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How to Help Your Kids at the Start of their Secondary School
For your child, the move to secondary school can be a big jump. For one, they are streamed into four different tracks, each with varying standards and pace of learning determined by their PSLE results. While many things remain similar, the secondary school environment makes many assumptions about what a student has managed to become proficiency in. Expectations and demands also change, and here’s how you can help your child to cope:
Check if your child’s reading skills are sufficient.
One of the main differences between secondary and primary school in Singapore is in reading. In secondary school, students no longer “learn to read” but rather “read to learn.” Secondary school teachers will often tell students to go home and read certain chapters or pages on their own; it is expected that students can do so. It's important to check if your children are able to read and understand the given chapters. If they cannot, seek immediate help from the school teachers.
Encourage your children to join a wider range of activities.
During the first year in secondary school, children will be looking for new friends. Students who can’t make friends tend to be less eager about school, and often don’t seek out help from peers for homework, revision, etc. The easiest way around this is to encourage your child to join a wide range of activities. Don’t tell them to hurry home every day and stare at the television, or to avoid contact. The faster they make new friends, the faster they will feel comfortable at school.
Lay off the rote learning techniques.
Memorizing will not work in secondary school. At the secondary level, many questions will test students’ analytical abilities, as well as their skills at articulating an argument. In order to develop these skills, your children must be encouraged to discuss various solutions, rather than being force fed the answers from an assessment book.
Encourage a better understanding of current events.
Many topics in secondary school now deal with current events. Magazine and newspaper clippings may be used as a source of questions and material. You could encourage them to read the news, and discuss it over breakfast or dinner. You might also want to nudge them toward the right magazines like National Geographic, Reader’s Digest, the New Yorker, or the Economist.
Teach your child to use library resources.
Many secondary level assignments will require children to have some initiative. This means finding extra facts not covered by the textbook, or doing their own research. To get around this, bring your child to the library and show them how to look up key resources.
Research the options of home tuition for them.
Check to see if your child’s tuition classes keep pace with the new syllabus and more importantly, as your child would be more involved in school activities in their secondary years, do be mindful of the available days for home tuition so that it doesn’t clash with other activities that your child might have.