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Scr 163 November 13, 2014 05.05 AM

School holidays are back.  What are your plans for the holidays?

Sharon Jessica Penny from our Facebook Parent Support Group still relive the times when she had to study so hard for her exams. Although, she does not live in Singapore anymore, she still raise her kids in the same way as we do here, well where education is concerned we all do here.

This is our conversation.


How would you know if your kids need help with their studies? Scores? Grades?

Is it always fair to judge your kids’ educational performance by their grades in school?

Now is the time to ask. If your kids are not doing well in school, what can you do to help them during this school holidays? Are holiday programmes necessary?

Sharon Jessica Penney Good morning, everyone! You know, it’s quite interesting that in Singapore kids are made to do school work during the school holidays. I remember while growing up, my parents used to buy an extra set of workbooks for the following year so that we could study in preparation for the next year. It is still ingrained in me to get my boys to do stuff too, especially during their NAPLAN years – Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. NAPLAN is the national exam to gauge where a child is at. My older son was in Year 3 last year and man, did I go into panic mode! LOL! I bought NAPLAN-type books for each of the categories – Literacy, Numeracy, Writing, etc. Hubby called me a “typical Singaporean” mother! I got teased a lot by my extended family too. And they were of the opinion that the boys would get bored in school if they already learnt everything from doing work at home. My older son, Damian excelled at his NAPLAN last year – He was above the school average and the national average and was ranked third in his school. Hubby and I were $50 poorer because we had worked out incentives for him. Next year Damian will be in Year 5 and hello NAPLAN again! So I will be getting more books to help him gain the confidence, even though I know he is not going to thank me for it. Getting him to do work at home is worse than having his teeth pulled out. I don’t have much patience, so hubby usually helps

I do remember being in that mode as soon as my daughter entered primary school. I got her Mandarin books and started teaching her while we were on holidays in Australia! My mother in law was very puzzled and amused that I should ‘torture’ the poor kid. It is just something we can’t explain to our friends overseas. A kid’s life revolves round a set system and when it comes to education, it is determined by which education programme you enrol them in. All kids here sit for the national examinations. One system, one examination. The PSLE year is getting more and more like the university of kids. There are hundreds if not thousands of guide book titles published to help kids study from home, starting from kindergarten onwards. One of my parents admitted that she was so worried about her 5 year old son’s Mandarin that she decided to buy extra workbooks to bring along for practice during their holidays! I saw nothing but stress on parents’ faces.

I was brought up to think that the only way up in life was through education. For a child, it meant good grades in school. Many years after I left school, I met up with some of my friends. I got to know that some of my friends went through divorce and others were retrenched.  A few more could no longer work because they became really sick. Good grades in school can help support a future but it does not guarantee you a good future.

Lets first recognise that this whole problem about being worried for our kids’ education might have nothing to do with the kids’ education. We live by the same principles which our parents have instill in us, and we carry them along with us into adulthood. That is when people started to discover life, they like to say, “I was brought up as ….. I learn now that …..”

We recognise that life was simpler for us then. We had no internet. One television per household. I didn’t carry a mobile phone till I started working. I didn’t learn about the computer till I was in the university. I didn’t take the train to school because there was none. But all these “I did not” become irrelevant to the kids now. It is a story of MY life and it shall remain yours. Experience is the mother of learning. The wisdom you can take from having learnt so much, is what we should share with our kids, not the part about fear, worry and anxiety that are associated with the learning process. These are emotional issues should never be translated into lessons for your kids.

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