As the first major academic milestone that every primary school student in Singapore faces, the Primary School Leaving Exam (PSLE) can be a stressful experience for both the students and their parents. Singapore's Ministry of Education has brought sweeping changes into the examination system with the new PSLE scoring system, taking some of the stress away from the examination process. Still, the changes are slow to happen within the mindsets of the general population. Most parents are still obsessing over grades and pressurizing their kids to aim for top-tier schools. Comparison and levelling of kids based on scores is still rampant. With PSLE results release dates drawing closer, it is understandable that many students and parents seek a respite from all the stress. Not all students are gifted enough to achieve perfect scores in the exam. How can you make the experience as stress-free as possible for your child and make the experience similar for yourself? We discuss a few tips to help you and your child have a pleasant experience during this period.
Stop Comparing Your Child to Other Children
The comparison game happens almost everywhere you go. The only weapon you have against it is not to indulge in it yourself and start meaningful conversations about how the mindset can be changed. Comparison of PSLE scores, or any other parameters, can be a source of shame and resentment for children and negatively affect their psyche. The best thing to do is to help your child focus on their performance and constructively help them figure out what they could do to keep doing well or build on their performance.
Take on the Role of the Adult in the Situation
In a high-strung situation, it is easy to lose sight of what is important or needed in the situation. The PSLE Result Day can be quite stressful, but it is important to remember that your child is facing most of the 'PSLE stress'. This situation becomes a great teaching point to help them understand how difficult situations can be dealt with.
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In case your child cannot perform up to expected standards, you must deal with any overwhelming emotions quickly and rise to the occasion by being an adult and helping your child work through their emotions. Your release must be saved for when they are out of sight. Calming words and reassurance will be crucial in this situation. Bursts of anger or unwarranted corporal punishment can leave disastrous after-effects on your child.
On the other hand, dealing with an outstanding result can also be a teachable moment, where you shower your child with due praise but also inculcate in their humility, empathy, and compassion. Going off on a bragging spree will not send the right message to your child. Remember that children mirror whatever they see their parents do.
Things May Not Always Proceed as We Plan
A child's intellectual ability should not be judged or pinned up to one major examination they attempted in the early schooling years. As parents, we always need to be aware of preparing children for unexpected endings and outcomes for any situation. In a high-stress situation like a public exam, many children face mental blocks, physical illness, stress-related anxiety or panic attacks, and many other things that could adversely affect their performance despite thorough preparation. Negative influences from home could also be a reason for poor performance. At the end of it all, the child should walk away from Result Declaration with an understanding that things may not always go as planned and that there is always a positive way to deal with the worst of circumstances.
De-stressing Activities Maybe Beneficial for Everyone
Holiday time should be family time. In fact, you could use any excuse to get the family together and spend a day away from the stress that life throws at you. In the holiday season, before the results are declared, try your best to take the initiative and engage the family in fun activities like watching light-hearted movies, cooking together, going for a drive, or visiting a public park. These moments become valuable lessons for children, and they will follow the same when they grow up and face dire circumstances.
Success Comes in Different Ways to Different People
Success at the PSLE and selection into top-tier schools may seem like major track records right now. But it is important that you remember to teach your child that these are just a part of the journey. With the flexibility in the educational system available today, there are many options available for students to diversify and choose subjects to their liking. The Express stream makes certain subjects available to students in the Normal Academic stream. A good performance in the Normal Academic or Normal Technical streams will give them a chance to laterally transfer into the Express stream by the close of Secondary one or two.
Every major life event can be turned into a teachable moment for your child. To get to a place where you have a proper perspective on things, you must re-align your goals and ambitions in life, especially in terms of what you want for your children, to guide them in the right way.
The PSLE results can be a very stressful time, but it is the child who is affected the most. Your response can have a major impact on their lives and outlook. Sadly, Results Day can become a turning point for the worse in many children's lives. Many cases of depression and the ultimate loss could have ended differently if the children were given the right support and counsel at the right time.
Let's work together to make our children's lives all about learning experiences and not about results!
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