One year ago I posted this picture on Ellie’s first day of Nursery 2.

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Yesterday she began K1, and I took this picture

first day of K1

When I first moved here, I was bent on homeschooling Elanor.  I even wrote about it in October of 2010.  That post says far more about how I felt six months into living in Singapore than it does about education.  It shows how many stereotypes I still bought into.  It shows how homesick I was.  It shows how scared I still was.  And it shows how little I’d engaged in Singaporean life.

In  March 2011, after I got pregnant I was forced to re-asses how realistic homeschooling was, given that I was already feeling sick and that a daily break from parenting (much less parenting two children when I thought about the future) sounded really good.  At the time I was also pursuing online education to become a sex therapist (something I’m still very interested in, but which I’ve put on hold as I was not able to give it the full measure of time and attention that was required).  I wrote about eating crow on the topic of homeschooling once I’d enrolled Ellie at Growing up Gifted in the Tots Program.

The final nail in the coffin for me on the subject of homeschooling was our experiences with violin.  Ellie had asked to learn violin because Elmo plays the violin.  So last year we tried violin.  However, it quickly became clear that the suzuki method wasn’t going to work for us, at least not at this point in time.  Suzuki requires that parents play along with the kids, and that we act as their teachers at home as well as overseeing practice.  I’d thought it would be a great way to spend dedicated time with Ellie each day/week to help make her feel special as Rhi was still a newborn and getting what she could perceive as more of my individualized attention.  This was a giant disaster as we learned that while I am a good teacher, I am not a good teacher for Ellie–we ended up in yelling matches (something I’m not proud of) and eventually we let Ellie quit violin.  it may be that it will work better in a year or two, but it is a common story that parents are the worst teachers for their own children–the parent/child dynamic can interfere with the teacher/student one.

I’m still very opposed to spending the kind of tuition charged by the private schools here in Singapore.  But I’ve really come around on the idea of public schools here in Singapore.  I’ve been really impressed by GUG, and my relationship with the teachers and parents there have me planning to send E to a local P1.  But this is also driven by the fact that Ellie is thriving and I think she’ll be happier at a local school than she would at an international one.

But leaving aside the question of where Ellie will be on this day in 2015, can I just take a moment and tell you how gobsmacked I feel to be the mother of a Kindergartener?  And proud.  I’m feeling very proud of Elanor.

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11 Responses to Kindergarten

  1. Dawn says:

    For the record, my mom practiced violin with me every day from the age of three-and-three-quarters, and pretty much every practice session was a yelling match between us, and it didn’t do any favors for our relationship (which may have, finally, recovered in adulthood, at least somewhat), but I did end up getting pretty good at it. I’m pretty sure that if my mom hadn’t been willing to engage in yelling matches with me for at least the first 5-6 years, I never would have played even decently.

    • It’s hard for me to discern which you would have preferred. Do you have regrets either as the child? Would you do the same in her shoes when it’s F or I? Please ignore if the questions are too private.

      • Dawn says:

        Well, you’re asking a counterfactual so it’s hard to say. I’m really glad I play violin, and that I play it well. It’s afforded me countless invaluable opportunities, both to play, and to meet fantastic people through music. It’s hard to tell how long my mother needed to fight with me in order to make that possible, and it’s also hard to tell whether my mother would have fought with me about something else if not for that. My point, I think, was only that whatever E does, if you know anything about it, you’re likely to fight with her, and that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker by itself. If, however, she ALSO shows no talent and/or no interest for something, then the fight probably isn’t worth it.

        I can give you more details off-line, but I don’t think they’re relevant to this discussion.

  2. Sam says:

    I happened to find your page because I was doing a search on the internet on suzuki violin in singapore. My 4yo boy is doing suzuki violin & piano. We have yelling matches as well as really fun and encouraging times too. I limit our practice times to keep myself sane too. Small jobs at one time. And as Dr suzuki said “highlight only one point at one time” – bc the child cannot focus on more at one time… it is working out decently.

    but I must admit your situation with the younger child around is certainly quite different from ours.

    • Ironically, it might be the younger child (Rhi) who ends up taking to an instrument better than Ellie. Rhi has been coming to my private violin lessons for a year and when I practice, she sits nearby and signs “more” whenever I finish a song. We’ve told Ellie she can try again next January, when she’s 5.

      • Sam says:

        You’ve been learning violin yourself all this while? How exciting? I learnt for a year just before I got pregnant with this youngest boy (I have 4 children). Well, just go with the flow. As far as practices go for the little ones, anything that can be done in a short time is better than dragging it for a long time.

      • Yes! When Ellie quit, I decided to keep going with private instruction as I’ve always loved the sound of a violin. I’ve always been a vocal music person–chorus, show choir (nothing like glee!), and acapella choir (although I don’t sing publicly anymore-major stage fright). My school didn’t have a strings section, so I learned clarinet in high school (although I didn’t do anything with it after hs, and eventually sold it).

        I’ve been learning for about a year now. We started with the “tune a day” book, and are now making our way through the Suzuki book 1 (for technique reasons, not using the method-I can read music). I’m learning for love of music and to keep my brain engaged.

        There’s a kid of about 8 who has his lesson right after mine. Every week without fail, he gives me a look of pity that says “It’s so sad how badly you play” which just cracks me up.

  3. Sam says:

    Hey, I have background in choral too. I’m a 2nd alto. My boys tolerate me when I occasionally play the violin these days. I play it badly, but can still figure out the Suzuki Book 2 songs well enough to guide my youngest and realise which areas to look out for, etc. This boy was without his violin teacher for 2mths. Ah… tomorrow resuming lessons after a long break.

    • Very cool. I used to be a soprano back in the day, but I suspect I’m a 2nd alto with a reasonably good range. Or maybe I’d get the highest part of my old range back if I were warming up and such properly.

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