Saturday, September 16, 2017

academic issues

I am too hands-off when it comes to their work, I know, but as I don’t get calls from teachers about how badly they’re doing that’s good enough for me.

I take care of the values, try and raise them right, and pray that providence takes care of the rest. That in future they will meet the right people and mentors, be in the right place at the right time etc.

But in the bare minimum that I do, these are the issues I face:


Nothing, because he is the one most left alone (not because he’s academically strong). If anything, I think more about how to nurture his cooking skills.

He doesn’t enjoy school nor schoolwork, an increasing array of school projects are done in a very lame manner (ie. hardly any effort put in) but he does it all with reasonable diligence, and neatly.


Unlike Day, who never asks me anything, Jo keeps asking me for help, and she keeps rolling her eyes / sighing in exasperation because I’m unable to.

These all mostly have to do with Science, because she is the most scared of her Science teacher. The other day, she kept hammering away at me about how an egg splits into a placenta and an embryo, drilling in a question about some tiny little technical detail which escapes me now, which literally made me want to run out of the house and escape because I DON’T KNOW.

She doesn’t ask me about Maths anymore because she’s given up. She consults Teng.

With her, I have to train her to self-help. Or at least get up the guts to ask others, because I’m incapable. The constant refrain from me, to her, is, "Jo, my Chinese is not good" or "Jo, Mama is not a scientist" or "Jo, you know Mama failed Maths in secondary school right?"

And oh, even in English, I do not satisfy her because I cannot explain grammar rules. I can only tell her what the answer should be by feel, but not why. (ie the technicalities about things like prepositions, what goes with what etc. She asks - "But why is this the answer, Mama?" and I can only say "Because it sounds right lor")

But she does love her school projects. Meeting up with friends and doing project work. She throws herself 120 percent into these. 


Lu needs a lot of help, from me. At Primary 3, I am still able to. I am concerned, though, because #1 and #2 never needed this much coaching at Primary 3.

Not for English, which is her pillar of strength. And not for Science, at the moment.

Her Herculean labours are Chinese and Maths.

I think, for her, for what she doesn’t like, her brain acts like a sieve and everything just slips through.

My “teaching” sessions with her are rare but epic, and all have to do with Maths. These usually occur when she asks me for some help with homework and I realize to my great horror that she completely doesn’t understand fractions, or time, or model-drawing. Or that she can’t quite multiply and divide. I mean, these concepts are necessary in life, not just in school.

I grab paper, sit down with her, and as time passes and I realize that all my attempts to explain in different ways are futile, I start to act strange. I look heavenward, I grip my fists, I take deep breaths, I start to speak with a very soft voice in a very clipped accent – as if the problem was that she didn’t understand me in the first place. Sometimes I actually want to cry.

At this, she starts to huff. “Fine I’ll do it myself, forget it, don’t help me!” She scurries off like a cockroach on the run, I yell at her to come back because I’m not giving up by any measure, she reluctantly trudges back, and we do it again.

I have been trying to explain supposition to her for weeks, and weeks. From duck and dog legs, to buttons on dresses and shorts, to 10 and 20 cent coins, we’ve done so many examples and still I get stuck at the same stage where she simply doesn't get it. (these questions are the sort which go: There are 20 ducks and dogs on a farm. The farmer counted a total of 50 legs. How many of each animal are there?)

Who came to the rescue? Jo. She managed to explain to Lu – for now.

As for Chinese? I think Lu’s Chinese tuition teacher wants to tear her (own) hair out.


Anonymous said...

Try superstar teacher?

Anonymous said...

Hi Shermaine, thanks for sharing... i too feel that I will be in the same situation one day since i'm inherently hands off too (experienced too much trauma with overzealous parenting when I was a kid). you might want to read this:

Her book/insights have been a god-send!

- long-time reader

Lynn said...

I have a suggestion regarding Lu's Maths problem.

How about using maths manipulatives, something like ice-cream sticks?

My daughter is in P2, and I often have to explain abstract maths concepts to her using things that are concrete.

Children at this age have a problem visualising abstract stuff, even multiplication and division.

Hope it helps,

francesca said...

I get my p3 to coach my p1 when my words seems to be lost on p1. Just last night, p1 commented - I will ask Brother from now on. Getting manipulatives help as well (I got them from Taobao)

Dee said...

Superstar Teacher helps me because I still don't want to put my P2 for tuition.