Exam Preparation for Primary 2

We’re into term 4 of the academic year and just weeks away from the final year exams otherwise known as SA2! I would like to think I’m no kiasu mummy but when Sophie came home with the  semester assessment timetable right after she returned from the term 3 break, I got all panicky.

You mean exams are happening this year for Primary 2?! And in 3 weeks?!

Sophie was nonchalant about it and coolly told me that I had to sign and acknowledged that she’s done her part and informed me about the upcoming exams. I honestly questioned who’s the one having exam fever here?

While tests are nothing uncommon for Sophie, year-end exams are quite another story. Though as parents, we harbour good intentions in making sure that our kids ace the exams, it’s my belief that our kids have to  take responsibility in preparing for their exams instead of us spoonfeeding them what to do. 

But since this is the first time that Sophie has to stretch herself to remember a years’ worth of learning, I decided to equip her with some tips to tackle her exam preparation for Primary 2.

Devising an exam revision plan
  1. Get the exam dates right

To help her devise a revision plan, I noted down all the exam dates on a calendar which I did using Microsoft Word.

To my amusement, Sophie only picked up on school holidays and public holiday in October, when she went, HURRAY, because #noschool.  Looks like I gotta teach her a lesson on priorities.

Make sure that your child gets sufficient rest before the exams instead of doing last minute cramming to ensure that they are alert and clear-headed for the big day.

  1. Know what’s being tested

Besides knowing the chapters to study for, it’s also important to know the exam format, e.g. MCQs, open-ended comprehension, picture composition, etc and the marks allocated for each section.

That way, you can teach your child to allocate their time wisely and know when to skip to the next section if they find themselves stuck at the same question for too long.

I was surprised to find that oral is given a higher weightage than picture composition and listening comprehension, which means we don’t have to sweat so much over her English composition this year.

  1. Identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses

A smarter way to revise a year’s worth of learning is to identify areas that your child is weak in and dedicate more time at improving those shortcomings by doing more practice to ensure they grasp the concept.

For topics that your child is confident in, they can practice doing it faster and aim for zero errors.

  1. Inculcate a positive mindset

While exams may sound dreadful and be associated with stress, it’s important to help our kids see that exams are a way of assessing what they’ve learnt in the year. Reframe their minds and have them treat exams as a challenge where they get to outdo themselves and be better than before.

It’s essential that we ourselves as parents hold our tongue and not judge our kids by their grades, Unnecessary comparisons between them and their siblings, classmates, friends will only cause them to feel defeated and lousy about themselves.

Our arsenal of assessment books for Primary Two

READ ALSO: Recommended list of assessment books for Primary 2

 

  1. Setting of goals

Whenever Sophie comes home with her test papers, I’ll ask her if she did her best in the test, if she’s contented with her grades and if she wants to do better the next time.

These probing questions give her a sense of ownership towards her own learning and more importantly to get her to acknowledge that she’s doing her best for herself and no one else.

 

Heart preparation for parents 

While it’s inevitable as parents to feel anxious for our kids as the exams draw near, I’m reminded that we have to trust that our kids have been well prepared by the teachers in school. Though we may see all their short-comings, think untidy handwriting, not labeling of answers, half completed answers for comprehension, let’s also remember to credit them for the improvements made over the year.
Even at work, we as adults like to be acknowledged for the good things we’ve done instead of being pointed out all the things we could have and should have done. Likewise, our kids need to hear that we see their efforts and it will spur them to do their best.

And most importantly, let’s always keep them anchored in the assurance that they are good enough. That regardless of their grades, they will always be the child that we love so dearly and it’s something that they will not have to measure up to.

Ultimately not all kids will fit the education system that we have, but what matters is that they tried their best and gave it their all and that will always be good enough.

 

 

 

Here are some other useful links on primary school learning that you may be keen to read too.

 

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Visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto

I’m finally catching up my overdue Japan holiday blog posts. And on Day 3, we traveled from Osaka to Kyoto. I can’t believe how I almost allowed my husband to strike Kyoto off our initial Japan itinerary as he wasn’t keen and even tried convincing me that all the walking and scenery would be boring for Sophie.

It was a nice try on his part since we have visited Kyoto some 10 years and seeing shrines and bamboo forest was just not his cup of tea.

We worked out a compromise and I’m glad I managed to arm twist convinced him that we should at least do a day-trip to Kyoto.

