#3 is taking her PSLE this year. Her grades have a lot of room for improvement, as she scored mostly Cs. However, we are all very excited as she has proven (for English) that with the right teacher or tutor, she is able to jump from a C to an A. So this is our game plan to tackle her PSLE.
1) Set a Goal
The first step is for her to have a goal which she sets herself, not mummy. This will ensure that she wants to achieve it as it means something to her. Her goal is to be able to get into #2’s secondary school, and she will have to work very hard to achieve the necessary grades for admission.
|Another one doing her PSLE|
2) Engage a tutor if necessary
We have started her on English and Chinese tuition since the middle of P5 as these are her 2 weakest subjects (every year, she barely manages to scrape a pass for both). For Science, she has a teacher who is new to this school, but she has a track record of getting 34 of her students to achieve A* for Science last year! After hearing from #3 how strict she is, I like the sound of this teacher, and I think #3 is in good hands. However, I will still monitor her progress and hire a tutor if need be. #1 has decided to tutor her for Math, so we’ll see how that goes. She may need a tutor down the road if #1 gets too busy with her own ‘O’ level revisions.
3) Early bedtime
We’ll try to stick to a 8.30pm bedtime on weekdays unless there’s way too much homework to be completed that day. Might not be feasible though. Today, she came home with a ton of homework, and it’s just the 1st week of school! For English, she has to read 10 compositions, complete 1 composition by the weekend, learn her spelling list of 106 words, and do some grammar worksheets. She also has Science and Chinese homework. I believe sufficient sleep is vital for her to be alert to learn well in school the next day. I guess she has to learn to work smart and work fast!
4) Destress & decompress
During the P6 year, the students are pushed to work very hard in school and are swarmed with homework. She will need time to de-stress everyday and I think for her, that is best done by playing with Kate!
5) Family activities
This year, we will still carry on with our family activities as per normal even with 2 kids taking major exams. I have heard of families where the kids in their PSLE year are not allowed to go out once the Chinese new year festivities are over. Well, I think the kids do need a break and even I would go crazy being kept at home for a year! Besides, the message I want to get across to them is that yes, academic achievement is very important, but not at the expense of family life. We’ll just have to strive to achieve some sort of balance.
6) Communicate, communicate, communicate.
I will take every opportunity to communicate with her teachers. We need to have a balance between school and home. 2 years ago, when #2 was taking her PSLE, she hardly had any homework at all. Finally, when I spoke to her teacher, I realised that they didn’t want to stress the students further as the parents were already going overboard with tuition and home assessments, and the teachers were afraid that the students would break under the tremendous pressure. There was a boy in her class who scored 100 for every Math exam. He revealed to the class that his mum makes him do 6 hours of Math work everyday! For us, we were relying only on school as #2 did not have any tuition at all, so in the end her teacher gave her some individual homework.
I will also be communicating with her tutors constantly to see if their approach is working and if we are seeing improvement. And I have to be the bridge between her school teachers and her tutors so they would know how to supplement the knowledge needed.
And finally, I have to communicate with #3 even more frequently to know what is going on in school, if she is feeling the stress, and if there are any other issues bothering her. If I take all these little steps, the PSLE year can actually be quite an adventure where she will learn how to work hard, but where the journey will still be enjoyable.
Sane tip: I noticed how a lot of parents go into overdrive in the P6 year. All the kids do is to go for tuition, do endless assessment books, and they are not allowed to play. This makes the kids detest exams which is not how I want them to feel about education. So after having 2 kids go through the PSLE, I have come up with this simple strategy which hopefully will bear much fruit!
Save tip: I have heard of many tuition teachers who can ‘guarantee’ good results, and their fees are exorbitant. Their methods are through drilling and I’m glad I don’t feel the need to sign my kids up for one of those as I believe learning is for the acquisition of knowledge, not just to pass a bunch of exams.
For what I expect out of a good tutor, click here.