Students are not well prepared for school

  • By chagy5
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  • 2024-03-22
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Students are not well prepared for school

Preparing children for school and encouraging them to study are very responsible and delicate tasks. In a country with a good education system and a strong focus on children’s development, the way of educating children is done systematically with the participation of educational institutions, teachers, parents, and students all together. For instance, in Japan, there are requirements of skills and practices that a child must learn before entering elementary school. Students are required to have an understanding of traffic safety, to know home addresses, parents’ names, and mobile phone numbers, to learn to distinguish between their own and other people’s belongings, to value greetings and respect, and to express their opinions without crying or getting upset.

A woman living with her family in Japan shared how she had to teach her son 14 things to enroll in a Japanese elementary school. That covers the above skills. In addition, basic skills, such as learn how to read and write their names, take off and put on clothes without the help of others, wash face, hands and teeth properly, put away things they used in order, communicate and get along with friends and peers, play, to not have food aversion except for health and allergy reasons and conditions, and to teach how to wear their name tags. The new academic year in Japan starts in April. Meetings and conferences with parents of students who will enter the elementary school are organized six months in advance, and recommendations are given to parents on how to prepare their children for the academic year. The woman who lives in Japan also attended parent and teacher conferences twice before the start of the new school year, and in January she received recommendations and assignments with the text “14 things to learn when entering elementary school”. Then, according to the recommendation, she started teaching her son to enroll in school. Although some things are different depending on the region, Japanese schools generally have similar requirements for their applicants. The woman who shared her experience said, “Most of the things mentioned here are taught little by little from the elementary and middle grades of kindergarten, but it is believed that children should be fully mastered by the time they enter school.”

Same for Australia, children are expected to have similar skills before entering primary school. First of all, it is important for a child to be able to fully express himself or herself and communicate the same with others at any time. After learning those skills, the need for self-service is prioritized, such as the ability to maintain hygiene, eat properly, use and organize school supplies, put on and change clothes without the help of others, and be cautious of one’s belongings. A woman living and studying in Australia said, “Australians are a nation that values ​​children who have communication skills, open mindset, and have their own interests and hobbies. Therefore, it is assumed that those children entering primary school should have learned such skills. There are no strict regulations regarding this in the legal framework, but parents and educators take good care to make the child a person with the ability to express oneself and the right attitude as well as proper communication with others. In this way, it is believed that the work of elementary school teachers will be facilitated and the learning process of children will be supported more.”

The things mentioned above may seem to some people, perhaps to Mongolians, too simple, or not relevant to the learning process and teaching activities. However, this is the basis for a child’s successful learning, safety, and independent participation in social activities. Preparing a child for school life does not mean teaching them to learn letters and numbers, reading, thinking, and writing. But in order to lay the foundation for successful learning, it is necessary to prepare one’s body, physiology and psychology. No matter how capable the child is, there are other important factors, such as if he or she learned to read and write ahead of peers, if a child is not psychologically prepared, (has weak adaptability, or does not have an understanding and imagination about school) the probability of successful learning in the future decreases accordingly. Unfortunately, our country continues to leave such weak children to enter primary schools without any prior training. 

In Mongolia, only preschool education institutions and kindergarten teachers are responsible for preparing children for school. In fact, teachers, parents, and educational institutions should participate equally. However, in reality, parents do not take time to prepare their children’s physical, physiological and psychological well-being for school. They think it is more important to learn letters and numbers than learning how to hold a ball and pencil or use school supplies. Instead of teaching the ability to communicate properly and openly with others, parents pamper their children with the view of not making their children suffer from nothingness. Kindergartens, on the other hand, “bombard” young children with a lot of heavy content classes in the name of physical, language, intellectual development, socialization, emotional support, learning and adaptive skills, but they do not show the skills and habits the children truly need. There is no school or kindergarten in our country that works closely with parents and gives recommendations and directions half a year in advance before the beginning of each school year. Nowadays, it is common for busy and wealthy parents to enroll their children in paid courses and programs to prepare them for school. But they also do not teach anything that is down to earth and close to reality.

Every year, the Educational Evaluation Center conducts the “Evaluation of Readiness for School”. An expert of the Education Evaluation Center, N.Enkhtuya explained about the result of this evaluation. She said, “Kindergartens and schools conduct evaluations themselves and send the results to the center. Schools and kindergartens should not be compared, competed against each other, and considered good or bad based on such information which was made by them not others. Evaluation is done only to improve the learning process. Therefore, it is not open to the public and kept secret.” “We summarize the reports and evaluations submitted by the institutions, such as schools and kindergartens and send them to the Ministry of Education and Science, and the General Department of Education. The departments will determine further measures to take and what to do at the policy level. Details about this cannot be disclosed to third parties. If necessary, an official letter can be sent to our center and information is shared” says N.Enkhtuya. 

In 2012 and 2014, the Educational Evaluation Center had a survey that indicated about 40 percent of students from the preparatory group of kindergartens nationwide pass the school readiness test, which is very bad. As a result of this, there was criticism and discussion among the society and the public, the information related to the assessment and evaluation was kept secret under the name of “For internal use”. However, international organizations, teachers, and researchers continue to openly evaluate it. For instance, UNICEF pointed out the lack of access and quality for preschool education in Mongolia, and unequal learning opportunities for children. Moreover, there are things that hinders the adoption of necessary skills and good practices in elementary school entrants, such as one out of four or five children are not able to gain preschool education, seven out of 10 children from poor families do not go to kindergarten, and low capacity of teachers, and lack of involvement and understanding of parents. 

G.Tamir, who has been working as an elementary school teacher in the local area for seven years said, “Teachers are responsible for teaching children who are not accustomed to learning methods and educate them without any obstacles. However, kindergartens and parents have not adequately prepared children which leads teachers to teach those basic skills. It will be necessary to educate the children on at least how to hold the ball correctly, to sit in a good posture, and to participate in lessons without disturbing others. The first three to six months are like kindergarten”. Furthermore, another teacher said, “If there are five to six children in a class of 20 students who have not learned these skills, it is believed that the learning results decrease by 20 to 30 percent. But in Ulaanbaatar, there are at least 30 to 40 children in one class.” 

The teacher then continued, “It is already a challenge for primary school teachers and yet they have to act as caregivers. As soon as the new school year begins, there is crying and screaming in the hallways and classrooms of the school. It means that students have not been prepared for school and the foundation for socialization has not been laid in preschool. Also, it is no longer recommended to rush to teach children numbers and letters. After the child enters school, he or she tends to be bored to see it all again, and the interest and activeness decrease. Only in the senior (preparatory) kindergarten classes, numbers and letters are allowed to be taught in a systematic and correct manner. But recently, parents have started tutoring their children’s letters and numbers before teachers. Then, the child pretends and behaves like, “That’s not how you do it”, “My parents taught me this way”, and “I know this”. Instead of that, parents should educate them to sit properly, listen to people, and communicate politely with others.”

At the age of zero to five, the foundation of human personality, self-expression, adaptation, and ability to overcome obstacles are laid, and 85 percent of brain development is formed. Therefore, rather than teaching children many things at this age, countries focus on the skills necessary for successful learning and becoming good people. But our country has not been able to have such an accurate and correct system. It cannot be denied the fact that the learning level and skills of Mongolian students are generally poor (it can be seen from PISA ranking 2023), and the reason may have been related to the improper education system in Mongolia.