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Friday, May 15, 2015

Tips For Parents When Buying Workbooks

If you wish to supplement your child's learning by letting them do exercises or practices on workbooks, then you might like to head over to the bookshop to look for some workbooks for them. However, you may have a headache when you arrive at the bookstore, not from lack of choice but from too many choices. That is why I have put together the following tips for parents when buying workbooks. 

Here are my tips for parents when buying school workbooks. These tips are tailored specifically for parents from Malaysia especially for primary school years.

Tips For Parents When Buying Workbooks
  1. Look for the correct school workbooks. If your child is studying in SK, then go to the SK section. Stores like MPH carry SK selections. If your child is in SJKC, then head over to the SJKC section to pick your books. Popular book store has a wide selection of SJKC workbooks. You may also choose to buy your books from online book stores if you do not have the time to go to the bookshops.
  2. Look for the correct syllabus. If your child is doing the KBSR syllabus, then look for KBSR. If your child is doing the KSSR syllabus, then look for KSSR workbooks. However, be wary of unscrupulous publishers who change the cover from KBSR to KSSR and passing the book off as KSSR by changing the cover and adding "KSSR" on it. The best way to do this is to know your child's syllabus well. Read 3 below to find out how. (Note: KBSR syllabus will be fully phased out by end 2016 so you will no longer have to worry about this after that).
  3. Look for topical workbooks or workbooks which follow the textbook closely. All you need to do is to copy the chapter titles from your child's textbook or snap a picture of it with your smartphone and compare with the workbook chapters. It is a good idea to find books which follow the syllabus closely because although extra practice may be good, sometimes it confuses the child if the level is too high or too low. If your child is practising using workbooks which are not so relevant, you may find that they may be doing well on the workbooks but still fail to understand what is being taught at school from the textbooks. (Note: Workbooks that follow the textbook closely usually have the term "Latihan Topikal" or something to that effect on the cover. A quick check with your written or photo list will show you whether that is really the case.)
  4. Get sample test papers  from workbooks. In addition to topical workbooks, you can get workbooks with sample test papers for tryouts just before tests so that your child is familiar with tests formats. However, do make sure you do a little research so that you get the correct format as our test formats are dynamic and changing with the times and new syllabus.
  5. Remember to get the whole year's syllabus. Some publishers publish the workbook for the entire book. Some split it into two books. So if you get a book "A' make sure you get the book "B" for the second half year. 
  6. Another term you should know is HOTS or KBAT. With the new KSSR syllabus, there is a shift of questioning style towards the HOTS or KBAT so check if the workbooks include these forms of questions.
  7. Find workbooks that come with comprehensive answer sheets. Flip to the back or middle of the workbook to find the answer sheets. The more comprehensive the answers, the better the workbook. Some merely give A, B, C, D answers. Some answers give reasons and workings and extra vocabulary. If you are going through the workbook with your child, this will be very helpful to you, especially if you are not well versed in the language. For example Chinese or Bahasa Malaysia workbooks for English speaking parents.
  8. Find workbooks from established publishers. Here are a few good publishers of children's publishers or educational materials in Malaysia. There are more of course but these are a handful of tried and tested ones.
  9. Don't get too many workbooks. You may end up confusing your child.
  10. Get some reference books too. Besides workbooks, head over to the reference book section. Get a few sample essay or karangan books. Get picture dictionaries, science picture reference books and more. Get comic reference books to make learning fun. All these will help your child when they are studying. 
Happy Shopping! Do bring your child along so they can tell you what is relevant and what is not. Get their opinion when shopping. Let them help to pick out their own workbooks. 


SK = Sekolah Kebangsaan
SJKC = Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina
KBSR = Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Rendah
KSSR = Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah
HOTS = Higher Order Thinking Skills
KBAT = Kemahiran Berfikir Aras Tinggi

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