Therapy 101: When Reality Hits

What is it like to be a primary school student in Singapore? I’m not sure if you are aware, but there’s no ‘repeating’ or ‘retaining’ or ‘stay back’ or ‘not promoted’ in Primary School. (There goes all those warnings some of us scream at our kids!) Every child in Singapore has to go through six years of compulsory education. If a child fails a subject, or all subjects, he/she will still be promoted to the next level. I think it’s somewhat “auto-promotion”. Things would change in Primary 5. If the child is failing ‘too much’, he/she will do that failing subject at a foundational level (READ: simpler basic level) and still continue to do that big grand Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) the following year.

Back to my question. So what is it like to be a primary school student here?

If I were a kid, I would go YAHOO!! No need to pass exams and still get promoted! Yahoo!!

But as a parent, I better pray hard my child is able to pass exams and not go through primary education without a single pass. Imagine the child’s self esteem and confidence level! Everything is graded, yet regardless of grades you move up to the next level. I’m not sure how is the child ever going to finish the catch-up game!

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Yesterday, reality hit.

It was a decision we’ve discussed and prayed over for the last few months. Last week, one of the therapists agreed with us, that this is something she would recommend. So we geared ourselves up for today. You see, yesterday was our appointment time with the Child Development doctor…a very senior one too! We decided to ask Doc for her opinion & recommendations.

Well, she didn’t dissuade us. And she didn’t just agree with us, she added on a whole spectrum of other activities we should do. And after examining Meimei, she said, “you see that? She has very low language skills. Definitely below what’s expected of her”.

Wham! Bam! Strangely, even though I know of her very slow learning ability and poor cognitive development, it still hits you hard when you hear it. You feel like you wanna stand up and defend her, you want to explain that

  • she understood but just took a bit longer to really understand it.
  • she was not paying attention. But if she did, she can understand
  • she didn’t catch the accent
  • she’s not used to the voice

As a mother, the natural defense mechanism arose, it’s “Don’t You Dare Say My Girl Is Slow.”

But the more instinctive knowing took over. It became a “she really is trying to understand, but she can’t cos she needs a bit more time” or “please speak a bit slower. Let me rephrase it for you”.

I just kept quiet. I mean, it’s true. She really didn’t understand what was said. She really took a while to respond to the instructions.

I’m rambling now… but I know deep down, she will be alright. We need to pray, explore options, and do some research. The journey has started, and how it will go depends on our decision. It’s daunting yet exciting. There’s so much to trust God now.

Nadine Reading

This is part of a series I’ve started – Ther­apy 101, to doc­u­ment Nadine’s devel­op­men­tal strug­gles and vic­to­ries, and to jour­nal my own learn­ing expe­ri­ences as she goes through hers.

Therapy 101

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