How do you define success? For some parents, it might be being able to brag about a child who just scored the best possible score in his Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).
The recent release of PSLE results and the change in the scoring system led me, a tutor for eight years, to reflect on the meaning of nationwide exams.
Parents should place less emphasis on academic pursuits, and instead spend time with their children to nurture them as well-rounded individuals. I understand that sometimes, this is more of an afterthought as it's easy to be caught up in the rat race in a highly competitive country.
As a tutor, I witness first-hand the detrimental effects on children who are pressured to do well academically. Some of my students lamented about how much they hate their parents for making them study. Others neglected their sleep and health. I have even had a student who told me of his plan to commit suicide (thankfully he decided not to after my pep talk).
It can seem like an irony at times, as I'm a tutor who advocates for children not having tuition unless necessary. I've even had to advise a parent that her child did not need more lessons from me.
Singapore's tuition industry is worth more than $1.4 billion, according to the latest government survey on household expenditure (Families spent $1.4b on extra tuition for children last year, Sept 7, 2019). This is reflective of the belief that tuition is a safety net for students.
This can become a vicious circle - parents needing to work harder to bring in the extra income to fund their children's tutoring expenditure, leading to less time for parent-child interactions.
Ultimately, I believe that when it boils down to choosing between academics and a "study-life balance", some parents might choose the latter. Perhaps if parents could better align their values with their choices, children would grow up with happier childhoods and as more well-rounded individuals.
Lydia Chin Kai Jie