In 2019, The Ministry of Education in Singapore announced that mid-year examinations for Primary 3 and 5 would be scrapped, while there will be no school exams for primary 1 and 2 students took effect at the start of the year as well.
No exams in school?
Certainly, this should be something to celebrate, as it is one less thing to stress about – for students, parents, and even teachers as well.
Why are there no exams in school?
The Ministry of Education wants to embrace a more holistic learning environment and to shift the focus away from grades. After all, as adults we know that life is so much more than the numbers on our report cards. There are many other ways to assess learning than just a paper exam.
However, some are concerned that this could also pose a problem. How would parents gauge their children’s progress in school? Would parents find out too late that their children are struggling, and therefore lose out on precious time to correct course and help their children improve?
While it is important to look beyond grades, it is also crucial that parents keep track of how their children are faring academically so that it is never too late to lend a helping hand.
What you can do to track your child’s progress in school without exams
1. Communicate with your children about their school day
Many parents commiserate about the fact that when we ask our children how their day was, all we get is an “Okay” or “Fine”.
However, rather than just asking them a general Yes/No question about their day, get them to tell you about a specific lesson or learning point that they enjoyed. It can help to get them talking about non-academic matters first – ask what they had for recess, for example, and whether they enjoyed it. Many children also love to talk about their co-curricular activities, which is a great window into their school life.
2. Keep tabs on your children’s homework
It is also important to physically check in on their homework by looking through their marked assignments. The best way to assess your children’s learning is to see how they are faring with their daily work. Have they been getting many errors? What kinds of mistakes do they make?
Try not to get angry and upset if there are plenty of red marks in their books, as this is the fastest way to turn your children on the defensive and break down a positive attitude towards learning.
Instead, sit down with them and try to figure out why they are making certain errors. Is their handwriting untidy? Have they misunderstood something the teacher said? Could they work on their spelling? It is much easier to catch small points of improvement regularly than to deal with a huge backlog later in the year.
3. Change the way you assess learning as a parent
Often, younger children are able to answer questions verbally, but find it hard to translate their thoughts to writing. This is normal and developmental, and is the main reason why lower primary examinations have been scrapped. Many kids can grasp the concepts and ideas in their heads but are let down by their inability to write or spell what they are thinking.
There is no real cause to worry – most children will naturally catch up, especially those who may be born later in the year. Sometimes, a little boost may help in the form of enrichment classes such as the MindChampion Junior Programme at MindChamps.
MindChamps’ proprietary learning techniques are closely linked to the structure of MOE’s lower primary curriculum, which helps children master the application of various rules and skills quickly. This means parents can leave it in the hands of experts to manage their children’s learning.
4. Be proactive about keeping in touch with teachers
Nowadays, many schools have personalised apps that provide easy points of contact between teachers and parents. This means that you have a direct line to your children’s teachers where you can clarify doubts or find out how your child is doing.
Although schools generally have regular parent-teacher meetings, you can also speak to your children’s teachers through phone calls or emails if you have specific concerns about your children’s learning. Ask direct questions like, “Does my child speak up to answer questions in class?” “Does my child pay attention during lessons?” rather than vague queries about how your child is doing in school.
However, do remember that teachers have many large classes to handle and family lives of their own. Make sure your questions are short and to the point. Stick to communication only during office hours and be patient if they take a little while to respond.
No exams, but there are regular assessments
Although there may not be formal examinations, many schools do still have some form of summative assessment. This may take the form of quizzes, truncated exams, project work, presentations or other types of assessments. These are more holistic and give a better representation of your children’s progress.
How else can you help?
Sometimes it may be worthwhile to get some outside help to keep tabs on your children’s progress. MindChamps Enrichment Academy has a wide range of programmes that are suitable for children aged 3 to 12, which helps to support each individual child’s learning needs and nurture a positive learning attitude which is so important during the foundational years. From reading and writing to collaborative skills and study skills, there is something for everyone.
Specifically, our MindChampion Junior programme is an excellent way to build a strong foundational knowledge in English, Maths and Chinese for children in primary 1 and 2.
Find out how we can help your child today – contact us to register your interest.
Written by Danielle Hee