More than just grades

The above was a mantra I kept repeating to myself when Princess started primary school. In lower primary, scoring full marks, with minimal effort, was a very usual occurrence for her. Even then, I had to constantly remind myself that my daughter is more than just marks scored in tests and exams. She is a person with so many other attributes and someone who will contribute to community as she grows.

Mummy and daddy were elated and proud with those high scores, but mummy was still apprehensive. With my background in teaching, I knew that tougher years lay ahead of her. So while we praised her results, I made it a point to emphasis that her efforts had been duly rewarded and she must always make it a point to do her best. (Thats one very ambiguous comment and a big question follows- What is really trying your best? How do you know if you have really really tried your best???)

Forward to four years- the sterling results are no longer easily attainable. And again I have to repeat the mantra. I am disappointed, yes. Any (local) parent will be.  I now have to strongly remind myself and her, to some extent, that long-term view is vital. 

Low scores at primary school are not remembered when you work hard at a career project, when you win that deal, when you make a positive impact in someone’s life, when you are enjoying a contented life and loving your work. Low scores only become an impact when parents overly express displeasure and disappointment instead of encouraging.

Several friends tell me otherwise. One said that you cannot wait too long in local education system. Another told me being disappointed, I should try find out what caused the drop in grades.

I agree somewhat, especially if she does not pull up her socks, her lack of efforts will most definitely affect the first national exams she will be sitting for, in couple of years. That may not lead  her to enrolling her (current) school of choice. Any local parent know how vital a good secondary school is. The environment and the opportunities presented in a conducive surrounding are indeed a great boost. CV looks impressive when top schools are mentioned. 

I was from a highly regarded girls’ school. I am no high-flyer now, as one would have expected from my PSLE scores. And I know several others whose primary school and secondary schools’ results do not hold candle to mine, are in a far better position than me. Not that I complain, you choose your lot and you need to be contented with it. Daddy’s primary school results were the opposite of mummy’s. Yet, he had such positive attitude towards learning that he excelled later.

I also do not want to hold her hand throughout revision and studies that she cannot manage her own learning independently. She has had no tuition so far. So whatever good results she enjoyed, it was all her own hard work. She can only credit herself. She must not become dependent on mummy or tutor to attain good results. Though, I must admit I am considering hiring a tutor, for next two years, to ensure consistent work by her. Why outsource when mummy can do the job? Sometimes it is more effective when another person is there, giving instructions and Princess is accountable to that person.

Recently I commented on a parents’ forum that good grades and good character/ behaviour need not be mutually exclusive. My precious princess is a creative person and a responsible sister. I know she will grow to be a good person. It will also be very nice for her to score Band 1 or at least Band 2s again- actually thats just icing on the cake

Am I ready to accept that she may be an average student after all? Or should I adjust my expectations so that she strives to do even better?

I do know for sure, that I want her to work hard for herself, not because mummy daddy tell her to. Intrinsic motivation is the strongest motivation. I want her to possess that.  

While I mull over these thoughts, I need to make use of the remaining weeks of the hols to jumpstart  her work and keep in mind, she is more than just grades and keep our view for the long-term.

On a last note, I want to dedicate this song  (by her fave singer, for the moment ;)) to my precious princess and  ask her (even for mummy) to keep the lyrics in  mind (as she journeys through more demanding times in her education) …

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One thought on “More than just grades

  1. Santhi

    Good reminder, good perspective. Hold on to it.

    And yes, although it is tempting to do all we can to get those grades up through whatever means possible, we have also to think about the message that sends to our children.

    Thank you for this post. I’ll be coming back to it (and to you) I’m sure.

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