Caricatures aside, Singapore parents do tend to be an achievement-oriented bunch. Many will do everything within their means to give their children an edge in an ever-changing and competitive society.
1) You move to school-friendly neighbourhoods
To up the chance that your child will secure a place in a popular primary school, you painstakingly plot your family’s move to a new postal code, so that your residential address gives you that advantageous home-school proximity. Just to be very sure, you make sure your new home is within 1 km of your school of choice. Even if it means uprooting from Telok Blangah to Thomson Road or relocating from Bukit Panjang to Bishan, you dutifully go through with the shift. Anything to get your budding Einstein into a solid, brand-name school.
To up the chance that your child will secure a place in a popular primary school…you make sure your new home is within 1 km of your school of choice.
2) You are an enthusiastic parent volunteer
Whenever there is a call for parent volunteers at your child’s school, you’re the first to sign up. Accompany the class on a learning journey? You’re there. Help with props for a school play? Let’s do this! Organise a games booth as part of Children’s Day activities? Present and ready to roll. After all, the more you hang out at your child’s school, the closer you can get to his/her teachers to find out how your darling offspring is faring compared to his/her peers. Making new friends with other like-minded mums during these volunteer stints is another plus.
3) You pack your kid’s schedule with tuition/enrichment classes
You arrange it such that your child’s weekend schedule is wall-to-wall with enrichment and tuition classes, as well as sporting activities. This, you feel, is preferable to having the scamp stay home glued to his or her smartphone, iPad, Play Station, Wii and other devices, in other words, spending “unproductive” hours on video games. Better to invest their time in violin lessons, art classes, fencing practice, coding courses, tennis training and so forth. After all, you want to develop your child’s many areas of interests.
4) You teach yourself model maths
Although model maths was not part of the curriculum when you were in school, you’re determined to master the art of drawing bar models. You pore through your child’s textbooks or sign up for workshops tailored for parents, just so that you’re boned up on Primary-school maths skills. Units and parts, speed and time, patterns, problem sums…you’ve got it all worked out. If only you were the one sitting for the exam!
5) You can’t stop buying assessment books
If you have a school-going child, Popular bookstore must be one of your favourite stomping grounds. This emporium of educational necessities is where you stock up on assessment books. Though you remind yourself junior has more than enough study materials to see him through the year, you still end up buying yet another subject-focused guide. Whether it’s composition-writing tips, mastering Chinese idioms or acing model maths, you strongly believe this one purchase can make all the difference to your child’s grades.
6) You encourage your child to take part in Math Olympiad competitions
As the maths questions are challenging and require participants to think out of the box, you feel this is a good opportunity for your kiddo to be exposed to a different range of non-routine problems. Besides, accumulating certificates from the various Olympiads can pad up your child’s portfolio of achievements. It could come in useful if junior applies for Direct School Admission to your secondary school of choice.
To ensure your little darling does his or her best in the high-stakes exams, mothers, especially, take time off work to help their little scholar revise, infer and apply.
7) You take a leave of absence from work during the PSLE year
The Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) is the first major exam your child will sit for. Understandably, it’s a time of high anxiety. To ensure your little darling does his or her best in the high-stakes exams, mothers, especially, take time off work to help their little scholar revise, infer and apply. From drawing up a study schedule, and ferrying your child to and from tuition classes, to ensuring he/she gets exam-fit by working through stacks of past-year papers, your time is fruitfully spent helping your mini-me aim for that high score.
8) You stock up on nutritional supplements during exam season
Dutiful parents concerned about their child’s well-being during the stressful exam period will urge their little toughie to down essence of chicken, believed to aid menta and physical fatigue. It worked for you back in the day, so your child should get a taste of it, too! You probably also offer a daily dose of multivitamins to fortify them against coughs and colds.
9) You cultivate a wide network
Thanks to WhatsApp, you are a participant of many, many chat groups with other parents. Let’s see, you have a class chat, co-curricular activities (CCA) chat, play-date chat, mothers’ chat, Higher Mother Tongue chat…and this is only for one child. If you have two or more kids, the number of chat groups multiplies. Besides being a useful source of up-to-date information (“Is there spelling/PE/soccer training tomorrow?”), chat groups can also offer support (“Wishing everybody best of luck for tomorrow’s Science paper!”). Some parents use this channel for a spot of humble bragging (“Still in shock Megan scored A* for Maths!”). Whether you find it amusing, engaging or just plain annoying, WhatsApp chats provide entertainment on the go. And that’s why you can’t bear to exit any group. Probably.
10) You like to be prepared
Is your daughter sitting for the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) screening test this year? Is your son applying for Direct School Admission (DSA) into secondary school soon? You enrol the kids in workshops and programmes that prepare them for the tests or interviews they will encounter. Better to be more prepared than not prepared at all ― right?
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