How to Select an Appropriate Secondary School

How to Select an Appropriate Secondary School

IMG_0428“Why did you select this secondary school?”, was a question I often posed to fresh Secondary 1 students. Most of the time, many said that they selected this school due to distance or CCA. Now and then, some would mention that it was their parents’ choice. Were they happy? Some shrugged. Many chose not to answer.

I have seen some children who made a switch for the better after entering a school. I have also seen many who made a turn for the worse. Parents are consistently questioning about the change in the child’s attitude, behaviours, homework, friends etc.

Selecting a secondary school is one of the trickiest options out there. Not only they are going through puberty at this stage where their hormones may go out of whack, they are also searching for their identity. Many parents assume that if a child goes to a “branded” school, they are set for life. Yet some children may do worse than if they have gone to an average one.

So what do we look at when parents want to select an appropriate secondary school? This is a multipart series which I will be addressing in the next few weeks. We will be looking at the following components for the next few posts. Click on the picture to access to the respective links!

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Easy Primary Maths Study Smart Secret: Spend Only 15 Minutes a Day

Easy Primary Maths Study Smart Secret: Spend Only 15 Minutes a Day

by John Yeo


If there’s a study method which requires only 15 minutes a day, will you be interested to know?


However, what we are about to share with you is not widely used because this is not what teachers in school or the “experts” from tuition centres say so.

To them, studying for just 15 minutes a day is definitely not enough. One should study AT LEAST 15 hours a day in order to score good grades.

Thankfully, there are more and more parents who believe in our proven system and they prefer to use our  learning method because it is healthier for their kids and their kids begin to like math more. In truth, this method is more effective and it requires less time and is less torturing for both the parent and the child.

Before we share with you our preferred way to study, let’s take a look at why studying for long hours is ineffective. 

Firstly, the average attention span of a child is about 10 to 15 minutes of focused concentration. After every 15 minutes, there should be a 2 to 3 minutes break. If there is no break, most children’s mind just drift away although they are physically there.

Secondly, most study sessions are plain boring. The activity consists only of writing and listening. The communication is always one way from adult to child. Plus, children aren’t encouraged to ask question because this will disrupt the flow of the session and hinder the teacher or the tutor’s teaching.

Thirdly, the lessons conducted are not catered to children’s basic needs. The teaching method which only the teacher teaches and the child listens is actually more suitable for adults. For children to learn more effectively, the lessons have to be VERY DIFFERENT. There should be more fun gamesmore stimulating discussions and more affirmation for the children that it’s ok to ask question (no matter how ridiculous it sounds).

Now, we know what don’t work for children. So, the important question to ask is how can we as parents make the lesson simpler for both parent and child without the need to make big changes?

Using only 15 minutes a day, we can do this:

Step 1: Choose ONLY 4 questions, 1 MCQ, 2 short answer questions and 1 long answer question

Step 2: Understanding that 1 mark is equivalent to 1 minute, your child should spend at most 10 minutes to complete the questions.

(It doesn’t really matter if your child finds the question hard. I know most children give up and leave the question undone just because he thinks it’s hard or feels it’s hard. Encourage your child to write anything. The worst thing to do is to not write anything at all.)

Step 3: Once time is up, mark your child’s work

Step 4: Praise your child for attempting all the questions and not leaving them blank.

(Help your child to develop the never-give-up mindset.)

Step 5: For the question that were wrong, help your child to find out why and understand his mistakes.
It may be due to poor understanding of the question or the tested concept.

(Some times children get them wrong simply they are not in the mood of doing them.)

Step 6: Always get your child to first explain to you on how he plans to solve the question. Once he is clear, then he can proceed. By telling you his plan, he is processing it in his mind too.

That’s it! Give bitesize word problems so that learning math is more enjoyable and more fun for your child.

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5 Common Mistakes in Synthesis and Transformation

5 Common Mistakes in Synthesis and Transformation

by Jerry Lee

For the Primary School English exam paper, you do not want to make silly mistakes for the Synthesis and Transformation section.  Yes.  Of all the sections, please do not make your silly mistakes here.  Each questions consists of 2 marks, contributing to a total of 10 marks overall for the entire paper.  So if you have done your paper until this segment, drink some water or slap your face lightly to wake yourself up.

Here are the silly mistakes I keep seeing in this section.  ( I feel like vomiting blood even as I type these mistakes out!)

1.  Tom likes to cycle.  Jane likes to cycle too.

Blur Student’s Answer:  Both Tom and Jane likes to cycle.

