As a kindergarten, I’m impressed to see Bea (now 4 years old) and her classmates already know how to read three-letter words up to one syllable five-letter words in English. Bea can also add numbers as long as the sum does not exceed ten. If it’s more than that, she needs her toes as additional reference.
But it’s not only Bea learning. We, as parents, were also given extra task of tutoring her at home. Her school made it a point to include parents in the process by assigning “homework” to kids which, in some cases, the parents did it themselves. My wife does the cutting and pasting of objects on her notebook. I do a little bit of drawing but don’t interfere unless it concerns “reading” or “counting”.
At first I thought “yakang-yaka yan”. But my mistake was to assume too much in my capability and not looking at things from the point of view of a child. I realize that with all the education I got, books I’ve read, I’m still ignorant when it comes to the art of teaching. Cases in point:
Right of Left
When she was in nursery, they were taught “directions” (far, near, up, down, right, left etc). But in an exercise in one of their books, an illustration of a boy pointing to the right with a question “where is the boy pointing?”, Bea encircled the word “left” and the teacher marked it “X”. When I asked Bea where her right is, she raised her right arm. But when I showed her the “X” mark, she insisted - “Look Daddy oh”, and began mimicking the boy in the drawing. And she was right, I mean, correct. The boy was pointing to the left! Bea just demonstrated one of Einstein’s famous theories (the one about a bouncing ball inside a moving train). It all depends on the observer! To the reader, the boy is pointing right. But with respect to the boy, he is pointing left. How can I argue with that?
Small, Medium, Large
Bea is good with numbers too. She can count up to a hundred and knows the sequential order of each numeral. She knows there are four “fingers” in 4 and five “fingers” in 5. That is how she learns to add them together to become 9 “fingers”. What she can’t still grasp is the abstract quantity associated behind each symbol. Do I make sense? Let me illustrate. If you ask her what is between 6 and 8, she’ll tell you its 7. If you ask her what is before 3 and after 4, she’ll answer 2 and 5. But if you ask her which is bigger, 8 or 9? You get a blank stare. Her question – “Why is 9 bigger than 8 when they all have the same size”? How can I explain this to a 4 year old? Tell me, because I don’t know how.
Watch Did You Say?
Her diction is also good. Better compared to mine or to my wife whose speech sometimes has a British accent with a Visayan twang. Pixar and Walt Disney taught her that including the alphabet before she entered school. It was further enhanced when they were taught first to “vocalize” the alphabet. Reading is much faster to learn when they know the sound of each letter like “rrr” + “oo” + “www” for “row”. But since the sounds were patterned to the English vocalization, there is a drawback when she read Pilipino words. She sounds like those Fil-Ams in TFC learning how to speak Pilipino when she reads, for example, “papaya” (pe-pey-yah). She gets confused when we tried to correct it, so we leave it at that, hoping she’ll grow out of it.
Watch Did You Say, Agin?
Dictation is also an exercise they have in school. It helps hone pupils’ skill in writing and spelling. For her to get a better result, we practice it at home where we read to her simple sentences from her books like “He puts on his hat”, “She gets her bag”, “They look at the map”. But sometimes our Visayan tongue gets on the way and what she hears, she wrote down. To our embarrassment, the results are “He puts on his hut”, “She gets her bug”, “They look at the mop”.
Teaching my child is a whole new experience for parents like me. Its one way of bonding with her. It’s also challenging, funny and drives me crazy. You’ll get a mix feeling of amusement and frustration at the same time.