Thursday, March 20, 2014

What I learned in K's Nursery Year

K had some summer schooling stints, and was in a barangay day care program for a couple of months back in 2012. She also completed her English sessions in the Galileo program. But, SY 2013-2014 was her first year in formal schooling. And I have to admit, I was more nervous than K was on her first day of school. I was afraid that the traditional method may not be the right fit for her, I was afraid that she will be difficult to manage in the classroom setting, I was afraid... of a lot of things.

But since Day One, K was not afraid of anything. She made friends right away, she was focused in class, she did her homework, she aced her tests... She was amazing.

I on the other hand, well, let's just say I merely passed this 'test'. I almost didn't...But I'm glad to say I did. For a hands-on mom like me, this has to be one major milestone I'm glad I was able to achieve. And here are the lessons I picked up along the way:

1. The first day of school is not scary. Anyone who has a child going into school for the first time both anticipate and dread the first day. Will my child enjoy it? Will my kid be bullied? Will my kid bully others? Will he make friends? Will my munchkin learn to read and write?

Ok, turns out first day is just Hi, Hello, I am (state your name). Literal na naupo lang sila sa mat, teacher introduced herself, introduced the kids to each other, ate their snacks, sang songs....and that's it. First day over. It's all light and fun, sunshine and butterflies. ;) Turns out, it's actually the second week of the school year that things start to get 'serious'. So if there's anything that you have to be 'scared' about and be ready for, that's it.

2. You need a year's worth of baon ideas. I know, I know, they're just going to stay in school for a couple
of hours - but hey, who wants to send their kid to school with a pack of cookies everyday...for an entire year? I absolutely didn't - and K gets tired of cookies easily. She's not a big fan of packed food, so I really had to rack my brains for something different at least every other day. This year, I swear I'm going to make a monthly menu for her. :)

3. Kids these days, learn SUPER fast. The curriculum at my daughter's school is pretty manageable, and appropriate for kids their age. It's nothing like in some schools where kids have to deal with math problems the first few months into the school year. But still, it's amazing how my kiddo went from not knowing something to being an expert at it in a very, very short time! Were her teachers that good? I'm sure they were, but then again, have to give credit to kids of this generation, they're high-tech sponges - they absorb information, and process them super fast.

4. They get to know the lessons in school, but a lot of the learning process still happens at home. Worksheets and homework, I now understand their purpose. It helps a kid absorb the essence of the day's lessons, and with a little more effort from the parents' end, study time also helps them get ready for the next day's lessons. Some say it's 'too much', kasi they do school work in school na nga. Some say it puts too much 'pressure' on the kids to study pa din at home. Pero from my experience, for as long as it's done in moderation, and kept enjoyable, it's really very beneficial.

5. Learning good study habits is essential. Nung una akala ko ang importante matutunan nya yung ABC, or matuto sya  magsulat or magbasa, or mag-add at mag-subtract. Importante din naman siempre, pero in the long run, I realized na di hamak na mas kailangan na simula pa lang, madisiplina na sya to sit down and listen, na maintindihan nya yung value ng pag-aaral at pagsunod sa instructions. The first few weeks was a real challenge for us. K will not sit down for longer than errr... 2 minutes. She will make up all kinds of excuses, gutom, nawiwiwi, napoopoo, inaantok...etcetera, etcetera. I had to be really firm, and really really patient. Or else.

And it all paid off. After a couple months or so, we breezed through homework and study time. What used to take an hour, just took us 15-20 minutes at most (pag may assignment all three subjects). And guess what, K's even super enthusiastic to start doing homework! :)

6. You have to trust your kid's teachers and give everything time to transpire. Yes, I have to admit, I was one of those parents who started out thinking she knew better. I was always wary of how the teachers at DLA will handle my kid, how they will deliver lessons, and how they will handle little spats in a nursery class. Just one of my many preschool fears,.

But, guess what, first 'concern' pa lang, napahiya na ako. Hehe. There was this one little girl who pinched my daughter's cheeks so hard she cried. She went home to me crying and saying somebody hurt her. So the next day, I went to the teacher to ask her what they plan to do with it. Teacher said she will talk to the little girl who pinched my daughter. Pagdating ng uwian, teacher told me that the other little girl said sorry na to my daughter, they shook hands, and she knows na what she did is bad. Guess what? My daughter and that kid ended up like best buddies. :)

Another event, though personally not my experience but my daughter's classmate's - this little boy was only three years old, one of the youngest in my daughter's class, and during the first couple of months, he was really struggling. His fetcher told me na his tests daw were almost always mali-mali, and that she was told he still wouldn't sit down and listen. His lola was saying dapat daw teachers should focus on their little boy kasi he was one of the youngest nga. I didn't say this to lola ha, but at the back of my mind I was thinking na that isn't actually how it works in a traditional school. So I just told her na I'm sure the teachers assist each one the best they can. She was saying they might not enroll him in that school ulit next school year. Guess what? Little boy started participating in class activities come third quarter, he also now knows to follow instructions, and actually gets a lot of answers right na in his exam. And yes, he is enrolled na ulit in my little girl's school for this coming school year. :)

All the little boy needed was time, and for the parents to trust in the teachers' abilities to make things work. To the credit of DLA-Molino teachers, they have the degree and experience naman to show for it. :)

7. That it's not all about the grades after all. This, I confess, is my waterloo. I am very, very grade-conscious. I was grade-conscious when I was still studying (kahit hindi naman ako honor), and I was even grade-conscious when I was still working in the corporate world (quality scores, metrics, etc. in a call center). Unfortunately for my little one, I also became conscious of her grades. She had a good start in the first quarter, was 5th in her class, and was part of the level honors (9th) in the entire nursery level. It was not a small feat to land in the level honors in her school, yes, even in pre-school. They had a 75% proficiency rate, and there were five sections in Nursery. So bilib na bilib talaga ako kay bagets, and unfortunately, my bilib also meant I knew she can do better next time.

So I pushed, I pushed, and pushed. And successful naman, second quarter she climbed the ranks and landed 3rd in class, and 6th in the level honors. But, I didn't feel very good about it. I knew I may have crossed the boundaries, I'm turning into a monster mom. So I decided to lighten up. I still review her before tests, and assist her with homework, but I reiterated to her that making mistakes is not bad, for as long as she learns from it and does not do it again. We also played more together, and I made her study sessions more fun. And I saw the change in her, she didn't sulk as much, and was even more interested in studying. She also had a happier disposition, and became even more active in class. :)

I realized that grades are just a portion of determining how much she's developed in preschool. Sure, it meant she absorbed the lessons and all, but the changes I observed in her attitude proved to be far more essential. She was no longer shy around kids and adults. Though she's really never been the 'pa-bibo' kind, she's now more willing and ready to interact with others. She also gets to sit down and get a task done. She speaks better Tagalog too (yey!), because they're not English-only in DLA (and yes, I see that as an advantage, will post about this soon). And she's happy, really happy to be in school. :)

I'm sure if you ask my daughter how her Nursery year went, she'll just say, "It was fun!" with a huge smile. She's good at summing things up. Hehe.

I, on the other hand, has this nobela of a blog post to recount my experience as a mom to a first-time preschooler. :) I will try to post a separate review of her school, Divine Light Academy-Molino for those who are interested to know more about the school, although this post says quite a lot already. :)

And now, time to find summer activities for the little one! :)

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