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Beyond Academics

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has recently announced that the PSLE scoring system will no longer reflect how pupils do in relation to their peers; it will be replaced with a new system with wider scoring bands – similar to the O- and A-Levels’ – from the 2021 Primary Six cohort (or those in Primary One this year) onwards. Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng hopes that this will allow students to focus on their own learning rather than be too caught up competing with their schoolmates.

There will also be an attempt to shift focus away from merely academic achievements. MOE has announced that it will be rolling out more outdoor education programmes and will also emphasise on value inculcation, all with the aim of allowing students to broaden opportunities and discover their interests with a zest for learning and life in general.

It remains to be seen how well these changes can address the overemphasis on grades, and alter the education landscape in Singapore, but what’s for certain is that for any positive effect to be seen, the process require help and cooperation of parents. We’ve given you some tips on developing your child’s character in our August issue of Singapore’s Child (Issue 176), and here are five more. 

Decide on some goals you want to work towards, together
It is easy to forget that kids might have an idea of what they want to achieve in school. Parents might not spend enough time talking to their kids about it, but allowing your child to talk about his goals and concerns allow you insight into the things that are important to him. He might inform you that he would like to get an A, but will settle for a B because the subjects covered this term are too difficult. Before you start scolding him for his lack of determination, or his low standards, remember that the aim of talking to him about his goals is for you to provide support. Talk him through his struggles, and ask him what he would like to do to improve the situation. Make suggestions, not dictate what he should do. This will let him know that he has your support no matter what happens, and that he can talk to you if he has any issues.

Build a healthy rapport with teachers
Your child spends a substantial amount of time in school and his teachers would be able to give you insight into his behaviour. Building a healthy rapport with his teachers will ease communication between you and the school. Some teachers willingly give out their personal mobile numbers but don’t expect them to reply you immediately or at night. They’re doing this out of good will, so don’t abuse the privilege. 

Examine your expectations
It is natural to want your child to do well. However, sometimes, it’s unsurprising to realise that parents’ expectations are theirs, and not their children’s. Which brings us back to our first point, the importance of maintaining a healthy communication channel with your child to make it easier to speak to him about his goals and dreams. If you find yourself upset that your child got a C in his test, ask yourself why that is so. Are you imposing your goals for your child on him? Have you checked with him about how he feels about the C?

Every parent would love it if their child gets an A for every test and exam, because you know how competitive the real world beyond school is, and you don’t want your child to have to suffer the consequences of bad grades in the future. But focusing too much on grades and achievements alone will tell your child that success in life is only achieved through good grades in school. Which brings us to the next point.

Know your child, his strengths and his weaknesses. Embrace them
Not everyone is academically inclined. We could cite people like Bill Gates and Albert Einstein who faced their own setbacks in school but went on to become iconic figures in our modern history, but look around you and you’d realise that defining success purely based on what schools one has gone to is a myopic way to view life.

The theory of multiple intelligences (MI) was proposed by Howard Gardner in his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. The MI model states that intelligence is articulated by eight modalities. Different people have different interests, gifts and abilities, thereby different and unique blend of intelligences. Parents should understand that there is a wide range of cognitive abilities that can be celebrated.

These eight modalities are: intrapersonal, interpersonal, logical mathematical, musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, bodily-kiaesthetic, naturalistic, verbal-linguistic and existential and moral. Find out which modalities describe your child the most, and it might help you in developing your child to the best that he can be. 

Expose your child to people with other lifestyles or economic status
This can be done simply while watching television or making it a point to volunteer together as a family. But it is important to discuss every experience together so that you can talk about learning points. In the long run, this can help build empathy, and teach your child to look at things from other perspectives, eventually allowing him to embrace differences and diversity.

This article is an extension of an article found in the print edition of Singapore’s Child July Issue 176 with the headline ‘Beyond Primary 1 Registration’. 

What are your thoughts on the proposed changes by MOE? Share them with us below!