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A word of caution. This blog is all about me and the PSLE. If this is your first time here, you may like to go over the archive sections to read more interesting titles that were posted. I have been off the blogosphere for a very long time. I apologize to my subscribers. While we now wait patiently for the PSLE results to be released on 22nd November 2013, my personal life is only just coming back to normality. Until today, it seems impossible to think that I would ever get back on my computer to write again.

Perhaps I should just think of it as updating the blog. Or perhaps regard it as a piece of memo that needs to be pasted on some inconspicuous yet noticeable spot , enough to get the attention of the unintended reader. I should also perhaps tell myself that if I don’t get  writing again, I will lose even more, like failing to stay on the top spot on google search engine. I have to make the switch and today I am ready to write again.

I have completed the Business Chinese Intermediate Course. Well done, high five to myself! I worked  part-time teaching Conversational Mandarin to non-natives in primary schools. I wanted to do more for myself but it was meant to be, not this year anyway. This is the year when I  am forced to support (are you ready for this?) my daughter who had to sit for her Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE)! This is one year in her lifetime that means a lot but we can never understand why we even care to put the child through hardship at such an early age.

Much has been said about how gruelling and regimented the primary education system is in Singapore. At 12 years of age, academic achievement is already regarded as the most important part of the learning journey.  There were essentially only 4 subjects to study – Chinese (Mother Tongue), English, Mathematics and Science. Seems nothing if I were to compare to my days in Primary School or even the present primary school in other parts of the world and international schools here.  I was certain that my daughter could manage.

Then the assignments and homework started to pour in; I found myself sending my daughter to bed later because she had not completed her school work. I had to re-pack, unpack and pack up constantly to keep up with the amount of practice papers given. My daughter started to carry 2 bags to school because one was not enough to fit in all that she had to carry. Each subject is taught by components,  so they say, in accordance to MOE syllabus (Ministry of Education). So for Chinese subject, she had books for Oral, Listening Comprehension, Composition, Textbook, Workbook and Practice Paper (Folder). When you stack them up together, they would measure at least 15 – 20 cm thick. The folder became so thick, there was no more room to put them on the 2-hole binder clip. So she had to put them on the sleeves of the folder. Did I mention there were only four subjects? Yes. So if you combine them all, the average weight of the school bag that my daughter had to carry to school everyday  would be at least 10kg. That’s a luggage, not a schoolbag! The school is a few minutes walk across the street. So every morning, my husband and I had to help her carry the school bag right to the doorstep. Students are not allowed to use the lift unless they are sick. So every morning, she had to climb 4 flights of stairs to her classroom. As time goes by, she started complaining of joint pains and muscle aches. The reason to us was obvious. I wrote to the school but with just me on the case, there was very little that could be done except to tell my daughter to leave behind the books and files that she won’t need at school or at home. She did it for less than a week, then it was back to square one. She said the teachers need to refer to them and she wouldn’t know exactly when and which worksheet would be used for reference.

That’s just not even half the reason why I was not on the blogosphere.

4 is not a big number. If you have to round off 1.4 to the nearest whole number, you would go down to 1 not 2. So intuitively one might think 4 subjects should not be at all difficult for anyone. But you know this is not just  4 subjects, this is 4 subjects with different components in each. The questions set are far from the easy 1,2 and 3 that we used to get. In Mathematics for instance, algebra, heuristics, tesselations, geometry, ratio and percentages are just some of the few topics that are taught. The methods and questions are Different.

/O Concepts 4 methods 4 operations

10 Concepts (note: Equal Concept appears twice, the 10th concept is Pattern Concept) 4 methods 4 operations

At one glance, this is probably easy to grasp. It is not until you try and start solving the questions given, do you start to understand it takes a long time (sometimes a full day) to solve one problem sum.  You can browse youtube videos right now and search for Primary 6 Mathematics. There are many videos made by private tutors out there.

The most challenging part of helping my child with her studies is not academic per se, but being there for her as she goes through this gruelling process. She is also entering the age of puberty and pre-teen. She is changing physically and emotionally. This and the added pressures of academic studies, translates into a project for the parent. I had to remove myself from many pleasures to stay close to her progress. Members of the family who do not understand why we are so worked up, start to become armchair critics and give their 2 cents worth. Yes, you read it right. This whole year, has centered around the Primary School Leaving Examinations. Even now as we wait for the results due to be released on the 22nd November, we were told not to travel oversease until the results are released. Education is not taken lightly here, to the very end. But we do have confirmed plans for a big holiday to Australia.