Experts and parents share tips on how to help your child revise for weekly spelling tests and tingxie without him throwing tantrums.
LAY DOWN THE LAW “From the first day of school, I told my daughter the rule with homework: It has to be done first before anything else,” says Kyra Soh, 38, a stay-home mum. “Initially, it took some getting used to. But after a few weeks, it became a part of her routine. She now automatically sits at her desk when she arrives home.”
REVISE TOGETHER “For ting xie (Chinese spelling tests) and English spelling, revise the words with your child a few times during the week,” says Eileen Yeo, executive director of Da Little School, who has four children. “By the time the tests come, your child will be so well prepared, she’ll probably ace it, which will boost her confidence. And she’ll no longer view these tests so negatively.”
TAKE BREAKS Not all kids are capable of, or even willing to, consistently sit down to revise or do their homework on their own. Carmee Lim, mentor principal at Mindchamps, believes the trick is to get kids excited about learning. She recommends giving them time to unwind, have a break and play, before getting down to work.
“To reduce boredom, break their homework up into parts and encourage physical activity in between that increases oxygen intake, which boosts the production of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein that enhances the ability for neurons to talk to each other. Music, movement and gymnastics are activities that promote this.”
SET UP A HOME TIMETABLE Elsie Lim, principal of Pat’s Schoolhouse Buckley, explains: “Children at this age do not have the ability to organise their time in a structured manner, so having a “home” timetable will let them know what needs to be done first, what comes next, and so on. Of course there must also be time for play.
“When it comes to preparing for tests, assessment papers are useful. But do not overdo it. Break it down over a few days and create a daily to-do list. When given in small doses, revision isn’t overwhelming.” This helps to get your child into the habit of revising, and not just focusing on homework alone.
GET CREATIVE Felisa Fernandez, curriculum specialist at Learning Horizon, suggests transforming ting xie into a game show format at home, where you participate with your child using flash cards, so learning the words is a more exciting experience. “Be sure to also praise your child. To make it meaningful approval, be specific. Instead of saying ‘Well done’, say ‘You’ve got 7/10 – that’s an improvement on your last grade. Good job!’” she says.
When your kid is afraid of exams