Ethan goes to a school that uses the “Learning through Play” methodology. The kids are taught what they need to learn through arts and crafts, projects and simple stories they enjoy. For example, in a Mathematics lesson, instead of drilling the concept of 1 + 2 = 3, the kids will pretend to buy things in a grocery store, e.g. “If you buy 1 orange and 2 apples, how many in total do you get?”
In addition the amount of “homework” per se pales in comparison to other schools. I am totally opposed to the idea of homework, especially at such a young age. To have kids being drilled every day to complete their “work” is definitely uncalled for, in my opinion. It brings unnecessary stress to the kids and to parents too. Ethan only brings home homework once a week; 2 pages of handwriting (1 page of purely letters, lowercase and uppercase; and 1 page of words beginning with the letter of the week), and sometimes, 1 page of Chinese handwriting homework…and even then, I feel this is too much. 😛
Ethan also brings back an English book and a Chinese book each week, as a move to inculcate the love of reading from young. I applaud this move and feel that it is very useful as Ethan looks forward to reading it every week.
One of the aspects his school has been encouraging the kids on is in honing their creativity and storytelling skills, which I am truly happy with. I’m impressed and am very pleased to see the progress Ethan has attained in this field.
When he was in Nursery, the kids were initially asked to draw what they thought or felt. This gave the kids the freedom to explore their feelings and thoughts. They were also prompted to express themselves verbally. For example, in this following picture, Ethan was prompted “Love is…?” and he replied, “My purple bicycle.” “I love….?” and he replied, “The wind, kites and circles.”
I found it fascinating that even his thoughts rhymed! (never mind that he does not own a purple bicycle!)
In this next creative writing exercise example, the theme was “When I was a baby…”. The kids were asked to draw what they did as a baby and then narrate to the teacher.
Ethan’s picture showed:
- When I was a baby, I played with baby balls (depicted in top right)
- When I was a baby, I played with a toy rectangle (bottom left)
- When I was a baby, I drink breast milk (picture of the breast at the bottom right.. LOL) – I found it heartwarming that even till then, one of his fondest memories as a baby was being breastfed!
Another example of creative writing and imagination:
As time went on and Ethan entered K1, the kids were then encouraged to create and write their own stories using their own ideas. It may seem very difficult for kids their age, but you’ll be amazed at what stories these kids could come up with! The kids would then draw out their ideas to illustrate it in a clearer manner.
An example of Ethan’s short story, as dictated:
And one of “Creating a Fairytale”:
Such vivid imagination, don’t you think?
The next step which Ethan is being encouraged on now is creating and writing their own thoughts and stories. Words are formed by way of trying to sound and blend the phonics of the alphabets together. Some of the words might be spelled wrongly at first but what is being focused on is the idea that is created and not the spelling of the words.
It’s a great start, isn’t it? And I find that this is certainly better and more interesting that mindless drilling of words and letters and numbers…but that’s just me.
Anyway, Ethan is sharpening his listening and comprehension skills now; the teacher tells a story and the kids are prompted to repeat the story in their own words. It’s an activity I hope to enforce at home too.
Apart of creative writing, I’m surprised the school curriculum includes some topics which I’ve either forgotten about or not aware of, like a few weeks ago, when Ethan told me there were FOUR layers in the rainforest: Forest Floor, Understory, Canopy and Emergent.
See? We can learn things from kids every day too!