How are Singapore families coping in the final stretch of the PSLE journey?
It’s life as usual for one KSP member.
Read on for her tips on keeping stress at bay.
#Have A Daily Plan
The general guideline that we follow is to only have one “major” task, such as completing an exam paper, per day. If there is an answer scheme available, my daughter marks her own work and takes note of her score. We’ve encouraged her to study independently since her lower primary days.
On a school day, if my daughter already has a paper to complete as part of her homework, that will be considered her “major” task for the day. If time permits, I will check if she can fit in some “minor” tasks, such as vocabulary review—she spends 10 minutes a day testing herself on a vocabulary app—or memorising a composition for Chinese, which takes her about 30 to 45 minutes.
At the end of each day, I’ll ask my daughter to note down what she’s accomplished for the day in her daily planner. This way, she can see at a glance what she’s covered, and think about what still needs to be done.
#Rely On Your Support Network
We’re fortunate as we live in a neighbourhood with a cozy enrichment centre just minutes away. The centre’s charges are easier on the pocket, compared to brand-name centres, and the tutors are dedicated and experienced, so we’re getting the best of both worlds.
My daughter has been attending a group class for science, and in this final stretch, I’ve arranged for additional two-hour sessions at the centre, at $5/hr. During these sessions, my daughter spends an hour working on either math problem sums or science open-ended questions, and the next hour discussing the answers with her tutor. We also have a private tutor for Chinese.
I’m grateful that we’ve been able to afford tutors—it’s enabled me to stay on the sidelines and focus on my own work, while ensuring that my kids lead a balanced life.
On days where my daughter has tutoring, she doesn’t set herself additional work. If there is homework from school, she brings it to the enrichment centre to complete.
I should add that my daughter’s school teachers are also a wonderful source of support. They’ve held extra classes before and after school, and the students (as well as parents) are able to message them with questions at any time.
With time running out and the need to conserve energy, it’s crucial that a child is aware of the objective of each revision task.
For instance, I worked with my daughter on her composition writing during the June holidays. We wrote several stories—each with multiple drafts—on the same topic, to address specific problem areas for my daughter. She learned to omit superfluous details that didn’t contribute to fleshing out the story’s characters or advancing the plot. She also focused on creating stories close to real-life situations that she was familiar with, and practised writing conclusions that summed up the life lessons illustrated in her stories, without being overblown or trite.
I was heartened that my daughter saw an almost 10-point jump in her composition score for the prelims, and we received positive feedback from her English teacher as well.
I’ve also been checking in regularly with my daughter’s tutor regarding her private sessions at the enrichment centre. Instead of having her tackle questions first, and discussing the answers after, we’ve decided to reverse the process—discussions first, followed by writing the answers down. I felt that this could help my daughter with information retention. We’ve also decided to use this final month for her to reattempt questions that she’s previously struggled with, as opposed to trying new questions.
The last thing that we’re working on is her time management—her tutor will time her for each question that she’s attempting and alert her when she’s taking more time than is recommended.
#No Work After 6PM
That’s our ideal schedule, and we try to keep to this as far as possible, since bedtime for both my kids is 8:30PM.
My daughter also takes breaks after each task, to read or surf. We’ve cut out enrichment activities for this period, and once it’s time to relax, it’s fuss-free entertainment for both my kids—park walks, card and board games, badminton at the void deck, simple playdates with friends, and movie nights on Netflix.
I don’t think she’s too stressed out, and neither am I, which is the way it should be!