As a city folk, I really looked forward to Kyoto as it’s a welcome change from cities like Osaka and Tokyo. Being able to slow down our pace and take in the breathtaking scenery while enjoying the tranquillity is something not to be missed if you’re heading to Japan.

Since we only have one day in Kyoto, I packed the day with these places of interest.

Fushimi Inari Shrine>Arashiyama district > Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and Togetsu-kyo Bridge> Kimono Forest

Visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto

Fushimi Inari Shrine

We set off from Osaka and took the JR to Kyoto Station. From there, we took the JR Nara Line from Kyoto Station and arrived at Fushimi Inari Station after 2 stops.

The iconic attraction at Fushimi Inari Shrine is the thousands of vermilion colored torii gates or Shinto Shrine gates that follow the mountain path behind the shrine. It’s truly a sight to behold, but do be prepared for lots of walking and hiking which we prepped Sophie for and warned her that I didn’t want to hear whining or complaints.

The crowd at Fushimi Inari Shrine on a Sunday morning

Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of the important shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice, sake and business prosperity. This shrine is the central location for some 40,000 Inari shrines throughout the entirety of Japan.

Fushimi Inari Shrine opens 24 hours a day and if you want to avoid the crowds, you should aim to reach before 9am or consider visiting later in the afternoon. When we arrived at 11am, it was already crowded with locals and tourists alike.

Washing our hands before entering the shrine

Map of Fushimi Inari Shrine

Hiking up Fushimi Inari Shrine 

The first part of the trail was very congested where everyone was elbow to elbow. Don’t even bother to stop for any photos here because it will just be photo bombed left, right and centre. But as you continue making your way up the trail, you’ll notice that the crowd slowly dissipates giving you much better photo opportunities. We climbed for 15-20 minutes and there was significantly lesser people.

It also helps to get camera ready at a spot and click away when you notice a golden window of photo opportunity.

The torii gates are donated by individuals or companies bearing inscriptions of the donor’s name and their wish for health, wealth or happiness.

It’s so nice to have Sophie as our personal photographer on this trip and she does take great shots, don’t you think?

If you’re up for it, you can try hiking all the way up to the summit which takes 3-4 hours and you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view of Kyoto City. We wanted to conserve our energy for the rest of the day and made our way down after half an hour. Thankfully, Summer is Japan has kinder weather than where temperatures are around 20 odd degrees, making the hike a rather pleasant one.

We wandered on the grounds of the shrine and found this are were prayers are inscribed on wooden plates along with rainbow coloured crane origami. Many were prayers for good exam grades and wishes for entrance to the university.

We took a right turn to exit the shrine and were instantly attracted by the smell of food. We followed our noses and sniffed out these stalls selling all kinds of street food from BBQ beef to roasted chestnuts, yakitori, mochi, hurricane potato and much more!

 

After spending about 1.5 hours at Fushimi Inari Shrine, we were off to Arashiyama district for one of the most Instagrammable place in the world, the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.  You can read more about the places we visited in Kyoto in my next post.

 

Travelling to Japan soon?

If you’re heading to Japan soon, don’t miss my earlier Japan posts below.

 

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When our words become their inner voice 

My not-so-little Sophie just turned 8 years old last week. Even though she’s more than capable of tucking herself into bed, the realisation that my baby is growing up too soon makes me want to hit that slow motion button to savour her remaining childlike years before they slip by.

So one thing that Sophie and I look forward to at the end of the day is bedtime. Besides the fact that I still read with her, (we just finished Sherlock Sam and we both rate it 5 stars), we like to snuggle in bed together where I’ll lie next to her as she recounts her day to me.

It’s no wonder Sophie still prefers mummy to put her to sleep as she gets hushed to sleep if she so dares make a squeak by Daddy’s army like style when he’s in charge.

Among our many bedtime conversations, what she said just last week got me reflecting about how my words became her inner voice.

 

“Mummy, today the teacher teach us to think positive thoughts and to be positive.” She went on, “Miss Chow said that when her daughter didn’t do well in her test, she’ll not scold her. But Miss Chow will tell her not to give up and try harder the next time.

When she said that, I was pondering if it was her way of telling me what she needed to hear from me when she didn’t do as well in school. So when I probed and asked if I should learn from her teacher, she grabbed my arm, gave it a big squeeze and exclaimed, “You always tell me positive things and to try harder next time already. Thank you mummy!

 

Thankfully, the lights are out and she didn’t see the tears that rolled down my cheek.

