2017年2月22日 星期三

How to help your children transit from IB PYP to MYP?

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. 



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