Education

My take on the different aspects within education which relates to ongoing societal concerns.

From 4 to 8 subjects in Secondary School

Moving from 4 to 8 subjects

Congradulations you have just finished your PSLE and successfully entered secondary school. It is no longer a hand holding 1st day of school for you. Nope, your parents can’t and won’t be around on standby to see if you are adapting well to the new environment and there is no buddy for you now.

You are 12 turning on 13 and it is time to exert your independence. You have to handle navigating this new study environment by yourself. It is all up to you now. Good luck!!

Looking at the number of subjects that one has to take in secondary 1 can be mind boggling. From four examinable subject you now have 8 examinable subjects to handle. The addition of subjects like Geography, History, Literature, Food and Consumer Education and Design and Technology can be overwhelming. You may ask how do they fit in so many subjects within the existing time table. To figure out this question let us look at the typical week time table.

A Primary 6 Time Table.

As you can see above the typical school day starts from 7.45am to 1.30pm on most days. On the day that the students have CCA they are dismissed 15 minutes earlier to facilitate lunch and change over. The majority of the lesson time in a day is distributed between English, Maths and Mother Tongue ( Mandarin, Tamil or Malay). Now compare with the time table of a lower secondary student below.

A Lower Secondary Time Table

It gets more complicated once your child enters secondary school. The time table is now split into even week and odd weeks where there will be slight changes in the time table. With the addition of home based learning(HBL) one day every forthright it is amazing how both the students and teachers can keep track on what is to be scheduled for the week. I certainly be stressed out trying to juggle the ever changing schedule on a weekly basis. It is really mind boggling.

Since there isn’t a great extension of periods in the time table there is lesser time allocated to the 4 core subjects (English, Maths, Science, Mother Tongue) with the addition of Geography, History, Literature , Food and Consumer Education/ Design & Technology. Independent learning is emphasied and strongly encouraged. This is a challenge for most students as they are so used to have everything planned for them. They are not use to taking charge, design and follow a self-designed schedule. It is certainly stressful and many find it hard to cope. What then can we do to prepare our child for these changes?

Study Tips

  1. Review your work weekly.
    At the end of the week do look through what has been taught. It does help to make notes of keywords and concepts that have to be memorised to make it easier for one to focus on for the subject.
  2. Do a learning planner
    What I have found effective for myself and my students is to set aside at least half and hour to an hour a day to do the following
    – check off items on the to-do-list which was set for the day.
    -review the difficult concepts/ problems that were handled on the day.
    – block off hours in a week for learning and review.

It may take time to get use to the adjustments in the school time table and to develop new effective routines. Give your child a few months to settle down once you enter secondary school. The time taken to adjust properly will certainly help them and they won’t be so stressed after awhile.

In the next post I will be sharing with you the apps and videos that my boys have been using to keep on top of things during their secondary school education.

Surviving the PSLE – Emotional Guidance for Tweens

Teenagers in a classroom

Besides addressing academic excellence it is equally important to understand the need for the child’s emotional development. Many a times the parent is too focus on academics and they neglect the fact that they too need to pay attention to developing their child’s emotional intelligence. As a result of overlooking development in this area, the child enters society being socially inadept and even have lifelong emotional demons to deal with.

Without having a proper grounding in how to deal with emotional issues a child will grow up without a strong sense of security. This would affect their self esteem and hamper their potential career advancement. This is extremely detrimental for the child’s growth and it would stunt his development.

I strongly disagree with the ancient teaching of kids should be seen and not heard. Applying such an authoritative approach would serve only to plant the seeds of discontent in the child and make him scorn the adult. This dissatisfaction would increases insecurity as the child grows up as they may have had their feelings constantly invalidated. It could cause the development of paranoia or even depression which may need lifelong treatment or therapy.

I personally believe that a child should be given the freedom of expression and to learn through role modelling . They should be taught from young on how to manage their own emotions and be able to determine by themselves what is acceptable and what is not. One should not be without critical thinking skills and just blindly accept what others offer as it may not be in their best interest all the time.

How to nurture an emotionally resilient child?

There is no textbook answer to this question.

I don’t claim to be a guru in understanding childhood psychology but being an educator and having dealt with many different kids with a spectrum of personalities and learning abilities I can say that the following will work with most children.

