At the beginning of N’s school year, we attended a goal-setting conference where N, his teacher, and us as parents, set goals for N and talked about how he could achieve them. The goals could be about absolutely anything, such as learning how to swing across the monkey bars, making new friends, or being resilient when faced with problems.
During the session, N shared that his goal was to be able to solve more complicated Math problems, and his teacher guided him through ways that he could achieve that. C and I were both very impressed with how she talked him through it, and how she showed him that he could already solve a somewhat difficult Math problem, by using what he already knew.
Since we are approaching the end of the school year, the kids had their student-led conferences recently, but because N was sick, we missed the group sessions and his teacher kindly allowed him to do the conference at home with us, since she had already prepped him on how to do it.
First, he read a book to us. It was a book that he had chosen by himself, from his reading ability level. He still prefers comics and books with illustrations on almost every page, but he now reads all the words, instead of skimming through them.
After that, he showed us his self-portrait and his reflection on his goals. He also shared how he achieved the four school values: being resourceful, relating to others, being resilient, and being reflective.
Resourceful: I was resourceful when I used Lego in iTime to build a Lego race-car. (He couldn’t find some pieces and went to other similar kits to find the pieces he needed.)
Relating: I was relating when I was playing soccer with Abdul and Michi at recess.
Resilient: The time I was resilient was in Writing Workshop. I wrote and it was hard, but I kept on trying. Today, I’m done!
Reflective: A time when I was reflective was in Writing Workshop when I spelled wrongly. (He had to check and edit his work.)
The highlight of the conference was definitely reading the Realistic Fiction story that he wrote and illustrated. His spelling isn’t perfect, but that’s exactly what we love about the international school education: the focus is on creativity. If children aren’t fixated on spelling words accurately when they write stories, they are allowed to use any word they like, and their creativity isn’t stifled by their inability to spell a word properly.
Main text: One day, Bob went to the zoo. It was amazing! Because it was his first time. What will happen? On the left: I’m so excited! Dialogue in illustration: Where do we go first? / Reptiles! / Okay! Signs in illustration: Land animals/reptiles/predators / insects
In the reptile house, there were snakes and lizards. The best thing was there were bigger reptiles outside.
Outside, it was time for feeding the alligators . Chomp! Chomp!
Main text: Meanwhile, the rhino was going to charge at the enclosure door, but the zookeeper didn’t know!
But… it was too late. The rhino and the anteater broke out of its enclosures! What will happen next! (He told us that he forgot to remove the anteater during his editing, which explains why an anteater suddenly appeared in the story. Haha.)
Finally, the zookeepers caught the animals with a rope. “I think the zoo needs better cages
and removation!’ said the zookeeper. “That’s over, everybody. Now tomorrow, we relax.”
The End “Should we do metal?” “Yes.”
We told him we loved his story and that we were really proud of him for writing such an interesting story. He incorporated techniques that he learnt in school, such as asking questions, adding dialogue, using conjunctions and punctuation, as well as including sound effects.
It’s far from perfect, of course, but what matters so much to us is that he was so proud of himself for writing and illustrating an entire story that he came up with. He is only six years old, and it is very important to us that he loves to read and create his own stories.
I know that spelling accurately is a huge part in the Singapore education system (his form teacher passed me two spelling lists and asked me to work on them with him, which I obviously haven’t done), but now that we’ve seen how N has blossomed here, we know that our focus will no longer be on accurate spelling and grammar for now. It’s hard for me to change my mindset, since I used to edit essays and spelling/grammatical mistakes drive me crazy, but I do see the benefits of encouraging creativity over accurate grammar/spelling, so I will try my best to help N develop his creativity. Accurate grammar and spelling will come later.
The next day, N worked on creating 3D shapes, as it was one of the modules that he learnt in class. We cut out the templates together, and worked on taping them properly.
After he learnt about 3D shapes in school, I’ve noticed that he has become more observant and aware of the different types of shapes. He sometimes points out items and tells me what shape they are, and that to me, shows that he has learnt the lesson well, and is able to apply his newfound knowledge.
I still haven’t written about how N has been learning English in school, because he has covered so much material that it’s going to take me a while to sort through everything, but I WILL write that post soon, because it is something very dear to my heart. Meanwhile, do read the other two posts (Part 1 HERE / Part 2 HERE) and that I’ve written about N’s international school experience, if you haven’t already done so.