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My Soccer Mom Gets a Bit Teed Off With the School

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Education in the Phils has been a mixed bag for us. We've tried to take advantage of the positives and shore up the negatives. But this year, my partner is kind of hitting a stone wall and sparks are starting to fly.


Things that Work Well for Us: social network of moms has been excellent. Nothing like seeing a group of hard working class moms raising kids - working and playing together. Been good for the kids, good for my partner, and has moved us away from the negative aspects of society here. Nursery school combined with our efforts have worked really well. Smart teachers who understand early education well. Our now three year old has made a lot of progress this year. She's on the verge of being able to read. Improvements in speaking skills, social skills, numeracy, manual skills as well. In some respects she's rapidly catching up with the 6 year old in some areas. Private schools have done a good job reinforcing the kinds of values that I want to see in the kids.


Things that Are Making the Soccer Moms Fume: The school implemented many curricular changes this year. At first I thought they would be good ones. An increased emphasis on assessment. A rigorous and planned curriculum. The 1st grader was getting math from addition to multiplication. His civica classes included SE Asian geography and Phils history. Tagalog and English were still required despite the national mother tongue directives. Science wasn't bad either for grade 1. The third grader got the same except more advanced.


The third grader has been able to adjust better than the first grader. He had a lot of the basic skills already, so despite the jump ahead, he's been able to catch up and maintain high grades. It's not been so good for the first grader though. He hadn't developed a lot of academic skills and has been caught in a gap that we've been trying to fill.


Basic Problems for Us and Our Home Initiatives.


1. New textbooks for the First Grader cover the subject, but are written at too high a level. Textbooks have not helped him improve his reading skills. The schools have not filled the gap. Teachers seem to have adopted a cookbook approach to the curriculum. They're following the curriculum as required and testing as required. Good idea, but they need to make sure the kids are learning. Seems that job is now falling on us parents. To help out we've hired a tutor for the 1st grader. She's from the nursery school and does a good job teaching. But even she is having a fit with the 'new curriculum'.


I see the basic problem as having bad textbooks for the 1st grader. On top of the tutor I've had to step in more. His home play time is now being directed to online readings and subject lessons. There's some decent stuff out there on the net for early skills. My partner and I still emphasize test performance but have begun to realize that's less important than making sure the basics are being taken care of. 


The third grader is not progressing as fast as I think he should. Too much emphasis on testing. I believe his reading skills should be in a growth mode at his age. But school efforts have started to focus too much on the assessment and not enough on the development. 


2. Lack of libraries. That's more my beef than my partner's. Although I believe in a good curriculum, the radical part of me still views it as cook cutter cookbook education. There's a need in my opinion for good readings that kids can follow based on their interests. My best education took place when my dad used to take me to the library on weekends. Learned to love to read and learn and study. School was always a tad boring to me. I see the same in my kids. But there's no easy way to ignite the passion to read. Yeah, the internet is there, but Wikipedia is just not in the same league as the books in the public library for a young kid. I try to make that up with books interest the kids, dvd's, and guided online readings.


I'm not picking on the teachers. I've seen the same happen back in the states when overzealous legislatures or school boards try to drive the curriculum. You can't deliver new curriculum unless you develop the teachers to do so and unless you develop the learning resources to do so. I'm seeing the same mistake being played out here.


Hoho ... and the straw the broke the camel's back? My partner and I are working with the kids almost daily now. Next week the kids are off from classes for extracurricular activity. Some performance stuff. LOL ... my partner about hit the roof. 


3. Next year, we're looking for a new school (we already are looking). Lot of the other soccer moms are doing the same. Most common complaints from the moms? Because these are working class moms, too much extracurricular activities and not enough seat time in the class. Moms are having to step in or hire tutors to fill the gap.


Anyway, as much as I'd like to be patient about this, developmental education for young kids have their own ideal times for learning. If the school can't address that, we need alternatives. I don't expect any school to do it all. I'm willing to do my share as well.



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