askST@NLB: How do I use the June holidays to help my kid prepare for PSLE?

Pupils should take advantage of the holidays for uninterrupted study time, but also ensure they get enough rest, said MOE's Dr Sandra Wu.
Pupils should take advantage of the holidays for uninterrupted study time, but also ensure they get enough rest, said MOE's Dr Sandra Wu.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The new PSLE scoring system will be implemented this year. But with no change in the curriculum, assessment and standards of the exam, primary school pupils should continue to take reference from their performance in their mid-year and other previous exams.

Pupils should also turn to their teachers, to work on their strengths and weaknesses as they prepare for the exams, said lecturer in policy, curriculum and leadership at the National Institute of Education, Dr Sandra Wu.

Dr Wu was speaking at an askST @ NLB panel discussion hosted by The Straits Times correspondent Venessa Lee.

The panel discussion - "How to use the school holidays to ramp up your PSLE revision" - was done virtually on Zoom and broadcast on ST's Facebook page on Friday (May 28). The panel's other member was the National Library Board's (NLB) head of early literacy Fa'izah Ahmad.

AskST @ NLB is a collaboration between The Straits Times and the National Library Board.

Under the new PSLE scoring system, announced in 2016, each standard-level PSLE subject will be graded using eight bands known as Achievement Levels (AL). Each pupil will be given AL scores from 1 to 8 for each subject, instead of grades like A* to E.

Dr Wu said a key difference between the new and the old scoring systems is a pupil's grades will no longer be calculated against those of his peers.

In the old T-score system, a pupil's PSLE score took into account how he performed relative to the rest of his cohort.

Given that the change means more emphasis on each child's individual academic achievement, Dr Wu said that parents should talk to their children and find out what they want to achieve for each subject, depending on how deeply they want to pursue the subject in secondary school.

"I would encourage parents to take collaborative and consultative efforts for revision, because students need to take ownership of their learning," she added.

The June holidays mean more free time for things like reading, but Ms Fa'izah said that parents should let children take the lead. She said that children are most engaged with reading as a skill when they are allowed to choose their own books.

"Reading also needs to be incidental - meaning that it must be related to things that the family are already doing like going to the zoo or cooking meals," she said.

Ms Fa'izah added that reading for leisure during this pre-exam period could also help reduce stress, citing a study done by the University of Sussex in Britain.

The study, which was conducted in 2009, showed that reading for as little as six minutes could reduce stress by up to 68 per cent.

Dr Wu also spoke on reducing stress. She said that while pupils should take advantage of the holidays for uninterrupted study time, it was also important for them to get enough rest.

"It should be noted that each child is different, and having a rigorous study schedule may be counterproductive," she said.

In the question and answer session, Dr Wu said that parents should set realistic goals and pace themselves in the final stretch before the annual exams, which start on Aug 12 this year.

She was responding to questions that the public had submitted before the talk.

When asked how parents and children should cope with the current situation where children are doing home-based-learning and parents are mostly working from home, Ms Fa'izah said that they should use the time together to read for leisure.

"Parents and children can use our (NLB's) resources to read things that they enjoy, or they can do together, like a book we have called Yummy Yoga which has kid-friendly yoga poses," she added.

For those who missed the Facebook broadcast, they can find the story and video at this website. Past askST @ NLB sessions can be found there as well.

The next askST @ NLB session will be on June 25. Titled When Nature Speaks, it will be hosted by ST's science and environment correspondent Audrey Tan, and will address how the natural world can communicate important scientific information to humans, if listened to properly.


Suggested titles

For children:

• Stargazing, a graphic novel by Jen Wang

• The Magnificent 12 Series: Book 1, by Michael Grant

• My Magical Life, by Zach King

For parents:

• How to Raise A Reader, by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo