Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mum's Diary: Stress Is Inevitable?

Transiting to Primary One is a big deal for kids. It's the beginning of formal education in Singapore and for many of the kids, it's their first encounter with serious and intensive studying. Apart from the kid feeling the stress and heat, the parents usually get stressed up and nervous as well, especially if it's the first time for them. I started this series to document the chronological order of events, my intimate thoughts and emotions on this journey, and it will continue until Joey settles down in Primary One. Hopefully, as we go along, the posts would become more and more positive and encouraging. I do believe in that. :)

Sunday
13 May 2013
12.09am

On Wednesday last week, Joey came home looking exceptionally exhausted. She snapped at every word her sister said to her, and was easily agitated. I thought she must be really tired out by her day in school, but it also looked like she was under a lot of stress.

Thursday is usually her English Spelling day, so I told her that we would revise her spelling list after dinner, to which she said, "Teacher said I can have spelling next Monday instead because I was on MC yesterday, and I told Teacher I don't have time to study for it yet."

I was a little upset she actually went to tell her teacher that, and that the teacher actually agreed?! So I did the typical mummy thing and nagged at her that she shouldn't be lazy and should just get it over and done with for the spelling instead of procrastinating it to the following week.

Then she burst out crying.

"So many homework to do tonight! How would I have time to learn my spelling?? And the Chinese teacher said we are going to have a test next week! How???!"

There - the main source of all her stress and worries is out. THE TEST.

Apparently, the Chinese Teacher told the students that they were going to have a 'Show & Tell' the following week and they were to share about their favourite animal. The 'Show & Tell' will be graded upon 20 marks, and according to Joey, the teacher said that for every sentence said wrongly or missed out, she would deduct marks accordingly. Talk about instilling fear in the poor kids. Sigh.

Prompt questions were provided for the kids to draft out their 'Show & Tell' script. Everyone would need to memorise and say out about 8 sentences including the intro and the closing. I guess this can be rather stressful for a seven-year-old, having to memorize and say out clearly in front of a class crowd of 30 people, under scrutiny by the Teacher even.

I am upset about this, quite frankly. When the Principal met the parents at the beginning of the year, we were assured that the kids would not have examinations till the 2nd half of Primary Two. That would give them a good 1.5 years to get into the momentum of learning and hopefully, enjoy the process. But when I saw that Joey came home with test papers that she did in class - marked & graded, I was already bewildered. I thought perhaps it was just a routine class assignment, but Joey said the teacher sprang a surprise test on them, and they could not refer to their textbooks while doing the tests. Thank God Joey got full marks for most of them, so they are pretty manageable. But the way the teacher portrayed the 'Show & Tell' was a little too daunting for them, in my opinion. Rather than warning them that bad performance would result in her deducting marks, she would be a little more encouraging perhaps? It is after all their first 'Show & Tell' in Mandarin.

So, I drafted out the script for Joey according to the prompt questions and helped her to memorize them sentence by sentence. I knew the only way to eliminate the stress and fear was to overcome it by becoming well prepared. At least, that always worked for me. I hated for things to be out of control and full of uncertainties. I am always one who need to have assurance that I am well prepared and ready for the challenge ahead. Thankfully, it worked for Joey as well! After she memorized her script, she realised that it was not so difficult after all. I also had to give her a prep talk about how Mummy is not so concerned about how well she would do, but whether she has done her best. That was what my own mummy always told me from young, and I intend to inculcate that into my girls as well. We don't need to be the best in class, but we need to try our best in everything we do!

It seems to me that Joey is very similar to me in this area. My mum always tells me that she never needed to put pressure on me to get good grades, but I am the one who would always pressurize myself to keep doing better the next time round. And because of that, she was never worried for my studies, because she knew I would take responsibility for it myself. It is a good thing that Joey is conscientious I guess, but I pray that she would not overstress herself such that it becomes a burden. I still think that school should be fun and enjoyable! Seeing her break down and cry under tremendous stress worries me. :( I really hope that she would get better and better at coping with stress, and become more proactive in this aspect in future.

Read the rest of my entries in 'Mum's Diary' here.

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