No Longer A Laidback Mum in Academics

Being a mum is a constant learning journey.

Each child is different and I have to craft my mothering skills differently on each child, be it nurturing his/her character or be involved in his/her academics.

I used to think that I will be a Laid Back Mum in Academics for as long as I like and my children will turn out fine studying by themselves, just like how I did it myself. How wrong I was.

After my girl failed her P3 Math exam last year, it was a kind of wake up call that my child may need me to be involved in her studies to some extent. I will not hold her hand forever and still will not load her with tuition and endless helicoptering over her studies such that she will be turned off by me. But I will guide her along when she needs my help or if I see that she NEEDS my help. Children may not know and may not always be so initiative when it comes to academics. I need to be more aware of their signals for help.

Imagine my elation when she came back to tell me she had scored 84/100 for her P4 SA2 Math exam!

This was from a “F” in P3 SA2 Math to a pass of 54 marks in P4 SA1 Math exam to an Ace (in my own mummy ranking) in P4 SA2 Math exam!

Not only that, she scored well across all subjects this time round and her friend actually told her that she should get the BEST IMPROVEMENT award 🙂

Best part is Missy 10 said this one evening when I was at the dining table:

Missy 10: Mummy, do you want to know why I scored so well?

Me: Why? Baby?

Missy 10: It is because of ………. YOU!!!!

OMG! I had to bit back my lips to prevent my overjoyed tears from flowing out. The news on her marks delighted me tremendously, but this sentence from her is probably my best present and I could not ask for more!

What did I do to help her catch up on a subject she hated to a subject she scored best?

After the mid year exams this year in P4, I was determined to help her catch up and understand the basics of Math and Science. For English and Chinese, she needed little help, hence, I did not pay much attention on those 2 subjects.

The Prep Talk

I sat her down to tell her the importance of this streaming year.

As much as what the same old song goes about all schools are the same, it is not like this for Secondary School. I told her that if she gets a good result, no need to be all ACEs, but a reasonable result for her P4, she will be able to stream to a better class in P5/P6. With a better class, usually comes better teachers or so in my opinion. It is also important that she goes to a good Secondary School so that she can mix with good students who genuinely want to do well for studies and not just play.

I needed to emphasize that studying is for her own future, not mine. Children may think that since parents are so involved, they are just meeting our expectations. But no, I told her. She has to study for HERSELF, not for ME. I am only here to guide her to understand the basics. All she needs to do is to keep away her princessy attitude during revision time and cooperate with me to understand the basics of the subjects. All I ask for is improvement in her marks, no specific target marks, no “Mummy’s passing mark”.


We drafted a simple time table that spells out which day for what revision. And each night before we slept, I would give a few pages of assessment book for them to do when I was at work in the day time. I only got to mark early morning after sending my girl up the school bus and sometimes, I marked alongside their revision during weekends. Our weekend revision was to go through their mistakes in assessment books and what they had learnt for that week in school. Our revision time was only for 2 hours on a Saturday. On weeknights, it was almost impossible to do much revision as the night is very short.

6 weeks before exams, I sat them down again to write down their exam dates and what they would be tested on their own calendar.

Then we worked towards revising all the chapters that would be tested for each subject slowly everyday. We had more revision time, doubling weekend revision time from 2 hours on every Saturday to 2 hours each on Saturday and Sunday. I tried to revise once or twice during weeknights with them too. I was not too worried about Master 8 who is in P2. Hence, mostly, my revision was with Missy 10 who was my main concern.

2 weeks before exams, we ensured that the children had learnt 80% of the tested topics and all the assessment books done up to 80%. I was not too concerned about finishing the assessment books. I was more concerned that they grabbed the basics of each topic enough to answer questions. Anything more will be more assessment books and practices which we did not have time and also not our main focus. If today my child is an Ace student, then yes, more assessment books and practices for him/her. Not for us at this stage.

1 week before exam, after we completed most of the topics revision, I printed out 2 papers from top schools for each subject for my children to practise on. My good resource came from and the children actually enjoyed doing those papers! Missy 10 could tackle most of the Math questions from top schools and became more and more confident in the subject. I think the boost in confidence did help her score well in her exams too.

1 day before exam, I went through the top school exam paper with Missy 10 and Master 8 when I returned from work. They went to bed slightly earlier than usual. Before they left for school, all I said was “Good luck and remember to check your paper before you submit!”

To be honest, I was not used to helping my children on academics. I seriously heaved a sigh of relief on their last day of paper, knowing that when I returned back from work, I can play with them instead of study with them. I dislike revision, and who likes it anyway. I felt that I had put in lots of effort to let Missy 10 catch up on her basics, sacrificing play time with my toddler and Master 8, and sacrificing my weekend nap time to revise. Just like what I used to do after exams, I want to go out to have a good meal and enjoy the no exams stress! Oh! I never knew being a parent, I will still feel stressed over exams! Now I know why many of my friends took leave during exams to study with their children. Even the morning traffic seemed so much more smoother during exam weeks. I did not want to take leave to stay home because simply I do not wish to stress my children too much. I want them to take ownership of their own revision. I want them to know life still goes on during exams. We still go out on weekends, albeit lesser. We still take dinner outside with grandparents on weekends. Mummy will still work during exams. But no TV on weekdays’ day time. TV during dinner is still allowed for destress moments. They still go to playground, not daily though.

I have not much of an expectations for my children in academics. My only expectations for them is to understand the basics of each subject such that they will not struggle to move up the academic years and will not be hit with low self esteem over lousy results.

I wish I can maintain no tuition for them as long as I can. Next year P5 is a big jump from P4. Everyone told me so and I believe them. I will continue what I did for this year and ensure they know their basics well. My children will still have play time as much as they wish during their childhood years. Very soon, they will be in Secondary School and they will outgrow nature parks and sandcastles. So, childhood years are important years for family bonding and relationship. I believe that with regular play time and regular family outings, my children will grow up happily and well-equipped emotionally and mentally to deal with life’s challenges as they grow up. Academics are seriously just a passport for more choices to “travel” to different arenas. Emotional development and happiness are the ones that will decide success in life.

One important factor that leads to Missy 10’s good marks is her change of attitude. She threw away her princessy attitude and did not roll her eyes or cross her arms when I taught her. It was not easy for her and me when she did that and I knew I used to be very impatient to her. It was a learning for both of us and I was glad that with this revision and good results, things worked out, and we became closer than before 🙂

How do you revise for exams with your children? Let me know in the comments!

6 thoughts on “No Longer A Laidback Mum in Academics

  1. Congrats to both of you! Hopefully we can master problems together as well, if we ran into some. But I am impressed with your daughters attitude, at that age it shows a lot of maturity!

  2. Hi
    I spent the last 2 hours reading your blog and got many good tips – thanks so much! Haha I know it’s 4:45am (!!!) Woke up feeling worried about P1 next year and also not spending enough time with my little one..

    • Hi Kamal,
      I am very happy to know you find the blog posts useful! Thanks for leaving a comment to tell me about it!
      The school journey is a long one and we parents certainly need lots of encouragement and also ‘courage’ to not do what the masses are doing. Most importantly school and CCAs are activities to be enjoyed and children should have their rightful childhood. Some supervision is good but not so much so that kids hate school.
      Enjoy parenting!!

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