting new friends then. That got me a little worried.

On the first day of school, I prepared YH for school. Kel and I took the same school bus together with him. I was not sure if he felt the anxiety, if he did, he surely did not show it. As for me, I was probably more anxious than him. It’s like watching a performance by your child and fearing he might fall on stage. Oh, I am a worry pot. I shouldn’t had worried, YH was so calm that when the P2 helper took him to the wrong place to sit in the assembly hall, he was alert enough to stand up and walk over to the right area where his classmates were seated. Without saying a word, he just smiled at me. I kissed him, whispered,”I love you baby” before I left him there. He still allowed me to kiss him and call him a baby in front of everybody. I shall remember this for as long as I live. For it will be very soon when he will find this act of love somewhat embarrassing.

Hall assembly

After assembly, they were taken to their respective classes and parents will not see them till dismissal. Kel and I stayed on for parents briefing on how to prepare kids for school and homework. All the teachers who spoke emphasized how attitude is more important than grades. This is totally in sync with our philosophy of raising our children. In Singapore, far too many parents are emphasizing on grades and failing to see ATTITUDE is the more important one to ace. We believe if our children have a good attitude towards learning and having the right attitude in everything they do, they can go further than someone having good grades but has a lousy attitude. I hope I will not be influenced by peer pressure to direct my kids on paper chase ever. I shall make sure I remember this blog post.

For the first 2 weeks of school, the Primary 1 students were dismissed an hour earlier. Hence, Kel and I decided to fetch YH on this first day. He was all smiles when he saw us. That gave me a reassurance that his first day went on well. It reminds me of my own first day in P1. My mum was watching me from the classroom window along with many anxious parents. I was feeling jittery and wishing my mum could sit beside me. But my mum is a tough mum, she would let go of me when it’s time to do so. I wondered how my mum had felt on my own first day of school. Now I am watching my son on his first day and fetching him home just like how my mum watched me on my first day and fetched me back home.

Today is week 4 of school. YH seems to be enjoying his classes and eating well during recess. He even bought 2 sushi rolls back to share with his sister. During dinner time, he seems very hungry and can eat more than what he did last time.

For the initial 3 weeks, there was no homework at all! I love this! I do not believe a school is good just because they give lots of homework. I am just too glad that his school, a SAP school (which is a school that emphasizes greatly on Chinese, Chinese culture and traditional values), does not have much homework for P1 and P2 kids. My girl, for 2 years, had minimal homework. If she did bring back home, she usually could finish them in less than half an hour’s time.

Here is a brief description on their school system:
My children’s Primary School is a SAP school which emphasizes greatly on Chinese culture and values. If you walk into their school, every inch of the school walls, columns, ceiling and even the toilet have Chinese learnings like the Di Zi Gui 弟子规, China history, Confucius teaching, etc. The principal speaks in perfect English and perfect Chinese. She is a master of bilingualism. A very good role model in my opinion. Each school newsletter is always in English and Chinese. The students sing Chinese school song, recite the Singapore pledge in Chinese, and sing a school composed song in values. Recently, they have a wall mural of  弟子规 beautifully painted to emphasize to students that they have to respect their parents, siblings, elders, peers and do good deeds. Parents are encouraged to learn 弟子规 alongside their children. I am so in love with their school’s teachings and beliefs that I know my kids are in good hands.

Di Zi Gui 弟子规 wall mural

Di Zi Gui 弟子规 wall mural

Even the toilet has Di Zi Gui 弟子规

Even the toilet has Di Zi Gui 弟子规

If you are worried about your kid’s Chinese language level, I think you should send your kid to a SAP school. There are plenty of Chinese speaking and reading opportunities and this extensive exposure to Chinese is very important to learning the language well! Every 3 days of the week, the students have to bring Chinese story books for silent reading. All students learn Higher Chinese from P1. That’s how much they emphasize on Chinese.

As for school work, kids are taught in many fun ways. All the teachers have unique and creative ways to engage the kids. The moment any student is identified as not so proficient in any subject, the subject teacher will make an effort to hold extra learning class for these students, one hour a week. XX had one of them during the time when she had some difficulty learning a few topics, and I was just too happy to send her for these extra classes. First of all, I am so thankful to the teacher who made the effort for coaching extra classes free of charge! Secondly, I save money in doing away with tuition and save the time to coach her myself, which otherwise can be spent playing with them. I check on XX’s studies only once in a while and teach her when she comes to me for help. I prefer a laid back attitude to leave her independent of her own learning. This is so that she is more diligent in listening in class than to switch off during class knowing that she has me to ask when she is home. For YH, I am going to do the same: monitor his homework as and when needed and not using a helicopter parent approach.

