My kids go to a IB through-train school. Most of their local school friends envy them of not having much homework and exams. It is true that they have a great childhood by having IB PYP which focuses on nurturing children’s love for reading, interest for learning and free exploration. However, life is not going to be the same for MYP as there are more academic requirements from each subject.
Personally, I am pleased that they can go through such a learning approach which is in line with children’s mental development. Kids can enjoy a happy learning life at primary years while they are still developing their conceptual brain. As soon as they're entering the teen years, they are ready to take up a more challenging MYP curriculum. As Daniel Siegel pointed out, “Adolescent period of life is in reality the one with the most power for courage and creativity” (“Brainstorm– the power and purpose of the teenage brain”) He stressed that adolescent is not a period to endure, but it is a critical phase for teens to thrive if parents know how to harness the capacities during this important period. Transitioning to secondary school is a golden opportunity for parents to begin shifting our role and prepare to support our children for the spring of their courage and purpose.
My daughter is currently in Year 7. Earlier this month, I volunteered with another parent to share with Year 5 parents on how we supported our children during their transition to Year 6. The school ran a PYP programme from Year 1 – Year 5, year 6-12 adopt MYP and DP programme. A series of workshops were held for Year 5 parents to get prepared for the transition. Compared to local schools, students here are a year earlier to move to secondary section, it is great for parents to get ready earlier. So how parents can support their children?
Change in School Life
“Self-management skills are key once the kids move to MYP. No more fix classroom with two homeroom teachers. Different subjects are taught by different teachers. Students are expected to manage their own time-table every day by going to respective subject teacher’s classroom. They need to take good care of their own lockers and arrange own lunch (no more pre-ordered lunch), and go to their own school buses No more weekly homework grid, your kids got to check their homework and assessment deadlines by visiting each teacher’s weebly sites,” we shared.
“Self-control on the use of digital device is another concern. Kids need to bring along their own MacBook to school every day. Most parents will also buy kids smart phones for easy reach. All of a sudden, kids are having very easy access to digital gadgets and it is a huge challenge for preteens to control their own screen-time. Although the school will run a series of digital citizenship campaign on “Dos” and “Don’ts” in the digital world, parents should make thorough agreements with your kids on the use of screen time and proper online behavior. Even adults can’t live without our phones, you can imagine how hard for kids to resist? Don’t be upset if they are snap-chatting with their friends all day long.
“Another huge difference is assessment. There is no formal assessment in PYP with final scores. In MYP, each subject has assessment based on four criteria. It is not assessed by a single examination but rather assessed fully from each assignment, presentation, group projects, quizzes and even general class attendance and attitude. Even the student excels at a written exam, he can’t get a perfect score if he is not working well with other kids or not showing good learning attitude in class.
The above picture shows my daughter’s first term score in “Individual & Society”, she got “6” in Criteria A & D, but “7” in criteria B and C, and the final score is “6” (“8” is the highest). Obviously, she realized that she is doing fine in information gathering and assignments but still need to work hard in grasping the subject matter and critical thinking. This assessment approach allows kids to reflect on individual strength and weakness, instead of purely comparing on a numeric score.”
We all agree that in Year 6, kids are given lots of freedom and responsibilities at the same time. We can’t expect them to cope with it all at once. For parents, we don’t need to be over anxious or simply let them have their own way. The best approach is to make good use Year 6 in helping them to adjust and grow, to be their cheerleader and coach alongside. Let them learn their own necessary lessons through trial and errors. Like many mums, I tried my best to attend parent workshops run by the school in Year 6 to understand each subject’s criteria and curriculum, visit the teachers’ weebly sites to understand the teaching content. However, we tried not to interrupt and let the kids handle by themselves.
