Now that the dust has settled, with the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) done and results released, your child can now turn their attention to focus on preparing for the exciting, yet unknown secondary school life.
Transition from primary school to secondary school is one of the most challenging periods of a child’s education journey. Your child has to cope with many different changes all happening at one go. Used to just 3 or 4 academic subjects in primary school, they will now take up 9 to 10 in secondary school. Not only that, your child needs time to adjust to the new environment meeting new friends and teachers in school. CCA is definitely going to take up a portion of their time in school as well.
Primary School Mathematics
As parents, we would likely have gone through primary and secondary school Mathematics curriculum ourselves. How different is it now as compared to the past then?
One stark difference is the use of model method to solve problems. Introduced in the mid-1980s, the model method provides a visual representation of the word problems through the drawing of rectangular bars. Students are taught to translate abstract word problems pictorially in the form of models, enabling younger children to grasp concepts easily through visualising the problem.
Primary School Mathematics also focuses heavily on heuristics. Simply put, heuristics are strategies that we can use to solve problems. There are a total of 13 heuristics applicable to problem solving which MOE has identified, of which 11 are taught in Primary School.
Secondary School Mathematics
Fast forward to secondary school mathematics, many students go on to Secondary 1 thinking that it will be the same as primary school mathematics. Students’ confidence will be buoyed by the fact that they can score well in Secondary 1 Mathematics examination. All things going well, or is it?
A word of caution though, the real challenge comes from Secondary 2 onward. Topics taught in Secondary 1 are mainly a recap of what they have learnt in Primary 6, with some new concepts added in. The use of model is replaced by algebra (a lot of algebra!). 2 new heuristics are also taught in Secondary school which is heavily relied on, especially “Use equations “.
The level of difficulty jumps significantly between levels. Your child needs to have very good foundation in algebra for Mathematics at higher level, especially if they intend to take A. Mathematics in Upper Secondary. Many students who found themselves doing well in Secondary 1 & 2 might find themselves not doing well or even failing their examinations in Secondary 3 if their Mathematics foundation at Lower Secondary is weak.
4 Tips to Prepare for Secondary School Mathematics
Parents often read about the challenges faced by their child during the transition from Primary to Secondary Mathematics, but do not find practical advice on how to deal with them.
Look no further, here’s ours:
Learn to Count without the Calculator!
Come on! Let’s admit it, who uses calculator to add 7 and 8 together? Probably many of us have done that. But, wait! That’s not what our brain is capable of, it can do more than just merely pressing a few keys into the calculator.
The more we train our brain, the stronger it gets. The opposite is true, the lesser we use of it, we gradually lose that particular skill. This ability of our brain is called neuroplasticity. So let’s treat ourselves better by making our brain stronger. Resist the use of calculators for simple sums. This goes a long way in helping students, especially in algebra.
Stay with a Problem
The issue with many students nowadays is that, they might seemingly be unable to solve more challenging Mathematics questions. However, it might not be due to them being unable to solve it. Rather, they gave up solving it after becoming stuck with the question.
Encourage your child not to give up at the slightest problem and insist that they try different approaches to the same problem. This trains their Mathematical skills as well as their resilience in the face of challenging problems in Mathematics, and very possibly, in life challenges.
As Albert Einstein puts it, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Be like Einstein.
Have Good Presentation in Working
In Primary School, some teachers are not as concerned with students’ presentation of working as compared to getting the right answer. Hence, many students actually develop poor presentation skills when presenting the solution to a Mathematics problem. This is quite the opposite in Secondary School. Many teachers are particular about presentation of working, such as writing of short statements and insisting on all calculations to be written down. After all, it is stated on the examination paper cover page that “Omission of essential working will result in loss of marks”.
There is advantage in good presentation too, other than the loss of marks. It actually helps students to think through what each step means, not simply just punching in some random numbers into the calculator hoping to get the right answer. If the students show clarity in their work, it shows that they have a good understanding of what is required to solve the problem.
Getting your child to be interested in the happenings in Singapore and around the world might be a challenging task. However, the more they know, the better they are equipped. Seize teachable moments such as calculating the costs of food for family gatherings, determining the costs of sending parcels overseas using various couriers or finding the different ways to measure distance between two places amongst many others. Similar concepts have been tested in recent O-Level examinations, as it is MOE’s emphasis to incorporate real-world application of Mathematical concepts in the questions set. Start exposing your child to such problems from a young age.
Learning Mathematics with Learning Chapters
Over here at Learning Chapters, we have the experience and expertise in helping students transit from Primary school to Secondary school Mathematics. Learning materials that we provide to students are specially crafted by our curriculum specialist and Principal Tutor, Mr Benson Lim. Also, rest assured that we follow the latest syllabus from MOE (please note that there is a new syllabus starting in 2020).
Our Principal Tutor, Mr Benson Lim, was formerly an MOE teacher and has many years of experience guiding students to achieve their fullest potential. Through many years of teaching, he has honed his skills to explain hard-to-understand concepts in the simplest manner possible. All his students benefited from his clear and concise explanation during lessons.
Mr Benson also likes to explore and use different activities, such as infusing coding session during class to teach certain Mathematical concepts. Students not only find it interesting, but see it as a link between Mathematics and real-world application. These experiences will definitely leave stronger impression of the Mathematical concepts in our students.
If you would like to learn more about our programme, reach us through our hotline 9880 1776 or fill up this contact form and we will get in touch with you shortly.