Back in Ipoh, Perak, where I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, the school system was based on the Kurikulum Baru Sekolah Rendah (KBSR) and Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah (KBSM) system.
Now living in Perth, Western Australia, and as a parent of two, my children are obviously not going through the same system.
We always assume the grass is greener on the other side and the ‘Australian’ education must be better, right? Well, maybe …
This column is not about comparing the education systems but how migrants need to adapt to a ‘foreign’ public school system without a clue of how it works.
For starters, unlike the morning and afternoon sessions back home, there is only one session and school is divided into four semesters with long summer breaks.
Kids in Western Australia enter the education system at age three when they attend school one day a week. This is optional.
Next comes kindergarten where they attend five days a fortnight – alternated between three days (first week) and two days (second week).
This is to prepare them for a five-day week. I have one child in Year 1 (age six) and the other in kindergarten (age four).
Although kindergarten is fun, a child would need to achieve basic counting and grasping certain letters of the alphabet each term.
It is the same for my daughter, who needs to understand the concepts of money and change, basic Aussie rules football kicking and how to plant a seed among others.
Between the two years, there is pre-primary where they are taught how to write short stories and learn about the solar system.
The curriculum differs from other states in the country.
Compared to the homework or repetitive workbooks and constant practice of writing I had to do, this schooling system has a focus on teaching kids how to use logic and adapt to a certain way of life.
After-school tuition is not common but you will see more Asian students enrolling in these ‘additional classes’ though it is much less popular compared to sports or dance practice.
The emphasis on a child’s physical development through sports or dance is a priority for most Australian families.
As a Malaysian living abroad, I have re-connected with my Asian side especially my ‘kiasu’ trait and get our kids to do some Malaysian or Singaporean workbooks.
We feel the system is not adequate, but the Australian way which seems to have some gaps is best consumed as is.
Bright minds emerge early and it encourages children to develop interest or career choice much earlier in life.
In my youth, I had the UPSR, PMR and SPM examinations to worry about.
It is only after you had gone through these hurdles that you picked a path of your choice.
Nevertheless, it is tough not to intervene and make comparisons.
Sometimes I wonder how other Malaysians in other Australian cities or even in the UK and the US help or advise their kids.
In countries such as France and Japan, you have almost no control of the education system if you don’t know the language.
Maybe all that you can do is just support your child no matter what and let them find their way through life.
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.