Many parents might view the Primary 5 academic year as the last year to relax before the rigorous year of Primary 6 begins. However, this is a serious misconception. The start of the Primary 5 academic year is, in essence, the moment PSLE preparation begins.
To help your child face the demands of the PSLE syllabus, it is imperative that he or she begins to take the Primary 5 year seriously. This is THE year to weed out any foundational misconceptions and laidback attitudes, and to seek help, if necessary.
Here are some reasons why this year is such a crucial juncture in your child’s education:
1. The Difficulty Increases (relative to the PSLE)
While the examination components might have been a grey area back in Primary 3 and 4 (depending on your child’s school), you’ll notice that Primary 5 examination papers mirror the PSLE examination papers. At Primary 5, the format in which pupils encounter the various subject papers will be standardised across all schools to ensure it is similar to the PSLE.
This is one indicative way that this year means business.
Now that your child is in Primary 5, he or she has to demonstrate higher-order thinking and a refined understanding of what was taught previously. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that your child cements his or her basic knowledge and application skills in all four subjects to excel during the examinations.
For English, there are new sections in the examination: Situational Writing and Comprehension Cloze. Previously-encountered components now have more questions and/or are now worth more marks. Questions are also more challenging. For Mathematics and Science, two topics might be tested in one question.
2. The Workload Increases Exponentially
In terms of academics this year, your child might be having more supplementary lessons (depending on the school he or she is in). Homework can double or triple in quantity. For English, he or she will be expected to have a better command of his or her language skills. For composition writing (Continuous Writing), a minimum of 150 words is required and your child will have to write more interesting stories (exhibiting his or her skills on how to develop the plot).
On top of having to cope with the demanding academic load, Primary 5 children will also have to juggle their co-curricular activities or enrichment activities all year long. With this much more to handle, parents will have to ensure that their children are able to balance work and play. Speak with your child and find out what he or she might need help with so that you can help to ease this stress.
3. Stress levels begin to hit an all-time high
The increase in difficulty level and additional commitments this year will be extremely stressful for your child. Being a pre-teen, he or she might attempt to hide this stress behind tantrums, procrastination and even smiles so as not to make you worried.
It is important, however, that you monitor your child’s stress levels. Speak with your child regularly about how he or she is feeling. Once you can identify the factor that is making your child feel overwhelmed, you can find a solution or a technique that might help him or her cope with this stress.
Exhaustion due to a lack of rest:
For a start, ensure that your child is getting enough sleep (about 8 hours a night). Your child should also have some time to rest and/or take his or her eyes off work. It is best to avoid digital devices about 1 to 2 hours prior to bedtime. The blue light emitted from screens and mobile devices will block the body’s production of melatonin, a chemical that makes us feel sleepy.
If your child seems down, give him or her some encouragement and motivation. Get to the heart of what is making your child feel demoralised (Is it academic-related, sports-related or peer-related?) and provide some suggestions as to how your child can solve this problem.
Struggling to cope with studies and non-academic commitments:
Sit down with your child and draw up a schedule/timetable (preferably using a large piece of paper). Help him or her map out the time currently allocated to the various activities/tasks per week. When you, the parent, looks at this schedule/timetable, do you feel that it is overwhelming for an 11-year-old? Discuss with your child what the “essentials” are. Is there a non-essential activity your child would like to opt out of? Or would he or she still want to continue with this non-essential activity because it brings joy? What can be done instead to free up your child’s time?