I have a son in Sec 1 and a daughter in P5. My son was a GEP student. During the 1st 3 primary school years, my son was not specially trained to prepare for GEP or neither top in his overall exam. In fact, I had no idea whatsoever about GEP program. The only significant difference is my son loves maths since young due to his father’s influence who loves to play maths games with him. He loves to read due to my influence. Hence, there was no pressure when he took his 1st Screening test. He claimed both round of GEP tests were difficult.
To our surprise, he got selected. I was very reluctant to let him go into the program after finding out about the never ending projects and difficult curriculum. However, he pleaded with me to let him try for 1 year. At the end of 1st GEP year, I request to withdraw him as almost every other day I received calls and notes from his subjects’ teachers that he never seem to be able to hand up his work on time or kept forgeting about his worksheets and project datelines etc. He did quite badly in P4. Sometimes, he daydreamed and remained unattentive in class, which has been a common complaint since P1.
It was only when the GEP Head refused to let us withdraw claiming that he has high potential and after advice by the school’s Student Developement Head to bring him for psychological assessment that we discovered he is an Asperger’s Syndrome child who has sensory integration disorder and executive function disorder. Recently, we also discovered he has Irlen syndrom too.
His path in GEP is not easy due to his condition but his teachers and GEP Head were very supportive and make changes according to the recommendation of the psychologists and therapists. Throughout the 3 years in GEP, my son never felt any pressure but we parents were the ones constantly worrying. He is a very mild tempered person and take things real "cool". I know of other GEP kids who cried over results etc but never my son. Despite his condition, he ended his Pri school life with 3 offers from RI, HCI and NUSH. He is now very happy in RI and doing fine.
My daughter is not in GEP. She was selected for the 2nd round and failed to make it. My daughter unlike my son is a more deligent and discipline student who has high expectation of herself. She idolises her brother and wants to follow in his footsteps despite knowing the midnight oil he had to burn for his projects because he often did not know the deadline till later due to his condition. Although she understands the vigorous demand of the program, she was determined to get in. She was devastated and depressed during the 1st half of P4. We and the teachers had to counsel her so that she could understand that it is not the end of the world if she stay in the main stream. If she works hard and is consistent, she will do as well as those in the GEP. In fact, there are a percentage of GEP graduates who have no confirmed offer from any sec school last year or only 1 offer. Very often, these are students who either have poor attitude and a few were known to have had expensive and rigorous GEP training before taking the screening tests and later have difficulty coping with the strenous demand of the curriculum. Now, my daugher has renewed her confidence and we encourage her to do her best.
My sharing is to remind parents not to place too much expectation on their children or prepare them for the GEP tests. It is very important is to show them concern and care. We must always tell them we still love them despite whatever results they have gotten as long as they truly have put in their best efforts. GEP does not guarantee any students an easy path to acheive their goals. It is only a process to help students who has the potential and ability to fulfil the MOE’s "giftedness program". Although a student may not be in GEP, everyone has their own giftedness and talent in the eyes of the parents. And I believe my daughter is gifted in her own way.