I have to say, with the kids in the SG education system for the last few years, the importance of academics has definitely been the top factor in the local childhood education. I never once griped about it because it was my choice to bring them back to Singapore and I knew it was going to be tough.
As much as the media and the ministry has stressed that kids should not spend all their childhood studying, I find that it is a contradiction to the level of standard that my boys are meant to achieve in school. Mediocrity is a no no.
Whilst education carries a heavy weight (because I believe kids should not feel left behind, leading to a lack of confidence), I certainly do not expect straight As from them. I believe in raising well rounded kids. That is, kids who know that there is a life out of the classroom.
That being said, during one of my recent parents teachers meeting, I was told whilst my son had a great attitude and shows leadership potential, he is at 80th percentile for academics, and I was strongly advised to help him to get to the average of 90th percentile, which is expected at this level. Just so he doesn't end up in a class of 'mixed ability.' (No offence to the teacher because he does like my son, and he is actually planning to make him class captain next term.)
As a mother, you worry. You think, oh dear, he's going to end up in the slacker class. Yet on the other hand, 80th percentile is pretty decent, no? I was feeling rather defeated, in all honesty, like I didn't do my job well in educating this child.
My husband, seeing the lines on my face, said, "There's nothing to worry about, at all! He is fine!"
You see, their time is split between school, after school enrichment classes, swimming lessons, music classes and play time. They swim, play rugby, go to Sunday school, attend music & ballet classes on the weekends. Our weekends are not about academics. If I wanna relax on the weekends, why shouldn't my kids do too? Hence, it's not rocket science that we do not spend all day sitting around the table doing work.
What I'm trying to raise my kids to be is not an academic nerd but one that is socially smart and knows his Ps and Qs.
Yet I realise that in order for them to finish this race well, I must always be behind them, making sure they do their homework and supplementing them with extra work to ensure they know their concepts really well. I do so because I know that a child who thinks he's failing, would automatically feel his self esteem plummet.
So what is my approach? We are going to revisit the concepts taught in school this term and we will do a lot more reading. Peppered with patience and encouragement, we'll definitely get there. The grades will come. =)
Like every mom that believes in her kids, I know that whilst I would run beside them to finish this race, I would never discourage them from having life experiences out of the classroom. Because end of the day, a degree would only get your foot in the door, it is up to your attitude and your aptitude to move on in your career and life.
And looking at my kids, I know that straight As or not, they will be a-ok in this life.