Singapore is often praised to have one of the best education systems in the world. Unbeknownst to many, it is also an extremely stressful system for both parents and children to cope with. According to the Department of Statistics Singapore, the fertility rate per female was just 1.12 compared to the world average of 2.40. Thus, having more than two children in Singapore is unusual. However, this was not the case for Michelle Choy, mother of six, and Edlyn Giam, mother of four. Although having a bigger family may present its challenges, both mothers have come up with ways to deal with the stress which helped their children navigate through the education system.

Michelle Choy daughter revisingMichelle Choy’s daughter revising

Michelle begins by telling us about her perspective as a working mother. As an occupational therapist, she believes that the holistic development of a child is crucial. To her, academics is one of the several components that make up a child’s learning and development. At home, Michelle encourages sit down activities with her children such as arts and crafts, word search and reading. They have daily outdoor time at the playground to build their motor skills and to learn how to make friends and get along with other kids. To Michelle, the physical and mental wellness of a child impacts their academic journey and has to be nurtured as well.

She emphasises choosing quality preschools where they can build a solid foundation in phonics and their mother tongue. “I chose quality preschools for them where they took care of the reading. Expensive doesn’t always mean the best and I chose schools for their solid foundation in phonics and the Chinese language and also how they handled other components of a child’s growth like social skills and character building,” Michelle says.

She also explains how getting everything right with the first child is important if you plan on having more kids. “When you have several kids, my advice is to get it right with the first child. They will sit at the table with their younger siblings who will look up to them and copy everything they do! It was how I could manage my time and get everything else done,” she says. She promoted independence at an early age, and they learnt their spelling and revised for their exams by themselves. If they needed help, they would approach their siblings.

Michelle Choy Kid RevisingMichelle Choy’s Kid Revising

When asked about having extra enrichment activities, Michelle tells us that she keeps those at a minimum to reduce the stress in the household. According to her, one mistake that a lot of parents make is engaging their children in way too many activities where the commute is long. This tires both children and parents out. Thus, keeping to one enrichment per season for all her kids reduces stress for Michelle and encourages them to further explore what they have learnt in class as a group.

“Let the children take ownership of their own learning because they learn to be more self-motivated. I never focused on the marks if they failed. I guided them through their thought process to help them figure out where they went wrong. I never wanted it to be about fear, I wanted them asking themselves if they could have done better, and what would they do differently the next round,” Michelle says.

As a stay at home mother, Edlyn Giam also shares similar opinions with Michelle when it comes to education. “My older ones always help the younger kids with their school work. It helps them revise and this activity together helps them bond with each other,” she says. She understands that being a parent is a challenge, so Edlyn takes each day as it comes. She tells us that she isn’t much of a “tiger mom” and ensures that no child gets too much attention so that they begin learning independence. To her, academics is not mainly about grades but more about building the skills such as critical thinking, observational skills and analytical thinking that will help her children succeed in their life. She explains that she also does not push for enrichment classes since the commute not only takes up a lot of time but causes a lot of stress both on her kids and her.

Edlyn Kids RevisingEdlyn’s Kids Revising

“I think parents should always keep tabs on their kids’ development. Don’t be too pushy or overbearing but it’s good to be observant so that you know which area your child struggles in. Kids develop at different rates so it’s good to always monitor their progress,” she explains. Edlyn emphasises that giving children, especially boys, sit down activities such as arts and crafts teaches them how to focus from a young age which will set them up for success on their academic journey.

Edlyn FamilyEdlyn’s Family

“I don’t like the phrase ‘do your best’ because even as adults, we don’t know what our best is so how can you expect children to know? I believe that parents shouldn’t focus on grades but help their children understand where they went wrong and how they can do better. They will be self-motivated once they realise their own mistakes,” Edlyn concludes.

Twinkl is a digital educational publisher which provides a complete range of teacher-created resources, covering entire schemes of work, lesson planning, assessments and educational games. For more information, click here.

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