Before the kids went to Chinese School, I heard people saying that Std 1 is the "honeymoon year" and Std 3 is when it starts to heat up. Now I have a child in Std 1 and another in Std 3 so I can make direct comparisons. It does appeart to be so... especially more so now. This year, my boy has a new syllabus and I can see the difference. He does have less homework compared to the time when his sister was in Std 1. Even his bag load is lighter. Most days he hardly has any homework at all. The Std 1 children this year has 3 periods less in lesson hours. However, due to some logistics problems, they are kept in school... to do homework. That is why they have less homework to bring home. Most days it is just one or two pages or none.
They also have their workbooks and exercise books kept in school by their teacher. The teacher will only pass the books for them to bring home when necessary. They only bring one textbook and one activity book for each subject. That makes a whole lot of difference to their bag loads.
As for my Std 3 girl, the contrast is huge. Each day she has 7-8 homework each at least 3 pages or more. Sometimes she has 5 pages of essay to copy. She has to carry her textbook and activity book and in addition to that numerous exercise books and workbooks for each subject. One day I should take a picture of how many books there is to one subject. It can make up an entire bag of books. She also has little minor tests, spelling, ejaan and ting seah almost every other day to memorise.
On certain days, her school day starts at 7.45am and ends at 4pm with a 15 minute break for recess and a 25 minute break for lunch. This is worse than an adults 9am-5pm with a one hour lunch break working hours. Then right after she gets home from this, she can't rest, she still has to do her 7-8 homework plus study for her ting seah etc. This system makes our little ones into little robots with no time to play not to mention time to rest and eat!
So is Std 1 the "honeymoon year"? Is Std 3 the year when things start to get really heavy? Yes, I would say so. I am worried for my boy because his Std 1 this year is even more "honeymoon" as compared to his sister. In fact, his Std 1 year is much more relaxed then his kindergarden year! They syllabus this year is really easy. In Std 1 he is drawing mostly squiggly lines and alphabets big and small. His ejaan, spelling and ting seah usually has only 5 words each time. The words are very simple. In kindergarten he had to do at least 12 words and usually they are compound words so in actual fact it may be more than 20 words to learn each time. It is the same for Chinese characters, Malay or English words. They are very hard words compared to now.
Now that his Std 1 is so simple, I should be happy right? However, I know that things will change drastically later on. Will he be able to make the transition? I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.