Imagine having 12-hour work days with breaks few and far between, filled with lots of work and no lack of continual pressure from upper management. For many of our children attending primary school in Singapore, this isn’t a reality that’s too far off from their day-to-day experience as a primary school student.
While school itself takes up only six hours each weekday, compulsory co-curricular activities, tuition classes, and mountains of homework—all of which can and often do extend into the weekends—can leave students mentally drained and stressed out. As such, many primary school students in Singapore will experience burn-out to some degree during their primary school life. But what does that mean, exactly?
What is Burn-Out?
Burn-out happens when one is overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and too fatigued to keep up with the inherent demands of one’s daily life. It is a form of exhaustion that can keep your primary school child from being productive, and affects not just their academic results and life in school, but also their social and family life.
At first, when burn-out symptoms are mild, your child may slug through the adversity and continue performing well. However, it will eventually take a toll, and the stress they feel can easily turn into feelings of anxiety that can dampen their motivation and extinguish their interest levels.
At MindSpace, we understand that no parent in Singapore would ever want for their primary school child to suffer from burn-out. So, below are the common signs of burning out in primary school children to look out for, and some common causes of burn-out in primary school students in Singapore:
Signs of Burning Out
- Worsening grades or test results at school
- Reduced engagement with friends and family
- Growing disinterest in usual hobbies and extra-curricular activities
- Increased negativity (i.e., “What’s the point?”, “I always mess up”, etc.)
- Frequent mood swings, easy to anger, or signs of irritability, anxiety or depression
- Nodding off in the day or early evening (or any sign of sleep-deprivation in general)
- Increased displays of absenteeism tendencies for commitments in and out of school
Common Causes of Burn-Out in Primary School Students
- Struggles with understanding or coping with school curriculum
- Problems with staying attentive when lessons are dull and repetitive
- Excessive tuition and extra-curricular activities that leave little time for leisure
- Inability to cope with failure leading to feelings of anxiety regarding performance
- Lack of meaningful social interaction and activity leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation
How Parents Can Help
There are numerous ways you can help prevent burn-out in your primary school child. Here are three of the best methods you can implement easily and immediately at home:
Establish Routine Downtimes
Incorporate allocated downtimes in your child’s daily routine at home for them to do whatever they like. While some may choose to use this time for schoolwork anyway, you’re essentially telling them that they can take a break if needed and that they deserve a safe space to decompress from time to time.
Keep Work Sessions Short
While the homework given at school can be unforgiving at times, you can still help your primary school child break up their schoolwork into bite-sized chunks for them to complete in a series of sprints rather than what feels like an unending marathon. We recommend no longer than two hours of cumulative time spent, made up of 20-minute work bursts and 5-minute breaks in between.
Always Eliminate Distractions
Multitasking has been proven to be largely ineffective, and can make us feel like we’re getting a lot done when it’s the total opposite. This can happen to your primary school child, too, and can cause them to feel overwhelmed, incapable or inadequate.
Eliminate all distractions such as smartphones and television when your primary school child is doing work, such that they can better focus on their task at hand and complete it with greater ease. Likewise, when it’s time to play or relax, no reminders of schoolwork and the likes should intrude upon the time dedicated for their leisure.
You should also encourage your primary school child to regularly engage in social outings and activities, and dedicate time to spend with them, together, doing whatever they consider to be fun or exciting.
Always trust your child’s limits; if they tell you something’s too much for them, believe them and step in as a parent. Whether that means pulling them out from arranged tuition classes or writing a letter to their primary school to voice your concerns, you should always take your child seriously, especially when the aforementioned signs of burn-out are present in your child.
How MindSpace Can Help
Of course, parents can easily suffer from burn-out too, and work commitments can make it difficult to single-handedly prevent burn-out in your child or help your burnt-out child recover.
That is why MindSpace offers after school student care services for primary school children with curated curriculums that leverage research-backed pedagogies which prevent burn-out in students while enhancing their foundation for success.
Our Art of Learning and Optimal Flow teaching methods help minimise the likelihood of your child struggling to understand or lacking interest in what is being taught to them at school — common culprits of burn-out that often arise from rote learning methods employed by most primary schools in Singapore. Our nurturing of a Champion Mindset will also help build your child’s resilience to failure, further alleviating the risk of burn-out by eliminating yet another common cause.