The PSLE madness officially started islandwide on Thursday 17th August 2017 with the Oral examinations. Actually, for us homeschoolers, it started on 28th June 2017 when homeschoolers had to take the National Education Quiz. One of the requirements of homeschooling is that the child must clear this Quiz before he is allowed to take PSLE.
PSLE Oral Exams
Homeschoolers take their exams (oral and written) at Tiong Bahru Examinations Centre located at 8 Lower Delta Road. Since we have been blessed with a car, we were not caught up in the MRT breakdown and delay on Friday. But traffic was still super heavy. It took us almost 45 minutes to reach there on Friday versus the 25 minutes to reach the exam centre on Thursday!
One homeschooler and her mom was stuck inside the train for more than an hour! A kind-hearted homeschooler mom drove all the way to Ang Mo Kio MRT to pick them up and send them to Lower Delta Road, once the MRT doors opened! Whew! God sends his angels!
PSLE Round 5
2017 marks the 5th round of PSLE I have to go through. Yes, it is getting old and I still have 2 more that need to clear it before I can call it a day. And no, while I am the so-called “expert” of PSLE, my child is not. Each child brings his/her set of challenge/s to the table. Everyone with more than one child ought to know that, yes?
Anyway, that meant that I have been on a go-go-go mode since 2 Mondays ago.
Preparing for Oral
For English, I would practice with the child just reading through passages to work on enunciation and pronunciation. And then we would go through the sample pictures in the assessment books to discuss possible topics. The whole idea being to get the child accustomed to discussing various topics and being able to express her opinions using appropriate phrases and words (i.e. show off vocabulary!) For Chinese, the tutor goes through with them similarly*.
I would also prepare the child for the procedure and set-up. Such as preparing her that there would be a waiting room (with the other children), the reading room (alone), and then the test room (2 testers). I would also remind the child to greet the testers and to thank them when she is done.
Let me assure you that I am no Tiger Mom. I am not the type who would pore over past years’ papers and try to spot the questions. It is not because I am the relax and cool mom but mostly because I am too lazy and disorganised to get my act together.
What are the Testers Looking For?
I have always told the children that for oral, they are testing for fluency in the language. As long as you can conduct a simple and polite conversation with the testers, you should not fail. To score, of course, one would need more oomph (here is where a wider range of vocabulary and ability to articulate an opinion comes in). But we are looking at just clearing the test. Especially for Chinese.
Next Up on the PSLE Calendar
18 days from today, Ruth sits for the Listening Comprehension Test. And then, 2 weeks after that, the Written Papers Exams. And then we would be done!!! Till 2019, God willing, of course.
But it was not all stress and worry during the Oral Exams. If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, you would have seen photos of our youngest 2 girls at a the playground near the exam centre on Friday.
I had to bring them both with me to wait for Ruth to finish up her Chinese Oral Exams as my older children were in Bandung Indonesia with daddy to declare the Archippus Awakening message. They had fun playing while big sister sweated it out. And I got some mommy time chatting with fellow homeschooling mothers who were also waiting for their children.
Homeschool PSLE Prelims
Sometime in 2012, a group of homeschooling mothers proposed coming up with our own version of prelims to prep our children better for PSLE. Due to various reasons and logistics challenges, we did not participate in that inaugural one.
But, 2 years later, when my 3rdrd child was due for his PSLE experience, I registered him for the prelims. It was helpful as I saw first-hand how many children were not prepared for exam taking, having had lots of freedom in their homeschool. More on exam taking etiquette later.
This year, as with the previous years, I volunteered to be the invigilator for one of the papers. In addition, I also volunteered to help out more since I no longer had babies and toddlers that need me. So I was on-site all 4 days of the prelims.
Yes, it is tiring but it is a small sacrifice. The mothers organising this have put in so much effort, this is the least I could do.
Dedicated homeschool mothers
I am really grateful that with each cohort, a small and very efficient group of mothers would rise up and organize the prelims for the benefit of their children and others. Let me tell you that it is A LOT of HARD WORK behind the scenes. There are many who just turn up, drop and pick up their children. Some don’t even follow the instructions given! :::eye roll:::
But there are those who work their behinds off to make sure it is as close to the PSLE setting as possible. Coming early to open and set up the rooms, and staying late to clean and lock up.
The main purpose of our prelims is to get the children used to taking an exam, as they all need to be reminded of proper exam etiquette. Sure, the children do not need this (my older two did not do it) to clear PSLE but it is a nice way to prep the child for the procedures.
Those of us who have been trained by the public schools know that there are certain etiquette we need to adhere to – such as keeping quiet, not looking around or incessant pen-clicking! But, our children don’t know all of that. So, this prelim is more for this than how well they do for the exams which is what the schools prepare their children for.
Besides, it is a fun way for the children and mothers to get together. And after PSLE is over, the core team would organise a get together and PARTY! I was told that some children told their moms that they look forward to the prelims!
MOE P4 Exams
But that is not all that is happening in September. Slotted in-between all the PSLE stuff, is the MOE Mandated Primary 4 exams as well. I have requested for and have been rejected when I asked for this exam to be held AFTER PSLE. After all, in the public schools, exams for the other levels are held after PSLE, right? Grr!!!
Let’s just say that there will be a lot of petrol burned driving up and down to Lower Delta Road this September.
Nuisance or Help?
This P4 exams **is** a nuisance BUT I have chosen to look at it positively.
For one, it is a great way to prep a child for PSLE because, if nothing else, it is held at the same premises as PSLE. The child would be on familiar grounds 2 years later.
For another, it is also a helpful marker for us to assess our child’s standard. But I fully understand that those not using the MOE syllabus do not agree with me. They see it as a terrible interruption to their normal work. It is, even for us, because the child’s academic standard needs to be on par with the public school kids by Primary 4 t clear this exam.
But it is what it is and so, we must learn to work with it.
Are any of you sending your children for PSLE this year? How has it been? Or are you just gearing up to prepare your children for the year-end exams?
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