Rejecting the PSLE syndrome

PSLE singapore, school stressONCE AGAIN this October most parents of children aged 12 would be nervously clenching their fists praying. The kids would be drowned with studies and assessment drills, and all their leisure time evaporates including having a good meal at their favourite food chain. Forget about watching the blockbuster movie of the year as even the privileged are only likely to be treated to cable TV programmes.

Yes, it’s all due to that daunting BIG examination – the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). I often wonder who indeed, parent or child, is taking the examination, after noting the abnormally high stress levels in homes with a 12-year-old.

Undeniably, Primary 6 is the crucial year for these children considering the parental desire to ensure their children gain entry to the most recognised schools and get into the Express stream. What would happen to the child’s future should he be relegated to the Normal Academic? If these concerns sound only too familiar, check these out:
  • Registration for over-promising motivational courses in preparation for PSLE – this would likely start during the school holidays at Primary 5.
  • Line-up of Direct School Admission (DSA) schedules with the top schools in Singapore – to be assured of a seat even before the big examination.
  • Tons of assessment books piled up seemingly without end – as the child wonders if he would ever able to complete them.
  • Tearing out of hair over apparently unsolvable problem sums – year after year with unhappy parents expressing their views in the forums.
  • Scaling down or stopping of all leisure activities to maximise time for revision especially during the weekend.

Yes, whatever it takes to get our children into the best schools – time, money, pressure and tension which the dreadful PSLE brings about. To the children, it’s too nerve wrecking and as the pressure builds up, anxiety overwhelms them as the day draws near.

The reality – PSLE need not be presented as a life-and-death sentence and preparation really ought to have started when the child was in Primary 4.
  • The topics tested in PSLE actually starts in Primary 3.
  • Primary 6 really is a year of revision as most topics would have been taught by Primary 5.
  • Consistency and discipline in schoolwork will ensure success.
  • Extreme pressure is likely to backfire as the joy of learning gives way to fear and anxiety.

So, if your child is one of the many Davids confronting Goliath this year, consider taking a different perspective to help ease the tension and demonstrate your support to your child:
  • While it is an important examination, it will not dictate their future considering the many more examinations to come.
  • Being accepted by a relatively good school might offer a more conducive environment but the intense competition may not offer the opportunity to shine.
  • Life goes on with or without the examination so let the routine continue to play down the stress level.
  • If getting into the dream school means committing to a CCA that’s not the child’s interest, he will ‘suffer’ over the next four years. That would mean time lost, time that he could have instead invested in an activity that offered him a chance to excel, in which to develop leadership skills.

A week or two before the examination commences, wind down all learning and drilling as the child recuperates before sitting for the papers. Step up physical activities and leisure time to boost his confidence.