I came home the other day and was greeted by a piece of paper on our dining table, with what looked like a lovely poem on it.
The instruction on the top of the page, stating “Please let Spud memorise the poem for her graduation” caught my attention:
6 chunks of verses, 24 sentences, plenty of words…all for a 4-going-5 year old to memorise and recite on her graduation day. I gave Silver Bullet “the look” as I gleaned through the poem, clumsily stumbling over “of perfect pictures puzzle paths” in trying to recite it in my head. He acknowledged and confirmed in response to my look – Spud just has to memorise ALL.OF.IT.
Do we now really need to drill our daughter and expect her to memorise the whole thing? Isn’t that a little crazy? Not that we wouldn’t cooperate, but 6 chunks of poetry? It’s kind of a bit much to ask from a 4-going-5 year old, no? For the life of me, I can’t even read out some of the sentences coherently!
Or, do we just”faith-in-out”; believing that no matter what, this little child can memorise all that, as long as we put in the effort and help along? Because, after all, children at this age are sponges, no? They can take in anything! And if the child can’t do it, then we are not being the model, good parents.
I rolled my eyes as I debated the 2 perspectives in my head. It’s a Thai thing, isn’t it? Damn the education system.
My gut went along with the first: Screw being the model parents! It’s kind of ridiculous to be memorising all of THAT. The last thing I want to do is D.R.I.L.L my kids to learn the words for several hours a day, 7x a week for 3 weeks just so we could applaud and marvel at how great and talented this child is in front of other 100 parents to gawk at.
At this age, I would rather push her to play with mud, run around like a maniac and let her observe the caterpillars turn into butterflies with all of her Little Ponies in tow (Spud’s obsessed with them now), rather than being cooped up to memorise all those lovely lines! I wouldn’t even have minded if she pulls a Calvin & Hobbes on me.
But we had to go along. We took it as easy as we could, and see how Spud does. Of course we could make it fun for her! Duh. Do a sing-a-long or whatever that could help her memorise. Only we are terrible at singing.
Still! It’s not like she has to do 2 verses only; that would still be doable. But she has got to do all SIX! and while Spud has already nailed the first chunk herself (bless her!), she still does have quite a bit of trouble trying to remember the rest in sequence.
She was, as I observed, getting extremely frustrated. We took it bit by bit when she didn’t want to push on. It has been a slow process. And I can’t blame her. She’s has other better things to do.
Yesterday, she came home with another note from the teacher. This time, there were highlighted lines with the different kids’ names next to it. It appears that they now have broken it down for each of the kids to do only several lines. Now, Spud has to do 2 lines and the last chunk is to be recited by everyone.
Hah! I guess they eventually realised that it would be a feat for the kids to remember all of it. Who would have guessed. This looks more reasonable to me.
I thought that it was a shame that Spud didn’t get to do the first few lines and only because she has already memorised that bit. If so, that would have made it much easier on us as we didn’t have to do anything more for it. Yes, we are that lazy. At least I am, because I never liked memorising things.
I remember things better by doing. Learning things by hard has never been something I have been very good at. I hate it to the core! Loathe it! You memorise to puke it out, then you forget. Why bother! As a child of rote-learning and memorising shit to death during my school years, I think it’s cruel to impose such things on a child. I don’t have photographic memory and I have some deep-seated sentiments to this whole memorising by heart thing.
In my opinion, kids need to learn by doing, and, having fun while at it, too. Spud was getting frustrated and for an event that was supposed to be fun for kids her age, she was not having fun at all.
And that’s a little concerning. She has her whole life ahead of her to get serious; now is just not the time yet.
What also bothered me was the fact that Spud, a few weeks ago, shared that the teachers told her that those who didn’t do well in the rehearsals or couldn’t remember, get punished. The word “rehearsals” didn’t register then, as there has not been discussions on a recurring rehearsal. I didn’t even realise that she was probably referring to this memorising thingie.
Plus, when I probed, she shrugged it off and rattled on about other things. While I did feel a little perturbed on the subject of 4-5 years old being “punished for not doing well in rehearsals and forgetting their lines”, I kept the thoughts to myself. Perhaps Spud has an over-active imagination.
So I’m glad the teachers came to their senses. It only makes sense.
Yes, the poem is nice. I actually like it. To her teachers, I really do think that they have done a stellar job so far in getting the kids to where they are now. But, really, these kids are only young once. Tell them that it’s OK to mess up and let them experience that learning is fun. They should not be “punished” for not being perfect in rehearsals.
Let them find that fondant hills and a world full of thrills. Let them explore in clouds of thick eclair.
Giving them a challenge to remember a few lines or even a few chunks of verses are OK; just don’t make them memorise the whole darn thing! At least not at their age now, maybe in 5 more years.
Besides, it is only a kindergarten graduation. It’s like a pretend graduation and it doesn’t have to be all perfect.