The Primary 2 Form Teacher

Have you had a teacher in your primary / secondary schooling years that fit into this profile:

Unmarried woman in her 40s, with a perpetual scowl on her face.

I still can recall a teacher known as Ms Tay, that I encountered in Primary 5, who didn’t rank too highly in her personable attributes. Being 11 then, I think it was easier to manage a teacher whom I don’t feel really compelled to give gifts to when Teachers’ Day came around that year.

This reminds me of a retro card game I used to play in Primary School;

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So how do I manage when it is my barely 8 year old that is experiencing a form teacher of this profile in Primary 2 this year?

This experience with K’s new form teacher is like an understatement to experiencing a fast track education in Singapore. Not just in academics, but also a fast track lessons in learning EQ.

I suspected that this teacher is quite ‘different’ during the 2nd week of a teacher-parent briefing, when she insisted that she will not give her mobile number to the parents but will prefer to communicate through email. Many of K’s classmates parents expressed their preference that it will be a more effective form of communication with her. Besides last year, we could call or drop an sms to the previous form teacher. With reluctance, she wrote her mobile number on the white board, and highlighted that we should only call/message her when absolutely necessary.

As for how K feels about his form teacher? It can be seen through these short anecdotes after 3 weeks of school;

“I think Ms Ong is not a happy person, I hardly ever see her smile.” :(

“You know what happened today, C (his classmate) broke her water bottle and was really upset about it, and you know what Ms Ong said. She said that she does not care! She actually said that she doesn’t care!” – with a look of disbelief on his face.

“Ms Ong is really not sharp, she ended up scolding the wrong person in class. Instead of D who was the one who started disturbing E, she punished E. I pity E, who did not deserve the punishment.”

“Ms Ong punishes the whole class, when just one person makes the mistake. The rest of us get punished even when it is not our fault” (I told him like it is in being in the Army, as that happens when someone makes a mistake in the platoon).

“Sigh…I really miss Mdm Tan (his teacher last year). Even though she is strict and firm, she is caring, but Ms Ong…(sigh again)”


What he needed was fast track lessons on EQ;

– To learn to be alert and watch her emotions and body language during class time.

– And be really, really attentive during her lessons so that he knows what he to do for her subjects that she teach.

So far he hasn’t experience any issues with her, but have been sharing stories about how some of his classmates, the not-so-alert ones, who have been getting it quite bad from her.

Still, I can see myself writing her this note to her;



As much as I wanted to send this to her through K, I decided not to.

Having come from the ‘school of hard knocks’, I have come to realise that often in life we are not able to change the circumstances surrounding us. Until we take drastic measures to change the situation with these bad bosses or not-so-good teachers, and look to switching jobs or the schools.

Having a not-so-good teacher may not be that bad after all, when this becomes an opportunity to teach K to manage challenging situations by changing his attitude towards it, rather than always expecting things to change for him.

Nonetheless, we find ourselves praying for her nightly before we go to bed, in the hope that she can experience the love of God, so that she can be transformed to be a more loving person towards the children and others.

To be frank, I am not really that excited to meet her again for PTM in May, as she just made it more challenging for me to motivate my child in his second year of Singapore’s School system.

And if desperate measures are ever needed, this letter that I just imagined myself writing to her, might just reach her one of these days.


Read here on my take of how a parent can manage the pressures of the Singapore School system, Part 2 of post here.

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Why should parents care about the Maker Movement?

With the Rainbow Loom trend taking off locally, and hearing that some mums are organizing Rainbow Loom parties for their kids, it is a good indication that Singaporeans are warming up to the idea that ‘I can actually make stuff!’

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Yes, there is more to life than our National Library banning books, lack of places in Primary school and the focus on our children’s academic achievements .

And why should parents care about the Maker Movement?

If you have noticed in the last 10 years, having aspirations like doctors, lawyers or even bankers just will not cut it anymore. Besides we can’t have too many of these.  We need more than just people who can save lives, fight for rights, or invest money for the well-to-do.

People who can invent, create, modify, hack, tinker, craft or just simply make, is more creative and productive than a group of people who refuse to make anything but plenty of noise.


This is not a new idea, since artists have been doing it for thousands of years. But with technology and the internet, this movement have been transformed into a community activity.


What is the Maker Movement About?

The fundamental motivations of the Maker Movement stems from human needs of being creative and purposeful.

To be fully human is to reflect God’s creative, spiritual, communicative, relational, moral and purposeful capacities. But don’t confuse being created in God’s image to being God.

We are creative, even though many of us don’t think so.

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If we never get to expose our children to their creative and purposeful capacities, how much of their potential is being unrealized?


How does a parent introduce the Maker Movement at home?

