No Exam in Primary One: Yay or Nay?

When we found out that there is no final examination for Primary 1 during the Parent Orientation Day, we were jumping with joy.

“There will be no exam stress for us and our boy this year. Even if he doesn’t study, he will still be promoted to Primary 2 without any streaming. Yay!” I told the Hubby jokingly.

And that’s how we eased through the first term of his Primary 1. Not that he doesn’t study at all, but we didn’t attempt to test him or give him too many assessments at home. My plan for Term 1 remains the same – to get him to settle into the new school routine, one step at a time without overwhelming him.

Coming to Term 2 now, I start to feel a tinge of stress when various assessments start at school. For English, they have Show and Tell, Read Aloud Test and Listening & Phonics Test. For Maths, they have two Mini Tests, and for Chinese, they have Oral Test and so on.

All these mini tests and assessments carry 5 – 15% each from their final score. So the ‘kiasu-ness’ in me keeps reminding me to prepare him adequately for all these tests. After all, we don’t want him to end up padding the bottom ranks.

The first one was Maths Mini Test on shapes and patterns. Just when V thought that it is easy peasy, I mapped out a series of worksheets on shapes and patterns for him. For days, I went through the shapes with him, and make sure that he knows how to spell all the words (square, circle, triangle, rectangle), and identify patterns.

It may sound easy, but some of the questions are really quite tricky. These are three questions that I picked from his one of his assessment books:

Challenging P1 Maths Questions

I was stuck at the first question and had a hard time explaining to him how to identify the 20th shape without drawing the pattern all the way to 20.

For the 2nd question, it is a little tricky but still doable after he spent some time to analyze it.

For the 3rd question, it’s challenging to get him to read all the sentences, understand them and draw the diagrams correctly.

Fortunately, the actual mini test didn’t turn up to be that difficult. But it wasn’t very straight-forward either. For instance, he got a mistake in this question where he obviously didn’t count the diamonds as squares. That’s why he got it wrong.


And I explained to him that diamonds are squares because they have four equal length sides and four corners. So, in mathematical term, a diamond is the same as a square.

On the other hand, I find that this question is quite difficult and I was amazed that he can get it correct. I questioned him on how he gets the answer – just to make sure it wasn’t his wild guess. He told me that he didn’t understand the first sentence, but he got the clue from the second sentence where he counted the number of circles.


Obviously, this question about pattern is quite tricky too.


Interestingly, he scored 18/20 for his first Maths mini test and we were all so happy for him.

The Chinese Oral Test on HanYuPinYin came on the following week. Every night, we read his Chinese textbook to make sure that he knows how to pronounce the HanYuPinYin correctly. His reading is okay, except that he occasionally mixed up the “iu” and “ui”, and “ie” and “ei”.

As soon as the Chinese Oral Test was over, he had his English Read Aloud Test this week. Again, we spent a few days reading his vocabulary lists to prepare him for the test.

In a week or two, he’s going to have Show and Tell for English. I have no idea how and what to go through with him.

“Aiyah, he is going to have these assessments almost every week. Just relax lah! Stop stressing him and me!” the frustrated Hubby said.

I blamed the Singapore’s pressure-cooker education system for all these stress. I know I can’t be overly concerned with performance and grades, but if our boy didn’t do well, I would blame myself for not preparing him well enough for the tests.

Truth be told, when we first became parents, the Hubby and I agreed that we were not going to send our son for tuition every day for every subject. As long as he enjoyed the learning process and absorbed information from the world around him, that would be sufficient for us.

But seven years on, I find it hard to balance between leaving him to learn at his own pace, and stepping in to make sure that he’s on track and not lacking behind in school works. Sigh, it’s harder than I thought.

Sometimes, I think that it may be easier to have just one or two end-of-semester examinations, rather than having assessments or mini tests almost every week. At least we can still enjoy from the beginning to mid-term, and then start to go full speed as we’re approaching the final term.

Now, it dawns on me that having no final exam doesn’t mean no stress at all. Whenever I read a Whatsapp message that goes “we’re going to have mini test next week”, I’ll go scrambling through his textbooks and folders again to map out a revision schedule for him.

I should learn to be more relaxed.

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My 818th Post

Well, I don’t usually mark milestones for my blog but this post is indeed quite special. It’s my 818th post on this blog. What a journey!

Come to think of it, it may not be a BIG number at all considering that I’ve been blogging at Our Little Smarties for 5+ years now. But I’m so happy today that I can maintain this blog for so long. It’s indeed a milestone that deserves a celebration today. :)

I’m not sure how many of you have been following my blog since the beginning. In these 800+ posts, you can see my journey from a clueless new mother to the mother of a Primary One boy, who likes to share my learning curve and experiences as a full-time working mother.

