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Thinking of enrolling your child into a SJKC? 8 Parental tips for a more gratifying experience

by on 27/07/2022 713

Of late, there has been a massive influx of non-Chinese students being enrolled into Chinese schools all over the country. While some parents find that the quality of education in these vernacular schools to be superior in comparison to national schools, others are convinced that being proficient in Mandarin is the key to future success for their children, hence the choice of SJKC. Whatever your reason may be, if you are a parent thinking of enrolling your child into a Chinese school, we hope the following information will help as your family embarks on this new, exciting yet unfamiliar journey.

Image: Aswadi Alias via New Straits Times

Tip 1. An early start

It’s no secret that the first six years of life, also known as the critical learning years, is when a child’s brain undergoes the most rapid learning process. Hence, the earlier your child heads off to a Chinese school (or kindergarten/preschool), the better. As a matter of fact, most Chinese primary schools do not accept candidates with zero Mandarin knowledge. A child has to have acquired some form of preschool Mandarin education before being considered for entry. Ideally, a child should receive at least two years of preschool Mandarin education before being enrolled into a Chinese school for Primary Year 1. That also ensures adequate exposure to the Mandarin language, making learning in primary school more manageable.

Tip 2: The school’s environment matters

When scouting for a Chinese school to enroll your child in, it would be wise to try and gauge your child’s compatibility with the environment of the school you are checking out. Experienced teachers and good reputation aside, the school’s general atmosphere should not overwhelm your child or cause undue anxiousness.

Food and drinks

If you are a Muslim parent, you might want to find out if the food served at the school is Halal or otherwise. While many Chinese schools do serve Halal food at their canteen or cafeteria, it is still not uncommon for children to bring their own meals from home. It’s always best to be adequately informed on this matter before you enroll your child into the school.

Tip 3. Encourage your child to speak and communicate with others in Mandarin

Practice makes perfect – This is always worth a thought when your child is mastering a new language as well as when they’re using it in school, or when conversing with others out of school! Remind your child of this while encouraging him or her to use Mandarin whenever possible. Mandarin-speaking people generally take well to non-chinese speaking the language, and would likely be supportive towards their efforts, especially in the case of young learners.

Tip 4: Join a support group with other parents like yourself

Many parents of children who attend Chinese schools, (including Chinese parents themselves!) find that being part of a support group helps to keep them well-informed and motivated, for there is a general feeling of not being alone. There are bound to be other parents in there who are facing similar challenges as you, whatever your issues are, including your child’s homework load! Open up, ask, discuss – you need not go through any issues alone when it comes to the challenges of having your child study in a Chinese school.

Tip 5: Enroll your child into a good tuition centre. Here’s why:

We hope you realise by now that Chinese schools are generally synonymous with heavy homework loads. While the syllabus is extraordinarily good, the extra load of homework happens to be essential for your child’s learning outcome. A good tuition centre, one which offers help with Mandarin homework, will prove indispensable, and will lend a sense of added confidence for your child too. This same advice applies if you have to place your child in a daycare or after-school care centre – ensure that (Mandarin) homework help can be offered as one of their services.

If your child is falling behind in certain school subjects or having problems with his/her homework, look no further than these after-school care or tuition centres!

Tip 6: Build good parent-teacher relationship

Not that we’re asking you to pester your child’s teacher every single day, but it would be great for your own peace of mind if you could confidently and comfortably inquire about your child’s progress every now and then. A good social-cum-working relationship with your child’s teacher will prove indispensable for this purpose and more.

Image: Bernama via Channel News Asia

Tip 7: Learn with your child to help him/her

If you think the homework from a national school seems like a lot, do prepare yourself from the load coming your child’s way if they are to study in a Chinese school. Like children in any other school, they will need your help with much of their homework, if not all. It would be in your own favour to know what you’re helping them with. Hence, you are encouraged to learn along with your child. You can also get them to carefully relate everything they have learned to you.

Tip 8: Make room for healthy competition

We’ve all heard of why we should never compare our kids with others, but that does not mean that children shouldn’t be competitive. It is actually healthy for your child to have an average sense of competition when trying to achieve his or her best in school, and in the case of non-Chinese children in Chinese schools, it will prove fruitful in pushing themselves to attain better results. After all, children naturally like to be as good, if not the best, in their class!

We hope the pointers above will be helpful for non-Chinese parents who intend to place their children into a Chinese school. All the best!