Friday, May 20, 2016

keep her humming

I gaze upon Lu as she cheerily embarks on her latest boliao project, ripping the cover off a Primary 1 Art and Music file to turn it into a sticker repository.

She uses a Sharpie to carefully label each transparent page, before transferring stickers from all the sticker sheets lying around the house into the correct category.

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As usual she has a small smile lurking at the corners of her mouth as she hums nonsensical tunes under her breath: hm-hm-hm-hm-hm…

She’s always been a hummer. We've become oblivious to it, but if I purposely tune in, she actually hums the whole day long: In the shower, while pottering around the house, scrabbling for new bits of junk in the recycled bag, organising her possessions.

Then the image, unrelated and unwelcome, comes to me like a knife in the dark: Her Chinese teacher telling me at the recent Meet The Parents session that the Chinese syllabus is being revamped. By the time Lu takes the PSLE in 2020, it will be much, much harder.

Her exact words: Luanne’s brother is the lucky one. He can still get by and score through memorizing. She won’t be able to do that. She will have to be able to react off-the-cuff, not memorise, as if she were truly bilingual.

Aside from the first few questions of - WHY THE HELL WOULD THEY DO THAT WHEN KIDS ARE ALREADY STRUGGLING? YES WE HAVE TO MOVE BEYOND MEMORISING BUT THAT'S WHAT KEEPING THEM ALIVE! THE TEACHERS DON'T KNOW HOW TO TEACH HIGHER-LEVEL CHINESE PROCESSING SKILLS WHEN THE KIDS ARE SO CRAP AND OH, THE TEACHERS AREN'T THAT GREAT THEMSELVES! - I was terrified.

One, amongst the trio her Chinese is by far the worst, but her character is by far the most easy-going. Day and Jo both asked for Chinese tuition by the end of Primary 1, not Lu, not even when she does badly. Which means any pushing – if warranted – will not be self-directed. It will have to be external, from me.

Two, because of this, I am most loath to make her “grow up” and become “resilient” in the Singapore context by sending her to someone who will drill her in Chinese, and potentially rob her of her humming time.

Three, while I fear that she will be pressured, I am even more alarmed at the possibility of letting it go and letting her slide back, further and further, as the Chinese syllabus ramps up, higher and higher, while I watch her become disheartened and withdrawn and the only lame thing I’d be able to muster up is – It’s OK, grades are not everything.

Anyway. I will have to start her on Chinese tuition. But today, she’s still humming. The hum must never be silenced.

And if the tuition is done right, it would - in the words of a fellow mum - stretch her capabilities and give her the confidence to go to school with a smile instead of dreading Chinese class. That way, tuition will be what keeps her humming.

(or is that my very lame justification?)

8 comments:

Karmeleon said...

More Oral? Yours & Mine same - 2020, yah? I mean, our youngest. I've already gone crazy prepping him for Oral.

Anonymous said...

If she is into humming, get her to learn Chinese through songs? Err, any mandopop songs interest her? If there are then is half the battle won. Otherwise is to engage a nice Chinese tutor to play and talk to her on a daily basis? It will cost a bomb though. But I totally agree that the humming cannot and shouldn't stop.

Kc

Sher said...

karmeleon: wah piang, lulu's chinese oral...

kc: def not daily chinese tuition!

Karmeleon said...

I want a chinese governess - like rogers! hahhaha see the happy's youtube!

Anonymous said...

Hehe not the hardcore kind but to just converse and play with her so that she's comfortable with the language. :p
Kc

francesca said...

I'm also looking into how to cultivate interest in Chinese in my kids. My girl would say 我而已要这个。I only want this. Maybe go take a look at children art theatre? My girls are requesting me to stop berries. And I'm thinking - before I kill their interest, I should find some engaging programs for them to be engaged (?).

Anonymous said...

My parents can't speak Mandarin. The best investment they made was in an awesome Chinese tutor who taught us all the way from Primary School to JC.

Let me know if you'd like her contact!

Anonymous said...

Only when looking back at our own lives and having a mature 20/20 microscope, we begin to appreciate and be thankful for those difficult moments our parents made us go through. I know Lu will continue humming despite the occasional petulant Chinese tuition stops. We hope that life is a fairytale of unbridled fun, endless self-learning and aspiring tomorrows. But it is not. We live in a real world. And to prepare the child for the real world albiet in an engaging and positive way is one of the painful things we have to do as parents.

Mai hum? Only the PM does that to his mee siam! Let's continue humming the tunes of our lives!

Adrian