Sunday, January 31, 2016

Meetings, Tests And An Expat Mum

Have you ever thought about the disadvantages of school children whose parents don't understand the language that well? I never really thought about it until we became one of those families. And we have the advantage of my being a teacher and that I work in the school system here.

Our parent-teacher meeting in December was a wake-up call for me on a number of levels. I know that DD's Hebrew reading is weak as she only hears, speaks and reads English at home. However, the teacher started talking about having her assessed for learning difficulties. I dismissed this as ridiculous as she can read perfectly well in English.

"Can she read a text and write answers to questions about it?" Asked the teacher. "Um no," I mumbled in reply.

So on one level I realised that we need to practise Hebrew reading at home and that homework has to be more of a learning experience than just a matter of getting it done and out of the way - which had been our attitude to it thus far.

On another level I realised that, like the proverbial cobbler whose children go barefoot, I had been neglecting DD's English skills. She is comfortable reading English on a "Frog and Toad" sort of level but she's 7 years old. If we don't step it up now she might end up with no language in which she can read extensively and express herself in writing, despite being able to speak fluently in two languages.

We started practising Hebrew reading every night as well as English reading and we invited a friend in a similar position to join us once a week for a formal English lesson. The fact that the other child comes to his English lesson with his books and his pencil every week at a set time, gives us the formal structure to do some real work which we never seemed to find time for on our own.

Then last week I was talking to another mother who happened to mention the word list for the spelling test this week. I knew that they had been having spelling tests recently. DD showed me that so far she's got 7/10, 6/13 and a momentous 1/11, which is when she decided to show me. She wasn't overly upset about it but I think she needed an ally. I had sent an email to the teacher asking if there was a word list but got no reply. Turns out they were getting a printed list of words every week but DD had no idea what it was for so she just 'lost' it somewhere.

I'm sure all this information was in an email somewhere but I tend to skim the emails for the letters ש"ב (HW - homework). The emails are in Hebrew and I'm not very good at reading the long, details about what they are learning in school. If they're teaching it I'm happy with it and I assume that my child is learning it.

So this week we made sure we had the list. The test is today. Last night DD copied the list of words out once. Then she tried writing the list under test conditions and got 9/14. So we took notice of the mistakes and tried again. This time she got 13/14. We did it one more time and got 100%. This morning before school she 'took the test' again and got 14/14 again.

I'm on shpilkes waiting to hear how she got on. I just checked her timetable on the fridge and saw that Hebrew isn't until the end of the day. Ooooof, I want it to be over already. I wanted her to get it down while she still remembered. I can hardly wait for 4.30 when I collect her from school.

LOL. If I'm like this now for a spelling test in 2nd Grade, what am I going to be like when the serious exams come round in ten years time?


8 comments:

  1. It's nice to see that once she learns the list, she can spell the words. 9/14 after just writing the words out once seems good to me. She shouldn't forget that quickly is you went over it three times. Looking forward to hearing how she did.

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    1. I'll let you know of course. And yes, I also noted that her 'problems' are to do with lack of exposure and practise rather than lack of capability.

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  2. Interesting stuff, languages are the one thing I feel I may have neglected - difficult as neither older child has showed a particular interest.

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    1. If they travel abroad when they're older they may get interested in learning another language. It's still possible to learn languages as an adult so you've not deprived them of anything for life.

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  3. And as you practice reading properly the detailed emails, your Hebrew will get better.

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    1. I can already say that my Hebrew has improved more in the last two years since DD started school than in the previous 25 years of living here. And I find that I'm not scared to try to read a letter in Hebrew and usually surprised that I actually can read it and understand it. What I can't do is skim like I can in English and that's why I often don't bother with the long missives.

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  4. I think you do an amazing job alone Rachel. Sometimes it's just a question of focus and at least you are being led by the school at this point. It's not so long ago you were thinking of raids and shelters, so perhaps now it's the right time. She'll show 'em x

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    1. Thanks, she will show em. We have improved a lot since December just by reading more and making her do most of the work herself, with guidance.

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