It all started with Missy failing her Math in P3. That really was a turning point for us in how we deal with academic expectations or rather, no expectation. I had a realisation to be more involved in my kids’ academic instead of being a laid-back mum for way too long. We re-visited basics, dealt with terrible attitude to seeing the change in Missy with a super good attitude, and then customising our unique 30 minutes revision to suit her learning style, insisted in no-tuition route, and finally improving by leaps and bounds in P6 PSLE results. This sums up our No-Tuition route for Primary School and Missy and I DID survive to tell the tale.

There is no fairy tale to tell here. No miracle too. The ingredients to succeed in the No-Tuition path are many. They require perseverance, cooperation, the right mindset, everybody’s contribution and support in one way or another. But I guess if you were to ask me what are the major ingredients, I would say there are 2. One is Missy’s good attitude towards her studies and the second, me having no expectation on Missy’s results. And I mean really NO expectation.

PRIMARY 4

Back in P4, our revision times were totally unpleasant.

Missy would roll her eyes, look elsewhere, cross her arms, and often, I would slam the table, engage in shouting matches, and we end up angry with each other. It was impossible to teach and at times, I was debating if I should even beg her to cooperate! Those times, revision was a waste of time and nothing went inside her ears.

PRIMARY 5

Perhaps it was a growing up phase, come P5, Missy started to become cooperative and our revision gradually become effective. She could absorb concepts and explanations fast. It became a breeze and joy to teach! I could not even believe it was just a few months ago that I was tearing my hair teaching her.

PRIMARY 6

Missy continued her good attitude into P6 year. In P5, we concentrated mostly on Math so that she could catch up on her Math basics. You wouldn’t believe it. At the start of P6, I realised that I neglected her English. Perhaps it was more like I accepted her borderline pass in this subject for the longest time and I don’t even know why I paid no heed to the warning bells! To be frank, I debated on whether to send her to tuition for professionals to teach her English. Even though I used to teach Adult English Course, I was not confident in bringing her up to the standard to score a better than borderline pass within just 9 months!

I discussed with the hub who gave me a very wise advice: Revise on English nightly for just 30 minutes, no more, no less.

I panicked. How can 30 minutes a night be sufficient??? We should do at least an hour! Or else, how can I bring her up to the standard within 9 months? Mind you, we are talking about basic plural, singular rules! Well, I decided to listen to the hub to keep to a short revision. On syllabus, it was kind of my forte to plan out our revision curriculum. I bought an English Grammar book. We started on basics, really basic English. We kept to 15 minutes teaching, and 15 minutes practising. Before we started, I had a pep talk with Missy. She had to cooperate for a full 30 minutes and I ensured not exceeding the 30 minutes and then we would be done. A stop watch helped to watch the time. We ended up with a super fruitful revision. Although it was only 30 minutes, she improved her English quickly. I also encouraged her to read books to complement the learning of English language.

P6 SA1 Results

Then SA1 results was released, Missy’s English results stayed the same. But some sub-papers improved and some marks were lost for other sub-papers due to carelessness. I thought maintaining results may also be an improvement on its own. It is not easy to maintain the same results if you think about how difficult it gets with every progression of the examinations. We continued to work hard through the June holidays to see if our hard work would be paid off in the Prelims. There was no drastic increase in marks, but certainly we saw improvements here and there.

Apart from English, I taught Missy Math and Science as well. I learnt along with her on Math and had to learn it fast to be able to teach her. Each time I was stuck, I looked for help from teachers and my hub. Eventually, Missy could do her Math problem sums faster than I did. It was a satisfaction to see her grasp her Math concepts fast and tackling the difficult questions by and by. She was encouraged by how she could do more and more questions correctly. She began to love Math.

For Science, I must say that going to the Marshall Cavendish Science Workshop for Parents and Students helped Missy to score from a C in SA1 to an A in her PSLE. That was an amazing improvement that neither she nor me expected! Many had feedbacked that Science paper was quite tricky. Having 2 grades jump in Science was totally Missy’s efforts! She did not need any tuition to achieve a 2 grades jump! We are soooo proud of her!

PSLE Results

Not only Science, in fact almost all her subjects had a 2 grades jump in PSLE except for her Chinese which she had a one grade jump to the maximum! Now, you should have guessed how she had fared in her SA1 and before. Yes, despite her results were not satisfactory in most parents’ eyes, her Dad and I stick to the belief that she will made it one day. We have never put any expectations on her just so that she has no pressure to shine on her own, achieves excellence out of her own efforts with no external tuition help, and we are ready to celebrate her results no matter what she will achieve. To reiterate this point, I made an arrangement to deliver a bouquet of flowers to her just 1 day before PSLE Results release day with the following message:

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As long as she tried her best with no regrets, she is our pride and joy!

Now that the PSLE Results are out, we hope she will go into her school of choice. She chose her desired school. We, as parents, went to the school open house to speak to the Principal and teachers personally just to ensure the school’s direction is aligned with our beliefs. Indeed, the Principal has a good reputation of steering the school well wherever he goes. The teachers, whom we talked to, sound passionate and it seems that this school is able to nurture Missy’s artistic talent too. The bonus is that this school is just a 10 min walk from our house and Missy will not need to waste time on travelling.

We are looking forward to our first child’s Secondary School phase. It will certainly be a brand new experience. There will be 8 or so subjects to study, many projects to work on, many leadership and holistic experiences awaiting, and new friendships to forge. Secondary School years are my best years where I find my BFF and good friends. I hope Missy will enjoy her teenage years and grow her talents in this phase. My only wish is that she enjoys her Secondary School days.

Taking The Path Less Traveled…

With this, I shall wrap up our PSLE Series learning journey here. So many readers and friends have given us support at times that we struggle to walk the path less traveled. Thank you very much!

It takes lots of courage to believe in what we did, ignoring well-meant advice to engage external tutors, ignoring some who were not optimistic about us. I admit I was scared because I seemed to deny Missy of getting professional tutoring help and I was seen to be taking a gamble on her “future” if what PSLE is all about. I put a lot of pressure on myself because I was afraid I would fail to bring her up to her rightful potential. She has the potential, it just takes time and time was not on our side.

However, I know that I am doing the right thing. Because I know Missy best, I was able to curate a revision that best suits her. I was also able to give her full attention on revision. With the insistence of no-tuition, there was much sacrifice and cooperation from many family members.  Missy’s younger brothers had to have less of me for the 9 months. I didn’t have much time for my hub too. The stubbornness in me was determined to make PSLE a less UN-enjoyable year for Missy. I guess I succeeded because Missy was never at all too stressful in preparation for her PSLE. I ensured she still have her time for play and fun. In fact, while many quit piano and CCAs for this year, Missy even resumed her piano lessons and took her first piano exam in July. She played for the school to the Nationals in volleyball in early part of the year. So kudos to Missy for being able to juggle interests and studies in this crucial year! This is exactly what I wish she will pick up to be a holistic achiever. She is really amazing!

I hope Missy’s story is able to inspire many out there. Everything is possible and it just takes some courage to do it. With a good attitude, we can move mountains 😃

This post is published with Missy’s permission which I think requires lots of courage to reveal her learning challenges that many may put them under wraps. I am happy that she allows me to write the PSLE Series and wrap up in this way too. Thank you my dear princess, I hope your story will inspire many out there and encourage others too 🙂

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