School Exam Results & UPSR Results

My Facebook news feed has been flooded with mummies posting about their kids’ school exam achievements and UPSR exam achievements for the last few days.  UPSR 2016 results were announced yesterday.  This year the percentage of students who scored straight As is only 1.1% in the entire Malaysia vs. 17.7% last year! That’s a stark drop in straight As scorers, reason being change in format this year, where there are more HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills) questions.

It feels like it was only recently that Alycia collected her UPSR results from school and pulled a fast one on me over the phone.  That was exactly a year ago. In exactly a year’s time, it would be Drama Queen’s turn to collect her UPSR results!  She didn’t get  good grades for her final exam this time and yet her overall position is still within the top 25% of 300+ students in Primary 5. In fact, her grades are bad if I were to compare them with Alycia’s when Alycia was in Primary 5. Anyway, I should not compare as the format has changed this year and I must say that the syllabus now  is way tougher than in previous years.

The school holiday will begin next Saturday but Drama Queen would have to attend UPSR tuition classes in school for a whole frigging 2 weeks!  There goes my holiday. In fact, it’s worse than regular school-going days coz the transporter does not work during the school holidays… which means that I would have to be the driver *sob sob*

Alycia’s high school  has already started their school holidays on Thursday this week.  Her second semester grades are again only middling, with improvement of only a few marks for her Science subjects. Her Math grade is not good, thus she will have to start Math tuition next year.  I was warned to be prepared to see more of Bs, Cs and Ds when Alycia got accepted into this high school. Gone are the days when she would proudly show me her straight As marks in primary school.

For Cass, her position slid down from top 10 for the first 2 exams this year to top 20 this time (position in the entire Primary 2 of over 300 students). Nonetheless, she will still remain in the top class when she goes to Primary 3 next year. She will also receive a trophy from the school next week for being in the top 10 position for the entire year. Seven students from her class will be eliminated from the top class next year to ‘regular’ classes.  This makes me feel like the students in her class are contestants in the Amazing Race where those who do not make it in the long and stressful race get eliminated!  I wonder if Cass would be eliminated next year coz she is really not a kid with the materials of studying Chinese. She’ll fare well in a private or international school where subjects are taught in English.  But no, we can’t afford private or international school. It is SO stressful for me that Cass remains a ‘contestant’ in the ‘Amazing Race’ in the top class next year … but not for her. She’s a chill kid who couldn’t be bothered much with studying 🙁

After all that’s being said, I still think that UPSR and PMR grades are not that important… though they seem like life and death for some parents now. I am quite guilty as charged too.  When we shortlisted candidates for bank jobs last time, we never looked at UPSR or SRP results. What’s important was the SPM grade (grade 3 rejected outright) and uni CGPA. And of course soft skills, EQ, confidence and how vocal and convincing the candidate is.

 

Bribing My Kids

Today I bribed the small brat.  Cute as a button and can melt my heart when she is in her angelic mode, this brat can be a little monster when she is switched to devilish mode, spewing out the molten lava from my within through my nose, mouth, ears and all outlets in my body.

Though she is doing pretty well in her studies in school, she has an ‘attitude problem’, which is driving me NUTS!   Something must have happened between her and her tutor and she started to dislike her Mandarin tutor recently.  The brat will act up each time the tutor comes and this is DRIVING ME INSANE!  Now, this Mandarin tutor is the nicest teacher I have met. Alycia loves this tutor and got along with her really well throughout the 5 years that she tutored Alycia.   Cass and the tutor started off with a very cordial and chummy relationship since the beginning of time.  Cass was about 5 years old when she joined her 2 sisters during Mandarin enrichment classes.  When her syllabus got tougher as she progressed from pre-school to Primary 2, naturally the tutor had to increase the homework load.  Coming from a family consisting of yellow banana parents, our girls are gravitated towards English. They speak in English at home, watch TV shows, listen to English songs and prefer reading English books. With so much influences from pop stars from the West, they are pretty much ‘westernized’.

It was the hubster’s idea of sending the girls to a Chinese school. I had already anticipated all the problems that would brew and crop up one by one should our girls be educated in a Chinese school and tried to change his mind 8 years ago, but the hubster stood his ground – only Chinese school. Period.

Fine then.

For a child coming from an English-speaking family with yellow banana parents, mastering the Chinese language will be tough – most of the time, as they are unable to receive much guidance from the parents. Naturally, our girls had a very tough time picking up the Chinese language since they were in pre-school. While spoken Chinese is still manageable as their grandma speaks in Mandarin with them whenever she is around, written Chinese is one of the toughest languages to master and they all struggled during the initial years.  They are still struggling with Chinese writing.  I personally find that whether a child can flourish in a Chinese school depends very much on the character of the child. Does the child possess the material to study in a Chinese school?

