So with all the extensive preparation the kids are already receiving for PSLE, what more can parents do? I thought I'd share what I've been doing for Lesley-Anne's PSLE preparation:
Sorry for the anti-climax. Let me explain: since she was already getting so much work from school, I haven't assigned her any additional work from Term 3 onwards. After her prelims ended on 28 August, I told her to drop everything and play for the next two weeks, till the end of the one-week holidays. But as it turned out, the school still scheduled supplementary lessons on three days of the holidays and dished out more homework @*%&$@&*!! So anyway, apart from that, Lesley-Anne spent the bulk of last week playing computer games, reading her favourite books and watching tv. Am I the best mum ever or what!
I can imagine what some parents are thinking: "Of course lah! She got DSA already, can relax what!" I admit getting DSA does take away some of the pressure but here's the thing: I'm not one of those cool as a cucumber mums (like some who have commented that they're taking it easy for PSLE - kudos to you, you're part of a small minority and I'm glad this blog attracts so many of these mums!)
But for me, I still get kancheong, I still want Lesley-Anne to do well for PSLE and she feels the same. Of course I can't speak for all kids who have gotten DSA but I suspect many of them share this feeling. You may think these kids will now bochap and stop bothering about PSLE but going by Lesley-Anne's classmates, this is not so. It's a matter of personal pride. Not to the extent of being ugly competitive, but just to do well. Nobody wants to be the one who got into a good school DESPITE a poor t-score.
For example, Lesley-Anne sat for the final Social Studies exam in end August. Passing the paper is one of the pre-requisites of keeping the GEP status but the grade is of no consequence. Before the exam, she was poring over the her Social Studies notes and files. Concerned that she was working too hard, I told her, "aiyah, Social Studies pass can already, right! No need to study so hard." Her reply was "Yah but want to do well, otherwise your results so koyak and your friends all do well, so embarrassing!"
Peer pressure. Amazing what it can do.
Anyway, getting to the point, what I'm trying to say is that my asking Lesley-Anne to take a two-week break from studying is not a yaya papaya attempt to act cool because her t-score doesn't matter anymore. (Yes, I'm aware there are many such annoying parents out there. My eyes are rolling as I speak.) Believe it or not, it's actually my strategy for her to do well.
I've used the analogy of the marathon and the sprint before. Right now, the kids can see the finish line. But it's still somewhere in the distance. If they have been accelerating since the start of Term 3 (or some even more kiasu ones, the start of this year) without halting, there's a chance they're going to peter out just before the PSLE, which is the worst possible time. Common sense tells me it's difficult to maintain such a feverish study pace for four months straight. Already towards the prelims in end August, I could see that Lesley-Anne was appearing mentally saturated and exhausted.
It's just not sustainable. There's such a thing as over-preparation. In fact, Lesley-Anne said that her science teacher was musing over some of the class's test papers, "Why is it that the more you do, the more mistakes you make?" To me, it's a simple case of burnout.
Rest and play are not time wasted nor opportunity lost. They are legitimate parts of optimal performance strategy. Just ask any sportsperson. I think Lilian had the right idea - she took Brian for a short vacation during the holidays. Hopefully, the time-out will let the batteries recharge before the final surge, peaking at just the right moment. I think four weeks is enough time to regain momentum.
If you have a p6 kid, I realise that this advice might come too late! Not to worry, just make sure your kid has enough scheduled rests and breaks during these four weeks, sports is great too for letting out steam. Of course you'll need to adjust according to your child's temperament.
So that's my layman opinion on how best to gear your kid up for the PSLE. I'm no child psychologist so if you follow my advice and your child doesn't do well, don't blame me! But I believe it's a kinder, more humane approach and I'm sure your child will be grateful for it.
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