Kate’s antics: #2’s award ceremony

#2 managed to top her level in English and I took Kate along to the awards ceremony. The hubs was away and we decided that Kate would have the role as his stand-in anytime daddy was not around.

Guess who had a whale of a time there?

Being amused by jie jie’s friends

None of them have siblings so young and they were all squealing, “Sooo cute!”

“Up top!”

Having a snack while waiting for the ceremony to begin.

“Should I eat this or save it for later?”
It was the first time she met #2’s teacher but took to her immediately.
Bear hug
When the awards were being given out, she went and sat in the front row with the VIPs even though she has never met any of them before! 
Lil’ miss congeniality
~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

School Stories #8: Paying tutors $250 an hour to do assignments?

This article came out in yesterday’s “The New Paper”. It reported that:

“Some parents are paying up to $250 an hour for a tutor to come over to their homes. It is not for tuition lessons. Instead, it is for the tutors to do their children’s homework. For these parents, it is something that cannot be helped, they say. Their children are inundated with so much tuition, co-curricular activities and school assignments that they are struggling to cope.”

The reporter who contacted such a tuition teacher goes on to say, “If the assignments are more complex and require research, he ups the price to between $500 and $750 an hour.”

What??!!

Photo: The New Paper
I do agree with the parents that in some instances, the children have insufficient time to fit in tuition, CCAs, homework and projects and still get an adequate amount of sleep. This happened to #1 during her PSLE year. She had a copious amount of homework and even though she was an efficient worker, she ended up going to bed very late.

I told her it was important that she had proper rest and to leave her homework half completed. I wrote a note to her English teacher and explained my reasons for allowing her to do that, and that I would take responsibility for it. #1 got really stressed and told me that her teacher was very fierce and would scold the students until they cried. She refused to go to bed and in the end, I had to help her finish some of her homework.

I still remember what it was. She had to look through the dictionary and write out the meanings of the words. She picked that out for me to do because she said that her teacher does not mark it, but they had to show that it was done. Everyday they were given about 5 pages of that, on top of variables like comprehension, composition and grammar cloze. In addition, they were required to watch the News which they would be quizzed on the next day. And that was just for English.

I think for starters, what needs to be looked at are 3 simple areas to ease the homework crunch on our kids:

  1. Better coordination between subject teachers. (Some schools have a simple but excellent system whereby the daily homework is written on the board, so that all teachers for that class will be able to see how much homework has already been given out.)
  2. Students should learn to have better time management and to work more efficiently. (This is where I can see a huge variation between the kids. Some will whip out their homework between a change of lessons, and are able to do their homework very quickly. Other kids take a long time to eat their lunch, shower, and get easily distracted while doing their homework.)
  3. Something has to be done with our nation’s over-reliance on tuition. The time spent on travelling and attending extra tuition is significant, which leaves the child with insufficient time to complete school homework.

This article gives us much food for thought. Where do we draw the line between telling children that they have to finish their homework themselves, and assisting them when the amount of homework given is unrealistic? I know of many parents who get the older siblings to help out, or the parents themselves will do parts of their children’s projects.

What message are we sending our young about what is important? That only homework which would affect their academic grades are worth doing? In the article, a parent mentioned that she hired a tutor to complete superfluous assignments such as “a project on volunteerism where the students had to dissect the pros and cons of being a volunteer.”

PSLE results: Good or bad, what do you say?
6 tips to choose a secondary school that is right for your child
My teen in a neighbourhood school
PSC Scholarship? Wow
What the PSLE is really aboutWho is behind MOE

PSLE results: A test of the parents more than the child

ECHA – The mother of all awards

School Stories:

#1 – When your son gets into fights in school
#2 – My son the loan shark
#3 – So kids can’t play once they start school?

#11 – How #2 topped her level in English
#12 – DSA. Yet another initiative parents have warped
#13 – Tuition – First line of attack?
#14 – Why do exams have to be so stressful?
#15 – First day mix up!
#16 – The day I forgot to pick my son from school
#17 – No more T-score. Now what?
#18 – Tackling the new school year
#19 – She did it, without tuition.
#20 – So who’s smarter?
#21 – Why I do not coach my kids anymore.

 

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

School Stories #5: Lessons learnt from #1’s ‘O’s

The ‘O’ level exams are over. I am disappointed in #1 because she didn’t give of her best. I am also wondering if I should have done it a different way. For their PSLE I had a good strategy, but this is a whole new ball game altogether. In the short 4 years of secondary school life, the kids grow up very quickly and become more independent, more opinionated, even rebellious perhaps. I left it mostly up to her, and gave her some guidance and monitored her from arms’ length. I thought it should have been ok as she had her goals and seemed motivated to want to get into the JC of her choice, and she had her study time-table meticulously scheduled. However, she lost steam halfway and didn’t study as hard as she could have. On hindsight, these are some of the areas I should look into for the other 5 kids when it’s their turn.

Exam schedule

1) Use of gadgets
As she’s already in Sec 4, I thought I should be giving her more freedom. I did consider putting a curfew on her phone use, but she said that she texts her friends when she has questions and thus needs her phone. Her classmates also have group chats where they discuss school work and for this generation of teenagers, the phone is a major part of their lives. Something I think is detrimental, but what to do? (please enlighten me if you’ve got it all worked out). I’m sure she did spend unnecessary amounts of time using her gadgets instead of studying. Even adults find it hard to exercise self-control with regards to phone use, what more teenagers whose social lives are played out via their phones.

2) Sleep

Then there is the issue of sleep. During their PSLE, I ensure they get an adequate amount of sleep. However, in Sec 4, everything seems to go haywire. They get home late after school, and by the time they shower and have dinner, it is not unusual to sleep at midnight. In the days leading up to the exams, sometimes she studies into the wee hours of the night as she finds it more conducive then. However, her sleep pattern ends up topsy-turvy and that would have had a negative impact on her ability to concentrate.

3) Relationship issues

In my time, we’ve all seen friends breaking-up with their boyfriends/girlfriends during the crucial exams which affected their ability to study properly. Now, we are the parents having to worry. It is alarming how many secondary school kids are in relationships. Even if they are not in a relationship, the teenage years is a time when their hormones are running wild and they get easily attracted to others, which becomes a distraction. Again, I have no answer to this.

4) Prom night

I wasn’t so pleased that her prom night fell on the day right after her last paper. Being girls, they spent a lot of time stressing over getting the right dress, right shoes to match, and what to do with their hair and make-up. And she spent a considerable amount of time discussing this with her friends, surfing the net, and shopping. This distracted her from the last few days of revision. I wish the school could have spaced it out further.

I am pondering how to guide the rest of them better, and how to balance my input while giving them the trust and space to deal with it on their own. Because at 16, they are not young anymore, yet not matured enough.


What are your thoughts? Any advice?

 

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~