My plan was simple. My Mom taught me my lessons. I was going to do the same for my son Joshua as he entered the big school last June. How hard can grade 1 be? We breezed through pre-school together. I overlooked the fact that I am 54 and my son is 7. When I was in grade 1 the Beatles was the hottest thing on earth. Today, Paul McCartney is probably as old as Justin Bieber’s grandfather.
The school curriculum is based on the principles of Higher Order of Thinking (H.O.T.) as explained by the class adviser. The what? There is less emphasis on facts and lessons are geared towards critical thinking or the application of what the child is learning in class. Darn! I wanted to teach Joshua how to memorize dates, names, and places. I was good at that in school. Does it mean he will never learn when Filipino hero Lapu Lapu killed Ferdinand Magellan who circumnavigated the world?
Gone too is the thrill of memorizing multiplication tables. My math teacher used to hold a contest on who can recite it without losing your breath. That is considered Lower Order of Thinking ( L.O.T). In my son’s school, grade school students are now taught Singapore Math. I had to attend a seminar together with other clueless parents to learn that 5 plus 5 is not just equals to 10. You have to break the equation into different combinations called number bonds to arrive at 10. Whew! Totally alien territory for me but who am I to disagree. The Singaporeans top Math aptitude tests worldwide even beating the Americans.
Then there is Mandarin. The hubby and I thought that it would be cool for our son to learn a second foreign language. It would look good in his future CV and help him land a nice, cushy job. However, during his first month in school Joshua declared he hates Mandarin and wants to transfer to another school. My daydream of our son running a Ferrari plant in China went poof!
In another parents workshop, I learned that Mandarin is a tonal language with four tones making it difficult for a neophyte like me to distinguish each of them. The only Chinese words that I know are xie xie and ni hao. Thanks to a Nickelodeon cartoon.Teaching the Chinese strokes to Joshua is something else! During study time, I have to be creative, sometimes forming shapes with my hands and feet, in describing certain strokes so my son can remember them.
Lastly there is the dreaded subject called Filipino, the Waterloo of many students. It’s an embarrassing fact but a majority of them would rather be proficient in English than their own language. Is it any wonder that the Philippines is second to India as the world’s favorite BPO site?
I don’t relish the subject either but do I have a choice? I have to rewire my brain to absorb words I last heard 40 years ago like pangngalan ( noun), pandiwa ( verb), patinig ( vowel), katinig ( consonant) etc . . My son complains how hard Filipino is but I threaten him that if he flunk the subject he can say goodbye to the gym. He loves to play at the gym after class. He can narrate in detail his adventures with his classmates. But if you ask him what he learn in class today the stock answer is ” I forgot.”
After locking horns with the grade 1 curriculum for seven months, I am still standing and relieved that my son does not have a failing grade. (I just wish he has better grades, whispers my OC self.) And surprise, surprise Joshua now finds Mandarin easy peasy. In two months time, he will be finish with grade 1.A friend, who listens patiently as I whine about teaching my seven-year old kid, suggested recently that I hire a tutor. Is she kidding? I am up to the challenge of being a H.O.T Mama next school year. Bring it on, grade 2!