Academic excellence is heavily emphasised in Singapore, but are our students lacking in many other important skills?
The Ministry of Education (MOE) has been placing increasing emphasis on students learning real-life application skills in their education, but I feel that a pivotal skill has not been talked about enough: time management.
Our students are often struggling with juggling their long school hours, homework, studying for exams, and other commitments. Time management is taking into account your different life priorities and knowing how to juggle them well, because it is important to not neglect any important aspects of life.
Existing efforts to teach real-life application
Co-Curricular Activity (CCA)
Participating in CCAs has been known to be extremely beneficial for students. Although not compulsory in some schools, CCAs offer a great platform for leadership skills, pursuits of passions and relief from academic stress.
MOE began to recognise CCA participation in the 1990s and rewarded good CCA involvement with bonus points to enter higher education institutions.
This gave students incentives to work hard for their CCA participation instead of solely focusing on grades.
At a young age, it is common for students to be confused, not know where their strengths and interests lie, how to play their strengths and the opportunities that are out there for them.
Schools now provide Education and Career Guidance (ECG) lessons for students to receive mentoring on the educational routes that they could take in terms of their interests.
This is of course very beneficial for students so that they can have a headstart in understanding how to earn and save their money.
How about time management?
In schools, students are expected to do well in their studies, but they are not actually taught how they can go about doing so — they’re kind of just expected to know how to juggle on their own — and time management is an important factor in getting their life together.
Schools provide timetables that take into account lessons and break times, which students just have to follow. But, they don’t know how to come up with their personal timetables outside of school to account for their multiple commitments.
When it comes to time management, it’s really talking about students knowing how to be punctual, complete their homework in time (including additional homework from their own tutors), revise early, etc.
Students not learning how to plan their own time could be the reason why they, and even adults, are so stressed out in our generation.
Importance of time management
With proper time management skills, students will know how to allocate appropriate amounts of time for their various commitments.
This can improve their overall performance in their academic subjects.
Most importantly, time management teaches you how to keep up with your responsibilities healthily. Poor time management can not only lead to poor performance but also stress, burnouts and eventually mental health problems.
There are many videos and articles that we can find online to teach us about time management but it is not officially taught in schools.
Admittedly, adults are also still struggling with time management, which is why students should learn how to cultivate good time management habits from young — to prepare for the fast-paced society.
How can MOE inculcate this?
Students nowadays have many commitments that they have and it’s difficult for them to juggle them all:
- Complete their homework
- Study hard and study smart to attain good grades
- Make memorable memories with friends
- Stay bonded with their families
- Actively participate in CCAs
- Make time for themselves to indulge in hobbies
- Have enough sleep
- Exercise and keep fit
- (And for some, to work part-time)
Here are some of the common questions that students may have:
- How can they achieve a healthy balance?
- During busy seasons when it’s all so overwhelming, what should they prioritise to spend their time on? Where do they start?
- How to study during the exam period when all the exams are piled up together?
- How can they stay focused such that they waste less time?
Students need to understand that managing their time well does not mean all work and no play. They need to be aware of the dangers of burnouts and how to prevent them from happening.
What can we do to help?
While time management is still not taught in schools, parents can play a part in teaching their children how to do so.
Guide your children on the above-mentioned difficulties that they may have and look out for signs of stress in your children.
As parents, you have the closest proximity to them and can pay more attention to ensure that they are managing their school life well.
You can plan their personal timetable with them, go through to-do lists during their exam periods, talk about their plans for the day, etc.
If the parents are not able to be very involved in their child’s life, teachers and tutors can also help to guide the student.
Time management should be taken just as seriously as any other skill to have. Students need to recognise the other important aspects of life and know how to strike a healthy balance.
Pushing themselves too hard in only one aspect is a recipe for failure, as they will be prone to burnouts and breakdowns.
Time management does not mean delegating all the time that you have on academics. It’s about knowing how to prioritise and distribute your time accordingly, and this is a vital skill that needs to be taught to all students in schools.