Mistake: likes >>> like

Comment:  Strangely, the simpler the question, the more overconfident students become.  They will blindly copy-paste and move on to the next question.  There you go! 2 marks gone just like that! Ouch!

2.  Tom did not know that there were lessons today.  Jane did not know that there were lessons today.

Blur Student’s Answer:  Neither Tom nor Jane knows that there were lessons today.

Mistake: knows>>>knew

Comment:  In this case, the blur student forgets that the word ‘did’ in the question shows that this event had taken place in the past.  Past tense must be used.  Always be sure of the time frame of the event.

3.  Tom’s mother asked Tom, “Where were you last night?”

Blur Student’s Answer:  Tom’s mother asked him where was he the previous night.

Mistake:  The answer should be –  Tom’s mother asked him where he had been the previous night.

Comment:  When students look at indirect speech questions, they feel so excited and focus so much on changing “last night” to the “previous night”.  Good job! Sadly, because of this single-minded focus they always forget these other 2 rules for indirect speech.

– past tense in direct speech (dialogue) must be changed to past perfect tense ( had +_______[past participle]) in the indirect speech. In this case, were >>> had been

– when the direct speech is asking a question, make sure that when you convert it to indirect speech, your phrasing must suit a full stop.  Do not phrase it in such a way that it still sounds like a question mark sentence.  E.g:

  • Tom’s mother asked him where had he been the previous night.  (WRONG. Notice that when you read this sentence out loud it ends with a question mark tone.)
  • Tom’s mother asked him where he had been the previous night. (CORRECT. Now when you read this sentence out it ends with a full-stop tone.)

4.  Tom ate his dinner.  He went back to do his homework.

Blur Student’s Answer:  Having ate his dinner, Tom went back to do his homework.

Mistake:  ate >>> eaten

Comment:  Students always forget that there is a grammar rule called Present Perfect Tense.  Somehow, they only view sentences in Present Tense and Past Tense, which sadly, is not the case.  Present perfect tense consists of:

  • has/have + ________ (past participle)
  • Students also forget that there is such a thing called past participle
  • E.g of past participles –  eaten, forgotten, drunk, slept, driven, sung, swum…etc.

5.  Tom put in a lot of effort.  He still did not win the race.

Blur Student’s Answer: Despite putting in a lot of effort, he still did not win the race.

Mistake: he>>> Tom

Comment: Once again, due to copying-pasting without thinking, students forget that ‘he’ could mean anybody.  We need to make sure readers know that Tom is the subject mentioned in this sentence.

Practice makes Perfect

The good news is, although Synthesis and Transformation may seem difficult at the start, with thorough practice, I have seen some of my students master it to get full marks consistently.  After doing a number of questions, you will start to see some similarities and patterns.  This will make doing Synthesis and Transformation questions much easier for you over time.

Remember, English, like any other language, is just made up of a set of rules.  Practise and remember the rules and you will be fine!

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The Importance of a Parents Role in PSLE Math Tuition

The Importance of a Parents Role in PSLE Math Tuition

by John Yeo Jhong Ren

In Singapore maths tuition before the PSLE exam is something that more and more parents are investing in to help their child do better on these all important exams. However good the tuition they pay for is though the way they themselves behave is very important to their child’s eventual chances of success, not just in the PSLE exams but in their academic career in general.

Parents and PSLEs – You Feel the Stress Too! 

Modern parents are more concerned than ever with how well their child performs on the PLSE exams in general and maths is often one of their biggest concerns which goes a long way towards explaining why they would be willing to part with their hard earned money to pay for maths tuition.

The problem is that parents sometimes let their concern about how well their child is going to do on the PLSE exams that they become stressed out and then pass that stress on to their child.

Children already know from their teachers at school how important the PLSE exams are and they know what depends on the results. The last thing they need is their Mum and Dad reminding of that every night as well because that will simply make them scared about what would happen if they do not so as well as their parents hoped for.

Beating the System by Making PSLE Maths Tuition Fun 

When compared to school systems in other countries some people feel that the pressure put on Singaporean children by the streaming system is just too much. However you personally feel about that is rather irrelevant – it is what it is and you have to help your child find ways to deal with it and get the most out of their time in school.

One way parents can help their children is to make what can be a very dry subject more fun. That might sound very strange at first – how can you make maths fun? Chances are that you don’t remember primary school maths being very much fun but it does not have to be that way.

One way to make maths more fun for kids is to relate the practice questions to their real life interests. For example if you kid is a sports fan using some of their favorite players statistics to demonstrate percentages might be more interesting to them than just dry numbers on a page and it is also a great way to demonstrate how maths is used in real life, outside school.

