Monday, November 10, 2014

The year in review for Lesley-Anne

2014 has been a whirlwind year for Lesley-Anne. As a JC student, school ends at 4pm on most days and during CCA days, she comes home after 9pm. Then there are assignments to complete and endless exams and tests to study for. She also began her journey as a published author, launching four books. Although all the writing had been completed last year, she still had to attend meetings and was involved in the editing stages of the books. She also conducted talks and workshops, as well as participate in book launches and other official events. Overall, it has been exhausting.

As I'd mentioned in an interview to another blogger, I always joke that Lesley-Anne is a full-time student with a full-time job (actually, that’s not a joke!) When we went to the Hong Kong International Young Readers Festival, she missed two days of school and came back to find a whopping stack of homework waiting for her.

People have asked me how she does it and I tell them it's tough. Lesley-Anne knows that she can’t afford to have any pockets of time wasted. She does her homework during free periods in school, reads in the MRT and catches up on sleep in the bus. As parents, we help by providing logistics and administrative support. For instance, Kenneth drives her to school talks when possible and I coordinate media interviews and school talks, which I try to arrange during her free periods or non-core lessons like PE.

I'm especially proud of the way Lesley-Anne has handled school talks. She's not a naturally outspoken person and approached such talks with much trepidation at first. However, she understands that it's part of her role as a published author and took it in her stride. Today, she is able to engage and related to the kids much better than I can. Nevertheless, it's still very tiring and energy sapping. Often, after a talk and a school day, she comes home and naps on the sofa for hours. As you can imagine, she doesn’t get much leisure time. If she does, it often goes towards sleep! In other words, being a teen writer may sound glamorous but it’s a lot of hard work.

The school holidays started last week but we've been laughing at the thought of any "holiday". The teachers have piled on the homework like there's no tomorrow. Eight pieces of work for Literature! Another eight for GP! Repeat for all subjects. And when school reopens in January, the students are welcomed back with...exams. My friend Lilian commented: no wonder the school does well in the 'A' level exams. The kids practically teach themselves! Do schools really not understand the concept of a holiday?

On top of that, Lesley-Anne has intensive CCA sessions throughout the holidays, sometimes all day, which baffles me. How on earth do you dance from 10am to 6pm? "Won't your legs drop off?" I ask her. Apparently not because there's also an upcoming CCA overseas trip and camp.

And as if all that is not hectic enough, she will have to make time during these holidays to write another book with me. That's right! Another book! We're still sorting out the details so can't reveal much at this point but if all goes according to plan, there will be an addition to the Danger Dan series.

So it's all very exciting but challenging for Lesley-Anne. Epigram Books has been incredibly supportive and never loses sight of the fact that she is still afterall, a teen. The marketing manager once asked me whether 10 years from now, Lesley-Anne will look back and resent the fact she didn't have much of a youth, that it was spent working. That prompted me to have a long chat with Lesley-Anne.

Her reply: Even though she's busier than ever now, she feels fulfilled, unlike in secondary school where she didn't have much time either but felt that her life was empty. It's a whole cosmos of reasons: She's studying subjects that she enjoys, she's passionate about her dance CCA and Danger Dan makes her feel like she has accomplished something special, giving her added meaning to her life. She loves JC so much that she's sorry to see the year come to an end.

From the beginning of the year, I've been concerned as to whether Lesley-Anne has too much on her plate and whether she would be able to juggle everything. (I'm a mum, ok? Worrying is in my DNA!) I mean, the school is very supportive but I don't think it would very sympathetic if Lesley-Anne flunked her exams. It was therefore very comforting to me when she did well in school. In fact, for Literature, she was ranked second overall in her level (although she did say that the boy who was ranked first was in a league of his own!) She loves the subject and her Literature teachers have been extremely supportive of her, which we're very grateful for. She has qualified for H3 (equivalent to the 'S' paper in our time) in both Literature and Geography but will be opting to do Literature.

So it's all good and I really thank God for His countless blessings on Lesley-Anne as well as for her work ethic. 2015 will be another crazy year, if not crazier, with the 'A' levels in view. Besides school, the book circuit looks to be busy as well, with some creative writing workshops already being planned by the NAC. It's overwhelming just thinking about it, so we're praying for peace and guidance and taking it one step at a time.


Anonymous said...

Hello Monica, I really applaud L-A's academic results and her fantastic work ethnics. I have a daughter, who is a year her junior. She is interested in studying in a JC. Can L-A share like some study and time management tips that help her to do well? Since my daughter is switching from science in secondary school to arts in JC, I thought perhaps she could give some advice.
- Diana

monlim said...

Diana: When switching from science to arts, even though there is no pre-requirement for subjects, it's definitely an advantage if you've taken at least an elective before, esp. history or lit as these are quite skill-based (less so for geog as it's more of a content subject so can be learnt more easily).

As for Lesley-Anne's study tips, making her own notes is very important as it helps her not only organise her thoughts better but commit them to memory (sometimes when she finds something difficult to remember, she remakes notes for that section). I guess when time is limited, you've got to optimise the time you have!

An extra step your dd can take is to make preparations before she enters JC. Eg if she plans on taking geog, she can read National Geographic during the hols (L-A finds this helps tremendously for GP as well) or read some of the set texts for Lit - you can find the A level text lists on the SEAB site.

All the best!

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