Parents’ Guide Digest – January 2015

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Stephen Yeo

Entrepreneur, Wordsmith & Critical Thinker
Proud father of two lovely kids, who at times pushed me to seriously consider editing out the word “lovely” from this sentence. (I am not alone in this.)
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It is barely one month into the new school term and we have come across a bunch of interesting reads. Many of you, for instance, will get a sense of nostalgia when you read this post by Jodie Lopez on Always Learning, the official blog of Pearson, about how education has changed when technology came along. Pamela Lim, a mother and educator, did her own take on the local educaion scene and lamented that:

“Our teachers focused on teaching, not administering. Our leaders focused on nurturing a new generation, not selecting who they wanted. Our students focused on learning, not grades. Our parents focused on supporting the education system, not looking for alternative solutions. Our universities focused on educating a workforce, not international ranking.”

Inevitably, our next generation (and the generations that are coming after) will be immersed in technology from day one and the only worry is that they will take things for granted.

For many parents, the start of the new school term is also the start of new anxieties.

This year, 29 primary schools in Singapore made the transition to single session, bringing the total number of schools operating single sessions to 155. The change created traffic woes for some schools during the morning rush hour and afternoon dismissal times as parents who are driving try to drop off or fetch their children.

Another woe we heard from the grapevine is that school bus operators have raised their already hefty fees. Note that students take the school bus for 10 months, but pay for 12 months’ fees. If there are CCA activities, the return trip may not be provided – or provided at extra charge. Some parents also bemoaned the early pick-up times for their children in the morning. It seems that the bus operators, such as ComfortDelGro, are doing this in order to free up the later time slots to pick up workers. If you read this article, you will note that “transport services for foreign workers make up about 70 per cent of their business”.

While we cannot argue against the profit-oriented approach of private enterprises, the early pick-up times could lead to sleep deprivation for our children. The problem is compounded by an overloaded after-school schedule, coupled with homework almost every day. (Incidentally, a teacher and education expert in the UK has claimed that most homework is ‘completely pointless’.)

The solution to sleep deprivation, as proposed by Tom Allon, former candidate for Mayor of New York City, is to “Start the School Day Later“. There will of course be ramifications if MOE decides (against all odds, we think) to implement such a change, but we believe the positive effects outweigh the negatives given the current state of our public transport.

Then there is the minor issue of after-school care for these students, especially if both parents are working full-time. For those who are staying in the north, you may wish to check out EduFirst’s newly opened centre in Khatib. It offers before-after school care service, on top of its core primary and secondary tuition services for all subjects.

And if the pressure of moving up one level is too much to bear for your child, you may want to consider some help in the form of enrichment classes. One option is Beautyful Minds, which has five outlets across Singapore. Beautyful Minds has developed its own software called Geniebook, which provides personalised learning. We will be working with them on some promotional offers in the near future, so watch this space!

Sometimes providing support for your child is as simple as lending him/her a shoulder to cry on, metaphorically speaking. For dads with daughters, you can seek to forge a stronger bond with your young ones by participating in Date with Dad, an exclusive yet fun event for fathers and daughters to connect deeply and create lasting memories. You can register for the event by clicking on the banner below. But hurry! Registration closes this Sunday (25 Jan).

Date with Dad

For parents whose child has just received his/her “O” level results, here are some tips on what to do next. There are two versions: the orthodox guide and the unorthodox rundown offered by SMRT Ltd (Feedback), a satirical Facebook Page.

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