Why did you choose Chinese School/Kebangsaan School?


Ok. Ok. I’m beggining to sound like a broken record that keeps harping on the same subject but I just cannot make up my mind!

Anyway, I’m not going to write about this anymore. I hope to hear from you instead.

For those of you with kids entering Primary School and you HAVE MADE UP YOUR MIND about which school to send them. (Unlike me). Why did you choose Chinese School/Kebangsaan School?

For those of you whose kids are currently attending Chinese School/Kebangsaan School, Why did you choose Chinese School/Kebangsaan School? Do you have any regrets or are you happy with your choice?

Hope to hear your views. Don’t be shy to leave long comments. Me and probably many others too want to hear from you. Thanks.

Since this topic is rather important to me, I am duplicating this post on my other blogs as some who read my other blogs don’t read this one vice versa.

Updated: After much contemplation, Its Chinese School for my girl.

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  1. synical says:

    I may not be a parent, but speaking as someone whose parents sent to Chinese school… there are pros and cons.

    Pros: I’m trilingual but my English is still way better. But at least I can speak Mandarin. And it made me a little tougher and independent (I had little help with my homework because my mother was English-educated).

    Cons: “Emotional scarring” at a young age (but I feel that everything else after that is easy-peasy). Expect late nights and some stressful times as your kids try to finish their homework or risk getting rotan the next day.

    Surviving in Chinese school takes time management.

    Hey! Thank you so much for sharing. Hearing from the student is even better than hearing from the parent who may have their own different views. Hehe.

  2. eksk says:

    speaking as one who went to sekolah kebangsaan, I have no regrets my parents chose to sent me to to a national school. I may be a banana but does that make me less chinese? What defines a chinese in this case? does it mean to speak a dialect? I can speak passable cantonese courtesy of my mum. I eat pork and other chinese food.

    What i cherish most from my national school experience is the mingling around with people from other races. I live in Malaysia not in China or Hong Kong. I feel i am doing my part in nation building to learn and feel more comfortable with other in our land who are different from us. Or maybe its all just justification on my part not to sully my childhood. who knows.

    Well, its true what you said. We live in Malaysia and Racial Intergration is better in National schools. I used to have many Malay and Indian friends in school. At one point, I was the only Chinese sitting among Malays in my group and as a result I speak passable Malay meaning I can pass off as a Malay over the phone if you don’t know me. Hahaha. Having said that though, I still worry about giving up the opportunity to learn Chinese, a beautiful and difficult to learn language. I am also worried that the standards in national schools seems to have deteriorated instead of improved over the years. I guess that is my main concern. Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts.

  3. michelle says:

    Reasons I chose Kebangsaan for my children because my children will received

    1. More life than homework.
    2. More of my tutoring than strangers tutoring
    3. More closer monitoring of their progress by me

    Only con I see, they learn 1 less language that is mandarin.

    By the way for those parents who think that the child will get brighter future because China is booming. Let me tell you this, in China, they are introducing English to their education system.

    I am all for your reasons too but at the same time I am worried about the deteriorating standards in Kebangsaan school and the lack of facilities in some. I was shocked when I visited the one near my house. They did not have any field to run in, and there was no hall and the canteen was not big enough. I went during recess and the children just ran and sat on the floor to eat after buying their food! I am also worried about bullying in school as the discipline is also poorer. Itu macamlah. Thanks for popping by to share. 🙂

  4. Florence says:

    I am agaisnt both Chinese and Kebangsaan Schools simply because our education system just doesn’t work!! Anyway..more agaisnt Chinese Schools because children are taught in a manner that does not allow their creative juices to run freely, children are ‘drilled’ in their studies, no life because of too much homework and also pressure from teachers (if you are in a good class) to excel…forcing parents to either send their children to tuition classes more teaching at home. Children are belittle when they do not complete their homework or do badly in their exams(some extreme cases… teacher considers a score of 85% is not good enough!!)If both parents have no chinese background.. your child will suffer..and you will be forced to send your child for tuition classes. I don’t know how to write nor read chinese but I can understand and able to speak the language. For me, it’s good enough. Unless you expect your children to go work in HK or China…. I don’t really see a need to go Chinese school. Anyway..these are my observation and direct experience with parents and students. Oh and expect their standard of spoken English to drop immediately when they attend Chinese Schools. Reason being..their peers will speak Chinese and broken English and don’t be surprised some teachers (even English teachers)too. My mother is a chinese tutor..most of her students (parents doesn’t know chinese) suffer alot. Parents felt the pressure and so do the children. When the children come for classes..they are usually half dead.. too tired to concentrate..but no choice.. Have mercy on them.

    Thanks for sharing your observations. Most ppl however take the view that, “nvm what. suffer 6 years only.” I do wonder why one has to “suffer” during the important growing years. Why can’t the system be such that gives the best without having to “suffer”. On the other hand of not suffering is being so “lepak” that education becomes substandard so that you have no choice but to choose to “suffer”. Sigh.

  5. sanny says:

    Chinese schools are generally thought to be a tougher environment vis discipline, competition and hard work. On the other hand, they are also generally believed to be better performing too. Hence their popularity.

