The key to doing well in the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) is to study effectively and manage stress, starting from Primary 4. Many parents become concerned when their kids’ grades suddenly drop in Primary 4 and Primary 5, but this is quite common as the schools prepare them for the PSLE.
1. Set a regular study time
Once Junior enters upper primary, set up a weekly revision routine so that he’s absorbing knowledge in “bite-sized” portions, and will reduce the amount of cramming he needs to do in Primary 6, says Alan Yip, founder of Mind Edge.
“Do a weekly review to measure how much he has studied each week, which will lead to increased motivation.”
But be realistic about study time, says Helen Marjan, CEO and director of studies at Lorna Whiston Schools.
“An hour to 1ó hours a day should be enough if your child works consistently. Any longer is unrealistic, unless the child is strongly motivated. Make ‘academic time’ fun when he is younger so he associates learning with feelings of satisfaction.”
“Let your child negotiate work time with you. Be willing to make reasonable compromises if there is a valid reason – this will encourage him to develop independent thinking,” Helen adds.
2. Plan ahead
Encourage your child not to leave his assignments until the night before they are due. Write down all tasks so he can check on his progress. For long-term projects, set aside dates for completing certain stages well before the actual completion date.
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3. Help him study smart
When your child is revising for exams, divide the content into units and ask him to decide when it would be best to study each unit. Use flash cards to help him memorise words, key figures, dates or language concepts.
“As children hit Primary 4 and above, they should start to study at least three days before tests to maximize retention of material,” Helen advises.
Insert some daily “buffer time”, Alan suggests. “If your child has completed his work, give him a choice of doing the things he enjoys. He can also use the buffer time to fill up his ‘vocabulary bank book’ – a ledger where he can write the meaning of new words that he may have come across.”
4. Instil self-discipline
Teach him to work and play quietly and independently. Make sure he has a comfortable place to work and help him to organise himself, Helen adds. “Encourage him to keep his toys and books in the right place, and to check that he has all the stationery he needs.”
She says it’s important for children to have time to relax and play. “This should not be seen as a waste of time, so encourage hobbies and an interest in physical play,” she adds.
5. Develop his language skills
Start reading to your young one from an early age so that you can discuss topics with him. “If your children see that you enjoy reading, they are more likely to read, too. Reading together can go on for as long as your child is happy with it,” Helen says.
Language skills also develop through exposure, so make sure that he has the opportunity to listen to good speech. “Talk to your kids regularly. Ask for their opinions and exchange views, as well as ideas and jokes,” Helen adds.
6. Adopt a learning style
Research has shown that students perform better in exams if they study according to their own learning style.
“Some children need more breaks than others, some prefer to study with friends, some need to discuss what they are learning with others, while some need to see visual examples,” Helen points out. “So find out which of these fits your kid best.”
Alan agrees: “Although each child has a predominant learning style, adopting all three styles – visual, auditory and kinaesthetic – will improve his learning efficiency by 80 per cent. But review his learning style after a few years, as it tends to change over time.”
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