Personally I feel the P5’s 2014 are the hardest hit with the new changes. They are the pioneers of the new PSLE format while the lower levels will have had ample practice and guidance especially in Writing & Oral Components from school. While there will be Practice Books out, they will not have Past Year Papers (especially in the area of Comprehension OE) structured like the new PSLE format. Not only will they have to deal with the new expectations, they will also have to get used to the jump from P4 to P5 and adapt to lengthy components such as Synthesis & Transformation and Comprehension Cloze.
What can parents do to help?
The results of the SA2 should be coming out now with the total scores and breakdown of different components. Take note of the weak areas that they can work on during the term break. At P4 level, your child should be on a good way if he/she is getting 85 and above for total score. Composition should be 15 and above and Oral between the 1st or 2nd box (with new changes). Look carefully at the Oral & Writing component and find out from the teacher which areas your child is weak in. Is it in the pronunciation of words? Or does your child give just one word answers for Stimulus Based Conversations?
Do his/her compositions lack descriptions, proper sequencing or ideas?
I recently posted some suggestions on how parents can help their children in Oral below
As for P5 compositions, do start early. The jump from Picture Sequence to Situation Outline is a big one especially for children who have never written a story without guided pictures. This is why I alternate between Pictures and Situation Outline weekly with my P3 & P4 students. In the beginning, the P3 & 4’s will require a lot of ‘hand holding’ but with weekly practice they are able to sequence their own stories, beef up characters and add descriptions. This will minimize the demands of P5 writing in terms of the increase of the number of words and now adding on more metaphors, similes etc.
They will also have to deal with the different types of Situational writing– emails/letters (formal & informal), reports & notices.
Synthesis & Transformation
The school holidays Is also a good time to practice on Synthesis & Transformation and Comprehension Cloze Passages. (I have already begun these two components in my groups!) Children can begin to learn the rules of Synthesis & Transformations because those that are given in P4 are nothing compared to what will be given in P5. Even with early preparation, my students can get easily confused changing Direct speech to Indirect and adjectives to nouns. Marshall & Cavendish have detailed explanations and practices in their Synthesis & Transformation books.
When selecting a Comprehension Cloze Passage book, look for one that is not that difficult to begin with. The main point is to start them off looking for contextual clues to fill in the blanks. Some books have very few clues and students new to Cloze Passages can become disheartened easily.
This is also a good time to drill them in Grammar. Believe me when I say that learning and remembering the correct use of grammatical structures is an ongoing process. Even my GEP students make common grammatical mistakes. Look for those with multiple choice questions like in Longman and Casco and get them to practice one every day. Explain to them where they have gone wrong and they should try not to make the same mistake in the following exercises.
Don’t forget to encourage them to widen their scope of reading with non-fiction materials such as Chicken Soup for the Soul & Reader’s Digest.
And have a great holiday!