August 29, 2015

Back to School: A Momma’s Rant

Category: Thaism

The kids have been home for too long now since the school had been closed for summer vacation about 8 weeks back. Even after shipping them to summer school for almost 4 weeks, there were still 3 leftover weeks where they had to be cooped up at home. Their routines are disrupted, and they get restless. Being restless is not good for us.

This week marks the beginning of normalcy again after several weeks of idling around (kids, not us!). They are back in school, they start their new term, in a new class with a new teacher. It’s a new beginning and another adventure!

Only, I wasn’t quite expecting a new kind of “adventure” for the kids so soon, especially so for Spud who is now in Year 1. At only 5 years old, these kids are now required to take weekly tests in spelling, English, Maths, Science and Thai. Here’s an excerpt of the letter from her new homeroom teacher:



Crazy isn’it? 5 years old and they already have to do tests. Weekly too. And then followed by a big test sometime later. I sigh my biggest sigh when I read the letter…feeling powerless to fight the school’s academic push. Tests: Are they really necessary at this age? Does it really matter if they cannot read a 10 letter word or multiply by the 100s before they turn 6? Are we already telling them at such a young age playtime is over and that their lives from here on will be judged by the scores they get for their tests and then bucket them into the “good student” pile and the “bad /stupid” student pile?

As a parent, I feel so sorry for the kids. Already, a few parents of her classmates have shared with us that their kids now don’t want to go to school and are quite afraid of all the tests their teachers have mentioned to them. Spud, for now, has not said anything much about that. She seems pretty nonchalant when I asked her about it.

Me? I’m not so happy about all this homework and test crap for those below 12 years old. What good are these tests really? At this age, they are still learning, and let them learn at their own pace – no tests required. Also, as working parents, when do we have time to drill them after school for all these tests? We don’t get home early enough, and by the time we are home, it’s time for bed. The last thing we want is to stretch their bedtime for them to do their homework, drill them to pass their tests and not have sufficient sleep for a full day at school. 

Do I then just leave her on her own to figure it out herself? Or do I then delegate this passing of test crap to our Nanny whose primarily role is to watch the kids when we are away at work? How do they expect her to do her Thai test? We don’t speak Thai at home – do we then need to send her to extra Thai class? Do they think we have money that grow on trees? How should we be splitting our already time-starved day? How much more exhaustion can we take?

Another list of things-to-do; another stress I don’t need.Brilliant.  I guess, at this point in time, I feel as nonchalant as Spud is. In fact, I’m not even bothered if she isn’t going to do well for her tests. I’m thinking she’ll probably learn to figure it out herself rather than me fussing to her about it.


Because in life, there are other things to worry about. And one of them is not about that score you get on your test papers just to show the world what a bloody genius you are. Besides, these kids are only 5 years old. Chill.

Posted by:    |    14 Comment
  1. This post shares similar concerns to this article I read just this morning. While it mainly focuses on the behavior of the parents and the reactions of the teachers, it touches on part of the problem’s root: school is becoming increasingly score-based rather than learning-based. I’ve linked the article below in case you’re interested in taking a look at it 🙂 Thank you very much for sharing so much with us, your readers!

    • Thank you, for sharing the link Alainafae! I read through it and yes, there’s the over-parenting phenomenon going on. It’s exactly what you said – being score based vs learning based. Sad for kids. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. 🙂

  2. I agree! A bit too much….childhood is over 🙁

    • 🙁 It saddens me. Childhood should not be over so soon! As Shakespeare had said in Merchant of Venice, “In soothe I know not why I am no sad…it wearies me, oh, you say it wearies you…” Sigh… (I just happen to remember those from my school days! :p) xxx.

  3. Does all that testing really matter?

    • Exactly, Linda! it shouldn’t. But it seems that students are now defined by the scores they get for their tests. But what do I know, I’m only a parent.:(

  4. As an ex-teacher, I am ABSOLUTELY against the trend for all these tests, particularly for small children. They’ve discontinued a fair number of them in the UK as the teaching unions and eventually the Government decided they weren’t good value for money. But the damage has been done for those who struggle and label themselves as ‘stupid’ because developmentally they were simply not where the tests ‘said’ they should be…

    • Indeed, and so they should be discontinued.Especially for smaller kids. It all shouldn’t be about the scores. It’s nice to hear that ex-teacher like yourself think so too, and my guess is that teachers here are also being pushed to administer tests because the school says so as part of the larger agenda. Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! 🙂

  5. Wow, I agree 5 is young to be having tests. Teach them the alphabet, yes, but don’t give them formal tests on it yet.

    • Crazy right! Forget about alphabets – they are now learning how to read things like, “The cat is sitting on the table. The pan is very hot.” Stuff like that. The paper chase is ON in this part of the world! Nice to have you here, Julie. Thanks for leaving a comment. 🙂

  6. Hi Ann,

    I completely agree with the point of view you and others are representing. As an ex-teacher too, they simply get in the way of a love for learning. That is as true for older students as it is for younger. I’ve seen 11 year olds suffering major stress, exhibiting self-harm and eating problems, fatigue from doing homework until well-past midnight and as one boy said “Life’s just not fun anymore”. By the time they are 16-18 years, they’re afraid to learn.
    Having said that, I was in a primary school with a 7-8 year old class who used to woot when it was announced they were about to have a test – they LOVED them! I think your attitude will be very helpful to your daughter, and perhaps she’ll even enjoy the challenge.

    • Hello Safar! They do get in the way of learning, don’t they. It annoys me as much as it pains me. 🙁 11 year olds are too young to be facing such unnecessary stress too, and I’m sure you have seen much more in your career as a teacher. I have yet to see kids who love tests…they must be an exception! I hated tests when I was a kid, these days, I do inane personality tests and what type of cat are you kind of tests! Hahahaha. Thanks for stopping by! 😀

  7. Totally agree with you. So sad to see 5 years olds stressing about tests when they should be running around playing. And no evidence as far as I know, that it helps them longterm anyway. Grr! All we can do is keep home as relaxed as possible I suppose but not easy when they have tests at school! Great post thank you for sharing.

    • It is kind of sad, isn’t it? The positive side of me says it’s good for discipline just so the kids don’t sense my sentiments of “homework is rubbish”…urrghhh! conundrum! Thanks for dropping by to comment, Annie! 🙂


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