I have wanted to title this as “The Start of PSLE Preparations From The Laid-Back Mum”. But I am not exactly so laid-back anymore after my girl, Missy 12, failed her Math in P3. I cannot label myself as laid-back since I do teach and revise with my kids one month before examinations. In comparison with most parents, I have done very minimal for my kids’ academic. There is one thing I have stick to my guns and am crossing my fingers that I am doing a right thing, is to insist on not sending my kids to tuition.
This year, Missy 12 is taking PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examinations), her first National Examination at a tender age of 12. I am not going to lament why the need for PSLE and why can’t kids just move on to Secondary school without going through such major stress. This post is about how we are going to revise for PSLE on our own, free of external tuition.
If there are tuition centres for parents to teach techniques in answering English Comprehension Cloze, Comprehension, Science open-ended questions, Chinese Comprehension and Composition tips, you bet, I will sign up for it. I will gladly use my time to learn and go back to teach Missy 12, so as to save her time. Perhaps I am unaware of any. So please let me know if you know of one ok?
I must admit that tuition centres or private tuition teachers have bags of tricks and techniques to teach students on how to answer questions. That is the major advantage of going for tuition classes. So by denying my girl to go to such sure-win classes, many have question about my sanity and label me as a stubborn bull. To speak the truth, I am scared too.
Should I stop Missy 12’s new piano classes now (she has recently asked to resume her piano class after 1.5 years of break) when everyone is doing the opposite by taking a year break from any kind of enrichment classes? Should I invest $100+ per lesson to give her a booster in English? Should I ignore her tiredness from 3 times a week of intensive Volleyball training and insist she go to 1.5 hours of tuition multiply by 2 or 3 subjects every week plus 1 hour travelling time back and forth? Or perhaps others may ask why is she still playing sports and going for NAFA art classes during this crucial year?
There are various reasons why I do not send her to tuition classes and why she is still continuing enrichment classes.
FATIGUE PREVENTS OPTIMAL LEARNING
Firstly, she has never attended a single tuition class and forcing her to do it now may backfire her learning interest. If she cannot catch what is taught in class, she may not catch it in another tuition class. Switching off when one has lost interest and simply too tired could happen to anyone. Besides travelling on the road to and fro tuition will deplete all her energy and attention needed in the class.
TRUST IN SCHOOL TEACHERS
Secondly, I believe our MOE-trained school teachers are very qualified to teach the students good enough to do well in PSLE. If not, shouldn’t we send our kids to tuition classes instead and skip school entirely?
STRIKING A BALANCE
Thirdly, I believe in BALANCE. I want my girl to be happy and learn holistically. I worry about her stress levels this year.
On the first day of school, her form teacher wrote down the test and exam schedule from Jan to Sep. I can feel that the teachers have started to emphasize to the students on how critical this year is, and have no reservations in instilling the awareness and stress in them. I am not so sure if Missy 12 feels the stress, but I took a picture of what she jotted down on this schedule and I couldn’t take my eyes off the snapshot of the schedule the next day. I am determined to “wake up” from my laid-back self and do my best to ensure she does reasonably well. It will still be only Mom Tuition and no external tuition. At the same time, I am also determined to balance her stress and ensure she still has a life. So, her piano and art classes and volleyball practices are forms of de-stress in my opinion and should not stop. I will respect her if, at any point of time, she thinks she wants to stop any of them. So far, she has not raised a flag.
Ever since I saw the Jan to Sep exam schedule, I have gone to the Popular bookstore to buy more assessment books. I had chanced upon a parent who taught an unorthodox method to improve English in a short time. I had talked to several mums whose kids have been through PSLE. I have talked to teacher friends. Finally I discussed all my findings and thoughts with Kel.
We came out with a timetable for revision. We worked out how to settle the other 2 kids when I am teaching my girl. We put up a revision plan and teaching method for English, the weakest subject. I shall share details on how we go about revising in another post.
Each weeknight, we will have 30 minutes revision time for English. You may think it is very short. However, I am a working mum. Night time is short and precious. Energy is low, attention span is short. My girl returns late on 4 weekdays in a week from school’s commitment. She will need time to rest and do her homework. She may have questions that need my help to teach her too. Some time has to be catered to that.
Every weekend, we will have 2 parts of revision according to our weekend schedule. First part will be an hour’s revision and second part will be an hour and a half. Saturday will be focusing on Math and Sunday will be on Science.
That leaves Chinese out of the whole revision plan. Chinese is our kids’ strongest subject and it really helps to free up time for the rest of the subjects. It is hard to achieve bilingual excellence. While Chinese is their strongest subject, naturally, English becomes the weaker one. The reason why Chinese is a stronger subject is because we are a Chinese speaking family and my kids watch Channel 8 drama serials, listen to Chinese radio station and Chinese songs. Even though they do not have too much problem with Chinese, they still need to brush up compositions and get the right technique to answering Chinese Comprehension questions.
CHANGE OF ROUTINES TO PREP PSLE
Some routines will have to change a bit.
This is a really difficult routine to change. Perhaps with one child, I may be able to enforce this with breeze since there are no toddler who runs in and out of the room before bed and no sibling to chat and giggle with long after lights out. I told Missy 12 that a simple way to help her do well in academic is to sleep early, as simple as that. A clear mind is like an empty sponge. It absorbs knowledge faster and allows one to think better. We are trying to have a lights out by 930pm.
No night TV
The kids love to watch the Chinese Drama serial at 9pm to 10pm. This will have to stop. I do allow them to have an hour of TV time in the day time once they have finished their homework.
Less weekend activities
This year, we may have to cut down on our weekend activities for the sake of Missy 12’s critical year. She has lots of homework from Friday school and has started to ask for more time to do homework. The first time she asked for homework time, I was slightly taken aback. The kids are growing up and school work is mounting. I have since cut down on blog events and ensure homework is done before we bring them out. Nevertheless, I will balance revision time with play. Moderating stress is my priority too.
So what do the other 2 kids do when I am revising with my Missy 12? I have decided to task Master 10 to play with Master 5. It works sometimes and it poses great challenges on other times. Master 5 yearns for attention after not seeing me for the whole day. I have even thought of the convenient way of giving the ipad so that he can quietly watch some YouTube videos and I can have some peaceful serious revision time. If you have good ideas on how to handle the other kids, do help me on this too!
To prepare for PSLE which is taking place in September, I will most likely take up lesser blog commitment and cut down on my girl night dates. It is indeed a family examination since everyone in the house has to change routine and adjust in one way or another to give moral support. I will be blogging more on PSLE preparation and my experience on it as we go along. I hope our revision plan works and who knows, I may really send my girl to intensive tuition if nothing works out!
I welcome PSLE mums to drop a comment below or on facebook page to exchange ideas and advice. Thank you in advance!
Till the next PSLE post!