Learning via Parenting and Family Bonding

Recognising the type of parenting style we adopt can definitely help us to bond with our children. When all the ecstasy of having a newborn in the house wears off, parents begin to subscribe to one of four styles of parenting: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and uninvolved. These four styles—which are also, unfortunately, labels—show what kind of upbringing kids are given. 

However, no matter which parenting style you adopt, there are always opportunities for parents to enrich their relationship with their children. 

You are an authoritarian parent if your favorite phrase is, “Because I said so.” You fire off household rules without consulting your children. And if they break these rules, you make sure that there will be hell to pay. It’s not that you’re evil; it’s just that you believe that enforcing your rules without exception and negotiation instills discipline in your kids. Your children know that you expect absolute obedience from them. 

How you can bond with your child: Open some of your rules to a little bit of negotiation. It will make your children feel that their opinion matters. 

Do it one rule at a time if rule-haggling seems too much for you at first. For example: your rule about curfews. On a Saturday night, let your 17-year-old negotiate the terms of his 9:30 PM curfew. Listen to him, he might actually be making sense. Trust that all those years of obedience have put a good head on his shoulders.

An authoritative or democratic parent, on the other hand, likes to talk issues over with the children before acting on them. You listen to them and answer their questions. Instead of making too many rules, you give clear standards of behaviour for your kids to strive to. And because your ultimate goal is to raise children who are independent thinkers, assertive, and socially responsible, your method of discipline is to support principles, not to punish bad behaviour.

Always bear in mind that an ideal parent-child relationship, as in any relationship, is one that has two-way communication lines. However, remember that no one takes things for granted. Set aside one-on-one time with each of your kids every day. More exclusive time with your kids means more opportunities to get to know them, and to let them get to know you.

For a permissive parent, the household rules usually come more as an afterthought. Instead of imposing your rules on your children, you allow them to regulate themselves. You don’t believe in by-the-book parenting, opting instead to go with the flow. Because of your relaxed style, your kids see you more as one of their friends than as a parent. Fun is the name of the game in your house. Forget the rules. 

How you can bond with your child: It’s cool that you are your child’s best friend. You probably have no problems getting your kid to talk to you about anything.

To cement your bond, make sure that—just like a best friend—you don’t flake on your child when the going gets really rough. There’s a time to be the best friend; and there’s a time to be the best parent—one who will put your child’s needs before your own.

You are an uninvolved parent if communication with your children is made up of awkward small talk and nothing else. You pretty much let your children do their own thing, and you rarely step in. Your rule of thumb is: feed them and they will grow. Such parents merely appreciate the miracle of life in the home. 

Strike up a conversation with the children from time to time. Take baby steps to know your children and open yourself up so that they can also get to know you. Simple activities like eating ice cream together or maybe doing a movie-night at home will definitely help. 

Instead of telling your children who you are, show them by getting them involved in your favourite activities. Eventually, if you do it consistently and with love, your children will come around and show you who they are.

Love and bonding within the family is one of the simplest way to bring happiness into our lives! For most of us, our family forms the centre of our lives and everything we do revolves around our family.

When we first start our family and embark on the journey of parenthood, the little angels we bring to our families are the ones who brighten up our lives. As their learning journey begins, so do ours – We need to start to learn how to be parents!

To me, parenting is an ”exciting expedition” in my life journey.  We need to first of all recognise that children and even babies too have emotions and moods. When they feel ‘down’ or ‘moody’, they can throw or display all types of tantrums via their instinctive modes such as crying and screaming. Hence, new parents often need to take some time to ‘learn the ropes to recognise these signals’ and devise ways to tackle or counteract them.

I first learn of ”respect” from my parents and teachers in my childhood days. In those days, children were taught to respect our elders and obey them. However, in modern times, kids too requested for the respect of their parents. I was really taken aback when my son demanded that I ‘respect’ his privacy when I tried to search his school bag to check for any homework lest he forgot about them when he first started school!

Perhaps, with the exposure to the internet and early interaction with electronic and digital equipment, children nowadays are more well-informed than the kids of yesteryears. They can talk like adults and even command the same level of respect from us! When punishments are meted out, they can even ‘quote the definition of abuse’ to you and ‘threaten’ to report you to the police if they are canned or confined at home! As such, a lot of learning needs to be done before one can play the role of a competent parent nowadays!

I have to admit that my parenting role has added much stress to my already hectic work schedule but also enable me to grow at another emotional as well as intellectual level. In fact, part of the disciplinary and reward system I set up at home can actually be applied in the workplace as I believe everyone of us has a “child instinct” buried within us. Hence, child tactics may be applied under certain circumstances.

