April 23, 2010

Just Your Average Kindergarten!

Every few weeks (maybe once a month) we receive a report card for Ari.  The one we received this last week, reported very positively that he is doing well in math (for example, counting to 1000 in Chinese), and that his ability to concentrate on doing one thing has improved.  Overall it was a good report.  I was also personally excited that I could understand the gist of the report from reading it in Chinese characters.  My teacher helped me fill in the specific nouns later on.

However, a few months ago we received huge folder of a report card.  This thing came equipped with pictures of him doing activities, personal progress reports and an introduction to the teachers.  As I paged through the extensive and detailed pages, I couldn't believe the kinds of things he is being graded on.  Here are just a few examples (and I do mean a very few!).  In all of these he has been graded as being P (whatever that means, it is supposed to be good).   These are direct quotes, except for my comments on the side.  Its a long list, but worth reading through.  It gives strange insight into both the Chinese school system and into their version of what Montessori is.

General Rules 
Sitting in a chair, Pushing a chair
Rolling up a mat
Tidying up materials

Social Etiquette
Asking permission to watch someone
Correcting someone kindly
Making way to pass

Establishing Eye Contact during a handshake (When we send him for a job interview as a child laborer this will come in handy! No one wants a bashful employee!)
The difference between greeting peers and older people

Care of Self
Folding - six folds, napkins, aprons, packages
Spooning - large grains, small grains, water
Pouring - from a teapot, with a funnel, pouring to marked levels, pouring into beakers/test tubes (What is this chemistry? Where's the bunsen burner?)
Sewing a button, beading
Squeezing a sponge, wringing a cloth

Housekeeping (Cinderelly Cinderelly!)
Wiping/Mopping spills
Dusting and waxing
Beading a pillow, polishing shoes
Polishing glass/mirror, wood, and silver/brass (Thank goodness, my brass buttons need a good polish!)
Taking care of plants including but not limited to: washing leaves and harvesting a garden
Peeling and cutting fruit

The Silence Game ("Hey, MY parents made up this game!")
Timed silence, identifying sounds, identifying a pin drop

Walking on a Line
Hands by side/head up, Heel to toe
Carrying objects: tray with a glass of water, bowl of water (Waiter!)

Smelling bottles (Where's my smelling salts!)
Tasting jars

Visual and Stereognostic
Geometric Cabinet: Tray 1 (circles), Tray 2 (rectangles), Tray 3 (Quadrilaterals)
Geometric Solids: sphere, cube, cone, cylinder
Identifying solids blindfolded

Visual: Mixed Impressions
Knobless Cylinders, Fabrics
Baric Tablets: Light, medium, heavy (what are they anyway?)
Superimposed Geometric Figures: Concentric, Tangent, Adjacent, Inscribed
Small and large hexagon box
Binomial cube

Parts of a fish, frog, turtle, bird, horse
Sorting by vertebrates and invertebrates
Life cycles of a bird, butterfly, frog

Map of North America
Puzzle map work

On Monday morning, I have been scheduled for a sort of parent/teacher interview, where Ari will demonstrate his skills for me.  I have asked him about some of these things to see how much he really knows about them, but I think that there is a bit of a disconnect because he is learning them in Chinese.  I suspect that a lot of these categories are fancy words for more simplified concepts.  Whatever the case, there is no chance that Canadian kindergartens teach these types of things.  In Canada, he still wouldn't be starting school until September!  I am very curious about what I will see when I visit his school at 9:50 on Monday morning.  According to this report card, our son is well on the way to becoming a professional butler, waiter, host, chemist, zoologist, wine and cheese taster, maid, tailor, mathematician, cartographer, gardener and acrobat.

For awhile I was certain that we had ended up in a higher end school than we had originally thought.  But as we were looking at his tuition prices and compared them to other schools, we were struck yet again by the fact that it is on the cheeper end of Chinese kindergartens.  International schools are multiple times more expensive.  We have heard a number of people say that they don't want any more than one child because schooling is so expensive.  

Generally speaking I think we would be hesitant to have him continue in the Chinese system past lower elementary years.  When Ari's classmates are finished kindergarten they will have to test into different elementary schools, then into middle school, then into high schools. There are certain cultural things that I am quite willing to live with, but I would have a hard time watching the boys have scholastic stress at such a young age.  I do appreciate that his school is so good about sending memorabilia home for us.  This report card and accompanying pictures will be an interesting thing for him to look back on when he is 16 years old.  We also have a full DVD of that New Year's Program that I complained about back in January.  They also regularly send his school work home for us to keep.

That's all for now!  Farewell!

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