    1) It takes skill to teach school stuff. It’s not like teaching how to put on shoes, clothes or, wipe your bum, say ‘please’ or even switch on the DVD player, play Monopoly, or swing the remote to play Wii.

    2) I am not Chinese literate. I work full time. Therefore, self-tutoring the kids is out of the question, whether Eng or Chi-ed. Whatever time I have with the kids, I want to impart to them knowledge and skills that I DO have –eg: socialising, charity, reasoning, music, baking etc- basic living skills. Besides I doubt I have more patience to teach them schooling stuff than outsiders, even if I have the skills.

    3) I DON’T believe in molly-coddling my kids. Real life is rough. Even more so for the next generations. Having seen so many social probs with this current gen who have very strong entitlement attitudes (mobiles, lah, Internet lah, etc, everything provided till they don’t know value of money) I want mine to be strong survivors and dependable people with a sense of responsibility and concern for others.

    Working parents being time-poor, much of our kids’ development during formative years are, like it or not, spent in schools. I mean look at the actual amount of time we have with them at home. No way can compare to time spent in school or doing school stuff.

    So what time I have with them, I also don’t want to spend it nagging and screaming in frustration over homework. Somewhere in all the decision-making equation, I want home to be a safe haven, not hell. I want to be their source of comfort, enlightenment(life, not school stuff), laughter and joy. Yeah, so I don’t want to devote precious mommy-time to dull and hated homework time.

    So I’d rather place my kids be in tough environment where they can learn (besides academic learning) resilience, resourcefulness, determination and perseverance. Yes these boil down or add up to discipline. So if Chinese schools with their packed schedules, truckloads of homework, and occasional caning have a better proven record for turning out more responsible, dutiful, respectful and better achievers, I’m taking my chances with them. A few bruised egos and smarting hands from the rotan — well, chalk it down to the “school of hard knocks”.

    In my own interactions with my kids, I will be as encouraging as I can. I will emphasise confidence building and taking responsibility for own mistakes , so they won’t be such fragile beings that a few well-deserved hotdogs across their bums, now and then, may crush them.

    One of life’s best and most valuable lessons is learning that choices and actions have consequences. And, sad but true, the main obstacle to having this lesson is overprotective parents.

    I am a SAHM whose had time to teach the kids from young. I believe that I have managed to provide them a fun learning environment. As a result, my girl (the one who is going to school next year) is a keen learner who loves to read (in English). She just started kindy this year at age 6 and loves it. I am worried that her creativity will be stiffled at a Chinese school or that she will not be able to learn at her full potential in a National School. That is my dilemma.

    Anyway, thanks for your input. It is ver well worded and I believe it is because it comes from the heart. Your kid is lucky to have such a supportive parent. 🙂

  6. bengbeng says:

    the past three years havent been easy for us. chinese school is more demanding than the national medium. even now benghui has difficulty catching up as i am a banana. do i regret? no. it was the right decision to make at that time and i think the situation hasnt changed in malaysian society

    No, I don’t think it has changed in 30 years let alone 3 years. 😉

  7. dolphine says:

    I’ll be sending my kids to Chinese school simply because I was from Chinese school myself. I can read, write and speak Mandarin. And I think it’s a advantage.

    As for the education system is almost the same and they are using the same syllabus.

    Its easy for you since you come from the same background and can guide your child.

  8. Florence says:

    “I am worried that her creativity will be stiffled at a Chinese school or that she will not be able to learn at her full potential in a National School. That is my dilemma.”

    Why not let her go to Kebangsaan School and continue with your part time homeschooling? 🙂 There are great homeschooling programs around. And I am going to teach my son Chinese…even thou I don’t know chinese.. but there is Yan Yu Peng Yin… I will learn with my son!! 🙂

    I had the same thoughts but it got shot down by everyone who tells me that it just won’t work. They tell me that Chinese is a very hard language to learn and you need lots of practise in an environment where ppl speak it all the time. I’ve been learning together and practising her kindy Chinese together with her so far and she seems to enjoy that. So I think its still possible but one has to be really committed to it the way you are. 🙂

  9. Lia says:

    Well, we have maintained the mandarin classes for the boys. Hubby and the Js have been learning together and it’s also bonding time. They are going to Kebangsaan school cos I want them to be kids. Im not entirely a banana (despite my mixed parentage hehe), speaking hokkien. But you know what, whatever happens, balancing it at home is better. Im lucky that we have an ok Keb school down the road.

    But to me, it’s about balance at home and school. Whether you are a SAHM or not. Its whether you want to help them where you can, learning together. Kids (and grown ups) learn best when they are having fun right?

    we chose Keb school cos more “childhood” 😀 Cant afford private or international school, and both daddy and I are products of Keb school.

    It’s a tough call I know.

    Yes balancing. The question is do you balance “discipline and homework” at home with tuition and parental support or do you balance “lepak” with more of your own home teaching and extra activities? Hehe.

  10. rachel says:

    well i cant feedback on this topic. not my turn yet.
    but let me share something. i am in the midst of reading this book Bringing Up Boys by Dr James Dobson. In the book, it mentioned that changing school half way is not so good. environment does affect the child’s development.