I hope YH is going to enjoy his school for as long as possible. He seems to be adapting well and hopefully he can do well in his studies without a need for extra lessons or tuition. I am keeping my fingers cross that I will NEVER need to send my kids for any tuition class. I believe it can be done with good attitude. I, for one, had never had any tuition classes. Hence, I am going to make sure my kids have a good attitude for learning. Grades are not all important as long as they achieve acceptable results. Kel and I have no pressure for them to be in top classes. I definitely do not want my children to achieve all “A”s in their subjects and an “F” in attitude and EQ. Afterall, from our observation, many high achievers are the ones who obtained average results during their school days. Don’t you think so?

What is your take on your child’s education? Are you a helicopter parent or a laid back one like me?


19 thoughts on “Starting Primary 1 and my laid back attitude towards grades

  1. I’m hearing a lot of Singaporean parents with the same attitude – despite the reputation! Perhaps I am attracting the laid back opinions because I’m a foreigner, or perhaps public opinion is changing, or perhaps initial reports have been exaggerated – I’ll leave that for your comment!

    P is due into P1 next year and I’m sure his teachers are worried about how he’ll cope in the Singaporean system, but he’s got a year left to sort it out. In Australia, he’d be on his second year of state-sponsored public education already – which would have been way, way too early for him. Kindergarten is challenging enough for an active boy.

    • That’s interesting to know that Australia starts formal school early. I am sure P will have no problem assimilating into the public schools unless you are enrolling him into Australian school here. As for the laid back attitude, I am sure you are attracting laid back opinions as I have many many friends who are anxious and much involved!

  2. You sound like a wonderful parent who is doing a great job with her kids. I remember sending my kids off to their first day of school. Tears running down my face(not theirs) after they left on the bus. Also remember thinking about them during the day, wondering if they are having a good day….I always worry about my kids. Still do, even at 19, 17 and 13. My 13 year old is still my baby and he lets me kiss his cheeks and hug him(but not in front of friends). He’ll always be my little baby! Great post and very enlightening on Singapore’s educational system.

    • You sound like a wonderful parent too! If your 13 year old still wants your hug and kisses, you are a good mum! I am like you, I almost teared on my children’s first day of school. They were cool, but not me. Thanks for your lovely comments!

  3. I’m laid back, well, I have told Mr. T that only A’s and B’s are acceptable; however, I’ve made exceptions when he is struggling with the teacher or the lesson, which isn’t very often. I’ve really relaxed once he started Advance Placement classes, which are harder than regular ones, and he still scores very highly. I’m so proud of him! He sent me a text yesterday morning that he was craving Taco Casa (a local fast food Mexican restaurant) and did I want to come have lunch with him? Well, of course! So, I picked up food for both of us and joined him at school! I think I’ll blog about it, now that you’ve made me think about it!

  4. That is interesting! I like your attitude! I think mine will depend on how the kids do in school, if one of them turns out having major learning difficulties…? I may struggle to stay laid back then…

  5. My girl will be going to primary school next year. It is also a SAP school which is same as your children. Agree with you that attitude is more important than grades. Hope my girl will adapt the school well like your YH.

    • That’s what I thought too! Apparently, my girl who’s in P3 this year has minimal homework and her learning is at a comfortable pace in school. I would think that nowadays in a bid for wanting to be a “branded” school, neighbourhood schools (from what I have heard from other parents) have more emphasis on grades than SAP schools. They have far more homework than what my girl brought home in P1 and P2 days. If you want to find out about potential schools to send your children to, it’s better to ask for a visit to the school and talk to the principal.

  6. Sounds like a great school 🙂 Blackberry #1 starts first grade in september. I am freak out….
    I have no idea what kind of school would be good for him… I will go and check out 2 schools next week.

    • Blackberry is a big boy now! If you are well-prepared for the basics of first day of school together with him, everything will be fine! Yeah! I checked out my kids’ school before enrolling them there, that gives me a peace of mind 🙂

  7. Pingback: How to improve your child’s Chinese | Kids "R" Simple

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