For years now, Joy has been learning through play and attending a school that believes in this concept as well. In my mind, education from primary school level onwards is more often than not desk bound, requiring long hours of concentration and expectations are much higher.
Joy will be entering into Primary 1 in a matter of months but, there has been a nagging question in my mind – Is she ready for it? I care about how she would perceive her own competency in comparison with her peers and I care about how that would affect her attitude and beliefs towards learning from then on, especially when her response to a formal classroom setting is as above.
It was good timing that LearnersEd invited us for their primary one preparation workshop. I wanted to learn about the Primary 1 syllabus, which I understand to be very different from the past. I also wanted to see how Joy reacts to learning in a desk bound classroom setting.
Our facilitor, Teacher Jenn, is a personal friend of mine and also someone whom I turn to sometimes for advise on homeschooling. Teacher Jenn is passionate about education and she has deep knowledge not just on coaching but also of the education system in Singapore from her personal experience of seeing her own son through the Gifted Education Programme. Those are good qualities to have in a teacher preparing children for primary one.
This is Joy’s reaction to the workshop at the very beginning. The early class timing probably played a part, but most of it was because math in lesson form is a foreign concept to Joy and it got me very worried. She paid attention and tried to answer when Teacher Jenn gave out treats for correct answers, however, after that, she would switch off. Joy’s resistance didn’t escape Teacher Jenn’s notice and Teacher Jenn’s purposeful act of engaging students who need more attention didn’t escape my notice.
The workshop was broken up into three days and Teacher Jenn touched on a number of topics I was already keen to discuss. For example, finger counting, how do we explain math concepts to young children, and math hacks to make coaching easier. I won’t share the exact pointers which Teacher Jenn shared with us but here are generally what I’ve learnt :
- Math is a language. There are specific language you can use when discussing math with children to help children understand math concepts, knowingly or unknowingly.
- Teaching math needs strategy. There is a certain sequence or there are certain milestones that indicate that a child is ready for more advance math. You need to know how to spot them and also understand what more advance math actually is (I was surprised).
- The primary 1 syllabus is way more than I had thought they would be doing.
Teacher Jenn uses a number of tools to in her teaching, all of which I personally have at home, acquired from previous discussions with Teacher Jenn and a common friend of our who does home learning with her children. Joy is no stranger to them but I did notice that Joy was not very receptive to them even so, largely because she is a child who wants to always get the correct answers but switches off when she doesn’t know how.
I did notice the materials which really got Joy’s attention. They were stories about math, worksheets that were related to art or those that were visually attractive to her.
Once she understood the concept, and can answer the questions, Joy would happily devour the worksheet in front of her, refusing to stop, even when the class has moved on.
As you can see, the workshop has helped me understand what Joy would need to know in Primary 1 and what kind of learning methods she really reacts to. With that knowledge I can work with her to make the transition smoother, after all, primary school is a whole new ball game.
I have asked Teacher Jenn for suggestions on what to do to help Joy with her resistance and she advised me to go slow, very slow if I need to. Since the workshop, I have created a few different ways to help Joy at least get some of the basic math concepts but due to her resistance, I have chosen not to photograph or document these processes, but its definitely helping.
Every parent with primary school going children will benefit from such workshops as well. If you are interested, Teacher Jenn also teaches the P1 and P2 classes weekly over at LearnersEd, a centre that specializes in Mathematics from primary to secondary levels. They keep their class size small (max of 6) to ensure that every child gets sufficient attention. Other workshops they also organise from time to time includes Slime workshop and the P1 Prep workshop. To be updated on happenings, you can keep in touch as follows:
Blk 136 Potong Pasir Avenue 3 #01-166 Singapore
Call: 6280 0372 / 9362 2041
Quote “ASB” when you sign up to receive 20% off fees in the first month from Oct 17 to March 18.
Disclaimer: We were invited for the P1 preparation workshop for the purposes of this review. No additional monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own.
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