Don't forget to give kids their childhood

It is heartening to see a campaign that addresses the anxiety and hype over the Primary School Leaving Examination by showcasing different kinds of success (Show kids there is more to life than just exams, Sept 16; and A look at PSLE scores - to get parents to look beyond grades, Sept 17).

It is encouraging that parents are becoming increasingly aware that their attitudes towards the PSLE can be transferred to their children.

Three years ago, our charity embarked on an annual Children's Day initiative to counter the over-emphasis on grades in our culture.

The Race to Praise campaign encourages parents to praise effort over achievement and character rather than performance.

Starting with parents of primary school pupils, it has since been extended to parents of pre-schoolers.

The obsession with grades seems to start long before the PSLE, even before birth.

Research has found that one of the major reasons married couples cite for not having more children is money, including the cost of tuition and enrichment classes, even before the child begins primary education.

If we want to counter our national preoccupation with grades and the stressors that come with it, we need to equip and support parents in their journey.

The PSLE can be a positive experience if parents set the following goals:

- Purpose: Find out how your child is wired in personality, interests, learning styles and natural talents.

- Self-discipline: It is your child's exam, not yours, so he needs to learn diligence, time management, independent studying and balanced living.

- Learning: Ensure your child acquires the basics of reading, writing and mathematics, plus knowledge of the world around him.

- Excellence: Help him develop an attitude that seeks to give his best in everything he does, even those things he does not like.

There is a saying about parents: They spend so much time, money and effort giving their children what they did not have, that they may fail to give them what they did.

Let's not forget to give our children their childhood.

Joanna Koh-Hoe (Ms)

CEO, Focus on the Family Singapore