I was chatting with my coworker about kids. I was telling her my worries about my daughter's seemingly weak command in French compared to kids her age. She suggested that I should start speaking French and Mandarin at the sometimes with my daughter. She couldn't understand how a family can function like ours, where three languages were practiced at the same time at home.
Well, there were times that I have doubts about what we were doing.
The initial plan was that I take care of Mandarin and hubby takes care of French. One thing I didn't that into consideration was that a mother naturally interacts / handles more things with her child than a father. The outcome was that the little angel prefered to speak Mandarin than French, as she knew more vocabularies in Mandarin. We spent time together singing, reading and chatting in Mandarin. And then I wondered if I have put her in disadvantages compare to her pals at school.
1. At school while kids were singing songs that they have probably heard at home, she learned about them for the first time. Well, she did know a couple of French songs but not extensively.
2. She might not be familiar with instructions in French (while doing craft, drawing...).
3. During story telling times she might not understand much compare to her pals due to her weak vocabularies.
I suspected that these have made her behaved reservedly in classroom. While kids in her classroom started to form groups, she didn't belong to any and would usually play with boys or older kids. Her teacher used to tell me that she didn't speak much at class and sometimes didn't understand her instructions. Her after school carer told me that she was a quiet girl. I noticed that she spoke less fluently in French compared to kids her age.
And then this coworker told me: "Well, according to the National Education guideline, a kid that has finished the first year of Kindergarten should recognize 1 to 5. Does she know this?" The true is no. Yes, after one full year of school, she doesn't read 1 to 5. Another fact is that she doesn't know A to Z either. I'm restraining
myself to teach her alphabet because I don't think I pronounce them
correctly in French. I thought she would pick all these up at school. The coworker continued : "Some days I asked my daughter whether she had to work a lot at school, she told me no they were playing all days. The fact is, she was learning a lot but she thought it was games. They have a talented teacher who knows how to make learning fun, we are very lucky." I hope Aelig will meet a similar teacher, her current one has 33 kids to take care of, not sure if she could handle it.
At that point, I had all these questions to myself:
Should I change the method and start conversing with her in Mandarin and French?
Should I start teaching her writing and reading, even in Mandarin, even though kids here do these formally the first year they are in primary school?
In fact, kids in Malaysia start reading and writing since they enter
kindergarten. They have dictations and small tests. I believe kids are
capable of doing these before they turn 6. But I do ask myself what the
rush? She still have a lot of time to learn. I started learning writing
and reading when I was 7.
Before making any decisions, I decided to talk to her teachers. To my relief, her second year teacher thinks that she speaks well and blend in without problem with her classmates. Her after-school carer (the same one from last year) told me that she has improved a lot in term of expressions. And she eats well in the canteen. What a great news!
Now, we will continue the three languages practice at home (she doesn't speak English, she just tries to imitate us sometimes). And, I want to make learning a fun game for her. No pressure, she learns it at her own pace.