What exciting news is it to know that your child has gotten into GEP! The Gifted Education Programme in Singapore is highly selective, and only a very small fraction of students can make it into the programme.
But some parents may soon feel the worry that having a GEP child brings. With your child going through a curriculum that most mainstream students won’t know about, it is also harder to find support and academic help for your child when they need it. Unless the parent has also gone through the GEP themselves, the likelihood is that you won’t be familiar with what your child will have to go through.
That’s why we’re here to help!
For first-time GEP parents, or parents who are considering whether to accept the GEP invitation for their child, here’s what you can expect in Singapore’s GEP.
Subjects taught in GEP
GEP students will study mostly the same subjects as students in the mainstream programme, but with added depth, going beyond the usual curriculum. There is also an added subject called Individualised Study Options. In form classes that contain both GEP students and non-GEP students, GEP students will be pulled out for the following subjects:
- Higher Chinese (depending on the school, some classes may be mixed or pure GEP)
- Social Studies (with school-based exams)
- Inquiry Skills / Individual Study Options
Individual Study Options are several types of research programmes for GEP students to conduct their own research project under the mentorship of their teachers. P4 students will first attend Inquiry Skills classes to learn the research skills they need to start their project in P5. Some of the available project options are (different schools offer a different selection of options):
- Individualised Research Study (IRS)
- Innovation Programme (IvP)
- Community Problem Solving Programme (CmPS)
- Future-Problem Solving (FPS)
- Destination Imagination (DI)
What to expect in GEP
Most official sources will only tell you briefly about what students do in GEP. For example, GEP classes will use notes prepared by GEP teachers, rather than textbooks. On top of their regular curriculum, GEP students will also engage in hands-on research projects, and learn subjects in greater depth than their peers in the mainstream curriculum. But what’s the experience actually like for these students? Here’s what we found out from sharings by some GEP students and parents.
More content, faster pace
According to the MOE website, GEP is an ‘enrichment’ programme rather than an ‘accelerated’ one. However, it is hard to deny that to cover the added content knowledge (enrichment) during class time, the pace of lessons will have to be quicker than normal.
While mainstream students will learn concepts and skills geared towards the PSLE syllabus, GEP students will delve deeper into topics such as the history of these concepts and how they came about.
Some topics covered, as shared by GEP students, include ancient civilisations, the Mayan number system, the Holocaust, and how to write a mystery story.
What’s important to note is that GEP students do a lot of learning that is beyond the PSLE syllabus. If you think that GEP students automatically do well on the PSLE, we’re afraid that’s not necessarily true.
The truth is, GEP students actually spend less curriculum time preparing for the PSLE than students in the mainstream education. The bulk of their time is spent learning ‘extra’ things beyond the syllabus, such as working on their research project or preparing for presentations.
Those who eventually do well in the PSLE are either inherently geniuses, or have spent a lot of time beyond the classroom to study independently to catch up and get familiar with the demands of PSLE.
Beyond the pressure of the additional content and projects, GEP students also have to deal with a lot of external pressure. GEP students are often told that they are destined for great things, such as becoming the future leaders of Singapore. Teachers and the state put a lot of expectations upon them, and invest a lot into these students.
Most of the 10-12 year olds simply ignore this rhetoric as they are too young to bother with ‘becoming the next leader of Singapore’. But students who find this too much may break under the pressure or become jaded about the system they are in.
A different learning experience
Thanks to the less exam-focused syllabus and in-depth topics, many GEP students do end up enjoying their learning experience in the programme. They say it is interesting and fulfilling, as the programme challenges them and opens their minds to more perspectives about the world.
GEP students are also encouraged to speak up in class, debating on issues and questioning the information given to them, altogether fostering a dynamic and thought-provoking classroom environment which most say they find very mentally stimulating.
What you can do as a parent
As seen from above, the GEP is markedly different from mainstream primary school education, with its fair share of pros and cons. One thing’s for sure: it is not for everyone. Some students struggle more than others, but with the right support, most students in the GEP can thrive.
As a parent of a GEP child, here’s what you can do:
Let them know it’s okay to ask for help
There’s no doubt that GEP is very intensive in terms of workload and depth of study. Sometimes, it is much more than a P4 to 6 student can handle. It’s natural to need help, and parents should encourage their child to seek help when they need, rather than leaving them to struggle by themselves.
There should be no shame in asking for help. Parents can also look for avenues where their child can seek practical as well as emotional help – such as a GEP tutor for academic issues, or the parents themselves for emotional support.
Their ego may take a beating from the sudden change in intensity. From scoring near full marks in P1 to 3, they may start getting 60s and 70s at the start of GEP. In GEP, the passing mark is set as 70, making this drop in marks feel like they are failures. All these may make your child feel like they are ‘not smart enough’ or ‘not good enough’.
You shouldn’t wait until that happens to remind them of their worth. Take steps to build up their self-esteem, affirming their talent, intelligence, and passion. Make it a point to tell your child that their worth is not in their grades, reminding them that their grades will look different because they are in a rigorous and highly selective programme.
Teach them how to handle pressure
Pressure comes from all fronts for GEP students. Apart from availing emotional support for GEP students, parents can help their child cultivate good, practical habits to handle expectations, stress, and time.
For example, work with them to develop a study schedule or planning system that is effective for them. Set a time each week to spend together as a family to destress. Finally, be careful about the expectations you set and communicate to your child, bearing in mind that they are already facing immense external pressure.
How Future Academy can help your GEP child
Not every GEP child is expected to be a genius who will breeze through the programme without any help. The nature of the intensive programme means that even bright students may find themselves needing help to cope – especially for PSLE, which they spend less time on.
We are one of the few tuition centres in Singapore offering classes for GEP and other high-ability students. We have GEP classes for English, Math and Science. For the time your child spends at tuition, they are potentially saving more headache and time than if they were to study from scratch on their own.
Our experienced GEP tutors can impart smart study techniques and help students through common struggles and mistakes faced in their school subjects. Additionally, our small class sizes let us customise lessons to each child’s needs and learning preferences.
So, stress less and join us for our GEP tuition classes today. Get in touch with us to know more!