Thursday, 25 November 2021

Riding against the norm

PSLE result day. So different from the past. Parents, one from each student, was held in a holding area, while the P6-ers were in their classroom, receiving their results. We missed witnessing those expressions. Knowing the daughter's result came in tiers, the daughter first, then me (cos I went school with her), and then Daddy and bro who were waiting outside school. This is the first batch of students with scores pegged to Achievement Levels, and I hope the last batch of students having to receive their results during a pandemic. And I realised being in school with her means dealing with various parents asking, "how did it go?" Retrieving results online is actually a good consideration.

I teared! Not for despair. The daughter called me from her classroom upon receiving the results. And nope, she didn't tell me her score over the phone. I teared because her voice was so filled with happiness, joy and satisfaction. She said she was very happy. That voice of joy was so different from the usual happy days. In the record of my memory, it was one that I've never heard of, a voice filled with so much zest in happiness. Even if all else fail, we must have taught her right on emotional choice. I knew, even more assuredly at that moment, nothing else mattered as long as she is happy! At least I don't have to play any role of couselling. When we united again in school, the daughter kept asking why I was tearing. Truly, tears of joy, darling. 

 


Ok, that was the appetizer. The main of this post is sharing on our journey of surviving without tuition throughout the daughter's primary years. Well not exactly, but left that to the last point. Tuition is ubiquitous, and it ain't easy sitting in the minority, riding against the current. Let's agree, not every family fits in the same frame, we all have different dynamics and abilities. But for the many who often asked how we did it. Here's for you.

Wait, a little more story. Once, the daughter's form teacher asked the class if anyone doesn't do tuition? She came back and told me, 3 out of 40 students had their hands lifted. Not surprising, but I just double doubted if we were doing all right. Some people even 'rebuked' that I am not giving my kids enough opportunities to excel in academics. And I confessed, I did find myself guilty many times. Who doesn't want an ace star child? I do! But the cost and journey of cultivating this was just too heavy and intense, the amount of time taken to do enrichment after enrichment can be overbearing for a child. We've witnessed too, star students who did it all without any enrichment help. I held firm to what we had set out to do, and self-comforted that being mediocre isn't fault. There will be opportunities to shine.

After 6 years, on this PSLE result day, I think she managed her expectations well. That already is a job well done! Not aiming overly high or low, but according to your child's ability. Not sure if we did right, or wrong, but here's my not so tiger mum journey set from the beginning.

1. Routine since P1

I set a routine of completing their school work and my home assignments every single day after school. Weekdays. Which means, even if they are done with school work, they will complete my given assignments, a few pages of each subject. I was never ahead of school, so I complemented the taught topics in school, and reinforce with written assignments. The first week of the school year is usually reading, when nothing much was taught in school

In lower primary, the home assignments don't usually take more than 30 mins. So allocate reasonably and according to their ability. After which, they are free to do anything they want! You will realise too, bit size revisions like these ensure that they are test and exam ready anytime without any last minute scramble. So yes, I rely much on assessment books. And of course, it needs to be marked with their mistakes explained and corrected.

2. CCAs day

The greatest asset a lower primary school kid has is time, when CCA and staying after schools aren't intensive. The daughter started rhythmic gym CCA towards the tail end of P1, at thrice a week. Did I still assign work? I did. But lesser than on days without CCA. You'll be surprised that many parents are loading their kids with class enrichment even on CCA days. I merely gave a few pages of work. 

Sport is a great balance, but if it's done competitively, the training hours are extremely intensive. They will have to learn mastering the skill of time management. The daughter uses pockets of waiting time in school to complete school work on some days.

3. Upper Primary

School work was extremely intense when she embarked onto P5 and P6. There's practically no time left for home assignments. Which of course, it has to make way for school work and punctual bedtime. We caught up on the days when the load was lighter. And the thing about the daughter is that, she will tell me when is she able or unable to take in more assignments from me. Trust is key. They know their mental load well.

These are the years when you can't buy in too many assessment books. Doing past year papers is a good alternative too.

4. The spouse

It's always important to have your spouse on the same side. I'm glad the man stood through it all with us. Imagine the pain if our spouse were to go on a total different direction from ours, it's just tough. And I'm glad he came in to help the daughter with the challenging maths that evolved at P5 and 6. 

Parenting is a partnership of teamwork.

5. The year of PSLE - Online classes

When PSLE was approaching, I panicked! Reality hit harder. The kids were navigating in and out school for lessons, and not all kids are suited to zoom learning style. Embarking on HBL essentially saves time for the kids, travelling time is saved and CCAs are reduced. It is a welcoming rest for most students.

Enrichment turned virtual and convenient! I rode on the opportunity to seek out online PSLE revision lessons for the daughter. If your child is doing academically sound all the years, but you felt the urge to embark on enrichment, consider booster revision lessons in the crucial year, during the holiday months. So you won't pile up the already busy school schedule. So yeap, we did Science during the June holiday, one-off lesson on English composition and Maths during the September holiday. Maths came on as my aunt offered us some free lessons from a centre she owns, giving her a gratitude of shout out here, Nanyang Educational Consultancy, Bendemeer

And like many, our kids often resent the subject, Chinese. I felt that online learning for it wasn't an easy find, we didn't do anything booster for it. Instead, we started the kids on some Chinese dramas during holiday, and tuned in to mandarin radio station during car rides. They are now fans of yes 933. 

 

  

 

So yeap, Having a good routine sets the learning consistency. And if the learning attitude is right, your child is all set! This is the learning mould we fitted ourselves in. I'm not here to start a debate, but that's us choosing to have more time and finances for hobbies and treasures. One thing for sure, I grin wide when it comes to thinking about the amount of enrichment fees saved.

The daughter may or may not have done better if we scheduled in some good tuition along the years. But the free time for doing things she loves, and mental health was a good trade off. When I was in doubt, the man often challenged me if tuition for those added marks will be a worthy trade. I guess, that's where this new Achievement Level score system comes in to make exams less stressful in chasing every mark. I've 2 more boys who will have to go through the same system. And boys are extremely different from girls. Don't want to speak early, but we do hope to keep things the same. This year is a whole new game for me, as I embarked on working full time. Learning is for me too.

Happy child, happy childhood, happy memories. These matter. The new learning journey ahead will be lots of hard work with many subjects to juggle. Stay calm. Hold on to the hunger for learning!

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