These days it is obvious enough to most parents that the concept of a modern education is undergoing a dramatic redefinition. Sophisticated parents who are in touch with global trends know that examination scores, on their own, just aren’t enough to get ahead. Teaching to the test has become outdated – indeed tests no longer guarantee admission into the world of the elite. We see the rise of the portfolio child as an important trend as the rules of the game continue to shift – consider the increasing viability of Direct School Admissions, for instance, as an alternative to the PSLE.

What exactly defines the portfolio child? For us, the term indicates a precocious child who has accumulated a portfolio of non-academic credentials from an early age. Balancing their academic subjects is a breeze – for the portfolio child, it’s a given. His or her attention is already focused on participating in a plethora of competitions, publishing a variety of literary or opinion texts on various platforms in the public and private sectors, and developing a range of skills that project their personal brand in interviews and essays.

The portfolio child is two steps ahead of everyone else. He or she pragmatically keeps the PSLE as a backup option, but secures a slot through DSA through one especially overdeveloped skill. Perhaps the portfolio child, under the influence of his or her parents, realises that getting into SOTA is a doorway to the world of designers and creatives who control the world of content. Or perhaps the portfolio child has one eye on going to an Ivy League university and knows that the price of admission is years spent developing a skill or talent, with a portfolio of accomplishments that serves as his or her childhood CV.

For the parent who wants to groom a portfolio child, it’s important to select your child’s mentors and influencers carefully. Be sure that your child’s mentors and influencers have the right expertise and quality connections to various industries or fields. A quick and handy rule of thumb is that your child’s influencers ought to have accomplished for themselves what you hope to develop in your children. There are plenty of pretenders out there in the wild west of private enrichment, so make sure you are discerning. After all, you only get one shot at getting it right from the start.

Don’t get us wrong – we are not necessarily endorsing the rise of the portfolio child as the right path for every student. However, we are rather fond of that old chestnut, the story of the grasshopper and the ant, and we also feel it is a crime to stifle children who have the capacity to go beyond the norm. Ever optimistic as we are, we’re more than happy to call out global trends as we see them arising, and help students who want a little more out of life. As many of us at Academia can attest, sometimes the happiest children simply love being smart and ahead of the curve: after all, the taste of success is pretty sweet.

Check out our March Holiday Programmes to help your child build a sophisticated writing portfolio or simply brush up on interview and personal branding skills.