Last year, my daughter told me in tears late at 11pm that she missed doing an assignment for “Design & Technology” and it was too late. I asked her what options she could made. Finally, she decided to send an email to explain to the teacher and in the end the teacher allowed her to submit later. Preteens brain for planning is still immature, therefore time management is a big challenge. My daughter used to estimate that she could finish an assignment in two hours but turned out she spent the entire day. Don’t be panic, just take it easy. Tips is not to plan a packed weekend or a full vacation during term break.
We don’t sit with them in doing homework because there is simply no point. Lots of subject require reflective and analytical writing instead of memorizing a model answer. Whenever I saw her work until late at night, or had fights with friends on group projects, I simply said,
‘Mummy is available when you need help. Are there any support you need from me?” Maybe she needed a hug or just your presence, or one or two suggestions to rephrase her article. I respect her as a growing young adult who is ready to take on life’s challenges. I am not worried she can’t get full score in every subject, rather I am scared she needs my push to make every move. At the end of Year 6, she achieved a fair score through all these trials and errors. I am delighted that her little young mind is starting to build the sense of accountability and motivation for learning.
After a year’s transition, when she moved to Year 7, I can see my little girl thrived and her brain seems “click” all of a sudden. She handled all her work very well. I realized I haven’t paid any visit to the teachers’ weebly sites this year and had no idea when she’s having an assessment. She is fully accountable for her own studies. She will ask me to wake her up earlier to print an assignment. Without any private or external tuition, my jaw dropped when she managed to attain an above-average score in year 7 and full score in 4 subjects. I truly see how teens can thrive naturally if we give them sufficient love and support. Part of the reason is also because she is a girl. Girls are much more mature than boys at this age. I still have a son at Year 4 and I can’t imagine when he can have real “click”. Another mum with a boy at Year 10 nodded knowingly, “My son just told me that he got to be real serious this year,” (“On RaisingBoys” )
So no worries! “Building a good habit since young for self accountability, maintaining a close relationship with your children, and start to change your role at this transitional period are all crucial in getting prepared to MYP,” concluded the vice principal.
“If we want the opportunity to mentor, guide, and support our teenage children through this phase of their lives, we must alter – not abandon – our parenting style. We must become parent-coaches.” Diana Sterling, Author of “The Parent As Coach Approach –The SevenWays to Coach Your Teen in the game of life” and early advocate of “Parent As Coach”.
I believe each kid is able to thrive and live out his own purpose of life if we can offer them a secure and loving environment from birth and letting go as they enter each new phase of life.
Being hand-trained by Diana Sterling, I’ve started to share her “parent as coach approach” to parents in Hong Kong, you can reach me for more details if interested in “Loving the Teen Years!!!!” small group parenting program.
一對子女就讀IB一條龍學校，許多朋友仔都羨慕他們沒有功課和考試的輕鬆學習生活。誠然，IB的PYP小學課程是挺開心的， 著重培養孩子對閱讀、自由學習探索的興趣 。但一踏入中學的MYP課程，就完全不是那回事，開始有各個科目的考核和要求，功課也繁重。
這種由鬆入緊的學習模式，個人認為是附合孩子的心智成長，給孩子一個愉快學習的小學階段， 到踏入青春期才進入要求較嚴格的中學階段，讓他們慢慢發揮潛藏的學習動力。正如腦神經專家Daniel Siegel 也表示：「青少年期事實上最富於勇氣及創造的動力」， 他也指出青春期並不是許多人所道是「捱過去的」，反而是另一個黃金發展期，父母如果能夠懂得好好支持子女過渡這充滿無限可能的階段，足以協助青少年挖掘潛藏於心智裡的力量與目標。（參考書籍《青春，一場腦內旋風》及英文版 “Brainstorm – the power and purpose of the teenage brain”) ，升中就是一個大好機會讓家長去學習轉換角色，支持踏入青春期的孩子活出自我。
女兒現就讀Year 7，我月初出任家長義工，與另一位家長 以過來人身份，到學校跟現就讀小學Year5的家長分享我們如何協助孩子由PYP過度至大不同的MYP課程。小學部的PYP課程共五年（Year 1- Year 5)，中學為七年(year 6-12) 包括MYP及DP課程。 學校為來年即將升上中學部的 家長安排一連串的講座，讓他們清楚了解MYP課程及學習上的改變， 這家學校的學生比本地學校的學生是提早了一年升中，因此更加需要早點作好準備。 父母該如何支持呢？
對電子用品的使用及自我控制能力也要注意。一到year 6 每位學生都要購置MacBook, 每天攜帶上課，再加上為方便聯絡，大家都會給子女出手提電話。一下子就擁有多部電子產品，對這年紀孩子的自制能力是一大挑戰。學校雖然會配合推行關電子公民(digital citizenship)的活動，給學生認識使用電子用品的Dos及Don’ts, 但家長在給電話孩子前也要與他們約法三章，因為連我們大人也機不離手，何況是一名十一、二歳的孩子?
另外，小學沒有考試，但升中後每科都會有Assessment, 而分數並 非是一試定生死，而是根據每一科目所定的四大標準（Criteria）去評核，再加上平日的功課、上課態度、小組Project及大小測驗才得到一個學期總分。因此孩子所有的功課都是會被360度評估，所以就算考試答對所有問題，但在學習態度或與其他同學合作上 出問題，也會被扣減分數。
例如上圖女兒在「個人與社會」這一科之Criteria A 及D 得 6分，而B、C則得7分，最後總分是6分 （最高8分），讓女兒了解到雖然她做的資料搜集及 功課都可以，但她在知識的掌握及批判思考方面則較遜色，這種方式的考核讓孩子充分了解自己的強弱項，也不會只用分數跟人比較。」
我們均認同孩子升上中學後，突然多了很多自由和責任，他們一下子是應付不了的， 做家長的也不用太過緊張，或一下子全然放手，最好是利用year 6這一年時間讓孩子慢慢摸索和適應，我們從旁支持，讓他們從錯誤中學習成長。我和另一位媽媽的做法很一致，在Year 6時多去學校參加給家長的workshop, 明白課程要求，並去每科老師的網頁，或出席家長會了解一下教學內容及要求，但儘量不干涉，在旁讓孩子自己處理安排。
我們也從來不會伴在他們身邊教功課，其實許多科目都要求撰寫反思或分析，不是強記死背，所以小學階段在寫作及閱讀上的準備現可派上用場。有時看見她做到晚上十一、二時，或跟同學的Group Project有爭執，我也只說：「媽咪響度，有咩可以支持您？」她熬夜，我在旁看書，給她一個擁抱；她想不通如何組織句子，給她一兩個建議，只是如此，我不擔心她拿不到科科八分，反而擔心我要每天要催促她做功課。結果year6在跌跌碰碰中, 女兒也拿到中等的成績，我已老懷安慰了。
經過一年的適應和Trial & Error，女兒升上year 7突然開竅了，可以全面自動波，有條不紊安排作業，這一年我已不用去瀏覽任何老師的功課網頁，連她甚麼時候要考試也不大清楚。她能夠自行應付學習要求，而且沒有上任何校外補習班，首學期的成績也達中上 ，印證了我們自小給她的支持和灌輸的態度是正確的， 她也慢慢自己發揮出學習的動力和自我負責的能力，這也是我和老公最樂於看見的。不過女孩子是較早熟，我還有一名就讀四年級的兒子，我已經可以想像他開竅的時間不會那麼早。另一位有兒子就讀year 10的家長也笑嘆：「我個仔都係今年先開始認真。」《參考： "On RaisingBoys")
全球教練式父母發起人兼著有 “The Parent As Coach Approach –The SevenWays to Coach Your Teen in the game of life” 《愛，聽得見──教練式父母方法》一書的作者Diana Sterling 也指出：「如果我們希望有機會在孩子的青春期去教導、指引和支持他們，我們必須轉變──不是放棄──我們的風格，我們必須成為教練式父母。」
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