    Thanks anyway Rachel. I believe that too and thats why I’m trying to get it right the first time. Not, only that, I’m trying to get it right for both sister and brother even though brother is further down the road as I don’t want them to be brought up with different ways in different school environments so that they may understand each other better. However, I often get this “nvm lah, just try one or two years and if wrong you can change to kebangsaan school then” or “I switched my kid because she/he cried everyday /the stress of homework was so much for us” or “I sent my second kid to kebangsaan school because his sis/bro hated chinese school.” or “We pulled him/her out of Kebangsaan school into private school because it was too lepak”. Things like that. Hopefully, we don’t have to do any of that!

  11. daddykhong says:

    How about complicating matters by throwing in private schools? For those who can afford it, of course!

    One thing I have to add is that the majority of students from a Chinese school background have an average command of the English language. Good enough for Malaysia but not good enough for study overseas. Most of them can speak very well but once you get them to write, then the trouble starts. There are exceptions though but these exceptions come from an English-speaking family.

    End of the day, do remember that Chinese can also be learnt outside either during schooling years or when they are much older and realise that they need Chinese to survive.

    All the best.

    Thank you Daddy Khong. I believe that picking the right school for our child is really important as it is their fundamental growing years where attitudes are formed. “Just suffer for 6 years only mah” may kill the love for learning. Yes, the child may be well disciplined and toughened up to face the real world, is good at memorising etc but may not have an analytical mind at the end of the day. Unfortunately we’re faced with either too much drilling and killing creativity or the other extreme at the end of the other scale. There seems to be no balance. Private school may be the balance but like you say, not everyone can afford it.

  12. Nomadic Mom says:

    Donno if my comments will help….if you are serious for your kids to learn mandarin, then you will have to send them to CHINESE school, because the extra tuition and all will not really help.

    My S1 went to Puay Chai for 2 1/2 years before we left Malaysia (he’s now in a British School) and because of this very important foundation, his Mandarin is sort of progressing well with the 2x per week Mandarin classes.

    As for my S2, he has never ever been to a Chinese Primary School. He did do the 3x weekly Mandarin classes at Skylace during kindy…and then went to the British system without ever experiencing Primary schooling in Malaysia. I still continue with 2x weekly Mandarin classes. I tell you….his Mandarin is still HORRENDOUS despite all the $$ spent and me grilling him to revise/do his Mandarin homework.

    So…the BASIC FOUNDATION in chinese school is important. I know it is blardy difficult in the first few months. My S1 had a whole load of trouble when he entered Primary 1 without able to speak at all. None of us in the family spoke Mandarin …and within 2 months at Puay Chai, he was singing mandarin songs and all. I think the important thing is that parents that send their kids to Mandarin school do NOT expect 90%/100% in their work. And thus not PRESSURING as much. I’ve heard alot of my son’s classmates doing homework till midnight etc. I didn’t allow that. I told him to tell his teacher “my mommy say don’t do”…heheheh… When we had to leave Malaysia, he was actually sad to leave Puay Chai (despite of the HIGH load of homework!)

    Btw, my son did take some time to adjust to his new school/new environment/new country. But with encouragement from his teachers and us, he did get into the groove pretty quickly. Children are very adaptable…. As long as you are there to provide support and encouragement, changing schools (should you choose to do this midway) is not a big problem.

    I told him to tell his teacher “my mommy say don’t do”…

    Didn’t he get whacked by the rotan the next day? Haha.

  13. Lian's Parenting Tips says:

    I chose the Kebangsaan school nearby because of convenience. But mind you, when I was still living in PJ, I did enrol my daughter at a chinese school. So, like you, I was two minds about it. Eventually it came down to these few things:

    1. Is it really that important to me that she learn chinese? This question will be unique to each parent. As for me, it’s not really high on my priority list. Her life is not going to be dependent on it. I know some people think it’s a shame when you’re chinese and can’t speak chinese. Well, shame on me then. I do speak some hokkien though. Anyway, I look at it as just another skill. There are so many skills out there to learn. Why give soooo much emphasis on just one?

    2. Is chinese school the only answer to learning chinese? Some people say yes, some people say no. I figure it depends on the child. If they child really is interested in the language, they’ll pick it up whatever the method be it through school or tuition. But if they don’t care for it, it would be like “dragging a horse to water but not making it drink” sort of thing. They’ll probably learn the language but hate it at the same time. Also have to remember that there is no time limit or age barrier to learning chinese. My mother is a good example. Because she had the DESIRE to learn, even though already in her 60s, she joined a class and enjoyed herself thoroughly learning the language with good friends.

    3. Love of learning is more important. I didn’t want my daughter to “suffer” or struggle and lose sight of why she is learning. Yes, in the kebangsaan school now she has a lot of ‘free’ time. She finishes her work at school and come home with no work. I don’t have to “suffer” getting her to finish her work. She gets to go to bed by 9pm. I am still in charge of her education. We still have time to learn whatever we want to learn. It’s like part time homeschooling. But then, I know this option is not for everybody. It depends on your situation and your outlook of what “real” education is.

