A tale of two brothers

T is facing a host of problems in school. We’ve heard from the teachers, who are the very patient sort, about a spate of aggressive behaviour towards the younger children in school (mainly pushing, but also one incident of biting). He did not display repentance  when he was punished. He is unable to concentrate as well as he should in class. Sometime in April, the school intervened by segregating him during communal playing time. Between 4.30pm – 5.00pm each day, he would sit in an empty class and fix puzzles from home … all so that he does not get any chance to go near the younger children. In the past two weeks, his behaviour has seen a slight improvement and I’ve noticed that he has started joining communal activities again. Nonetheless, the school administrator has been continuously bugging me to bring him for a medical assessment as she’s thinking along the lines of autism and ADHD. If you recall, I blogged last year about receiving complaints about K in his old school, and my reluctance in slapping a label on my children at such a young age lest the labels constrain them or worse, becomes an easy excuse whenever they need a way out. So I modified my routine at home with K and with a lot of encouragement from his school, K has improved markedly in his school performance. In fact, I received a glowing review for K at today’s parent teacher meeting.

Unfortunately in T’s case, I cannot adopt the same wait-for-him-to-naturally-outgrow attitude, especially if the bad behaviourial traits affects other children. So although I am still of two minds about the assessment, I might eventually have no choice but to bring him for one if he his pushing gets worse or if he bites someone else again in school.

It’s ironic that when it comes to school, T has so many problems but he’s really the easier one to care for at home. He ate well and slept well as an infant. He was toilet trained so much earlier. He learns faster than K (takes about 1-2 repetitions to retain information, whereas K needs double of that). In comparison, K is the whinier one at home, the more demanding one at home, the ruder one at home, the more impatient one at home, the more competitive one at home, etc. I also considered the possibility that T learnt all the bad behaviourial traits from his brother at home, but unlike his brother who knows that being rude/violent is socially not acceptable in school, T does not know the same. In any case, we have been asking K to be really conscious in cutting down his aggressive behaviour (down to his tone of voice when speaking to his brother) at the same time as we are rehabilitating T about what’s right, what’s wrong and what’s expected of him in school.

If T has a saving grace in school, it’s his attitude towards and aptitude in Chinese. He loves Chinese to bits. He is quite close to his Chinese teacher and he comes home singing Chinese songs and reciting Chinese phrases. For our Chinese education at home, we started off with learning the names of animals in Chinese, transited to books with names of common objects in Chinese, then to books explaining how Chinese characters can be learned through simple hieroglyphics. K’s interest stopped there, but T went over and over these books and he will rattle to himself the characters that he can recognize. I am quite sure that T can read more Chinese words than even his father! Many a times, I’ve also caught T flipping a very elementary Chinese dictionary that K uses to help him with his weekend Chinese 造句 homework (because I can’t help due to my very poor command of the language). The point is that K uses the dictionary when he has no choice and when he has to. T picks it up because its interesting to him and its something he enjoys.

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