That’s what the local schools are called for primary levels; in this case, level 1 or Year 1.
It is a little pity that immediately after Caitlin’s preschool ends that her enrolled primary school starts their “extra” classes.
I thought it was rather funny when I read the parent-teacher-linked newsletter months ago saying that it has been their experience that a lot of new school children who start standard 1 in Chinese schools would have trouble understanding everything being in Mandarin; that they are all too fluent in English instead. In my days, the “problem” was that everyone spoke too much Cantonese instead of the mandatory on-campus language of Mandarin. Then again this was already the case with my nieces and nephews. Had heard stories about nieces quickly finding new friends based hearing English being spoken nearby.
Pity: That as her preschool ends (like all other schools) this school had scheduled an orientation-like day on the next day, Saturday. This was also kinda fun for Caitlin to be all decked out in full primary school gear. I am glad she was finding this more exciting/nervous than with the feeling of dread. I just hope this euphoria lasts through the whole 3 weeks following this, and into school proper too.
These classes are designed for the newbies to get acquainted with Mandarin by the time the school terms starts properly in January 2011. Secretly, I am so glad that we had sent Caitlin to at least 2 years of Mandarin medium in preschool. Though she is not altogether that fluent, she more than gets by.
This was witnessed early on the Saturday. Upon finding out which class she belongs, we asked her to wait by the respective sign waiting for 9am to come by. In the meantime, as more parents and kids arrive and get into their own lines, Grandma and I sorted out the books and other administrative matters. At 9am, one of the teachers came on stage to make some instructive announcements, for the day; as well as those made by her class teacher later on inside her classroom. Caitlin understood what she had to do.
There were still some more-than-teary eyed kids in the midst. And, as even with adult groups, there were also some clowns
And again, it was good to see her self-confidence. When the teacher was checking if all students knew which class they belonged by asking them to raise their hands based on “Who’s in class ABC/DEF?” She had her hand to ear ready to stick ‘em up high upon her class name being announced. Very seldom did she have to look out for me whilst in line, and when the line started moving towards her classroom, for the first time, in this new environment.
The school designed these classes quite well in some extent. It is actually quite good that by the time school-proper starts, she and her peers would know what to do in terms of waiting areas before and after school, where everything is, had already made friends, and ready to get stuck into the syllabus.
This, is Chinese school. Regimented, disciplined, let’s-get-stuck-into-the-books-ness.
What I didn’t think they had thought through was that since there would be a lot of mainly newbie-parents, that most would not know the layout of the school and what to do once we got there. Though they had stations to sell the text books and last-minute school uniforms, with the former they should have already set aside packs of these, since all the new kids would be requiring the same books. There were already queues by 8:20am when we go there and was still there after noon when the classes ended.
I had to duck out sending Grandma home, and recess was nearly over when I got back to the school. I was half worried I’d not find her in the big campus before they had to be back in class. Walked past the canteen to her classroom and she wasn’t there, checked her bag and at least knew that she knew to bring her sandwich along for a snack. Walked back to the canteen and glad to spot her from afar. Caitlin had already quickly made a boy-friend. I suspect it was ‘cos he speaks English
Then again I would think that those who are (whose parents think) already fluent in Mandarin probably don’t need these prepatory classes.
Monday, is when her 3-weeks begins. I have a nagging suspicion that the school is using this time to evaluate them to then properly assign them to different classes based on the different levels.