Positive Reinforcement Versus Negative Reinforcement

Children thrive on praise and they do not always get enough of that at school where there are so many other children a teacher has to pay attention to as well. This is where parents can step in and be a big help.

It can be frustrating if your child does not seem to be doing as well as you think they can or as you had hoped. Getting mad about it and shouting about it will not help anyone though. Your child will be upset, you’ll be upset and neither of you will be able to focus on what is more important.

There are ways that you can encourage a child to keep trying to improve that are positive instead of negative. Instead of ranting that you can’t believe that they got half of the questions on a practice test wrong focus on the brighter side – they got half of them right. Now all they need to do is stay focused and upbeat and figure out what is going wrong so that their scores can increase.

Letting Your Child Be a Child 

How many times have you thought to yourself that it seems like just yesterday that you yourself were taking PSLE maths tuition and preparing for your exams. Life moves very quickly and as important as studying for the PSLE exams is it is also important that children are given time to be just that – children.

Even with the PSLE exams approaching things like sports and other extracurricular activities are still important as well. The key is finding the right balance so that your child get their studies done but still has time to do something as simple as going outside to play with their friends for a while.

Being There For Your Child on the Big Day 

Much as you might want to you cannot go and be with your child when the big day comes and they have to take their PSLE exams. What you can do however is make sure they get a great start to the day and that they know you will be thinking about them.

Send your child off to school after a good breakfast and a big hug. In Singapore maths tuition can be very useful but so can the love and encouragement of a parent and you do not have to be a teacher to give your child plenty of that!

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5 Revision Tips for PSLE Math

5 Revision Tips for PSLE Math

By Jimmy Ling

With PSLE Math around the corner, here are some revision tips for parents to help your child.

1.  Look at your Child’s Current Results

How did you child do for the latest school exam? Did your child score A or B? Or did your child barely pass or fail? If your child did well, congrats! You can guide your child to spend less time on paper 1, and spend more time on the challenging problems. The challenging problem sums are the one that differentiate the ‘A Star’ and the rest. So to score an A star, your child must know how to do the more difficult problem sums.

If your child didn’t do well, don’t give up. Encourage your child. Miracles can happen if he is willing to put in his best effort in these few weeks. Spend more time on section A and B first. Spend at least 1 hour each day with a 5 mins break in between on doing MCQ and short problem sums. If you can, mark his work and explain his mistakes to him. Look for common questions which he has mistakes on and let him do again. If not, simply change the number in the question and ask him to do again. MCQ and short problem sums are very good to build up the foundation first. After that, you can ask your child to attempt the long problem sums.

It is good to ask the school teachers or other parents with children in the same school, how your child’s results are compared to the rest. Some schools like to set difficult papers, and it is quite normal if your child did badly as the whole level did badly too. Ask the teacher or tutor for feedback on which topic your child is weak in and how he can improve on that topic.

2.  Focus on these Important Topics

Fractions, Ratios, and Percentage are MUST KNOW topics as they constitute most of the marks. Make sure your child knows how to convert from one to another. (E.g, Fractions to Ratios.) Then, look through the problem sums and let your child do the questions on these topics.

Geometry is also very important. Make sure your child knows how to find area and perimeter of circles, break up composite figures into circles, squares, rectangles and triangles, finding unknown angles, and know the concept of overlapping.

Speed is important in problem sums. Make sure your child knows how to attempt these 5 common questions for speed.

For algebra, your child must understand the concept. Simply put, they are just letters that replace numbers. Make sure your child can do the operations (plus, minus, times, divide) on Algebra.

3.  Understand the Problem Sums

Ask your child to read the problem sums to you. Make them explain what they understand from the question. Most children have difficulty understanding phrases, like “remainder”, “increase by 1/5″ etc… After your child has understood the problem, ask your child what method he will apply to solve the question. Ask him why he wants to apply this method too.

4.  Focus on the applying the Methods Correctly

There are 8 Must Know Methods for solving Math Problem Sums. Make sure your child knows when to apply these methods, and how to apply these methods. Choose questions which use the same method and let your child do those questions. Repetition may not lead to perfection, but it will certainly help!

5.  Time Management

A lot of parents ask how long should his child study each day? Well, it depends on your child’s standard. If your child is very good in Math, 15 to 30 minutes each day, doing the more challenging problem sums should be enough. But if your child needs more help in Math, spend at least an hour each day with breaks in between. Reward your child after he has completed his tasks.

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