Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Daughter's Journey Towards the Top of Her Class

My daughter is one very active child. She can go on and on just like the Energizer Bunny as long as people around her give off the same amount of energy that she does. And at seven years old, this hyperactivity can have undesirable effects on her study habits. To work around and with this, I utilize her interest in a wide variety of things to educate her.

She is currently in grade one at a private catholic school. My mother transferred her there after a year in kindergarten in a public school. This I think is one cost-saving measure of middle-income families. Enroll your kid in a public school for kindergarten education which costs considerably less and then transfer them to a private school for elementary. It only cost us about two thousand pesos for her books and notebooks, excluding other expenses like uniforms, which is not mandatory in public schools.

Having high expectations of my daughter and wanting to provide her with quality education, I wanted her to take an exam in UP Integrated School, but she didn’t reach the age cut-off yet. UPIS is accepting only kids that would be 5.5 by school opening. My daughter will only turn five that summer. Fearing that she will be late in entering school, I enrolled her in the kindergarten program of a public school near our home. This I think would be dual in purpose. For one she would be learning the basic skills needed for the big school and for another, this would help her have an advantage over the other kids taking the UPIS qualifying exam next year because she has already attended school.

First day of school

I was away during the greater part of her kindergarten years. It was my mom who stood as her guardian and attended the school activities in my place. She was so happy with my daughter because she always brings home a star, stamped on her hand. Her exam papers were also very high. Most of them were perfect and with “Very Good!” remarks written in her teacher’s legible handwriting. By the end of school year, they were informed that my daughter is among those who would receive a silver medal. That was a happy day!

My daughter in one of their school activities

Another "Very Good!"

But it was shortlived. After graduation, my mom found out that my daughter still couldn’t read and can barely write her own name right. How could this have happened if my daughter received a silver medal on her graduation, symbolizing in the least, that she has learned the basic stuff of A-BA-KA-DA reading and writing her own name completely, if not excelled in the class? We were disappointed. Please, understand, that this is blog is in no way written to put down public schools per se. I am only sharing what happened to my daughter.

That summer, my mom decided to move her to the private school she is attending now. The guidance counsellor who administered the entrance exam told my mom that my daughter had difficulty answering the questions. She even found the Alphabet confusing! To make the long story short, she passed the entrance but only with great difficulty.

This year, I had limited out-of town engagements, so I was able to personally monitor her progress. I am not really a strict mom when it comes to her study habits. I do not force her to study when she is not in the mood to do so because I think that would only be futile. But I do take advantage of the times when she is more than ready to listen and study her lessons.

As part of her learning experience, we take her to libraries, particularly The Children’s Library, where there are lots of activities for kids. There she can play with educational games on the computer, browse various books, listen to a storytelling and interact with other kids.

I am also quite lenient when she asks us to buy her a book. As long as the book has a good theme, fits her age and learning requirements, and is reasonably priced, I buy it for her.

I also encourage her to utilize the internet for her learning needs. There are lots of educational sites that provide online exercises on reading and activity sheets for free.

During the first quarter of the schoolyear, she pulled a decent average of 83%. Although we are still struggling with her reading in Filipino, her highest grades were in math and science, while the lowest were in religion and english.

The english language is her waterloo, I must say. She is having trouble with phonetics, interchanging it with how the Filipino language is written and read. Her grade in religion is not a surprise either. I am not an active Catholic and she only has the her formal class in school to teach her this. But the math and science, I must say, surprised me. She must have taken after her dad, who is more analytically inclined.

By the start of second grading, she has already mastered reading in Filipino and is excited to be finally able to. “Ang sarap palang magbasa!”, she exclaimed. I was happy too, for that meant that the books she keeps on asking us to read to her she can already read by herself.

She is also showing a keen interest in science and math, more than in any other subject. She loves watching the science videos in Encarta, especially the one about the migrating salmons. I also bought her a visual encyclopedia at a bargain price of Php 100 in a bookstore sale! It wasn’t the latest edition of course, it was already a year behind, but I thought, she could still learn a lot from it.

Watching her Encarta science videos

Her studies though are not limited to academics only. I also encourage in the arts. She loves to sing and dance and to draw stuff too! My mom gave her a homemade sketchpad, made up of regular bond paper pasted together, for her to draw in. She also likes to dabble in watercoloring and clay sculpting.

One of her artistic endeavours

Last October she joined in a drawing competition sponsored by the Citizens Disaster Response Center. It was open for children aged 6-12 and had two categories. She joined Category A and drew about earthquakes. I am mighty proud of her because she did the drawing all by herself, from the concept until the execution. She didn’t place as a major winner in her category but she did land as one of the finalists, one for each of the twelve disaster in their catergory. She is the contest’s youngest winner!

My daughter is the first one from left, the smallest one, with her winning "obra maestra".
Oh, and yes! The one in far right is Maverick Legaspi. :)

Her obra maestra that will be showcased in CDRC's 2011 calendar

Now for the entire second grading, although her english plunged by 4 points her science shot up 7 points! Overall, her average went up from 83% to 84%. It wasn’t bad, not bad at all.

All these time, one thing that I ensure is that she studies only when she is ready to, at her own pace and time. I am never one to force someone into doing something they are not ready or do not want to do. That has not been my attitude towards by study and towards life itself, so I take care to teach this to my daughter too.

Doing her homework while I work in the kitchen.

This week, from December 12-16, is their third grading examination. I am confident that she will do better this time. She is not exactly at the top of her class (yet!) but she has surely come a very long way.

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