    It’s a shame that we have to choose between two evils. But instead of looking at “chinese school” vs. “kebangsaan school”, we would do better at looking at the schools individually. Even among chinese school and kebangsaan school, there are good and bad variations. Maybe it’s not good to lump them all into one generic category.
    Personally, if I had a choice, I would send my kids to a mission school or a school with strong traditions like Convent. Even though not as good as before, but standards still okay right?

    Thanks for stopping by, Lian. You are right about looking at individual schools. I have done that and ruled out the really lousy ones. Now, I’m spoiled for choice with the better ones either way. I also agree that love for learning is more important. Whats the use of sending a child to learn a language that they hate and is not their strength? However, my girl does like her Mandarin in kindy but of course her strength is English. So I’m still very much undecided as you can see. Haha.

  14. kerry says:

    I’m such a kiasu & paranoid mother when it comes to my girls education. Though my eldst is only 3 this year, we, well sort of I have figured out which schools to sent her to in the future including secondary school. Since we both decided that Mandarin is very crutial, at least to us, as both of us can’t read Mandarin though I can speak passable Mandarin, many thanks to the Taiwanese series my mother watched during my schooling years.

    I think the most important stuff to consider is whether that particular Chinese or Kebangsaan school is reputable or not, and whether you would like a more academic or co-curricullum based environment for your child.

    As most of us know, the so called ‘standard’ of a well-known Convent school is much more better than a normal Kebangsaan school in the outskirt of the town. (I might be biased as I come from a Convent school) I truly believe that when a child is put into a highly competitive environment they would turn out much more better than those who studies in a very relaxed environment.

    I’ve personally known few friends whose parent’s are not Chinese educated are in Chinese primary school and they turned out well. I’m not sure if other Chinese schools are doing this, but the one that I’m intending to send my girl to does offers Extra Afternoon Enrichment classes which is optional.

    My stand is why deprieve my girl the opportunity to learn an extra language though it might be slightly stressful. After all, it’s only 6 years.

    I guess it all comes back to us parents to decide which is best for our child.

    lol. Kerry. I don’t think you’re kiasu at all. You have good planning and that is good. Afterall school is a very important and big part of our children’s childhood up to young adulthood so its never too early to plan.

  15. daddykhong says:

    I have to disagree with Nomadic Mum. I received Chinese tuition until I reached Primary 6 level (Chinese Primary 6 level) throughout my years in a non-Chinese school. My Chinese standard would be better had I paid more attention in classes.

    Now as it is, if I really want to, I can easily pick up advanced Chinese again. No issues.

    My aunt used to teach in Kuen Cheng. My 2 cousins were sent to private schools. I asked her once about it. She told me that the only 2 good things about Chinese schools are the discipline and the Chinese they teach, both of which she can handle at home.

    Her recommendation is to go Chinese or private. DO NOT go to national schools. Their current standards are a joke. Yes there are some good schools. Are you willing to play poker with the ministry to get a spot there?

    Well, if you get placed in a Chinese school by the ministry and you request for a transfer to a National School of your choice, you’d probably get it, so its not playing poker in that sense. Its different the other way though. Its one way street for transfers. You can choose to transfer from Chinese School to National but you can’t transfer from National School to Chinese School. I read somewhere that there is a policy that allows one way transfer only. I’m not surprised. Are you?

  16. Ann says:

    Seeing all the comments, I can relate to almost all of them.

    I would choose kebangsaan school and send for mandarin classes.

    You mention about standard deteriorating in Kebangsaaan schools – I agree. That is why at least in Kebangsaan schools I can still help them with their homework and tutor/motivate them.

    Chinese school I am not sure about standard these days. And I will not even be able to check/know.

    Reckon see if you can get into one of those reputable Kebangsaan schools or at least one whereby discipline problem is less(or).

    Well, a lot of ppl keep on telling me that it just won’t work ie learning chinese via home tuition. They say that you’d HAVE to send to Chinese school to learn Chinese or its pointless because you won’t get very far. But DaddyKhong upstairs just said no problems for him. 🙂

  17. Lia says:

    ahhaha MumsG. I do both. They are having tuition classes for mandarin only. We are doing a bit of extra each day for BM. My point is that they are really enjoying learning now and can chatter away to their mandarin teacher (who is from china) in Mandarin. They want to learn Hokkien, they want to learn different languages to the things around them so I think oklah.

    Have to be strict a bit with them cos you knowlah, kids distracted easily but we try and do fun things. When we are out groc shopping, makan, or in the home around us, we try and talk about things, measurements, maths, languages etc. Its a lot of fun 🙂 Keeps my own brain “exercised” too.

    Convenience is the other. Morning school is what I’d like too (having a younger fella who will still be in morning kindy). 🙂

    Yes, we have to think of convenience too in addition to all the other issues don’t we 😉 Convenience, location, transportation on top of all these other issues. You sound like you have it all pretty worked out. Thats great!

