Thursday, June 3, 2010 ;
11:11 PM
I was surprised to read in the papers that only 16 schools in Singapore had done away with the tests and exams for P1 and P2. I had the idea there were many more who took up MOE's recommendations from the high level study in 2008/9.

No wonder, when I talk with my friends, I felt that ds1's school is the odd one out. Other than his good church friend, Mx, who also doesn't have any tests or exams, most of my other friends with P1 and P2 kids were busy swotting for the mid-yr exams just a few weeks ago.

The most impact was felt with his cousins. His cousins study at a well known school in the Jurong West area. Apparently stress levels are high there and it is very competitive. His cousins are smart but their classmates are also very smart. So my sis in law has to keep them on their toes all yr round, it seems. She has 4 kids, and 3 are in the school already. The oldest one is taking PSLE this year.

Normally we meet every week at my mil's place for dinner. However, since the oldest one started P5, she had lots of homework and needed every minute for revision. She also had to spend a lot of time on her CCA. So my sil sometimes did not turn up, and stayed home with the oldest girl. My pils were very unhappy, they always grumble about it.

This yr, the situation was worse. However, my pils made their whole family come over a few times when there are important occasions like birthdays and so on. During these times, the cousins will bring their homework over to do and once dinner is done, they retreat to do homework with my sil. My pils were again not pleased. They also leave early because they have more homework to rush out.

As tests and the mid-yr exam approached, they stopped coming and my mil decided that meeting at her place will be 1x a month instead and the rest of the weeks she will come to our house and their house on separate days. This is to help my niece cut down travel time so she can spend more time on her revision.

So gradually we see them only 1x a month. Then my niece got even busier and she stopped turning up for the 1x month gathering as well, so we haven't seen her for some time now.

When I see this, I am glad MOE is lightening up and implementing all these new measures for kids to learn more optimally and spend less time mugging for exams.

ds1 enjoys his alternative modes of assessments by way of the portfolio, listening and oral quizzes (non exam format but more for practice and evaluation of how well the kids understood the lessons).

He also has poetry recitations for English and Chinese. The Chinese one involves actions and dancing too. Dh says it is so cheesy but it's just cos his teacher is from China and they do it like there that. It's fine if the kids find it fun, I think.

Next term, he will have show-and-tell as part of the ongoing assessments for language. For Math, it is like a checklist and the teacher will tick the appropriate level the child is at for us parents to be aware of their progress. Eg, able to write an addition story, or knows his number bonds up to 10... There are something like few levels corresponding to "very well", "somewhat well", "getting there" and "needs more effort".

Other than that, the marks the teachers show us refer to the past yr papers and quizzes they attempt. They are timed but they do not need to revise for it, nor do the teachers have to prepare them, so no lesson time is lost and the kids are not stressed over it. Since us parents don't even know they did those papers in school, like when or where, we don't stress over it too. These marks are not counted as well.

I thought since it was an MOE initiative following a study, many schools would have adopted it, so I was surprised the number is only 16. I hope more kids get to benefit from this, and also from the PAL programme as well.

(As for project work, so far, ds1 completes them in school. Every project has been a group effort so far, and he did not need any parental help. I hope it remains this way cos I heard and read that project work at upper primary level involve taking them home and requiring the parents' help.)

ds1 is enjoying his holiday immensely now. Reading, drawing, playing FB games via my account, playing board games, cycling, fooling around, taking care of his sister and helping me with housework. I've got pics of that. Will post soon. :-)

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