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.

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Posts in the Series so far :
1) Surviving the Secondary Years (Introduction Post)

2) From 4 to 8 subjects

3)How to Study Effectively in Secondary School