The local primary education system can be a struggle to navigate. With difficult examinations to tackle and a reluctant, uncooperative child, it is no wonder that having a child in primary school is a major source of a headache, perhaps even heartache. Having been there myself and making it out intact, I would like to share from my personal experience three simple ways for surviving primary school.
This may seem like a no-brainer piece of advice, but it is crucial. When I was in primary school, nearly every night my family would gather at about nine o’clock to watch a Chinese drama program. Even so, the tradition was often left unbroken even if there were a paper the next day. As such, it became a habit for my sister and me to finish our academic work by nine. After the television program, we would promptly go to bed. We rarely slept late and had sufficient rest for the following day.
As I advanced the levels, it became increasingly commonplace for my classmates to sleep late so as to complete their homework. This led to an unhealthy vicious cycle where a lack of sleep caused a fall in work productivity, which in turn resulted in later bedtimes. Moreover, it is inadvisable to allow your child to procrastinate. The Chinese saying 今日事，今日毕 is very wise. Today’s lot must not be left to tomorrow. Racking up a backlog would only cause undue stress at a later date.
Passion Need to be Cultivated
I remember that I detested learning the languages when I was in Lower Primary. My strengths lay in the Mathematics and Science, while English, and especially Chinese, could be best described as a bit of a struggle. This, however, changed over the course of time. My mother registered me for an English creative writing class to boost my essay writing skills. I remember that on the first day when asked, I told the teacher plainly that I disliked English. Through attending the class, I began to enjoy writing English compositions. The teacher, an ex-journalist, would fuel us with imaginative ideas and nice, little phrases which we could add to enhance our writing. For those who wrote well, they may even have their compositions put in a journal she published for her students. By the time I graduated from the class, I was considering becoming a writer as a career choice.
As for Chinese, I encountered committed teachers along the way who delivered their lessons in a funny and engaging way. I started to see the beauty in the language and took a personal interest in it. Currently, although my Mandarin standards are less than ideal, I still regularly shop the library for Chinese novels. The fact is that you cannot expect your young child to naturally enjoy what he is studying. What is important is that you do not let your child give up on studying a subject just because he doesn’t like it. Instead, proactively find ways for him to study the subject in a more enjoyable way, which would provide an intrinsic drive for him to put effort into his studies. Consider engaging a passionate tutor who can connect with your child, or be that passionate teacher to him yourself.
Tuition isn’t Definitely Bad
Tuition is portrayed as the evil demon that mercilessly swipes away the precious childhood of our country’s young, where parents flood their children with a deluge of round-the-clock tuition. The more the better. When I was in Primary School, I was fortunate that my parents did not indiscriminately register me for tuition. As mentioned earlier, my languages were in need of a boost but I was doing fine for Mathematics and Sciences. Hence I mainly attended English and Chinese tuition, with tuition in the other subjects only introduced as necessary.
Tuition isn’t invariably a negative thing. It just needs to be applied with a touch of discernment. In her book ‘A Hakka Woman’s Singapore Stories’, Lee Wei Ling argues that the main role of teaching belongs to the school and that tuition plays a supplementary role in helping students in their areas of weaknesses. Indeed, when deciding on which tuition to register their child for, parents should understand their child’s needs and take a targeted approach. Making an informed decision can prevent wasting money on expensive tuition fees while only exasperating your child with irrelevant help.
Children Need The Leadership of Their Parents to Thrive
The traditional education system isn’t suited for everyone. Children need the leadership of their parents to thrive. To all parents who pour their hearts and souls into their children’s education, kudos to you!
Contributed by Daniel Ong, Content Writer