Don’t let your kid get overwhelmed by PSLE pressure! Try these tactics to help him soldier on…


The Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) is the first of several milestone exams junior will need to tackle. He’ll understandably be a bundle of nerves over having to produce a stellar performance in this watershed test, so here are ways to take some of the heat off all his swotting…

1) Review your kiddo’s revision plans

Don’t cram too many subjects into junior’s PSLE daily revision schedule. Notes Gavin Ng, a director at Gavin’s Tuition, “For [the] PSLE, as a single subject is being tested in a day, it’s wise to plan that he revise only [one] subject a day.”

To motivate him, split the time he’ll spend between revising a chapter and trying practice questions. Ng explains, “This method of reinforcement can channel the information to [his] long-term memory and allow the student to retain the info for longer period.”

How much time he spends on exam revision should be similar to the amount of time he’ll get to complete the paper. For instance, if the science paper is two hours long, Ng says, the PSLE pupil should revise for two hours before taking a break. This way, it will force his brain to “acclimatise” to the duration of the paper and prevent mind-blocks or him from getting distracted.

The night before the exams, instead of burning the midnight oil, end revision early, Ng advises. This will give your offspring’s brain time to rest, so that he won’t be careless or get a case of the jitters during the exam. Nor should he be studying other subjects as this will just put unnecessary stress on the brain!

“The night before the exams, instead of burning the midnight oil, end revision early. This will give your offspring’s brain time to rest."

2) Take breaks and make them count

During study breaks, you should encourage your child to focus his attention on a fun activity that is not too strenuous.

Advises Daniel Koh, psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, “Since studying is [already] stressful and one will feel tired, it’s best to avoid doing excessive physical activity that does not allow the body to rest.”

If junior’s clamouring to do something energetic, urge him to do it at the end of the day instead of during a break. These study-break distractions should achieve the following objectives:

a) Recharge These allow your child to allow the brain to wind down and reboot before the next task. He’ll also feel a sense of fulfilment when he can see the outcome of his efforts!
TRY Baking, gardening, art & craft activities.

b) Relax and laugh Try stuff that will tickle junior’s funny bone, since laughter draws people together and lets parent and child abandon their teacher-student relationships for a while. Koh says, “Laughing together is a good way to connect with each other as everyone is equal.”
TRY Watching TV sitcoms and comedies.

Continue reading to find out what you can do to ease the pressure on junior…


c) Show support and understanding Talking about general issues apart from studies and work is a great way to better understand each other. This also shows that you value the person, Koh adds.
TRY Ask your mini-me about his friends, discuss newsworthy subjects or anything related to pop culture.

d) Exercise and move Exercising has been shown to increase one’s cognitive functions and relieve stress. Koh suggests sticking to light workouts that are fun and engaging — the aim is to enjoy each other’s company.
TRY Cycling, swimming, walking, stretching or yoga.

3) Say the right things

Helping your child deal with his anxieties is as important as ensuring that your kiddo covers as much as possible when he revises. By the way, piling up workbooks is not helpful! Koh reminds parents to refrain from pressing their kids to study more.

Don’t be aggressive, threaten or use emotional blackmail. Making a statement like, “You need to calm down and study hard to achieve your dreams!” shows you value results more than their well-being, Koh points out. Most importantly, acknowledge their emotions and listen. Remember to show your support, offer warmth and comfort and reassure them. Try saying:

“Remember to acknowledge their emotions, listen and show support or reassurance instead.”

a) I can see that you are doing your best This statement acknowledges junior’s progress is more important that the results. Koh notes that this is positive reinforcement, especially at a time when junior is feeling unsure.

b) When you put your mind to it, you can overcome it Boosting your kid’s confidence may help keep him motivated for the exam. It also gives your child a sense of control in uncertain times, Koh explains.

c) I also went through the same thing as you You are showing that since you went through the same experience and succeeded, he can, too.

d) I believe in you and love you, no matter what happens You are placing your trust in your kiddo’s abilities and showing that you value him, instead of making your love conditional (that is, you only love him if he can produce excellent exam results).

e) You can come and talk to me anytime you need me and I will be there to listen to you Your kid needs to know that your door is always open to him whenever he needs to talk. This also shows that your support for his well-being will not waver.

Gavin Ng is director of Gavin’s Tuition. Daniel Koh is a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre.

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