The Primary School Leaving Examination or PSLE determines the readiness of every student close to the end of their sixth year in elementary school to enter secondary school. This test, administered by the Ministry of Education, analyzes students according to different areas to test their proficiency in the English language, their chosen Mother Tongue language, Science, and Mathematics. Aside from these, PSLE is also an indicator of which secondary schools children are eligible to enter and the academic field they can pursue. As such, different secondary schools also require a range of scores from students that they can admit to their schools.
However, the PSLE is not without its controversies. Over the years, there had been many oppositions to the test but even then, experts have claimed that it is useful to check student’s progress and their ability to continue to the next level of education. PSLE claims to help determine student’s current educational capacity as well as assist them in learning and understanding the values of hard work, resilience, and discipline. Many agree the exam poses a problem to the children especially with the amount of stress and pressure they are put in to pass the exam and determine and secure their admission to their chosen secondary school.
Even with the recent changes in the scoring system for the PSLE, there may still be instances when the child gets a score lower than that of what they intended to get. In response to not getting their ideal score, they might feel disappointed and even guilty, feeling like they failed somehow and haven’t upheld their family’s expectations.
As parents, there is only so much you can do to assist your child. But if you think that the child is suffering from stress and anxiety for their incoming PSLE or received poor results in their preparation, we’ve gathered some tips to help children deal with them.
Children, even younger ones, may be prone to bottling up their emotions, especially if they know they failed in a particular task or have done something wrong. They may even be afraid to let their emotions show. When parents see their child holding in their emotions, approach them calmly and let them know that it is acceptable to cry.
Holding emotions in can cause children to develop negative coping mechanisms. Letting children show their frustrations and emotions is better so they have a chance to let it all out and then, once they’ve let it all out, they can start to calm down and tackle the matter logically. When children have no outlet for their emotions, they can’t also focus on the task at hand and may even become more distracted with the frustration they are feeling.
Children can understand their parents’ emotions just as much as their parents could with them. If the parent is facing their child and they look disappointed or angry, chances are, the child will keep their guard up even more. At this point, the child is already emotional and when parents let their emotions get to them and reflect on their expression, the child will feel even more frustrated and guilty for letting their parents down. Let the child have his space and keep yourself calm. Getting emotional or angry at the child will not help anyone and will only make matters worse for you and the child.
Communication is an important aspect for the child to process and deal with the stress of the preparation for PSLE (or any exam for that matter). Some children tend to not want to talk about their feelings and emotion if they feel threatened or unsafe. These can be because they fear their parents will get angry at them or maybe because they don’t know how their parents will react. When this happens, parents should wait and give their children the time to reach out to them and when they do finally decide to speak with their parents, they should be in an environment where they feel safe. Let the child speak first about their emotions, feelings, hesitations, etc. before also saying what you have in mind.
Children at this age and time will be more hesitant. They want to be heard so it’s important to let them finish talking first before giving them any advice or responding to what they are feeling. Remember that approaching the parents may be no easy feat for them and if parents interrupt or invalidate their emotions, they may revert to feeling down. When speaking with the child, let them understand that getting lower results or grades are not signs that everything is over for them. Instead, help them understand that while PSLE is important, it will only determine their educational capacity now and not in the long run. It helps if they want to be admitted to their dream school, but it can also narrow down the schools in which they can study in.
You see movies all the time wherein the main character receives a pep talk from their coach or mentor before a pivotal moment in their character arc. The same principle can be used in real life and during these times when the child especially feels down. Let the child understand that this is just one of the many challenges they will face in their lives. They may succeed and they may fail, but nothing is ever set in stone and it doesn’t mean they if they fail to get the scores they want, they could still succeed in the future. Also, it’s always a good idea to remind the child that there will always be people like his/her friends and family, who will support them every step of the way.
If taken a step further, parents can also mention people who have made it despite having poorer school results. This doesn’t mean that they should throw away the exam, but only to serve as an inspiration that even if they fail at something, if they work hard and continue to work towards their goal, they can achieve the same level of success. After all, if these people have done it, why couldn’t he/she?
After the child has significantly calmed down and their head clearer, let them focus more on something else, may it be a task or activity, that will distract them from the test result and help rebuild their self-confidence. After all, getting lower scores takes a toll on a child’s confidence and self-esteem more than anything.
Here are some ways for them to build their confidence back up again.
If parents want the child to feel a sense of accomplishment without giving them a hard time, household chores are the way to go. These chores are simple and can be done in a short amount of time, they wouldn’t take a toll on the child while keeping them productive all the same. Additionally, they will also feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the chore.
Another good way to release all pent-up tension and energy is through sports. Sports helps students meet new people and also provides them with challenges. As such, they also learn many values such as discipline and perseverance which can help them during their exams as well.
While there are many measures parents can take when their child is pressured and stressed with preparing for PSLE, they may still need all the support and assistance they can get. Sure, the exam can be a means to narrow down the schools the child can be admitted in, but it also helps their confidence and self-esteem if they actually get the score they want and into the school of their choice. Getting a home tutor for them can be one way to help them turn their frustrations around. Tutors can offer them a deeper understanding of the subjects better and can also assist in developing a child’s study habits. As such, home tutors can also impart knowledge on examination-taking techniques and time management tips that students can’t get in schools.
This is a very delicate time for the child to go through. Parents, no matter how close they are with their children, can’t be absolutely sure how they are feeling all the time. So, it’s best to keep an eye on them and monitor their behavior. It’s also best to make sure they are not exposed or focus on what others have to say about those who got lower scores in the exam as they may feel even more down and even develop self-hatred tendencies. Be there for your child and listen to their sentiments rather than getting angry with them for having these thoughts and emotions.
Children don’t have the same experience adults have when taking criticisms or failures. They haven’t developed thick skin yet and may still be prone to negatively take these instead. If your child is taking PSLE soon, it’s best to support them in all aspects of preparation and encourage them and help them understand that this exam isn’t their only shot at success. Show them love and that you are proud of them, no matter what the results of the exam may be.
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