When #2 took her O levels last year, I knew it was a whole different ball game from preparing for the PSLE.
In 4 short years, they morph from caterpillars into butterflies. Beautiful individually formed strong characters, ready to flap their wings and fly.
But, along with the development of their unique and bold patterns, there are 3 areas we as parents have to come to terms with:
– They are no longer little children whom you can dictate to, and expect pure obedience (could we ever?!).
– Their phones are like an extension of their hand, which can’t be forcefully extracted from them lest I am keen on igniting a war of wills. It can be used positively, or become a huge distraction.
– They have a life (with the prom being a few days away from the last paper not helping things at all) and their friends have a far greater sway than before.
I learned that it was futile to nag and scold, and I left her to figure out her own exam strategy. Instead, I watched from the sidelines and support and guide where necessary.
I made it a point to turn up for all her parent-teacher meetings, and was so heartened to see that her teachers were genuinely concerned for her. She was a child with a lot of potential, but she was very clearly an Arts student who loved her Literature and English subjects, but struggled with the Science subjects.
Her poor Chemistry teacher found it so hard to motivate her and even encouraged her to turn the boring formulas into songs and allowed her to bring her guitar to school to sing. When she received her results, she told me: “Mum, she was the only teacher who never gave up on me.”
She devised this simple but effective strategy in the months leading up to the O levels.
She painstakingly wrote out every chapter of every subject on individual bits of paper, numbered and colour-coded them.
Once she had finished revising a chapter, she would move that piece of paper to the other side of the wall.
With this system, she demolished the chapters systematically. The brilliance lay in its visual cue, where you can see the number of chapters per subject left very clearly.
It was also highly motivating to see the bare side of the wall starting to fill up!
She was excited to take up the challenge of this crucial year and after the exams, she said, “It was actually quite fun to set my goals and study so hard.” And her great achievement was sweet reward indeed.
I am pleased that my efforts over the past 15 years of guiding them to be independent learners have finally borne fruit.
And that I was able to give them a carefree childhood where tuition and assessment books are not a normal part of their lives, yet they have emerged to be driven and motivated teenagers.
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