School should always be enjoyable for children as well as teenagers. Some very bright students would thrive in accelerated programs at the secondary level, while others would feel pressured and even anxious if placed in one of these programs. Parents need to consider each child’s personality, not simply academic results.
At the secondary level, SEAL Programs (Special Entry Accelerated Learning) suit some students but not others. These options may be a great idea if a child has been a little bored at primary school. However, if your child is doing extremely well in primary school but doesn’t enjoy pressure or competition, a SEAL Program for secondary school may be an unwise choice. Regardless of how well a SEAL Program is run, there are invariably additional demands placed on the students compared to students in mainstream classes. Does your child love a challenge and thrive when placed in a situation where some pressure is on? Does your child enjoy competition? Or does your child hate pressure and competition?
Some students take to a SEAL Program like those proverbial ducks to water. Others forge on conscientiously and with stoic determination, but the joy of learning disappears. Before considering a SEAL Program at the secondary level, always have a good talk to your child’s primary teachers. Primary teachers generally know children very well and have seen them work in various situations, some of which contain elements of competition and ‘stress’. Your child’s primary teacher may be able to give you insights into whether your child would enjoy a SEAL Program at the secondary level or not.
Entry exams for SEAL Programs generally start in the last year a child is in primary school. Others start half way through a child’s second year at secondary school. Once again, don’t assume that this is a good option for your child. Make an appointment to discuss this with your child’s primary or secondary school class teacher, level coordinator or the Principal. Even sitting for the exam and then not being selected could damage a sensitive child’s self-esteem. This needs to be approached carefully. If the school recommends that your child sits for the entry exam, it should be presented as a fun challenge rather than a do-or-die hurdle. If the school advises you not to sit your child for the exam, think carefully before going against this advice. Many students who are not in accelerated programs do as well as students who are in these programs. Consider your child’s personality, listen to advice and only then make a decision.