Crashing Exams

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It is the end of year exam week for Matthew. Honestly, he has not been doing so good. Math, in particular, had been a thorn on our side since P4 and it seems to have been haunting us ever since. At first, we thought that us (mum and dad) teaching him mathematics would be enough to keep his grades up, or at least level with the mean of the class. It didn’t pan out the way that we had hoped, so we got him a math tutor. We have gone through several private tutors and even some tuition centers as well. This was on top of us nagging him about math. It has been a rough journey for sure, and one that has been ending up in frustration most of the time. And while we are not really after stratospherically high marks, we would at least want Matthew to stay on his current stream.

He has been doing okay in his other subjects so far. But we really have a lot of catching up to do with mathematics. Of course, we still need to do well on the other subjects as well which will eat up more of his brain in the coming days. We are praying that he would be able to cope with the stress, something which he isn’t particularly good at. In his primary school days, he was able to slide through year after year probably only using remnants of what he has learned in school. That may have worked for primary school, but secondary school is a different matter. Also, the educational system in Singapore comes off as a bit strange for us. It is far from what I was used to when I was in school. And that streaming system in Singapore is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you are pushing students to be at the top of their game in school. On the other hand, you are segregating performers based only on academic performance. Quoting Albert Einstein, If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

Luckily, there are now schools that look at education in a different light. Matthew’s school seems to be one of those schools. Here we wave educators that are genuinely concerned with their students. His form teacher has been very helpful in filling us in on what is happening with Matthew in school. We are informed of behavioral concerns aside from the academics. The school evens out the spread of the examination instead of cramming them all in one short week. There are parent-children activities all throughout the school year with participation from the faculty and parent volunteers. There is involvement and exchange between the teachers, the students, and the parents. Something that was sorely lacking when we were going through Matthew’s primary school days.

Of course, getting good grades is only one of the hurdles that Matthew would be facing. We are all hoping for the best, and we are all doing our best. Together. How things stack up at the end of the year is still something for us to look forward to, tomorrow.

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So far, so good.

It’s been a month now since we started in secondary school. And it has already been a ride. Back when I was in secondary school, all I had to do was pass primary 6 with decent enough marks and that was it. My school then had both primary and secondary so there was no additional criteria to get into secondary school. Well, all that calm was thrown out the window when we brought Matthew in for school in Singapore.

The PSLE is behind us now and it was a memorable journey that one would like to forget sooner rather than later. But no sooner than it had been forgotten that we were now thrown into a new learning journey. Apparently, just getting into the school of your child’s choice was just the beginning.

We managed to get Matthew into one of the schools that he chose after getting his PSLE results. His first choice. Choosing the school was one thing, choosing to be in one stream or the other was a different thing. We were one of those that had the option of choosing to go on the express stream or the normal stream. The main difference (for us at least) is choosing to complete secondary school in four years or five. That was our deciding factor, although the technicalities are far more complicated than that.

When school started, we were informed about having to choose our son’s Co-Curricular Activity. Another one of those technicalities that he would have to live with throughout his years in secondary school. One thing that I appreciated was the open house that gave us parents (and our kids) an opportunity to make an informed decision when choosing the CCA. Getting in to your CCA of choice though, is once again a different matter. That would mostly depend on the child’s willingness to be a part of that CCA. That meant tryouts and interviews. With time and choices limited, Matthew only had a chance to go to 2 tryouts. He could have gotten 3 if he was not so sick that week but health is the choice we took. After another week of waiting, it was finally revealed that he would be attending Military Band. So yes, we were like – speechless.

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We have had a great many weeks so far. Matthew has adjusted well to his new friends and new school. He has also gotten along well with his teachers and his studies. He and math still don’t get along quite as we would like, but he is getting there. This improvement in his school-life balance thus far, is being achieved by a little bit of work from him, us – parents and thankfully, the school itself. Honestly, we are very happy with how the school is looking after these rascals -err- pre-teens. After all, kids would be spending more time in school these days than at home. And for the school to reach out and work hand in hand with the parents is a good sign that they are after the well being of the child.

Intelligence, after all, can be taught and learned. It is the foundation of a child’s mental and emotional well being that would allow them to make decisions that would help them grow to be the person that they want to be. We can only hold their hands so far to guide them. They would be starting their own journey sooner than any of us realize.

But so far, so good.