Tears that affirmed my role as a supporting mum.

Tears of joy that she sees my heart and how I’m always rooting for her to be the best she can be.

The silent reinforcement that with constant encouragement she can be shaped to be a confident young lady.

The Power of Our Words

Hearing this was a reminder that my words have the power to build or crush her. And while I’m not proud to admit it, there were countless times where hurtful words were blurted out in the heat of the moment and I said things that made Sophie feel awful about herself. But I’m trying and I’m still a work-in-progress. 

 

Reading this status update from my Facebook post a year ago made me realize just how my words have become Sophie’s inner voice and thank God that it’s an encouraging and supportive voice where she knows she can do what she sets her mind on.

Though parenting is the toughest job in the world, but it’s times like these where I know it’s all worth it.

How are you shaping your child’s inner voice?

As parents we have a tremendous responsibility on how our children view themselves.So let’s speak kindly to our kids. Let’s support them and remind them that they are loved no matter what happens.

Let’s encourage them and motivate them so that they can be resilient and have the courage to take on things greater than themselves.

 

Think positive thoughts and be positive!

 

If you enjoyed this post, you may like these posts where I share my heart about parenting.

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Scoring in Primary Two English Composition

One of the notable differences when Sophie progressed to Primary 2 is having more graded written assessments. With a greater emphasis on writing for both English and Chinese, I began to wonder how I can guide Sophie to score in her Primary 2 compositions. It’s no wonder parents often feel stressed when trying to help their kids with their studies when they feel helpless and unfamiliar with the school syllabus.

Despite being an English speaking parent, I am sometimes at a loss when Sophie approaches me for guidance because writing can be so subjective with definite methods or answer. But at the same time, it’s also what I like about compositions as kids are not confined to a fixed answer and where they can exercise their creativity.

While there’s no doubt that the enrichment centres or tuition centre may do a much better at teaching my child how to ace her compositions, I like to be more involved in my child’s learning.

READ ALSO: English Composition Writing for Primary One

I scoured writing resources, blogs and forums and picked up some very helpful tips and here are a few things that I’ve learnt along the way while has helped Sophie. In fact, her writing has improved over the months where her recent essay got selected by her English teacher to be published in her school’s budding writers publications which was a much needed morale booster.

Understanding Primary School English Compositions Format 
  1. Picture composition – Four pictures in a sequence

This is one of the most common formats used in Primary 2 composition where students have to write a story based on the pictures provided.

Pupils are encouraged to be as detailed as possible when describing the events in the pictures while ensuring that they stay relevant to the pictures.

Sample Picture Composition. Source from http://scholastic.asia

  1. Picture composition – Three pictures in a sequence with a question mark for the 4th picture

This is another common format where the ending is open-ended. This allows students to exercise their creativity for the conclusion of their story and where they can inject surprises in their writing.

I feel that this format gives a chance for students to differentiate their piece of writing from other kids where original ideas will have an upper edge.

  1. A topic or theme

Broad topics like, friendship or an act of honesty, are sometimes given where students have room for penning an original story as long as the content is relevant to the topic.

Other times, proverb such as, Honesty is the best policy or a dog is a man’s best friend, are given and pupils have to expound on it and write a story based on it.

READ ALSORecommended list of assessment books for Primary Two

 

Tips for Primary 2 English Composition

I don’t claim to be an expert in writing, but these are my top 5 tips that has worked well for Sophie’s writing in getting her from good to great.

1. Show. Don’t tell

Show, don’t tell is a technique to get kids to think about how they can use their word to allow the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings.

Here are 2 examples.

Tell      Ryan was feeling sad.

Show   Ryan was feeling so upset that tears started flooding his eyes as he hung his head low and walked away from his classmates who were laughing at him.

Tell         Sonia was terrified of the wild dogs.

Show     Sonia’s legs trembled at the sight of the wild dogs and she slowly inched from the dog house.

See how the second sentences have the ability to paint a vivid imagery with just words.  Here are some other examples from Pinterest.

For similar resources, head to Pinterest and search for, “Show. Don’t tell.”

Source: Jennifer’s Teaching Tool, http://jennifersteachingtools.blogspot.sg

2.Expanding their word bank

In Sophie’s class, she’s encouraged to have a word bank that helps them build their vocabulary with different ways of saying the same thing. For example, thought can be replaced with words like wondered,  imagined,  dreamt of, etc.

Here’s another example on the possibilities you can come up with for said.

