Normal Academic (NA) course

PSLE marks the graduation of Primary school students and their entry into Secondary schools as teenagers. Discuss all issues about Secondary schooling here.

Normal Academic (NA) course

Postby weilingohwl » Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:46 pm

Dear Parents,

I'm a mother of 3 staying in woodlands. My eldest is in Sec 1 NA course this year. But my child is really determine to do well for the exam and is aiming to go Express next year.

Any parents with Sec 1 NA child too? Would like to form a support group here! :)

Yours sincerely,
WL

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Re: Normal Academic (NA) course

Postby TheWriter » Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:13 pm

Hello WL

Sorry I am not a parent and can't provide much in the way of support, but I'd like to wish your child the very best in working up to express stream. A long time ago, I was in the N(A) stream, but I never did get promoted to Express. The N(A) classroom can be very discouraging for a motivated student, so do consider looking out for avenues where you can place your child with like-minded/motivated students.

All the best!

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Re: Normal Academic (NA) course

Postby weilingohwl » Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:39 am

Thank you so much for your reply! Is it the sch or the classmates who cause the low morale? Can CCA help? Or more academic support, like tuition help?
Hoping to hear more advice and give better support to my child. Thanks!

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Re: Normal Academic (NA) course

Postby TheWriter » Sat Jan 18, 2014 9:56 pm

Hi WL

You're very welcome. I don't think I can give definitive advice as you know your child way better than I ever will :). Below would be my personal experience and opinion. Hopefully as more parents weigh in it'll become a balanced picture:

whose fault is it anyway
I was motivated in the beginning, seeing as I only needed an average of 70% across all subjects to be promoted and I had 2 shots at it (Sec 1 and Sec 2). However, coming from a public school, the demands of 8 or 9 subjects, several of which were new was completely underestimated and I didn't expect the onslaugt. On average I did maybe 50s-60s, occasionally 70s (the only exception being my languages which I never had a problem with).

The first hurdle was getting to grips with the demands - studying and memorisation skills required of humanities and science subjects, and understanding literature (super difficult for a 12 yo who never read and couldn't tell metaphors from similes). With little in the way of guidance, I just gave up at one point.

This isn't entirely the teacher's fault. Now that I am teaching kids of my own, I can see that the teachers have a tremendous amount of curriculum to cover. On top of that, they have to do classroom management. From my experience, the more classroom mgt I have to do with the kids, the less I can share and impart within the given timeframe. It's a huge struggle for us. The teacher really doesn't mean to, but the environment/classmates really does deprive your child of the learning and guidance he/she needs.

Secondly, being labelled as N(A) meant that we were made acutely aware of the hiearchy. We all "knew" we were dumber than the express people, so we don't have that incentive to work hard. We didn't have the maturity to realise its value. "If that's what the system says we are, I guess there's jack we can do about it" - basically this mentality. So we played in class, during recess, after school. We made friends, socialised, went out for "project discussions" and arcade gaming.

The second hurdle, then, is finding the right group of people to hang out with. I suspect this would be hard even in express classes. I wasn't in a very fantastic school (fairly new school at that time, just had its first batch of O levels). Some of the express kids eventually dropped to N(A) in my time.

my personal opinion
For your child's case, I am really tempted to say put him/her in a tuition environment with good kids (say, competitive ones from the top schools) but I don't want you to be spending money unnecessarily. You'll really have to assess if your child is the sort to be motivated or deflated by competitive behaviour and whether he/she has the resilience to keep working hard despite getting mediocre scores at the centre (it'll inevitably happen; some push past this breaking point to emerge as very good students. I've seen it happen).

Many things can happen since we're entering the teenage years now. Socialisation becomes important. "Helpful Motherly Guidance" becomes "omg why can't she just leave me alone?". The best I can suggest would be to tell your child that it is ok to not do very well, to be frank and forthright in letting you know he/she did not live up to her own expectations and it is not (entirely) his/her fault. Be there for the child and let him/her know you are always ready to find the support s/he needs to get to where s/he wants to be.

one final note

Social activity and "project discussions" are still going to be a major part of the child's life. There may be a chance when, if the N(A) kid does too well and becomes the teacher's pet, he'll be hated by the others. At 12 years old, it's going to be quite easy to prioritise good relations with a 'clique' over good grades. Be aware, and be supportive in helping your child through this :)

Also, if you are wondering, I stayed in N(A) throughout my secondary school years. My own "waking up" moment was terribly silly. There was this idea floating around that girls somehow just can study better than boys and we all believed in it. During my secondary 3 end-of-year paper, I ended up placing 4th in class. There were 5 girls. I realised I had just "beaten" a girl and that shattered the myth and in a way, inspired me to work hard the following year to beat the rest of them. Still, by then I'd already wasted my 2 shots at going to express.

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Re: Normal Academic (NA) course

Postby TheWriter » Sat Jan 18, 2014 10:02 pm

Oh and I am so sorry about the long life-story-ramble!

CCA: This really depends on what you see the CCA as - an avenue to pick up a new skill (e.g. military band) or instil character development. To me it's just an ancillary avenue to learn the values of team work and working hard to achieve something, whichever the cca might be and has little bearing on academic motivation.

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Re: Normal Academic (NA) course

Postby weilingohwl » Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:14 am

Thank you so much for your sharing!

What you said is correct, I guess peer pressure/emotional area is what I need to pay more attention too..

For tuition, my eldest continued maths tuition (in fact, found the tutor in this forum! Haha!) mrtanclass, since he could improve my eldest maths from fail to a B in PSLE.

Just afraid my eldest can't cope with sec's demand... More subjects etc... But luckily the sec sch now do something like a modular system, example, study geography in the first half of the yr then do history, Home ed first then D&T.

I feel that in this way, they are ease in to the secondary curriculum...

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Re: Normal Academic (NA) course

Postby TheWriter » Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:23 pm

Glad to hear!

Keep tuition in the back burner for now, and I hope your eldest makes it to express this year! :D

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Re: Normal Academic (NA) course

Postby weilingohwl » Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:29 am

Thank you! :)

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Re: Normal Academic (NA) course

Postby beanbear » Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:11 pm

Hi weilingohwl, Thanks for starting this thread. My DD is in Sec 1 NA course. So far she is very happy with her school and classmates. There are a few kids in her class who are unmotivated & with behavioural issues, but she has chosen to make friends who have common interests with her like singing and she feels comfortable with.

In terms of discipline, the school is very strict and I think that helps alot. The teachers spend first week of school going through school and class rules over and over again. Discipline master spoke to the Sec 1 kids almost everyday and I think that helps alot.

In terms of academics, DD finds the work manageable so far and because Math is her weakest subject, I've already started tuition for her. She takes a few sessions of teaching the same topic before she can understand a math concept so the tutor teaches her in advance and then she hears the Teacher at school teach the same topic and that would be her so-called revision session. She finds that to be helpful for her learning.

DD doesn't aspire to move into Express. She feels comfortable with the slower pace. Also, these days, if the NA kids do well enough at the N levels, they can be eligible for Poly foundation course. I've been encouraging DD to aim to excel for N levels and to set goals for herself this year so that she can go Poly after the 4th year!

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Re: Normal Academic (NA) course

Postby weilingohwl » Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:38 am

Hi beanbear! Nice to hear from you! Your DD school seems good! School which emphasize on Discipline is good.

But the way, you have more information on taking poly course in the 4th year? Is it available for all secondary school or only your DD's school? Which school is she in?

Thanks!

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