  1. Spending time to understand the child in depth.

    This could be done by intentionally by participating in a myriad activities together with the child and be able to study his behavior and reactions in different situations. With this knowledge the parent would be better to advice and counsel the child if they are having difficulties or face obstacles as they know clearly their child’s weaknesses and strengths.
  2. Giving the child the opportunity to make mistakes

One of the common errors which I have noticed that many parents do is to solve all the problems for the child without letting the child even lift a finger. They justify this action as showing their love to their child and not wanting them to suffer. The irony of it is that their so called “selfless” act is actually detrimental to the child as they deprive him of the ability to learn how to cope with such situations independently. The child maybe over reliant on the parent to solve and may end up to be extremely arrogant driving away friendships with their bad behaviour. They grow up “fragile” and may collapse when the parent is no longer able to solve problems for them.

Don’t rescue your child from a challenge. Teach them how to face it!


It is preferable that the child be given clear guidance on the side and that he tries to resolve the problems on his own. In this way he does feel that you do care about the issues that he is facing and at the same time is being taught what will be a favourable action to solve the immediate crisis. In the event that they face similar problems in the future they would be able to tackle it head on.

3. Use real-life examples/ cases to instill life values.
You just have to open your eyes to look around and you can easily spot candidates as case examples to show how various emotions have been handled properly or incorrectly. There are plentiful examples of cherished friendships, betrayals, manipulations and exploitation all around us. Highlighting such examples will give your child and idea of how good or how bad a person’s life can turn out to be based on the decisions that they make intentionally or unintentionally.

I feel it is important to let your child see both the good and ugly true nature of humans. They shouldn’t be protected from undesirable scenes which you think may “scare” them. I rather they be aware then be painted a rosy picture and see it crumble when they meet with undesirable characters in society.

My Kids Experience


My kids have had a rather challenging childhood growing up in a single parent household. Readers who have been following this blog for the past 10 years do know that my kids grew up with a practically non- existent father in their life. who chose to abandon the family for selfish and ridiculous reasons when the kids were starting to get more assertive.

They didn’t miss out much without a so called “father figure” around as they were not robbed of opportunities and experiences which most other families are able to offer. The blessings that they have had been more then compensate the perceived loss of a so called ” incomplete family” by society’s standard.

In fact without having to suffer endless and mindless fabricated drama from delusional individuals the kids have grown up relatively scar free. Having deliberately made an effort to ensure that they were emotionally and mentally stable the kids have learnt how to set appropriate boundaries around them. They have first hand experience and knowledge that there are devils in human skin around us and that go around wearing masks. It is up to our vigilance to ensure that we don’t fall prey to these vultures.

I exposed them to various different types of people in society and stated clearly the reasons why I needed to give them this exposure. The kids had the chance to see for themselves the fate of
– young delinquents who live wayward lifestyles
– former delinquents who made good
-former A* students who have fallen from grace
– individuals who perished being in toxic relationship
-individuals who got out of toxic relationship and thrived
-the happy /sad individual

Through analysing all these characters the kids realise that it is important to know to deal with the different emotions which such people experience and learn how to efficiently control their own emotions so they will not be easily manipulated by others. It is one thing to be emphatic towards others however this should never be at the expense of depriving oneself for the benefit of others.

They have learnt that it is essential for one to know and understand the triggers to various emotions and it is OKAY to show such emotions. We are feeling individuals and to not show love, hate, disgust and other emotions would only mean that he is only a cold blooded narcissist. Such a person is unable to develop any real relationship with others as he is only wanting to constantly manipulate others and has no shred of remorse for all the evils done. Unfortunately for them there were many such people around the kids while they were growing up and it did result in some trauma which took quite awhile to resolve.

It had been a trying time but all those individuals have been cut off totally from our lives and we will never be re-inviting them back in. We certainly don’t need such chaos in our lives ever again.

My personal thoughts

I support the holistic development of a child. It is important to cultivate one in all areas instead of solely focusing on academics. It is important to be an all rounder and be able to handle ones emotional efficiently so that one will not be shortchanged by the greed and selfishness of others.

What will you do as a parent to develop your child’s emotional resilience?

*( With this post I mark the end to this series of post in ” The Transition from Primary to Secondary”. This series had taken longer then expected as I now only write in my

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Posts in the series
Introduction Post
-Surviving the PSLE (Part 1) – Streaming
Surviving the PSLE (Part 2) – The Science Exam
Surviving the PSLE (Part 3A) – The English Exam
-Surviving the PSLE (Part 3B) The English Exam
Surviving the PSLE(Part 4) -The Mobile Phone