3. Start with an impactful opening

A typical start of a composition begins with, one fine day or one sunny day. While there is nothing wrong with this opening, it is painfully predictable and boring to say the least.

To have a more interesting opening, you can get your child to consider using the following:

  • Sound – Ring…. the alarm clock woke me up from my slumber and I leapt from my bed.
  • Dialouge – “Have you ever been wrongly accused as a liar before?”
  • Idioms or proverbs – It was raining cats and dog and I was drenched from head to toe.
  • Question – “Do you ever wonder what it would be like if you could have super powers?”
  • Flashback – Whenever I see a bulldog, it would remind me of the time I was chased by my neighbour’s dog.

4. End it well

Starting well is important but you have to end it well in the conclusion of the writing too. Here are a few formats of how your child can end their writing.

I’m not so sure about the cliffhanger ending as it may give the impression that it’s unfinished.

The printable for the above can be downloaded here.

5. Editing checklist

Last but not least, kids should be encouraged to edit their writing to ensure that they spot any mistakes they might have made in the course of their writing before handing it in.

The few areas I’ll remind Sophie to check are:

  • Tenses
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Sentence Structure
  • Storyline relevance to the picture

Here’s an editing checklist that you may like to use with your child after he/ she completes their writing.

Editing Checklist Source: http://www.upperelementarysnapshots.com

 

I hope this has been helpful for you to guide your kids in their composition to the next level.

Don’t let it be just about the grades

As I write this post, I have to remind myself that it’s a learning journey both for me and my child. There were many times when I’ve lost my cool with my girl when I felt that she wasn’t putting in effort in her writing. It led to a lot of needless frustration and tears and at the end of the day, I questioned if it was worth if if she aced her writing at the expense of having her feelings hurt by my harsh words?

So do be patient with your kids as they slowly embark on more wring  and don’t expect overnight changes. I’m a believe that we need to equip our kids with a Growth Mindset and let them know that they can and they will improve with time and we should also encourage them and praise them for the efforts and progress they’ve made.

 

Here are some other useful links on primary school learning that you may be keen to read too.

 

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Review for Red Riding Hood Musical in Mandarin 小红帽 by SRT

Like many parents in Singapore, I often find ask myself what I can do to help my child develop a better appreciation and love for Chinese. Here’s what I’ve discovered that has always work.

The performing arts.

Red Riding Hood Musical in Mandarin 小红帽 by SRT

We caught Red Riding Hood in Mandarin by SRT when it opened last weekend and the musical was a delight to watch for both kids and adults.

Now Red Riding Hood may be an all too familiar tale for everyone but the performance was filled with catchy songs, unexpected plot twists as the story unfolds with witty and humorous dialogues that even had the adults in stitches.

Sophie’s favourite character was the woodcutter whom Red Riding Hood on her way to Grandma’s home. His funny antics had the kids so tickled that they roared with laughter whenever his memory fails him. Sophie was both impressed and challenged by his 绕口令 that she decided to learn it from YouTube after we got home. Talk about having a positive and immediate impact.

Red Riding Hood Musical in Mandarin by SRT

Even though Sophie’s Mandarin was challenged when she tried to comprehend and make sense of some of the fast moving songs and dialogues, she enjoyed every bit it and even correctly predicted the plot twist at the end.

In my opinion, such engaging performance are a great way for kids to be pick up Mandarin the fun way outside of the classroom. I’m a firm believer that in order for kids to master their Mother Tongue, they must be exposed to the language frequently be it through reading, speaking or listening. I’m so glad that we have such quality Mandarin plays and musicals catered to young audiences to help them appreciate their Mother Tongue.

Get your tickets for Red Riding Hood Musical  

Red Riding Hood is recommended for kids from 5 years and up. The musical will be staged from 20 July  to 1 September 2017, so bring your whole family down for a fabulous time to watch the Red Riding Hood musical in Mandarin where they can learn the importance of family and learning from our elders!

Ticketing Details

Tickets start from $25 onwards and you can book via Sistic.

Dates
20 July to 1 September 2017

Show Timing
Weekends & Public Holiday : 11am & 2pm
Weekdays : 10am

Venue
KC Arts Centre Home of Singapore Repertory Theatre
20 Merbau Road
Robertson Quay
Singapore 239035

 

 

Don’t miss these posts where I  share resources on learning Chinese

 

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*A Juggling Mom received complimentary tickets to Red Riding Hood. Images used with credits to SRT.