In Primary school, it is still possible to drill. In secondary school, this becomes impossible because (1) adolescents are programmed to rebel (2) the parent is no longer in complete control of the influences that come through a teen’s life.
The danger with getting into the drilling rut is that our kids develop a dependency on us. Without a parent pushing, they won’t move. My daughter went to Nanyang Girls High and is now in Hwa Chong. I saw how many of her classmates turn from high achievers to low because they were no longer amenable to parental pressure.
I opted early to expose both my kids to the Principle of Logical Consequences. I would provide the math practices. I would schedule a reasonable amount of practice each day in a diary with them. Then, I would get my kids to mark their own work, before I mark them myself discreetly later. I made sure I let them know that copying answers only hurts them.
Of course, they didn’t believe me. They copied. I closed one eye. They neglected to do the exercises as planned. I sighed. Then when the results come back poor, I comfort them and say "Poor thing… If only you hadn’t copied, and if only you had finished those exercises we set… No fun when you don’t do well eh? Well, you’re not stupid. You just didn’t work as you should." Figuratively, I twist the dagger a bit there. Nicely… gently, but I still twist.
As a result, my kids were very average students in P1… but as the years go by, they develop a keen sense of wanting to do well because (1) I believed they can (2) if they don’t I am not about to protect them from failure by nagging or forcing them to do any exercises.
In P6, The Daughter did well enough to go to Nanyang, and Little Boy is one of the top scorers in every subject except Chinese. And THEY are the ones who come home and ask me to give them work to do.
The Daughter advised Little Boy one day "When Mommy says ‘That is not going to end well for you’, you had better sit up and take notice because Mommy enjoys allowing people to dig their own graves".
Basically, I believed that failure teaches lessons that are important for success and the earlier a child learns to fail (within margins of safety) and recover, the better he is prepared to succeed later in his academic career, and in life. As such, when I see a safe opportunity for failure e.g., I allow (sometimes, I sneakily help) it to happen.
There are some occasions one must not fail at e.g., PSLE or mid-year or end-year… but when there is opportunity to have my child experience the pain of not doing well, I leverage on it by removing my protective and nagging presence (just for that specific occasion)… and let the child realise that there are consequences to his insouciance… and that these are Logical Consequences that Mommy cannot control. In short, I allow the situation / the outside world to punish them. Else, they grow up feeling so safe that I will ever be the one to protect them from themselves.