3...2...1...blast off for the PSLE! Some parent perspectives

WHILE an objective evaluation of the stress parents and children undergo during the run-up to the PSLE (and indeed any examination) will only be known in time, in our view, none of this effort is wasted as the intensity of domestic effort is potentially a unique opportunity to further develop and strengthen family bonding -  yet another building block towards lasting familial relationship perspectives for all involved.

onSponge interviewed a number of parents of children sitting for the PSLE this year to find out how they cope. Their comments could provide insights for other parents who expect a similar face-off in future years. In fact, we also have comments from a parent of a P5 child who is already getting into the act!


"Stress is unavoidable"
Anne Chan, mother of Justin Chan, P6

"I don't really have any special formula and trick to prepare Justin for PSLE.. For Justin, he needs lots of rest in between study. Since it is the last leg before the exams, I don't push him too hard or feed him with too much information lest he can't digest it all. Like everything else, moderation is the key. Give him a healthy and balanced diet. I learned from experience not to give anything never had before for it could cause an adverse reaction. I had bought some manuka honey for my husband. I then gave some to Justin in the morning and he experienced some wheezing. In the middle of the night, he suffered an acute asthma attack. So I am now very careful about his diet to make sure he is in top form to perform during PSLE. Stress is unavoidable. As he loves to read, I encourage him to read some book which he enjoys but to stay away from computer games which could increase his levels of frustration. I talk to him often to encourage him. Lights off is before 10pm."


"Drink more cooling herbal tea"
Winnifred Phua, mother of Hugo Chia, P6

"We are counting down - left with only 2 weeks. I try not to stress him too much (he has not even done the ThinkingMath books from onSponge that I bought) as besides school homework, he also has his tuition work to complete. After attending the ThinkingMath Workshop, I can see that he is more motivated :).  I feel that by being patient with him and avoiding to scream at each other is very important (though he will sometimes still slack a bit). I review his prelims results and encourage him to continue to do his school/tuition work faithfully as he is improving. I encourage sports. He still goes for his weekend soccer and taekwondo training. Will avoid fried food one week before the exams and drink more cooling herbal tea."


Health supplements
Josephine Lee, mother of Boris Dai, P6

"Very stressful for me! I have to keep nagging him to study. To my son, it is just any other exam, no impact at all so he does not seem stressed at all. In our case, the schedule is study one hour, rest 15 minutes. Also, let him enjoy his favorite show once a day while taking any meal at home. He takes GNC B-Complex 50 as a health supplement for anti-stress and focusing plus swimming. I keep telling him after this one month, he can do whatever he want but PSLE only once a lifetime. So, must do his best with no regrets! He only nods his head whenever I say that.


Re-visit difficult problem sums
Lynn Mok, mother of Jeneen Ng, P6

"With PSLE drawing near, I definitely feel the stress for my girl as she is really taking things at her own stride. She doesn't seem to be bothered by the fact that PSLE is around the corner. As the school has given her quite a bit of past year practice papers to do, what I do is to provide her with help when needed. I try not to give her extra problem sums to do as she already has more than enough from her school and tuition. But I do ask her to revisit those that she has difficulty with. Diet-wise, no changes. Just to make sure that she doesn't stay up too late and has enough sleep."


Taking the PSLE next year?

So you have a child taking it next year? How is the current PSLE season affecting you, if at all?  onSponge interviewed parent Ng Peck Wee, mother of Yu Xian who is in P5 this year.

onSponge: PSLE is a year away for your child. What is it like for you and your child?
Peck Wee: Both of us are feeling the stress! Excited but fearful as there are so much to cover!

onSponge: Is Yu Xian stressed? Are you? How do you keep the stress levels down?
Peck Wee: Yes, definitely, both of us are stressed. We know we need to master the P5 subject foundation so that there will be less to worry in P6. So we plan to start preparation earlier, say in the upcoming long December holidays so that it is not a last minute rush. But we also need to dedicate some time in a day for sporting activities/exercises or computer games to relieve the stress.

onSponge: What kind of other challenges do you face in this run-up to your child's PSLE?
Peck Wee: Too much content to cover and not sure how to start for topics like Science and Languages. Not sure if my son is ready for the big exams next year. At this moment, I am not sure of my son's academic standard as he is from an average class in a neighbourhood school.

onSponge: Any special diets or exercises that you have introduced to your child?
Peck Wee: Probably tennis.. have yet to plan. No special diet.

onSponge: How do you plan to motivate your child to keep going as the date draws nearer?
Peck Wee: Need to constantly communicate and remind him why he is working hard for the coming exams. Find out from him why he feels it is important to work hard. Of course, need to put in some carrrots like allowing him to play some computer games/watch TV when he completes his revision.


Related articles

PSLE - general information

After the PSLE - school selection

Open houses in 2009 of selected secondary schools