A Child’s Education

Christina Souza Ma

As a parent, we watch our child go through the many stages of life. We enjoy the moments of laughter and joy as we watch them grow and expand in every way life takes us. But the one area I find most of us question is their education. Are we teaching them enough? Is it the correct approach?

Well, I have to say that I was not one to enroll my child in all the different pre-schools, gymnastics, swimming, etc. I was especially reluctant to enroll him in school as I felt I needed the time to see how he would develop. Also, I wanted him around me as long as I could. I was fortunate to work at home and have a nanny to help out until he was five.

When he was almost five years old, I enrolled him into Montessori. I felt that it would help him begin his adjustment to full-time school in the fall. Baxter Montessori was wonderful for him. In the traditional form of Montessori, he learned to focus and spend time with other children and teachers. They had a wonderful discipline which I appreciated, although I realize many parents don’t prefer this method while the child is at this stage of life.

It was a lovely time and he blossomed greatly.

Then last fall I enrolled him in an inner city public school here in Los Angeles, mainly because of the Mandarin immersion program. I really wanted him to learn a second language fully as opposed to partially and, of course, Mandarin being the future of business and world affairs, I thought it would prove to be beneficial.

However, I was not sure what I was about to face, not having been raised here in the U.S. I was familiar with Canada, but not here. It didn’t help that I had heard many opinions and not much positive feedback.

But we took the chance – and I was quite surprised in many ways. I was very happy with his two kindergarten teachers, one for English, one for Mandarin. My child would spend 50% of his day with each. The program is what I would consider intense. The children are required to complete the LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) Cirriculm in English at 50% fewer hours than the regular kindergarten. Then the Chinese portion needs to somewhat match what they are learning in English. So the kids are doing double what a child in the regular school system would accomplish. Is it a lot? Yes it is. Interestingly enough, however, I have found that if we as parents stay out of the way and just focus on supporting the child, they will make it through.

I found it to be quite intense for both my child and myself because my child tends to take a day to process what he has learned. So the hours of homework or, should I say, of us working together, could take from two to three hours each evening. That said, he made it through the whole public school year.

For the summer, I chose to place him back into Baxter Montessori. They have a no homework policy so for him it was a treat. I had arranged Mandarin lessons three days a week while he is there so that he does not lose that flow, as I do not speak that language even though I continue to try to learn. He has been having a ball! He comes home so excited about all the science, reading, math that he learns. Watering the garden, making a salad, Egypt and mummies, Atoms and molecules! All that curiosity! What more could a parent ask for?

How, I ask myself, do I place him back to a curriculum test-based environment? A system that focuses the students on test scores. To be graded on one style of learning – memorize, test, move on. High-test scores are critical for schools to achieve acknowledgment from the public. If it is boring for the students, I cannot imagine what it is like for the teachers.

Thank goodness that the Mandarin helps to break it up a bit but honestly, who knows what will happen as they advance up in the grades. I can only hope that the teachers take it upon themselves to be creative and find the play for the children. I think if there’s anything we can all agree upon, it is that we all learn best through laughter and fun. Even as I get older, I believe this to be so true for all ages.

I would love to hear your experiences about your child’s educational journey.

Author: Christina Souza Ma

Christina has lived many lives – from professional Cosmetologist, L’Oreal’s Technical Commercial Director of South East Asia, Hair and Make-up designer behind the camera, to Actor and Body worker. Many years ago, Christina had a vision to create an entity that would

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