  18. Florence says:

    “I had the same thoughts but it got shot down by everyone who tells me that it just won’t work. They tell me that Chinese is a very hard language to learn and you need lots of practise in an environment where ppl speak it all the time. I’ve been learning together and practising her kindy Chinese together with her so far and she seems to enjoy that. So I think its still possible but one has to be really committed to it the way you are.”

    You can definately teach Chinese at home and yes you need to be SUPER COMMITTED but so far.. look at your girl? enter kindy only at age 6…and she able to catch up and probably way ahead of her peers.. that shows you are doing a great job homeschooling her. So continue… and if you continue teaching her Chinese at home for the next six years… even if you are a lousy at it… I am sure at the end of six years..she can speak and understand the language.. plus able to read at least Year 3 level?? I think that is pretty good already… you know what I mean? It’s just another language… and she has the rest of her life to learn more Chinese if she really likes it.

    “Yes balancing. The question is do you balance “discipline and homework” at home with tuition and parental support or do you balance “lepak” with more of your own home teaching and extra activities?”

    What’s wrong with lepak if the child is learning while lepaking?? Isn’t it suppose to be that way? Learn in a fun way? Isn’t it more effective if you relax and learn at the same time? Why must it be so structured? Can’t I learn while lying on the bed/watching tv? I still feel for the first few years of primary school…it’s still about having fun and learning… of course.. like math you need to be more disciple..but then again… it can still be fun…. 🙂

    When a child is interested in something..it takes very little effort for the child to learn it!! If you can teach your child…forget about tuition! It’s not necessary. You have the advantage of being a SAHM and if you enjoys teaching your children… continue… By the way..don’t think private schools is all that better than national schools…. 🙂

    So here is what I think will work…

    1.Go to Kebangsaan School (try to get a good one).
    2.Continue to homeschool them to supplement subjects that are not taught or lacking in content.
    3.Continue to LEARN Chinese with them and if really can’t cope.. then go for some chinese classes. (If Chinese is that important)
    4.Continue to give parental support in their school work and have regular meetings with the class teacher. (be thick face) hehe… it’s your right to know what your child has been up to at school.
    5. Always create a fun and interesting environment for learning. Continue to read alot with the children.. Have regular Read A Loud sessions with them.
    6. There should be some form of discipline when it comes to school work.
    7. Balance in everything is important.
    8. Have faith in yourself
    9. Rope in your hubby to teach at least something once a week… more bonding time for the kids.. and best of all.. make it a weekly family learning time.
    10. You can definately do it!!!!

    Wow Florence. You are so positive minded. What you say about this is very true.

    “When a child is interested in something..it takes very little effort for the child to learn it!!”

    I have always found it easy to teach my kids because I listen to them. When they express interest in something, I will quickly take that opportunity to teach them about it and its easy peasy. No pressure at all and they love it and learn very quickly because of it. 🙂

  19. eksk says:

    i just share this bit. My younger cousins all went to chinese school but the parents are from national type school. I have never heard them speak mandarin but their english is excellent, i suppose because we speak english at home. i think they speak excellent mandarin also.

    For all those who think that a good school be it a chinese or national school, gives and advantage in education, maybe so. but will it give an advantage in life? I’m sure you know cases where you’ve encounter successful people who weren’t top students or come from great schools. Just my 2 cents

    Well, some sugest that the discipline that you get in Chinese schools will give you an advantage in life ie to survive under pressure.

  20. Annie Tan says:

    1. I am sending my daughter to Chinese school. Because we want her to learn and have a GOOD command of Mandarin – not just passable mandarin, like me. I can speak mandarin very well (most people thought that I am from Chinese school, I am not), I can read mandarin – may be till year 3 level, because I went to chinese nite school, but din pay attention in class, bodoh & playful, dunno how to appreciate opportunities to learn!..Luckily I am a bit clever, still managed to scoop “half pail of water”. I can read many words…word by word. But sometimes, when the words all linked up, I cannot grasp the meaning, cause in mandarin when 2 or more words put together they can have different meaning from the individual word. Many chinese terminologies I cannot understand – though can read some of them!.

    I am of the opinion that Mandarin is a beautiful language – IMHO, it’s very rich and its “completeness” which no other language in my knowledge can compare.

    2. For people coming from non-chinese speaking background to learn or go to a Chinese school, as parents we have to see whether that individual kid is receptive to that language or not. I think my daughter is receptive to Mandarin – she has been coping well with minimal guidance from us. If not receptive, better send to national school. Or else the kid will suffer and after 6 years, not much will retain!

    My friend’s child has got this problem – not Mandarin but Bahasa. The father is a Malay, but they speaks only English at home. When the child started school, they found out that the child is not receptive to Bahasa. The child just refuse to speak or even try to understand simple bahasa. They have a tough time couching the child.

    Mandarin, we can escape, Bahasa how to escape leh!! Migrate lor. Luckily the child is getter better…but still have to struggle.

    Fortunately, Mandarin and English has similar language structure. Unlike Tamil. For example, in Tamil they will say, “I rice eat”. In both mandarin & English, they say “I eat rice”. So, it’s still easier for English-speaking child to learn mandarin than a Tamil-speaking child.

