We had a chance to get invaluable insights from two experts from the education field about the milestone transition from primary to secondary school. Lance King, Director of the Art of Learning, is an expert on teaching children learning skills and coping mechanisms.
He is also the developer of the International Baccalaureate ‘Learning Skills’ curriculum. Alistair Chew has over 20 years of experience as a teacher and educator in Singapore with experience and interest in the International Baccalaureate and other international education programmes.
Steps parents should take to prep for the move
Lance King gives us five steps to aid our kids in the transition—you may not have to be as involved as you think.
1. Stop panicking – your children will pick up your anxieties and will become more anxious themselves – treat the move as a natural progression from junior to senior schooling and a normal part of growing up.
2. If they have passed their PSLE then they will have all the knowledge and skills they need to succeed at secondary school.
3. If you have ‘helped’ them a lot with their learning up to now, make a commitment from now on to stop doing it for them. The best thing you can do from now on is to help them develop the skills of the self-managed learner – organisation, time management, research skills, note making, summarising, review etc — which they can only do by themselves.
4. From now on help them focus on the two things that are in their control, effort and strategy use, as the keys to academic success.
5. Realise that the best learners are prepared to try different strategies, techniques and resources in learning their subjects and most importantly they are not afraid of failure, they treat any setback as a failure of process not of the individual and they are always looking for ways to improve their learning skills.
5 Areas of preparation
Alistair Chew enlightens us with what areas parents should consider looking into when journeying with their children from primary to secondary. There are many facets to ponder about:
Parents should always start with basics. They should honestly evaluate if their daughter or son is able to handle school life, and with what level of external intervention, if any is required.
Secondary school life tends to be a lot more complex, so it helps if the child enjoys going to school in general (and not just purely for the social experience).
Parents should then determine if their children can handle the school curriculum; again, with what degree of external intervention. If the child needs intense and painful intervention, then parents ought to consider counseling (for themselves as well as their children).
Depth and Breadth
Parents should be alert for signs that children’s interests are limited only to the school curriculum unless cajoled, forced, or otherwise propelled elsewhere. At secondary school, a broader and deeper range of things to study will appear, and if children will not naturally develop motivation to handle this range, it’s going to be harder.
This is not a signal for parents to throw everything at their children and hope some of it sticks. Rather, they should encourage a range of interests.
In fact, parents should be alert for signs of children developing their own interests, and they should encourage these without pushing them.
Failure is debilitating, but lack of it is disastrous. All things fail in nature, and the human race learns by avoiding repetition of failure or by overcoming their failures. The home environment must help children build for success, especially success built on the ashes of less-successful attempts.
Help children answer questions like “Will you still love me if I do badly?” by ensuring that love and support will always be forthcoming; they are separate from achievement — but achievements are something children need to build if they want certain future outcomes.
And all you need to get to the next stage is to get through your PSLE well enough to enter a secondary school. Don’t overthink it.
Rehearse the Changes
What’s different between primary and secondary school? There’s a huge range of information available at the MOE website and in schools.
Parents should take some time to check out the potential schools (not just the elite ones, which everyone likes talking about). Make a list of what will be different when going from the child’s primary school to a likely secondary school.
Is the architecture different? What are the teachers like? What services are available? How does the transport plan go? And so on.
For more info on Lance King, visit the website www.taolearn.com
Alistair Chew has published research in several journals and books. For more info visit https://alistairchew.wordpress.com
Also read: PSLE result release: 5 things you need to remember