Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Sweet Success

Coco brought me glad tidings when I was coaching her in her Chinese yesterday: she is among the Top Ten highest scorers for her latest Chinese mini test in the class!

Coco has always been average in written Chinese, although she is considered as 'below average' in her Chinese-strong school. She is in the range of 0 to 20 percentile in her Chinese SA1 result. At her 'lowest' period, her Chinese teacher would taunt me with one or two twenty-minute-long phone calls per week and asked me to help motivate her in her Chinese work, gave me feedback on how her attitude towards Chinese ought to improve and informed me that she hadn't been handing in her Chinese homework.

I have always felt that Coco's Chinese is average and is within my expectation. After all, I made a conscious effort of keeping her from mastering the language for 10 years. I didn't want the learning of Chinese to interfere with her mastery of English since I feel that English, being a foreign language, is the more difficult of the two. Even up till today, this is still how I feel. However, I do want to target for at least an 'A' at her PSLE. And I thought her progress is checked and she is learning at her own pace.

But of course, such pace is unacceptable to the Chinese teacher. She expects instant improvements ie. in Coco's attitude towards Chinese, her handing in of assignments and being good at the language.

Sometimes Coco gets 41 out of 48 for her test, and she still falls below the median mark of the class.

This is because she is in this programme called 'Intermingling Programme' where children who had passed the first round of GEP (Gifted Education Programme) screening test study together with the GEP children at Mother Tongue lessons. And the top ten scorers are always the GEPers and they almost always get perfect scores.

This time round, Coco was among the Top Ten scorers for her mini test: a good 41 out of 45!

And she's the only non-GEPer within the Top Ten. Even the teacher was impressed and praised her for making an even greater improvement among her attitude towards Chinese and handing in of assignments.

At the rate that she's going, perhaps I can hope for an A* at PSLE? :)

Not only in Chinese have I seen an improvement, she seems to have become more sensible lately. She wakes up when I asked her to in the morning, dresses herself, combs and ties her hair by herself, uses her inhaler on her own, and above all, she does her homework without being told now!

I hope she stays this way for a long time to come.

On reflection, I wonder what actually had worked on her: my caning or my letting go.

I cane her when she wastes time instead of doing things that are constructive because something I read had impressed upon me - '不爱惜时间的孩子不会懂得珍惜生命' ('A child who idles his time away does not treasure life'). I thought that is so true. At the same time, I shudder to think of what kind of an adult would Coco grow up to be if she continues to while her time away. So the moment I have to call for her for 3 times, I would dash into her room with a clothes hanger and cane her on her butt. When I check that she has not done her homework after I come home at 6pm, I cane her without asking.

Strangely, at the same time, I try not to stress myself over her studies. Emotionally, I have felt more balanced after I'd splurged on myself by buying bags I fancy. I used to save every cent I have for Coco, so much so that I feel let down the moment she is imperfect or falls short of my expectations and would take it out on her. I justified my anger with the amount of money I had stinged on myself to save for her or spend on her. After buying a Kate Spade bag, I felt better about my treatment of myself. After that, I went ahead and splurged on an LV bag. It feels very good indeed - treating yourself well! I never knew it could feel this good.

I don't feel the compelling need to sit Coco down every time I see her to go through this and that now although I do feel that she should do more assessment books and papers. I don't feel unhappy and grudging that I'm earning and spending on Coco alone all the time now. I feel that the spending on myself makes me a more balanced person as well as a mother.

I'm not too sure which worked but I'm glad Coco is seeing fruits of her labour and tasting success in her weakest subject.

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