    3. Homework – my utmost worry! I want to prepare my daughter for this. When I was young, I love to do Chinese writing. I actually requested the teacher to give me smaller “box” so that I can write more. I just love to see the word being completed, Chinese character is like a drawing to me. Even now, when I have a pen & blank paper, I love to perfect my “not so nice Chinese writing”, just like some people who love to perfect their signature. I want to instill the fun of writing in my daughter, in the hope that she will not be stressed out doing tones of writing. Ah, may be must come up with a “HOMEWORK IS FUN” song first!……. hahahaha!!

    4. I checked with my sister, whose elder is in Subang SS 19 chinese school. She told me, the first year is tough. Have to spend more time doing homework, have to check & guide her. Now second year, easier…she does the homework herself. My sister does minimal checking. Sometimes she does homework till midnite (afternoon school). Sometimes she still get “SIAPKAN” remark on her book… My sister close one eye. As I am working, my sister advised me to send my daughter to day care which coach homework as well or a babysitter who at least can guide her mandarin homework.

    I have bought some year one Chinese workbooks at home. I glance thru, even though it’s std 1 level, i still find it hard to understand. I am getting help from my colleague.

    Back in my hometown, the Chinese schools are not so stressful & not so much homework. My cousin (std 5) finish most of the homework in school and I see him playing all the time at home. And he scores top in his class every year. Every nite can sleep at 9pm. Some more can watch all the Hokkien series in the afternoon! Why it’s not so over here?? What’s the problem here leh?

    Annie, I think its a beautiful language too. I’ve been trying to teach myself for years. Because when we had it as POL in school when I was young, I went to climb trees with my classmates and my teacher didn’t care. She was probably happy! Haha. Now, I can help my girl with her kindy homework but further than that I don’t think so lah but I plan to learn with her. In fact, every week, I would learn together and challenge her in doing her “ting seah” or Chinese spelling. She loves it when she wins me. Hahaha. This way, she got 13/14 instead of 5/14 previously. lol. Her teacher says she has no barrier in the language ie she likes learning it. I can see that too. Which is why I am worried that it will be a waste not to allow her to learn. However, her strength is still English so I hope to at least give her an environment where she can excel in her area of strength.

    Yes, what you say about the Chinese schools in the cities compared to the hometowns is true. I have heard it too.

  21. physiomom says:

    Going to a Kebangsaan school life is less stressful compared to Chinese school that’s for sure. Both of us parents not Chinese educated.But had sent both twins to a Chinese school so that they master another language that will take them far in future now that China is opening their market. Even Mat Salleh overseas prefer candidates who knws Mandarin. That’s our rationale for sending them to Chinese school.But we do pity them for having so much homewrk brought bck each day.8-9 sometimes.. It’s not the same like what some people say you can always send them to chinese classes even if u put them in kebangsaan school mah. less stressful. I was doing that during my school days. Till now I only understand minimal mandarin, read and write my own name and recognise 1-10 characters. dont even knw hw to read a chinese newspaper. that’s why we put them in a proper chinese school. 3 years in primary nw, the twins are coping well with the language verbally..written needs polishing, though. Planning to send the grils who are 4 and 3 now to a Chinese school, too.

    8-9 homework! Even now I have to shout at my girl to get her 2-3 kindy homework done. Lol!

  22. physiomom says:

    BTW, at home they solely speak English with us. With frens and teachers they communicate in Mandarin. what a beauty. At times they use the language to “bully” their mummy when they have their mini conference exp on issues they dont want me to understand. ha ha.

    Doesn’t it feel strange to have your children communicate in a language you can’t understand?

  23. blurqueen says:

    I am not a parent yet but I spent a good 6 years in a chinese school and spent 3 secondary years taking up Chinese as a compulsory subject for my national exams.

    It was not easy as my parents are not chinese educated. I was quite lost during the good 6 years and it shows in my result. I remember asking my mom how to solve arithmathics questions and I had to translate those questions from Chinese to English so my mom could understand before helping me to solve those questions. Come to think of it, that was quite funny.

    As I moved on to secondary years, I was giving tuition to some of my classmates in English and helping them in English composition writing. Mmm, I guess those arithmathics-chinese-english-translation-with-mom must have helped in some way. I notice most chinese educated students have problems in english composition writing. Reason being they were trained to write in chinese but when it comes to english writing, they will use the same chinese writing method but translate the writing from chinese to english.

    If you decide to send your kids to chinese school, I think you should continue to encourage them to read a lot of English books – just to strike a balance. It is a struggle to master few languages all at one time, even more so at that tender age. Do not be discouraged if the results for some language subjects are not up to your expectation.

    I continued my tertiary education overseas doing something that requires a lot of writing and understanding in the english language. As for those friends that I used to tutor, they also did well in their tertiary education overseas.

    I think your kids will be fine.

    blurqueen. Thanks for sharing your experience. Yes, that is exactly what I am afraid of. That my kid will have to translate to me in order for me to help her out. lol!

  24. Lian's Parenting Tips says:

    Sorry ah, a bit off topic but just wondering what comment plugin are you using. I like how your replies appear directly under the comments you are replying to.

