Thursday, 15 January 2015

Assesment books

Like many Singaporean parents, I buy assessment books and assigned them to Sonshine to work on. In fact, I consider myself an assessment books warrior! My weekly pilgrimage is to walk into Popular book store and leave with an assessment book. Needless to say, I buy so many that there is no way he can finish them all by year end.
Over time, I wonder how effective assessment books are. The questions in the assessment books won't even appear in the school exams, so even if the child aces the assessment books, does it mean he will do well in school exams? I really doubt so.
Yet, most of us are still obsessed with assessment books. I have seen mothers like me scouring through the shelves for assessment books at Popular book store. I suppose, assessment books give that extra revision and practise that our child needs. That makes sense, 'practise makes perfect' doesn't it?
But I think most of us, me included, have lost focus on the role of the assessment books. We think number is the the key, the more they do the better. Really? I have heard of kids who do truck loads of assessment books but still get average results or still 'lose' out to others who did no or little extra work outside of school. Of course, there are also students who benefit from, and even enjoy, doing them. So are assessment books the magical formula to good grades?
I look at Sonshine and myself. I suspect with or without assessment books, he will do just the same. His standard would probably remain status quo even if I don't assign him extra work. Yet I do see that it helps him a little at times. For instance, when working on English assessment books, he sometimes come across new words that he is unaware of. I learn to see that as an opportunity for him to boost his vocabulary. Still, sometimes, it comes out to nothing. He would learn the new word there and then but completely forgets about it the next round. Days like these, I wonder 'what's the use?'. In general it doesn't seem to make him 'smarter', even so, it would be just a wee wee bit, negligible really.

Then it dawned on me it is not the assessment books that will help Sonshine. For him particularly, it is the quality of the teaching that helps him the most. Sonshine is attentive and absorbs well during lessons. When the teacher is very clear, concise and precise in her lessons, Sonshine will retain and know how to apply accurately in his work. For example, maths, I observed that all I have to do is to explain very clearly to him all the basic concepts of the topic. After which, he can fly solo and tackle the tedious & complicated questions on his own based on his understanding of the basics. But, first the teaching must be very clear and detailed. So ultimately, for Sonshine, it all boils down to the teacher, absolutely nothing to do with the number of assessment books he does.

So now, I've to change my mindset. That's not to say I have stop buying assessment books. I still do. But I try not to equate his grades with doing assessment books. My strategy now is to teach and then use the assessment books as a revision or practise. In the past, I would simply throw the assessment books to him and expect the books to teach him or that he would magically learn on his own by doing them. So now i choose assessment books that comes with some guidelines. It is more for me to use them as a 'textbook' to teach Sonshine especially for english where there is no school textbook for us to follow unlike mandarin.

Having said that, with the wide selection of assessment books here, it is very hard to ward off the temptation to buy. I hope to constantly remind myself that it is not about the amount of assessment books Sonshine does but it is how well he can understand from what he is taught. Hopefully that will help me stay on track!

1 comment:

  1. My son is ok with his P1 & P2 school work but I still buy some assessment books for him. When he was in P1 I set routine of 1 hour a day for doing assessment books, different subject every day. I will mark and explained to him on his mistakes. In P2 i relax a little bit coz his academic results are not bad, most of the time I don't even mark his work lol. So I have a few assessment books that are half done. Last Dec'14 I was at BookFest and I controlled myself A LOT and came back with 2-3 assessment books per subject.

    My view on assessment books has changed in a year, for me its more of cultivating him to revise his work and occupy him with some stuffs instead of him wondering around and bother me lol. He's not allowed any screen time on weekdays so he can only read books or get me or the hubs to play board games with him.