Teaching my kids Maths and Science in English

I have bought several books on Maths and Science in English for primary schools to teach my children. You have to first become a student before you can become a teacher. Guide to Career Education can be your resource for teaching and learning. Some of them are excellent bilingual English/Chinese books. I have been teaching my kids Maths and Science in English from the time they were in Std 1. They are going to be Std 2 and Std 4 next year. I also help them with their Maths and Science in Chinese by using an electronic dictionary and bilingual Maths and Science books.

My preference would be for them to be taught Maths and Science in English in school but since it is not happening and I don’t forsee it changing anytime soon, I have no choice but to do teach them myself. As a parent, I feel that I need to be in the background always ready to provide them with the balance they need in life. I send them to a strict Chinese school, so I try to provide them with entertainment, play and relaxation at home. If I send them to a school which is more relaxed than, I will be there to guide and push them harder in their studies.

It is the same with Maths and Science in English. Since I think it is important for the kids to learn Maths and Science in English, I will teach them myself if it is not being taught in school. It is not difficult to teach. Maths and Science, unlike languages is all about concepts. The concept is the same. Once the children grasp the concept and understand the lesson, it is only a matter of teaching them the terms.

My girl just brought back her Std 4 books for next year. I am relieved to see that she still has the Maths and Science Books in English textbooks for the year 2012. Or should I feel sad that she will be burdened with yet another year of carrying extra books for subjects that teachers are teaching only half heartedly because they have no choice.

Unlike my Std 1 boy who is learning Maths and Science in Chinese, my girl had the chance to learn Maths and Science in Chinese as well as in English. However, the school takes a rather laid back or relaxed attitude in the teaching of Maths and Science in English. I can’t say that I blame them since it will be discontinued. Why should school time and resources be spent on something that will be phased out soon. There are only a few periods for Maths and Science in English. The test papers are very easy and given almost like an afterthought. There is hardly any homework for Maths and Science in English and most of the time, it is taught in a hurried manner to finish off the syllabus at the end of a term or school year as if to get it out of the way.

With such an attitude, it is better that the kids learn Maths and Science in Chinese alone. They won’t have to go through the burden of learning the same subjects in two languages in school and carrying extra loads of books to school, especially when the teaching of Maths and Science in English is half hearted. Even if given the choice, they will never choose to do any Maths and Science tests in English because they will be better at it in Chinese since the emphasis has always been on teaching Maths and Science in Chinese even though they were given a ‘choice’. I don’t see it as a choice really, it appears more like a burden, an extra thing that teachers are forced to get out of the way. It is not a bonus to be able to learn it in two languages under this sort of circumstances or learning/teaching environment.

So, that means it is up to me to teach my kids Maths and Science in English.  I am not good in Chinese so I find it useful to teach them in English and then later go through the Maths and Science terms in Chinese with them. I am thankful for the bilingual books. It helps the kids improve both languages as they grasp the concept.  My only wish is to see the Maths and Science books in English or the bilingual Maths and Science books being continued to be published by publishers and sold at bookshops. It will be a sad day, when even that stops soon after the Maths and Science in English is phased out. 🙁


I just found out from my girl that she had to return the Maths and Science Books in English for Std 4 next year. I guess she won’t be learning them in English anymore. She is in Std 4 next year. My son who is in Std 2 will not be learning them in English since he is the ‘pioneer’ year for the switch back to teaching Maths and Science in mother tongues. Looks like this mother will have to work harder.

There still appears to be some confusion as many are unsure on whether the subjects will still be taught in English and until which year. So here is the schedule for the phasing out of teaching Maths and Science in English.

Updated again

Well, looks like that schedule for phasing out is outdated now…


Lessons On Life

I learned quite a few lessons on life from …. an umbrella. Yes, an umbrella, an inanimated object.

The other day, I queued behind an umbrella. Yes, an umbrella, this inanimated object. I was queuing to take my child to see the doctor. Since that was our third visit and I didn’t want to spend the whole morning at the clinic again, I went to the clinic very early in the morning to queue…. behind an umbrella.

There I was bright and early, standing in queue behind an umbrella. How strange.

Lesson On Life #1: People aren’t always what they seem to be. 

The normal couple who was enjoying their breakfast nearby had thought it fit to put an umbrella as a stand-in for them in the queue. How very strange. Normal couple also made sure they managed to register first when the clinic doors were opened.

On that same day, it was raining heavily after school. We were dismayed to discover that we had left behind two big and lovely umbrellas at the school. We searched everywhere and asked around but of course, it could no longer be found – two such lovely and big umbrellas.

Lesson On Life #2: If you don’t take care of your own things, somebody else might just take it!

We asked the sweet foreign worker at the canteen. She said she had not seen our big and beautiful umbrellas but later on she managed to get us a battered and torn one to use. If she hadn’t we would have been stranded in the rain for longer.

Lesson On Life #3: Help comes in all sorts of disguises

Lesson On Life #4: If you ask for help, sometimes you will get it

Lesson On Life #5: Even though something is old and battered, it still has its uses

Now, let us travel back further. One day, it was raining cats and dogs and a lady who was desperate to get to her waiting child, asked me whether I had a spare umbrella. “How can I return this to you? I don’t know you.” she said. So I gave her my daughter’s name and class but she never returned it and I never saw her again. I presumed that she must have forgotten the information that I gave her.

“Mummy, why did you give away our umbrella? It is so wasteful. We bought it with money.” my children asked.

I told them that it is just a small thing and that we should try to help others in need whenever we could. It feels nice to help others. Besides she did say she would return it.

