In the past, I have heard people telling me that Std 1 is the "honeymoon" year and things get really tough in Std 3 in a Chinese School when there is a big jump or change. I didn't know what to think of that although it did give me the shivers. :P
Now, I have a Std 1 and a Std 3 in a Chinese School so I can make direct comparison. After the first week of school, it appears that they may be right.
My girl who is in Std 3 is now lugging her bag which weighs like a brick around the school. Daily homework has started. Yesterday she came home and told me that for Chinese she will have "Little Test" twice a week and "Chinese Spelling" once a week. When test is near she shall have "Little Test" everyday! She will also need to start staying back in school for compulsory extra activities. At Std 3 she is still exempted from extra compulsory extra tuition but later on she will have to attend those as well.
Her Chinese language studies is really hard now. She will now not only need to know words and compound words but she will need to understand its usage, ie when is it appropriate to use certain words. Chinese language is so intricate and varied it is hard for me to understand the usage. I do not know any Chinese but I was able to teach her by reading her books beforehand in Std 1 and Std 2 but I am finding it harder and harder to teach her now as she is better than me now in the language with daily practise.
Her Maths is getting tougher now too. Some questions really test the ability of the student to think hard and analyse. It is not straightforward like before. As for Bahasa Malaysia, I think she will have to write Karangan and that is tough.
As for my Std 1 boy, he is still colouring pictures in school, singing songs, and doing other fun things. He has no time table yet and no books. Everyday, he brings a lightweight bag with just his tumbler, pencil box and colouring pencils.
There are two terms each year. The kids sit for tests during mid-term and end of the term for both the terms. If not for the Linus test in March, he will not have any tests at all till End of May. Std 1 kids are exempted from the first before mid-term break test so they will sit for 3 tests instead of 4 during the year compared to their older peers.
So, now in the 2nd week of school, my Std 1 boy is enjoying school blissfully unaware of what is to come whereas his Std 3 sister is in the full swing of things now. It will get worse soon when she has to start preparing for tests in early March which is not that far away after all. It is 3 weeks to Chinese New Year. The kids will have fun for a week and when they get back to school, well, that is when the pressure will speed up.
Speaking about pressure, on Sunday evening I was at the mall when I overheard a little girl grumbling to her mother "Come on mummy, hurry, I haven't done my homework and I am hungry!" She looked about 10 or 11. It is only the first week of school and she is worried about homework. That is the kind of pressure our kids face these days.