It’s September and exam fever is in the air. Especially so for those sitting for their PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examinations)—the pressure is on for parent and child alike.
I often tell my 12-year old son that the PSLE is probably the most important exam in his life as it determines which Secondary School he ends up in for the next four and very formative years. Ages 13 to 16 can be extremely tricky for any teenager and more so for parents. Hence, the environment in which the teenager lives out these years can be crucial.
Having grown up in a mission school in Singapore, my preference would naturally be inclined towards the same for my kids as well. I like the rich culture and school spirit that comes with being in a mission school, not to mention the confidence that oozes out of almost everyone I meet who went to one.
Unfortunately, most mission schools require a generally high aggregate if you are not in a Primary School that’s affiliated to that desired Secondary School. So unless the child is in a Primary School that is affiliated to a Secondary School that allows its alumni to enter with a much lower aggregate score, the child basically has to mug his way to getting a high aggregate score in order to have choices.
Of course there are plenty of good, quality Secondary Schools everywhere if one is not choosy. But as parents, we naturally want what we deem as the best for our kids, in spite of how others might otherwise advise.
In my journey through motherhood, I constantly face a paradox: a mother is one who sees a child’s potential and knows how far the child can go. But when the child (and children being children) puts in little or no effort, she ends up being the one who has to push him to operate at his best. The challenge is, how do we do this and maintain a good mother-child relationship? For me, the key is—give and take. I don’t always do well in this aspect but I try. For example, Pokemon Go in the face of PSLE? Well, only on weekends and only on mama’s phone. On weekdays, mama will maintain it for you. This is just one of the examples of how I try to tug at the kite string, and let it go sometimes. Some might call it permissive. But when it comes to parenting, it’s different folks, different strokes.
Back to the topic at hand. PSLE is like an uphill trudge, very often I feel like I’m the one pulling my son up the hill. And I tell him so. I say, “Boy, at some point, you need to trudge up the hill yourself. I can trudge up together with you, but I cannot carry you over.” This usually works, for a day or two, until I have to find another way to motivate Master Prince Charming.
What advice can I offer to parents who are not even thinking about PSLE yet? If your child is still a toddler, start considering your options. My recommendation would be to choose a Primary School that allows a reasonable cut-off point to enter an affiliated Secondary School. This way, if your child turns out somewhat like mine—gifted in many areas other than in the academics—life would be a lot less stressful.
For those who still have some time before your child hits P6, it’s never too early to start instilling a lifestyle of consistency. Balance between playtime and homework/study time. It encourages discipline and when the time comes for them to start preparing for PSLE, they would be used to the study routine.
To those of us who are facing PSLE this year, take heart, for there are still a couple of weeks to go. Trust and hope in the Lord, pray and commit your child to Him. Keep encouraging and motivating them to do the best they can. At the end of the day, you would rather have a healthy, confident child even if he’s not in the best school.
All the best to every P6 student! Fight the good fight and be a good finisher!