    Actually I have no idea *red faced*. I went to my plugin management page to check for you but I couldn’t see anything remotely close enough to describe it. Hehe. Sorry.

  25. mott says:

    wah..ouch! Everybody boo-ing kebangsaan school. Wooi..i came from there wor! I didn’t do well in school, but I did marvellously well in Uni! Goes to show that the system they’re using didn’t work well with me, but the assignment based system (read : relate and understand), worked better for me.

    To be honest, I think if you can choose a really good kebangsaan school..ahem..with good rep (read : good dedicated teachers – they still do exist), then it shouldn’t be a problem.

    Language to me, is personal. Either you have a knack for it..or you don’t. If your kids sound like they are able to absorb and learn a new language…go for it. Listen to your kids?!

    mott, I am also a product of kebangsaan school ler. However, kebangsaan school stds today is different from our times. The std has gone down the drain but of course there are still some good ones around.

    My girl has a knack to learn languages but I’m still against rote learning, drilling, too much homework and tuition. So how? Haha.

  26. mott says:

    oops, not meant to have a “!” at the end there…. heheheheh..didn’t want to sound like I was scolding you…! 😉

    Aiyah, you scold me, I scold you back loh. No worries. Haha.

  27. Daddy Parenting Tips says:

    The coming generation will feel the need to become global citizens and a good understanding of languages and cultures are critical to play that role. Written Mandarin has a strong foundation of characters that are almost similar to other difficult languages like Japanese and Korean. Besides, you will be able to do business in China, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong easily. It seems foolish to want to spend so much time to be busybodies and get involved in so many things, but that’s the same way how our parents or previous generations would think of the Internet. The world is changing and it is only heading towards a more global world if we are at all working together. Nevertheless, there is a need for crucial skills in learning languages and cultures quickly. By mastering a difficult language, it will build such a good foundation for picking up another 5 languages maybe? Don’t laugh … we are becoming machines in this world since the industrial revolution. Of course, it helps to love such skills to be able to enjoy your life. But, how do you love learning languages and cultures unless you can do it well?


    You are right of course. I think that as parents, what we can do to encourage the love of learning languages is to first cultivate the love for learning itself, right from the time they are very young. We can encourage them to love to learn, by listening to them and answering their many questions about the things they see around them then building on their interest by reading and playing with them on the things/topics that they are currently interested in. This way, I find that they will become keen to learn and they will develop a love for reading and a thirst for knowledge. Parental support is so very important.

  28. KittyCat says:

    Hi MG – I’m living in China now and my toddler is starting to pick up Mandarin/Putonghua. The banana that I am, I’ve been picking it up too from everyday business.

    Will we send him to Chinese school when we return? NO! I treasure my multi-racial friendships and experiences, laughter, fun and childhood from my Convent school days.

    Despite the deteriorating standards of these schools, nothing beats the Malaysian and real world environment they are made of, which until now, is NOT seen in Chinese schools despite their many merits.

    While I agree with you on that, the sad thing is the standards in National schools has deteriorated and you’d almost be a minority if you sent your child to one. One commenter mentioned that her friend had sent their child to National school only to pull them out after the first day because the kid turned out to be the only Chinese in the class of 50. However, when doing school hunting you’d have to visit each one to have a better idea of the standards. I visited several schools, looked at the premises, spoke to the heads, looked at the organisational chart of teachers etc to give me a better idea about the school. I saw some good and bad ones.

  29. jenjen says:

    I am also in this dilemma.So much of pro and cons. My son is turning 7 next year. still the same question till now. I am chinese but hubby is Indian. at home we speaks in english and sometimes malay (bahasa rojak) due to that both of us are from national schools. Been hearing lots of comments from many parents who send their kids to national school and chinese school. National school: So much of problem, eg. teachers were so busy , they marks the kids books only every half a year – during holidays. how do you expect the child to know his /her mistakes instantly? second racist..if you get a malay teacher…they will put all the malay children in front and Indians at the back of the class..happened to my friend’s kid , parent complain due to the kid can’t copy the teacher’s writing on the board (he is abit short in height) but only for few days the kid was transferred nearer but later went back to the same position again. My friend later transfered her kid to a private school. For me , my kid will be in Indian category..i wonder since when its so biased in school these days wonder how racial integration can work. Nowadays, there is so few chinese in national school, in fact many malays and indians too are sending their kids to chinese school – lost hope on national schools, my point of view is other races are going for vernacular education, why do we want to lose such opportunity? Third, they are so relaxed, national schools always have no teachers..either sick for whole month and the children are left with cikgu ganti(relief teacher) which says ‘buat apapun boleh, tapi jangan bising’- at last they will have to sit for exams which have not been taught. Many of the teachers are not english fluent, so when the gov implements science in english, the children complained they don’t understand the teacher who spoke broken english.For chinese medium school according to many parents, racism is not an issue , but $$$ is. Some chinese school will expect you to give lots of $$ in order to make sure that your child get adequate attention from the teachers. I would say my son is not the study type..he is the playful and happy go lucky type..obviously not so keen on doing homework.If I am sending him to a national school which is not strict and always teachers are not around, I afraid he will be worse and more lazy. Being in chinese school will sure to pressure him and me too..But at least I would want to give him a chance in learning Mandarin, no doubt that the strictness and discipline will eventually tone down his playfullness. I don’t mind he get abit of rotan , that is the pain most of us went thru, in order to succeed in life. Private schools using national curriculum seems to be a perfect solution. Nowdays private schools have made Mandarin as a compulsory subject for the primary, whether your child wants to take it up for UPSR is up to the child’s performance. However the setback many parents told is that the monetary point of it. upper and Middle class parents only could afford it. Must think carefully too…since it involves $$, if say suddenly you do not the funds due to economic setback, will the child be able to go back to government national school or chinese school psychologically? I am not so sure …many parents who send their kids to private school complains that their kids are deteriorating in performance – it shouldn’t be happening in private school I guess- or it the the real reason behind it – Is that they could no longer afford it???
    If the reason being that China open market…that is why we need to learn Mandarin..that is not a point at all. Due to China going so internationally, many of its people have already received English education and many of them in private sector is well equipped with English language. I have worked with China counterparts..and all of the speaks so well in English. I have a Chinese friend (real real banana) whom is from Peranakan origins, who doesn’t speak a word in Cantonese or Mandarin, currently is residing in Guangdong China for 2 years already due to husband is working in China. She managed to get a job (HR) in the same company with her husband. I was really surprised when she told me all the personnel in her company speaks English very well. She only managed to pick up few important words in Mandarin – only for usage with taxi drivers and eatery outlets. So I don’t see the China open market as an issue as China is also open to globalisation as well. FYI, I have registered my son in Chinese school due to the setbacks of National schools but if I have a daughter I would not mind National school because girls are basically are easier to control , self motivating compared to boys. It is the discipline view that I am looking at for my son.

