Related Posts with Thumbnails

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Over Structured Child

I saw a teen last week who had scored in the top 10% of his PSLE cohort. At the end of Sec 1, he had done poorly at his exams... poorly enough that the school had REQUIRED that his Mother attend Parent Teacher Meeting. There was a round of scolding and some promises. "May such an abject lesson teach my child!" said she.

By June of Sec 2, the teen did even worse. This time, he failed 3 subjects. The Mother was REQUIRED to meet the Vice Principal. "Looking at the PSLE results," said the Vice Principal, "your son should score in the 80s. Yet, he is almost failing. If he does not buck up, he will be retained."

I interviewed this teen for 1 hour and found that the boy had NO CLUE how to study. Gee... he did not even know how to plan a study schedule!! His parents had spent $2000 a month on his tuition. His tutors had told him what to do and when to do it. His tutors chased him for HW and made sure he did it. He had gotten into the habit of needing someone to run after him for HW.

In secondary school, his parents gave him no tuition. The boy did not want tuition anyway.

Yet, the boy said this of his school teacher, "My XXXX Teacher was not good. The class did not do HW. All this Teacher did was to say how disappointed he was with all of us, and then he did not even ask for the HW again."

Oh dear... the fellow actually expected his secondary school teacher to track whether he has passed up HW. Sorry buddy... would you later expect that in university your lecturers will run after you for HW? If you don't pass up, you fail that module. Similarly, if you don't do your HW, you fail your exams. If I were you, I would be running after my Teacher to get my HW marked, NOT expect my Teacher to run after me to get my HW done!!

If your child has had tutors impose a study structure right through primary school, then you cannot expect your child to know how to plan and structure his own studies when there is no one to tell him/her exactly what HW to do and by when. If your child has had tutors discipline him/her to do HW right through primary school, then you cannot expect your child to know how to discipline himself/herself.

Little Boy had 3 months of Chinese tuition, which he later requested to drop because he was confident he could manage without. Other than that (and Kumon for 12 months) he had no tuition at all. He and I were both doing PSLE together for the first time. Hence, I did not know much more than he did. There was a lot of discussion (and I took Little Boy's views seriously even in P4) about how to study... and when.

In Primary 4, I hammered out a study schedule which I allowed him to critique. We discussed. I defended. He also defended his views. I made changes. We agreed. Without realising, these weekly discussions helped Little Boy understand the thinking behind the scheduling.

In Primary 5, I intuitively sensed that he could do his own scheduling. So, I handed the task over to him. We discussed. He defended. I also defended my views. We agreed. By this time, I was quite pleased with the extra time I saved from having to schedule his time. He was ultra pleased to be trusted to schedule.

In Primary 6, he scheduled and I looked. My involvement was a formality.

Since Sec 1, I have not looked at his schedule at all. He has managed to keep his head quite afloat despite competing in 2 CCAs, being Class Chairman, Vice Captain of his CCA and the Group Leader in various charity fund raisers and volunteer projects. He failed Math at CA1 but pulled it up to A1 by the time mid-year came around. Then, he proudly failed Chinese, in the best tradition of his school. Sigh!

After giving him an earful about there being NO PRIDE TO BE HAD at failing Chinese (no matter what the school's proudest tradition), I asked about scheduling and he showed me the study schedule for the 2nd half of 2014. It had enough Chinese to mollify me.

Oh yes! A look at Little Boy's schedule is enough.

He does have the discipline to carry out his schedule because in primary school, I allowed him (in selected situations) to experience failure in exams if he failed to deliver on his work schedule. You don't work according to schedule? It's ok. I will wait till exams and then rub it in.

No comments: