Many Interests, Limited Resources
One of the struggles as parents of Primary school going children is helping our children balance their time between school work, enrichment, hobbies, CCAs and personal recreation.
It didn’t help also that our daughter is a very sporty, outdoorsy girl who seems to take onto ANY sports like fish to water. In fact, at Primary 1, she was handpicked TWICE to join the school gym team but due to the intense commitment required (3 hours of training 3 times weekly), we decided not to enrol her.
We signed her up instead for external recreational gym and tennis lessons outside of school. This is over and above the swimming, cycling and skiing that she does in her own time out of interests – yes, she’s that active. All these require extra commitment in terms of time and money. It was taking a strain and barely sustainable.
We wanted to continue exposing our sporty child to sports without the stress of competitions. But how can we do it given the limited time and resource constraints?
The answer? The Junior Sports Academy or JSA
The JSA is a fully-funded MOE programme introduced in 2008 to develop primary school students with higher abilities in the physical domain. It provides opportunities for these students to discover their sporting strengths so that they can continue to pursue them in the future if they desire.
It allows children to learn different types of sports of their choice in 4 different sports modules. If your child passed the trial, he/she will get to pick one sports in each of these 4 main domains:
- Net Barrier / Wall Games (e.g. Badminton, Tennis etc.)
- Territorial / Invasion Games (e.g. Soccer, Hockey etc.)
- Striking – Fielding / Target Games (e.g. Fencing, Shooting etc.)
- General Sports and Games (e.g. Sailing, Track and Field etc.)
The programme is open to all Primary 4 and Primary 5 students who have undergone and passed a half-day sports trial. Each year, JSA admits about 800 students nationwide to their line-up of more than 20 sports modules. The full programme begins in the Semester 2 of Primary 4 year and will end in Semester 1 of the Primary 6 year.
With this timeline, a child who joins JSA in her P4 year will have the opportunity to experience the full spectrum of the 4 different sports modules. Students who join only in P5 will get to experience only 2 types of sports modules.
The JSA Experience:
Our daughter was over the moon when we received the email notification informing us that she has passed the trial. During the parents engagement session, she selected the 4 different types of sports she would like to experience. In her P4 (Sem 2), she did Flippa Ball (a type of water-polo sports) and now in P5 (Sem 1), she is in table tennis.
She absolutely enjoys her JSA sessions every Saturday morning. Besides learning the basics of the sports, she gets to interact with children from different schools who share a common passion for sports. The coaches are professional coaches screened and appointed by MOE. They have to abide by the high standard of care and professionalism set by MOE.
As parents, the JSA is the win-win solution, which enables our sport-loving children to pick up different sports in her Upper Primary years without the added stresses that come with competitive trainings. In fact, JSA frees our daughter up to pursue a non-sport CCA in school (which is choir). The non-competitive nature of the programme makes this a truly holistic and developmental experience for children. As a family, we are very appreciative of JSA!
When we were researching on JSA last year, we realised there isn’t much info except for the FAQ on MOE’s website. We attempt to answer some common questions to share our experience:
- How does a child register for JSA?
When your child is in P4 or P5, your child’s school should inform parents of the JSA selection trial dates sometime in early February. All primary schools will nominate suitable Primary 4 and 5 students for the trial. If your child is not nominated, parents can also nominate their children through the schools. Contact your child’s Form Teacher or PE HOD for the nomination form.
- How is a child selected?
Our daughter went through a half-day selection trial at the Singapore Sports Hub. The JSA selection trial is conducted annually on a Saturday in March. The selection trial will tests your child’s overall physical abilities and motor skills (e.g. sprinting, jumping, balancing, ball throw & catch). This means that even if your child does not have specific advanced sports skills, he/she will not be disadvantaged. Your child do not have to bring any sports equipment to the trial. Go dressed in PE attire with sports shoes.
- Must my child join only in P4?
The programme is open all to Primary 4 and 5 children. It runs for 4 semesters starting from Sem 2 of your child’s Primary 4 year. Children joining in their Primary 5 year will only get to enjoy 2 semesters of JSA training (meaning two types of sports).
- What is the commitment from the child / parent?
Once selected, a parent engagement session will be conducted. Parents and children will be informed of the commitment level which is usually a half-day sports training weekly per semester. Our daughter’s Flippa Ball and Tennis training are on Saturday mornings 8.30am to 10.30am. The timing may differ for other sports.
- When and where are the sessions held?
At the briefing, we were told that as much as possible, the sessions would be arranged on Saturdays. While some trainings are held at MOE’s CCAB at Evans Road, others can be held at designated venues where the sports equipment are more specialised e.g. Shooting, Sailing, Fencing etc. The training timings would then be subjected to the availability at these specialized venues but typically would still be on weekends.
- Is there any bond?
No bond but there is a minimum attendance requirement which your child needs to fulfill in order to graduate from JSA successfully. If you do not meet the attendance, your child may not be allowed to continue and he/she will also not receive a certificate of completion. Bear in mind that JSA spots are limited. If you withdraw from JSA mid-way, you have effectively deprived another child of the opportunity to pick up the sports.
- Is it expensive?
The JSA programme is fully funded by MOE. This includes rental of the venue and sports equipment, coaching fees and apparels. Parents do not need to pay for anything (yup not even from the child’s Edusave). The only commitment required of parents and participants is TIME.
- Are there any awards linked to JSA?
JSA is NOT competitive in nature; students are not trained to compete for awards. However, during training sessions, there will be some friendly ‘matches’ among groups as part of the learning experience of mastering the games. Do note JSA is not counted as a school CCA and cannot be used as a substitute.
- Does it help with DSA or entry into Singapore Sports School?
No. JSA is developmental in nature and started to help children develop passion in sports. That being said, we were told some parents, upon completion of JSA, do use their children’s certificate of completion to inform secondary schools of their children’s interests and aptitude in sports.
- Can a parent stay and watch the training sessions?
Parents are only allowed to stay and watch during the first and last session of each sports module.
- How long are the sessions?
Typically about 2 hours. So far our daughter’s sessions have always been on 8:30am to 10:30am on Saturday mornings.
- Will it clash with school exams?
The training sessions follow the MOE school calendar and will stop about a week or two before the MOE Primary School exam period. There are no trainings during the school holidays.
- Would you recommend JSA?
In a heartbeat, YES. Given that many of the sport CCAs in school train children to represent the school competitively, JSA is a wonderful alternative to expose our children to take up sports simply for the love of it. Besides improving physical dexterity, JSA students also attend Students will also attend Sports Education Modules (sports-related workshops) on topics such as Sports Injury Management & Prevention, Nutrition, Hydration & Sleep , Sports Ecology in Singapore etc.
Our daughter is into her 2nd sports module now with JSA. We have seen her picked up confidence to meet and mingle with peers from different schools and developed resilience, discipline and grit, which comes with sports training. We were also able to divert the fees which used to go towards her private tennis and gym lessons now to savings.
We can’t recommend JSA enough. For more information, please visit MOE’s website: https://www.moe.gov.sg/education/programmes/junior-sports-academy or visit our friend, SengKang Babies’s JSA posts: http://sengkangbabies.com/tag/who-are-suitable-for-jsa-sports/