The most significant part of what blogging did was to open up for me an entirely new world out there – from people who read my blog to blogger friends, PR people and blog sponsors. It would be impossible to meet these amazing people without this blog.

Some of you have been with me since the beginning, and some have joined me later. Some of you constantly leave your comments, and some are silent. Some of you have met me before, and some are complete strangers.

But one thing for sure! Each and every one of you has contributed to me and my writing in some way or the other, so THANK YOU all for being here with me.

This year, I’ve made a resolution to cut down on blog projects and events mainly due to work commitments. I’ve also informed my kind sponsors to stop proposing me for campaigns because I have a phobia for deadlines now.

This blog has been running for five years now. I find that my old posts are more care-free and fun to read, and I had more commenters too. So I asked myself why it is so difficult to blog these days. It came so easily to me before, but now my creative juice seems to have “stuck”.

Apart from having a phobia for deadlines, I must be having some kind of writer’s block, loss of mojo, or something similar. It happens more often than not when I sit staring at a blank screen with nary an inkling of where to begin.

Words flow easily from my brain to my mouth, but sadly, it’s a whole different story when I’ve got to get those words from my brain to my fingers. Strange.

I seriously need to find a way to get over my writer’s block somehow. :(


Starting Primary One: The April Update

Click HERE to read all my posts on Starting Primary One series

In the last couple of months, life has been really hectic. This is especially so when our boy started Primary One this year. I have to wake up at 5:20am, make breakfast, prepare myself for work, prepare our boy for school and finally send him to school.

I usually leave my office slightly early at 5:45pm. By the time I reach my parents-in-law’s house at 6pm, I will start the revision session with Little Edison. I hate it actually, to have to do spelling test or ‘ting xie’ with him the moment I step home. But I have no choice.

Then, I’ve to check his communication book and get him to do his school homework. At this point, he’s still unable to manage it independently. It’s not entirely his fault, but more on mine for not training him to do it all by himself.

I know I should change this – to let him manage his own school works by himself, without giving him too much assistance. For a start, I’m teaching him how to pack his school bag, follow his time-table and tidy-up his pencil case as well as stationeries every day.

Anyway, I’m glad that there isn’t much school homework. On an average, he has it once a week but he has English and Chinese spelling test almost every week. English spelling is still manageable even though I find that words like “imagination”, “frightened” and “favourite” are a bit too challenging for Primary One.

Chinese spelling test, on the other hand, is the one that is ‘killing’ us every week! For the first term, his Chinese spelling test is all on HanYuPinYin. From Term 2 onwards, the spelling test will be on Chinese words.

Using pictures to help him to remember his ‘ting xie’

Every day, we will spend some time revising his textbooks and workbooks before the dinner is served. By the time we get back to our home, it will be around 8pm. We have half an hour left to pack the school bag and read a book before his bedtime.

I’m still sticking to my personal mantra that he needs to do revisions daily, be on-track with what the teachers are teaching in school, and to avoid the frenzy of last minute pre-exam revision.

Most of his classmates have tuition classes in the afternoon after school. Recently, I had a talk with a friend whose son is Edison’s classmate. I was completely taken aback when she told me that she sent his son for Science enrichment class. They haven’t even started Science subject in Primary One!

She also sent her son for Maths enrichment class. At this point, I find that Primary One Maths is still manageable and I don’t need to send him for any tuition classes.

Stumbled upon some challenging P1 Maths questions in one of his assessment books

Different parents have different perceptions when it comes to enrichment and tuition classes. Some parents may want to advance their kids, or at least adequately prepared them before the subjects are being taught in school.

Some parents may think that they don’t have time to teach their kids (especially when both parents are working), so they send their kids to tuition classes. And some parents send their kids to tuition classes because they have difficulties coping with their study.

As of now, I haven’t enrolled Edison for any tuition classes. But he has 1.5 hours each of Chinese and English enrichment classes on weekends. The reason is for him to enhance his understanding of languages.

I still believe that he should be learning all the subjects from school – not from tuition classes. I don’t want to ‘over-tutor’ him unless he really has difficulties coping with his study. It is also my wish for him to enjoy as carefree a childhood for as long as possible, rather than be smothered by homework and tuition classes.

These are my goals for him this year -

  1. Read for enjoyment at his own pace
  2. Manage his school homework and time-table independently
  3. Able to learn his spelling independently
  4. Have fun at school and enjoy learning

Instead of racing for As, I’m happy for my son to discover his potentials at his own pace and enjoy the lifelong learning process.

P/S: No offend to any parents who send their children to tuition or enrichment classes. I never label anyone as kiasu because all of us, parents, want to give the best to our children.

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