Positive Parenting in Competitive School

Report Card Day

Last Friday was my son’s report card day.  It’s the day where the parents get to meet up with the teacher for their child review and update.  I wasn’t able to get off from work early that day, but I managed to reach the school at 5pm.  When I reached the classroom, most of the students have gone back with their parents.  There were only 5 or 6 students left including my son.  He must have waited very long. He saw me and wondered why I came so late, but he wasn’t angry.  He has finished his homework (while waiting for me) a few hours ago.  I told him, with so much work in the office, I have tried my best to arrive as early as I could, and it was fortunate that I could still make it before 5.30pm when the review session is supposed to end.

There were a few parents waiting in the queue.   I could hear the teacher trying her best to advise the parents on how to improve their children’s academic performance in school.  It seemed most students have enrolled in tuition centre.  For some, the tuition really helped the child, while the rest are not reaping any fruits from it. The teacher seems to encourage such tuition after school, and she recommended some measures for better results.  We feel the wait is long. 

As my son sat beside me, I told him, “The position in the class is not so important.  It’s just a bonus.”  He is not a very competitive child by nature; however, to be first in class gives him that importance and respect in class which he appreciates. 

Before the Exam

A month ago, as he prepared for the exams, he set the target to achieve 100% in all exam papers.  My husband and I think that the target is too high, but we also admire his desire to aim high.  I told him that, getting above 90% is good enough for me while my husband’s expectation is above 80%. He is proud to have higher aim than us.  At the same time, I kept telling him that it is the hard work that’s more important, results is secondary.   

He studied hard for the exams, and I guided him.  He was willing to study, as he has the target in his mind.  When he is tired, he will play his Lasy toys, read story books or cycling in the playground to take a break. The days passed by so quickly.  Before we realised it, the exam is over.  He was always so happy and excited on the day when teacher was going to pass down the exam paper.  He obtained highest mark, nearly 100%, in the Malaysian language paper to his surprise, as he normally got around 89% for this paper.  He was overjoyed.  Some of the subsequent papers were not to his satisfactory, but they were all above 90% with two subjects 100%. He averaged at 94.7%.  I think he did very well. However, he was upset with his marks. He said most of his papers were around 95%, not 100%.  I told him, he has done so well when compared to last year.  Standard one level is much easier than standard two.  And yet, he did better in Standard two now, when compared to standard one.  I continue to point out in the exam papers how he didn’t repeat the careless mistakes he often did last year and how he thrived easily on the difficult questions which he struggled through last year.  He took it positively.  He believed he did well. We then celebrated the results of his hard work before the report card day comes, and told him that the class position is just a bonus.  

The Results

Back to report card day.  It was finally our turn.  The teacher was courteous and asked if we have waited long.  I said we didn’t as I arrived late.  She opened the report card and said merely a sentence: he did very well in all the subjects. He obtained second position in class!  I could feel the disappointment in my son.  Nevertheless, like what most mothers would do, I said good things to encourage him. I showed him how his position in the entire grade has improved tremendously.  And I told him that we will go for Baskin Robbin ice-cream treat after dinner.  He was happier.   

After dinner, he was so excited to go to the ice-cream shop as we have not been there for years.  At the ice-cream shop, he was expecting a small corn with ice-cream scoop of his selection.  I think he deserves more than that.  So, I chose a big bowl of ice-cream with banana for him.  He was so pleased.

On the next day, the classmates asked each others’ results in class.  He found out that the same girl has maintained her first position in class.  At night, we had a small talk.  He said, “I am glad to be the second in class, as there will be rooms for improvement. “  Then, we talked about his good friend who obtained 13thin class while he was doing really well in kindergarten. He is so positive.  He said, “The class position is just a bonus.  He shouldn’t take it too seriously. “ Then, he asked me how many students there are in his friend’s class.  I said about 50.  He said, “There are much more students doing worse than him in his class. So he is doing very well.”

Needless to say, I am so comforted by the positivity manifested in him.