For What is Worth in our Academic Pursuits?

For the longest time I have been playing a push and pull tug-of-war within me whether to enroll my kids into an academic enrichment or tuition program since they were preschoolers. Each time, the temptation comes, the Lord just restrains my impulses and reminds me that we need to prioritise Him first and lay the spiritual foundation before anything else.

After all these years of struggling, the Lord has been grinding me in this area of academic pursuit for my kids. Last year I prayed very specifically on how I should proceed with my eldest this year. If you follow us, you know how much emphasis I have placed in training my kids to be independent workers focusing on the heart and the habit-making processes. I believe in a wholesome approach to life grounded in Christ.

I used to feel strongly over a no tuition or enrichment route (for my kids). However, after speaking to my close friends and understanding from their perspective, it allowed me a broader view of things this year.

I was even extremely surprised to hear a cleaner auntie share her own experience on how she and her husband slogged to pay for tuition for all subjects to let their kids have a good foundation in their academic life. Mainly because they are illiterate so they wanted their kids to have a head start in life. To her, the children are used to hard work and do not feel deprived.

Another friend felt that giving the kids enrichment paves the way to maximising the child’s potential. The child is clearly growing well, confident and self motivated.

Yet another friend shared her wealth of experience having raised 2 boys to fine young men in the Lord. I admire her singleness of mind in raising her kids devoting her time and energy teaching them diligently and tenaciously. She gave her candid observation on the ‘agony’ of my middle ground stance. I have been treading on the middle, feeling overly cautious that I do not swing to the ‘Kiasu’ side, but feel guilty when I see that my kids not rising up to their potential. Neither do I belong to the group where I can relax and let them have alternative routes to the future being different from the mainstream and pursuing their own interests. This latter route allows the child more room to ‘not perform ‘ as expected in mainstream school as success is not defined by academic performance. If I truly believe in the latter, I would not be in this state of constant struggle.

In a flash, my eldest is P5 now. I have finally arrived with a clearer conclusion for myself. Throughout these years of nurturing my kids staying home and doing part-time work, I have done my best in encouraging a wholesome routine of play, pray, paying attention to the life skills and attitude processes in life. My friend’s perspective was just the assurance I needed to set free that zeal in me for excellence.

God’s timing is always the best. These years of restraining myself from being a results-driven mum, has taught me how to die to my own expectations of my kids’ academic performance. Instead, I diverted all my energy into excellence in heart attitudes.

I started training all of them from primary 1 to get into the habit of doing their own homework and in the absence of it, to do a few pages of assessments daily. After school, kids wash up and have lunch then have their solo quiet moments. This encourages them to rest without stepping on each other’s toes. Thereafter, they will start their own 1hr study mode. Upon work completion, they usually gather and play amongst themselves.

P1 and 2, I had to remind the kids very frequently and monitor their progress closely. Only when they entered P3, the boys gradually picked up this habit and last year, this routine finally became automatic.

A parent’s job will never cease. Not that I have done a good job in their character building, but I have come to a resolution that this year it is time to pace my eldest more stringently in his academic achievements. It is time to get him setting targets that we know he can achieve. I have laid enough on his overall foundation. It is time to spend time building on the foundation, this academic pillar in his life.

As we do not have extra enrichment, I will have to be extra diligent in driving this academic gear. One thing that sparked this endeavour is my belief in presenting our excellence in all areas, including a rigorous academic endeavours in honouring our Lord as a student and a parent. The main purpose of me working part-time is to support my kids in every way while they are still under our charge. I wish to have no regrets in my duty as a mum by supporting my children’s most basic role as a student in his academic stake.

For a start, after discussing with my hubby on my resolutions, we spoke to A on our rationale and intentions. God somehow has also prepared our son’s heart as he was receptive to our proposal and began his good work on the first day of school!

With this new year where A enters p5, we shift gears in our efforts to refocus back on the nitty gritty academics routine. – Reviewing P4 assessments that are still undone from last year and paying attention to all corrections. I firmly believe in going with school syllabus pace. After new topics are taught, then our P5 revision can kick-start and accompany the flow of lessons taught in school.

Why?

Those who were taught outside school, the syllabus in advance, lose focus and interest in classroom setting. They are then bored and either get distracted in class or disrupt others. This will result in a poor habit of long term inattention in school. I feel extra enrichment or tuition for revision is fine as long as it is not school syllabus content taught in advance.

Therefore, we are reviewing last year’s work now so that it doesn’t get too heavy towards the end.

Am very encouraged that my eldest is receptive to this new year’s diligent start as he sees the importance of daily responsibilities as a student.

#givingourbest #reflections #backtobasics #backtostudyroutines

It was another milestone for all of us. Basically, our routine will begin with saturday mornings reserved for homework and revision. Our nightly Chinese reading will include

1. Reading aloud for comprehension

2. Copying down interesting phrases on his journal

3. Copying onto cards and pasting into a recycled wooden plank for review

4. Using these phrases to draft a story.

We have also begun watching the evening news in mandarin and increase our Chinese shows on weekends instead of the usual English channels.

These changes are not easy as the kids have been accustomed to English channels.

In the past, I avoid getting them to target a grade. Now I will get A to set higher targets and see how he progresses.

I am glad that my hubs will be the moderator if I overdo. Like I was trying to explain the Chinese meaning of the drama we were watching, and hubs remarked that this is not a Chinese class, let them enjoy the show or they might be repulsed by my efforts!

It was then that I knew much wisdom and good pacing is required. As much as I had the green light from the Lord to coach my no.1 to put in more effort, I needed much grace and patience to move the gear smoothly. I share this to shed some light on how we have been coping in our Singapore system. At the same time, record this milestone for my future reference on how the Lord have groomed us in His love in every area of our lives.

In the midst of all these hype, we still maintain our 1 to 1 outings, our weekly interest-based activities. Today we downloaded sudoku and word cookies for my 1 to 1 with A. It was a good time of bonding and challenging my growth mindset as I tried doing sudoku the first time with him!

My main motivation is to help A learn to replace sloppiness with excellence in his studies like he strives in his CCA. To aim for the stars, even if he falls, he can be at rest knowing he has given his best. The tragedy is in failing to aim and becoming sloppy in his work, never knowing how far he can soar and stretch to the heavens.

This time round, I know the driving force is not out of fear of missing out (FOMO), but out of love and excellence to do our best as working for the Lord not for men.

It took many years for me to reach this state of faith and trust in God for all the processes and results of our kids’ lives. Yet, we are learning to trust more than ever before.

I thank God He is our refuge and strength!

On another note, because of my focus on my eldest, I will have to put a halt to 四五快读 printables and just teach my girl at a slower pace.

Thanks for reading this teething matter of my heart.

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12 comments

  1. I can’t agree with your point of view more! I think kids need to be pushed a little, but only to the best of their ability, otherwise I think they will be doing themselves a disservice.

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