Alycia survived 6 years in a Chinese high prestige primary school (SBT) and breezed through it, though she had had many minor melt-downs during Mandarin tuition classes.  She had a very good tutor who would entertain answering her questions sent via Whatsapp round the clock. Yes, I am referring to the same tutor.   Alycia did not protest when her daddy was adamant in sending her to a Chinese independent high school (private).  She is doing OK now. It is too soon to comment further as she is only in Junior High One.

For Sherilyn, she has a typical ‘kwai por’ or ‘Mat Salleh’ character. When she was younger, she used to tell us “I am an English girl, not a Chinese girl!”  She would greet me “hey mum” (and she still does),  reads only English books, watches English movies and listens to English songs and tells me “I HATE CHINESE SCHOOL!!” all the time.  She even recites the times table in English though they are required to do so in Mandarin.  She would morph into another person during Mandarin tuition classes.  She gets so bored that she can snooze off during Mandarin tuition classes.  She would find ways to stall time like faffing around pretending to look for things or pretend to have urges to use the bathroom.  And now, the littlest one is just like Sherilyn during Mandarin tuition classes!!  Monkey see monkey do.  Which is why I feel SO stressed out lately whenever the Mandarin tutor comes.  On bad days, she would refuse to cooperate with the tutor. This is when corporate punishment is meted out.   I feel so harried by the two brats and I am sure the tutor feels the same.

When I run out of ideas to get the 2 brats to behave during Mandarin classes, I bribe them. I use threats and corporal punishment.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. It is easier to use bribes on the littlest brat.  Today I bribed her with something that she really likes from my online store, which is some magic clay.   And it worked. She behaved 90% well, which is a vast improvement compared to the previous class.  I know my way of dealing with these 2 brats is not ideal.  There could be some better ways.  But I do not have the time and money to find a better solution. You may suggest  finding another tutor who uses a different approach in teaching them or perhaps have a better chemistry with these 2 brats. But it is not easy to find another good tutor. I am very comfortable with the current tutor who is one of the nicest teachers around and her fees are very reasonable.  Also, I know that a child cannot be compelled to like something which she naturally dislikes. This will backfire and have serious negative consequences.  These 2 brats hate studying in a Chinese school but are compelled to.

I can’t rant out to the hubs for he will comment that I am harping on the same string again and again. And I can anticipate his replies to me.  He is by nature a very happy-go-lucky person and does not place high expectations on academic achievements on his girls.  He’ll be satisfied with mediocre marks and positions while I am the total opposite.

OK, enough of ranting.  I just have to accept the ebb and flow of life of a mother with 3 head strong kids.  My motherly instinct tells me that they will turn out well in future.  And just like Lukas Graham sings – my mama said that it was OK.  Mama said that it was quite alright.

My mama always tells me to let it go and chill… she was not pushy on my studies when I was young (and she was a teacher) and I still turned out fine now 🙂

 

Cass’ Progress In A Chinese Primary School

My baby girl made me proud again. She did pretty well in her recent final exam. With this, she is going to the elite class next year. Starting from next year, there will only be 1 elite class for each standard in the school. The rest of the students will be placed randomly in the remaining five classes.

Am I happy?

Yes and no.

Yes that she made it despite being totally hopeless in her Chinese when she first learned the language. The hubs and I can’t help her at all, being hopeless yellow bananas.

But she persevered through lots of temper tantrums and buckets of tears during her Mandarin enrichment classes at home. I had to bear the brunt of her meltdowns with countless number of bribes and threats lashed out on her.

It’s not an easy journey in the Chinese school, especially for us yellow bananas. Our girls speak English at home but they learn everything in Chinese, except for English and BM language subjects.

With a medical condition of her urinary tract which requires voiding every hourly, I have many times wanted to pull her out from this ‘military style’ high-achievement status (SBT) Chinese school that she is attending now.  Chinese schools are notorious for not allowing kids to make regular toilet breaks. Our 2 older girls have had their fair share of horror stories to tell when they were forbidden from going to the toilet during lessons. How horrid!! I shall leave the details of their stories untold for now. Those from a Chinese school will know what I mean. Well, the option is still open. I pray that God will guide me on the right direction.

Being in the elite class would mean working 1000x harder than she is currently doing now. As it is now, she is already protesting and sometimes would end up in tears when our Mandarin tutor gives her homework, on days when she wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. Yes I believe in this! This girl is very moody and today is one such day when I felt like strangling her when she just refused to cooperate with her Mandarin tutor and chose to take a nap instead when the tutor came!!  Mandarin is just not her forte and the Chinese language is certainly not easy to master if both parents have no Chinese education background.

I am not going to put pressure on Cass to excel so that she remains  in the elite class in the years to come. We will just continue doing what we are doing now and hopefully she gets the flow and hang of studying in a ‘military style’ Chinese school with draconian rules.

Who knows, by God’s grace, we will be able to afford sending our girls to a private school in our neighborhood. SO much time will be saved each day if our girls were to study in this private school. Our lives will be much more enriched and less stressful, I can bet on that. The only stress is to work extra hard to bring in the dough. That will be my dream and I hope that I can make my dream become a reality soon 🙂

 

And Finally, The Report Cards

As the final school term is fast drawing to an end, with just 2 more school days to go, the much awaited report cards came back for tiger mommy to review and sign!

Sherilyn brought back her report card yesterday. She also helped to pick up Alycia’s report card from the teacher. Alycia has been on sick leave for 2 days, including today, after the day-trip with her school to Sekinchan on Saturday. This morning I went to Cass’ kindy to meet her teacher and to collect her report card.

Overall, I am very satisfied with the girls’ marks and position this time.  Alycia and Sherilyn’s wish came true and they are going to the class that they have wanted to go to.   Alycia’s ‘standard position’ improved significantly, though her marks for the test papers are pretty much the same this time, with improvement in some papers and a decline of a few marks for some papers.  Alycia’s class position remains top 5.

Sherilyn’s marks, class position and ‘standard position’ improved considerably this time.  From almost rock bottom in the mid year exam, due to a B in her Chinese test paper, she has climbed up fast and furiously this time. However, she still needs lots of polishing in her Chinese language subject. It will not be easy to remain in this class for Sherilyn next year if she does not work hard enough, especially in her Chinese language.

Cass has shown remarkable improvement academically too. From an almost zilch reading skill at the beginning of this year, she has now mastered the Sukukata (phonics in Malay) very well.  Her reading in English is also improving. Her thirst in reading suddenly grew overnight in the past one month.  She scored 100 in her BM paper and the rest were high 90s except for a 77 in her Chinese test paper. Chinese language is a subject which is pretty tough to master. It is even harder for our kids as both the hubs and I are yellow bananas — yellow skin on the outside but white in the inside like ‘gwai los’ lol!

Sherilyn will continue to attend the after-school enrichment centre next year.  She is VERY happy there and she comes home a very happy child every day.  There is lesser whining from her and she has so much to tell me about her friends every night.  She is also learning well from the enrichment centre. Right now, both Sherilyn and Alycia are looking forward to the trip to Kidzania organized by the enrichment centre.  As for Cass, I will have to ask the Mandarin tutor to drill her more starting from now.

I am going to put aside school books and exam stress for the next 2 months and am looking forward to enjoying the school holidays with the girls! 😀

That’s My PaPa

That’s Alycia’s drawing of papa (father in Mandarin). Don’t you think it looks like a scarecrow? 

I had a hard time teaching Alycia write the character papa in Mandarin.  Though I had dotted out the word for her, she still could not remember the order of the strokes.  Each time she does her Mandarin homework, I will have to watch her carefully and ensure that the strokes are written in the right order.  Towards the last few words, Alycia finally managed to follow the dots on the words in the correct order.    She has no problems writing words with simple and few strokes (even if they are without dotted lines) but when the word has more than 6 strokes, she tends to forget the order.  Alycia can now recognize a few Chinese words.

Is This Too Tough For A 4-Year Old?

Frankly, do you think the word ‘xiao’ or smile in Mandarin is a tad too tough for a 4-year old to write? Though the meaning is straightforward, the word itself has so many strokes that even we adults find it difficult to remember to write, well at least for me, a yellow banana who speaks  smattering Mandarin and can only write my own Chinese name and a handful of Chinese words.

The Mandarin enrichment class teacher had expected her to know how to write this word and her homework was to write a page full of the word ‘xiao’. Even after I had dotted the lines for Alycia to trace the word, she could still not remember the correct order of the strokes.  She was merely tracing for the sake of completing her homework.

Now, I’m really worried how Alycia is going to catch up if I were to send her to a Chinese school in future.  I know nuts about Mandarin and I don’t want to lead her blindly, just as how I had led her blindly on the use of the abacus, coz we were never taught how to use the abacus during our time.  I guess I will have to send her for tuition in future.

Abacus Calculation And Chinese School

Alycia’s pre-school is using the abacus method to teach the preschoolers Maths.  Her pre-school is gravitated towards Mandarin and most of the preschoolers there eventually go to a Chinese school.  Last week, Alycia brought home an abacus to be used for her Maths homework.   When I taught her to use the abacus, she appeared lost.  I had a tough time trying to teach her the concept of the abacus and calculations.   This week, she missed the entire week of school again due to her sickness.   If she continues to fall sick regularly, I am really worried she will have a tough time catching up.  As it is now, she is already very far lagging behind her peers as she had missed more than half a year of school last year.

Hubby is really adamant that Alycia has to go to a Chinese primary school in future.  He plans to register Alycia at Kuen Cheng 2 Primary school, despite the horrendous one-way traffic jam leading to the school.  I am really worried that Alycia would not be able to catch up with her studies and homework as Chinese schools are well-known for heavy load of homework. 

For those of you who send your kids to a Chinese school, how is the workload like?  Is it true that kids who go to a Chinese school have very little time for play as they spend most of their time trying to finish off homework and attend tuitions?  If it is, that is really unhealthy for a kid. All work and no play can really bore a child to the core and create a feeling of hatred going to school in the child.  I really need some enlightment in this Chinese school thing.