    We’re all in the same dilemma, aren’t we? 🙂 Though my boy and girl are different, the boy is more lazy compared to the girl, I hope to let them have the same education whether it is National or Chinese so that they would be able to relate to and understand each other better. Another thing, like you say private school is expensive so we hope to hold it off till secondary school and send them then, that is if we could afford it then.

  30. g says:

    Hi, I’ve come across your blog for the first time. now that 4years have passed from the time you blogged on Chinese school and Chinese kindy, what are your thoughts now? How did your daughter settle into school? I’ve “painstakingly” decided on Chinese school despite some fear that it’ll stifle my let’s creativity/training her mind to memorize and reproduce without using he mind to analyse…. My next dilemma is whether to continue in a good Montessori kindy that doesn’t do any rite learning, no homework, that encourages learning through play, etc (it introduces Mandarin at 5yo) versus switching her to a Kindy that places more emphasis on Mandarin. I don’t want her to drown in Chinese school, thus hating it.

    Appreciate your view on this, tqvm!

    Hello Gillian. “Painstakingly” is the word. It was the same way for me. My daughter is in Std 4 now and my son in Std 2 at the same Chinese School. My son is under the new KSSR system and he seems much more relaxed or maybe its just him. As for my daughter, she is very intense. She is in the best class in school with much pressure from the teacher as well as a ridiculous amount of homework. She is very afraid of the teacher and there is a lot of rote learning. She has to read and copy essays frequently. However on the brighter side the school has committed and hardworking teachers and the facilities are constantly being upgraded.

    As for your girl, perhaps you could enjoy with her Montesorri kindy while making sure she gets some extra Mandarin lessons that emphasizes on reading and fun. There is plenty of time for rote learning in Primary school later on so I don’t think it should start in kindy. However, I think some Chinese prep is very necessary if you are sending to Chinese school so that your girl won’t feel lost. I heard that the “Bao Bei” Chinese reading is a good one. My girl only started attending kindy at age 6 (and everyone thought I was crazy to send my kid to kindy so late, even the grandmas I meet on the street!), my son at age 5 and they both had a very good time at a relaxed kindy enjoying kindy the way it should be.

    However, what we lacked was preparing them enough for Chinese. For my girl, I had one of her kindy teachers come in once or twice a week just to converse to her in Chinese to build her confidence in speaking since we don’t speak Chinese at home. I stressed that there was to be no homework! As for my son, somehow we missed out on this part and he struggled with his Chinese throughout his first year. He continues to have trouble with his Chinese and though his Maths and Science knowledge of the concepts is very good, his poor Chinese pulls him down. Poor feller. So it is only now that I am pushing him harder in his Chinese but its never too late.

    To sum it up, I am glad that my kids enjoyed their kindy years and have very good memories of it. I also feel that as a parent, it is our job to balance off what they are facing at school. If they go to a more relaxed school, then it is up to us to help them more in their studies. Or in the case of Chinese school where they push them so hard, then it is up to us as parents to try to balance that off by providing them with the rest, relaxation, play and sleep that they need. At the moment, no regrets (yet) on Chinese school but have some misgivings.

    Hope that helps. If you have any other questions, feel free to send me an email. Otherwise I could go on and on here and probably end up writing another blog post. Haha. In fact, someone asked me to write a blog post about the very same question you posed before. Here it is: Chinese Kindergarten or English Kindergarten?

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