The funny thing is that even though she never returned it, very soon after, we got back 3 umbrellas in return.

I had won a prize at a contest and during the prize giving  ceremony, we were given door gifts which included an umbrella. Somehow, I got the venue mixed up and arrived rather late for the prize presentation. As a result, there was a mix up and they forgot to call me on stage to receive my prize.

The organizers felt very bad and were very apologetic. They gave me my prize plus a few more door gifts including two more umbrellas!

I reminded my kids about….

Lesson On Life #6: If you give without expecting anything in return, sometimes you get back more than what you ask for. Give and you shall receive.

Well, that is the end of my long winded story. A result of 4 days missing from my blog. I am still feeling a bit drugged. I am currently taking the antibiotic Augmentin for my flu and it makes me feel floaty, nausea, and gastric. 🙁

Home Science

I remember we used to have Home Science classes when I was in lower Secondary school. Oh how we loved those classes! What did they teach us during Home Science? We had to split ourselves into two groups and alternate. One group would learn cooking and baking while the other group learns tailoring.

For the tailoring class, first, we had to learn to make an apron and a cap for our cooking class. Then we learned to patch torn clothing, we learned to sew zippers and buttons and how to cut and sew a blouse with embroidery and lace. We even learned smocking and made a little girl’s dress and our tailoring class teacher taught us cross stitch. It was amazing how much we learned. And it was so much fun. Our sewing class was just upstairs from the cooking class which was fully equipped with many ovens for baking cakes. The sewing class had many sewing machines. Towards the end of the class we would be able to smell all the foods that the cooking class group had cooked up as the smells wafted in through the windows.

For the cooking class, we had to first learn some simple housekeeping. We learned to make beds, hospital style, we learned to polish silver and brass, we learned the way to wash and dry different types of materials with special care for wools and silks. Then we learned cooking. We learned to cook all sorts of dishes and we learned to bake using different styles. I remember I was cooking sweet and sour fish once and my fish was undercooked. Before the teacher checked my fish, I quickly slipped it into the fryer for a second round of frying secretly. Haha. We learned to make all sorts of local foods including nasi lemak wrapped in a banana leaf (we had to go hunting for the banana leaves, then we learned that we had to quickly dip them into hot water so that they became flexible and would not break) and local delicacies or kuih.

Another time, my cupcakes was overbaked. We learned to hide our burnt biscuits etc. It was very enjoyable. We even had to sit for a cooking exam. My question was to cook for a cooking competition so layout was very important. Dad had to go and buy me some special plates so that I could present them nicely. I still have the plates to this day! I cooked my sweet and sour fish then but by then I had mastered it. 😉 Then I carefully decorated my food and placed them at different heights during display.

I really miss my home science classes in school. It has given me many lovely memories of school.

My favourite subjects in school were Home Science, English, Art, Chemistry and Biology. I hated History and Physics. What is your favourite subject in school?

Aggressive Tuition Center

My girl’s classmate had given my telephone number to one of the teachers at the tuition center she was attending because she wanted my girl to attend the same tuition center as her.

Last week the teacher at the tuition center called me. I told her that we were busy preparing for school tests so we have no time to attend the free class that they were offering. At the same time, I enquired about their after school tuition hours.

Yesterday, the teacher called me again. She said…

“I am calling to confirm that your daughter will be attending the free class today.”

I repeated what I told her.. that my daughter was busy preparing for tests and she has no time to attend the free class.

She said….

“I know your daughter has tests. We are doing revision for tests now. We are doing past year papers today. I would like to confirm that your daughter is coming.”

Two thoughts come to my mind.

1. The poor teacher has to double up as marketing agent too.

2. Why on earth would they think that I would want to sent my daughter to a strange new place to “benefit” from a free lesson to do past year papers on the eve of her tests? She should be doing light revision at home and getting more rest! Not going to some strange place and doing past year papers! She is only 9 for goodness sakes.

I really think that we are going overboard in preparing our kids to sit for tests in school.

Anyway, I declined politely but just out of interest, I asked her how much they charged for lessons. She says it is RM45 per month for one subject and it gets cheaper if you take more subjects.

Children On Facebook

After reading the article Playing I Spy with Facebook, I have only one comment.

The first thing that came to my mind is, when my children start a facebook account, I shall be the one to show them how and what they should or should not do. I would also insist that I be their friend on facebook.

However, I would never leave a negative comment on their accounts. Encouraging comments are okay but not negative ones. If there is anything I need to talk to them about their conduct or their friend’s conduct on facebook, then I will talk to them in person instead of leaving a comment. I think it is ridiculous to leave a comment on your children’s facebook account when you have something important to discuss with them.

Firstly, they will be afraid of being laughed at and ridiculed by their friends. Secondly, facebook is not the place for any family or even lovers discussion for all to see. Family discussions should be kept private.

Lastly, no, I do not think that I will be invading their privacy by being their friend on facebook. Certainly not! I am their parent. For their own safety, I SHOULD know what is going on in their lives. I would not read their diary but a facebook account is unlike a diary. Sometimes, if the privacy profile is not set up, the whole world can read what is being written, so why shouldn’t I, the parent? However, as I said, for the sake of their privacy, I will refrain from commenting anything negative. I will also refrain from reading it in detail and discussing things with them in detail. Just enough to know that they are doing the right thing is good enough.

As a parent, I would make it a point to know my children’s friends so that they do not get into the wrong company, all the more so for cyber friends with its different set of rules for friendship and relationships.

Thats my two cents. Whats your take on this?

Related post:

When should kids have a facebook account?

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