Instead of running out to buy the next construction building toy (i.e., Lego), play dough set, download Minecraft on your mobile phones, buy an expensive 3D printer or buy the Rainbow Loom, if you haven’t got one yet.

The Maker Culture can span from traditional art and crafts, cooking to technology (e.g., building robots with LED lights or designing a new avatar).  Introducing the Maker Movement is a better alternative to the iPads and game consoles that so many children are obsessed with these days.


Many of the home-based Maker projects are all about embellishing, decorating and seeking the beauty in life, or simply, just creating something made with love. Find projects that your child can personalize and make with pride.


You really don’t need schools to introduce this to your child. However, if the local government recognize this trend, there could be more opportunities of hands-on learning for our children in school.

In the meantime, look to the internet and Pinterest for plenty of project ideas.

One word of caution though, the internet has a tendency to keep you mesmerized by the amazing number of things that you can create and DIY. So be careful not to be flooded with lots of information, and lose track of the focus to translate this information to something productive.

So just go and make something!


So what’s my latest craft obsession? Connect with me on Pinterest.

To explore the Making Culture on a public arena, you can check out the Singapore’s Mini Maker Faire at the end of this month.

** This is not a sponsored post. I personally advocate the Maker culture at home with my child, as I see the benefits and the purposeful-ness of being able to make your own things and express your creativity.

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In Pursuit of Singapore’s Best Primary School Part II

You know how important the selection of a Primary School is to a parent in Singapore, when a father is charged for falsifying his address to get his daughter into the Primary School that he hoped for.

And there are many parents buying and renting homes in a specific area in Singapore, for a higher chance to get into the area’s popular primary schools.

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So then, do all popular, elite or SAP Schools really live up to their hype?

Here’s the second interview of a teacher who had experienced teaching in popular and SAP schools, and her take on the system. Read the 1st interview here.


Why I choose not to put my child in Popular Primary School OR SAP School?

‘Perhaps the distinction between schools and cultures are marked as determined by the sort of families children come from. It is inevitable that schools in geographical areas with higher income demographics will tend to have more fluent parents.

It isn’t just the money that determines how kiasu parents and a school is, I would say that it adds to more pressure for teachers and also children from less well-off homes.

Not all SAP schools have rich or stellar academic results either. Many of our so called elite schools in Singapore are not all SAP schools. SAP schools give greater pressure because of their Chinese standards. Then depending on which SAP school, the overall academic focus may vary.

I have two SAP schools near me. Both require parent volunteer programme to help assure admission. However I find both lacking in holistic development.  Having said that again, I also have a much sought after mission school, crazy Parent Volunteer scheme too… And I also wouldn’t enrol my children there.

These schools all lack a holistic development focus.

Honestly, I just have no illusion that schools can provide holistic Education simply because there is far too much administrative demands on teachers , the existence of a very rigorous and demanding assesment/ examination system and too little time for children to be given time to develop.

POPULAR schools, even the neighbourhood ones with more kiasu parents, just make this lack of holistic development worse. Since getting into these schools are so competitive, the parents are likely more ‘kiasu’.

These neighborhood schools are extremely popular with parents and are high academic achieving schools. One of the popular schools in the east had a principal that told Primary 1 parents that they should not complain about their children’s teachers. Cos the teachers will be upset and their children’s lives will ultimately be miserable. True story. 

I think many schools not just SAP schools are into awards. The neighborhood popular schools are also very into earning awards like best progress, and in various niches. It is ingrained into the system that there needs to be consistent external validation of school excellence.

Teachers are assessed to death with their EPMS* yearly. And so are principals and superintendents and Deputy Directors. Schools are not ranked? Are awards not important? Think again. If they aren’t , what sort of tangible evidence do they use to ascertain performance?

Ultimately it falls on us the parents- what we desire for our children and our temperaments.

I know some amazing parents and kids who excel in system. And the children come out rather intact and have their passions still there. But there are also many who stumble and flail under the pressure.

However I believe the system is not all useless and there also many merits.’

– An ex Primary School teacher with young children, who are NOT yet in the Primary School System. 

*EPMS – Employee Performance Management System. Teachers are assessed on certain grades (A,B,C,D) to determine their work performance bonuses for the end of the year, as well as the potential to increase in their teaching grades.  



So you have read it for yourself in these two posts, from two teachers’ perspectives of popular, elite or SAP schools. Don’t say “Nobody told me it will be like that…”.

Here’s wishing all parents going through the Primary 1 registration process for the first time this July, all the best for the Primary School selection for your child!

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Go to Part 1 of this post.

Here is MOE link on Primary 1 Registration Phases and Procedures

Here are more posts on our Primary 1 journey;

Primary 1 Orientation – What to Expect

Primary 1 – The First Two Days

The Pocket Money Challenge

Primary 1 in an Inclusive Programme


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