As the saying goes, learning can happen anytime, anywhere and under any type of circumstances. As such, whether you are working, parenting, bonding in the family, mingling at social gatherings or participating in community activities with people of all ages and discipline, you have much to learn from all involved, including kids!


Learning through Critical Thinking

Encourage critical thinking with this guide full of brain-based tips & strategies: http://bit.ly/1kmrZVf.

Learning in the 21st Century focuses more the “How to” rather than the “What are”. With the widespread use of the world wide web and the availability of Google search, we can find information on practically anything online.

As such, what then does real learning entails? In my opinion, it is the problem-solving skills that we need to learn for us to sail through smoothly in life. 

Few would disagree that building critical thinking and creative problem solving skills is imperative for today’s students. However, subject matter knowledge is equally important. However, core subjects and core ideas are equally important to meet the objectives of effective education.

Everyone knows that students need knowledge as well as skills. We have to teach content, too.”

But what exactly is content? Is it the stuff found in a textbook? Is it information? Is it the definitions, formulas and facts of a subject area? Well, in my opinion, it is all of the above!

While content is important, we need to recognise that it’s more than the definitions and formulas found in a textbook. Content is made up of the concepts and principles of our world. Teaching concepts and principles with examples and non-examples can go a long way in helping students develop true understanding. In doing so, we offer our students more than something to be memorized. We offer them the “stuff” they need for problem solving which is useful for life.

When you say that someone is literate, you are not saying that they know how to read; you are saying that they are well read or have read a lot. And not only that but the assumption is that they have acquired the knowledge gained from reading (it is part of them and it is used both to support and to contradict what this literate person believes or doesn’t believe). A literate person therefore has evidence to bolster and base beliefs upon and ammunition to argue against other beliefs.

Where problem solving is concerned, a problem to be solved must be compelling enough to need a solution.  Sufficient thinking must be applied to analyse the problem and the solution proposed to it must be believable, plausible, and doable. An effective solution to a problem is thus irrefutable because it works!

Hence, the art of critical thinking is definitely an important part of learning which can add value to your life and light up your world. Let us all start our lifelong learning journey now by learning something new everyday!

Constructive criticism is fine for kids

How good you are

Criticism is a good way to spur growth and improvement. However, extra care has to be taken when criticism is passed on young children to ensure that we are not suppressing their talents unwittingly because of a wrongful assessment.

Below are some examples to illustrate how some of these so-called “negative qualities” could turn out just fine for your child.

1. College drop-outs

Your son/daughter may not be very interested in the school curriculum and is always focusing on other passions. Perhaps, the Singapore system is not for him.

The Singapore education system focuses a lot on Maths and Science, and rote learning so those without the flair may not benefit from it. This doesn’t mean that he’s “stupid.”

To be fair, Singapore’s comprehensive education system has groomed many talented people. According to IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2011, Singapore was ranked among top 3 in the world for its educational system. I, too, benefited from Singapore’s education system and am able to have a career in writing in Greater China because of its bilingual education.

Still, it’s hard for one system to fit all. Do you know that Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard because they wanted to focus on the projects they were working on?

Of course, I am not suggesting that your child quit primary school this instance. Primary school is important for foundation, but don’t be too worried if your child expresses talent in non-examinable subjects, e.g. in music or dance.

Just to note, Gates is the world’s richest person now and Zuckerberg was a billionaire at 23.

2. Naughty

Kids are kids. Some are more playful and rowdy in class. As parents, the job is to make sure they don’t interrupt the learning process of other students.

If they don’t and are just more on the “wild side, ” I think it’s OK!

Apple’s Steve Jobs loved to play pranks on others- once, he switched all the locks on the bicycles of his classmates! His primary school teacher even needed to bribe him to make him do his homework. The co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak was a prankster too and would often work with Jobs to make fun of others.

Again, I am not condoning these actions, but just saying, your child may grow out of it. And his playfulness could be a source of his creativity, like how it was for the man behind the iPhone and iPads.

3. Slow, unsociable

There are introverts and extroverts, even among adults. There is no need for a student to adhere to social norms “just to fit in.”

The Singapore’s education system is very competitive- if our child is slower than the rest, be patient with him.

It’s really not up to him if he’s slow, right? As long as he has tried, we should give him a pat on the back and help him understand concepts faster through mind mapping and other means.

Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein, who is best known for the mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc², was described by his teachers as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in his foolish dreams” Thomas Edison’s father thought he was stupid, his teacher called him addled and he went on to invent light bulbs.

4 .Talkative

Again, if the student is not disrupting other children, this should be a non-issue.

In Singapore, where many Singaporeans are reserved and afraid to speak up, this is a rare quality that one wants to have.

Do you know at Singapore’s top university NUS, to encourage students to be more vocal in class, it has to implement a 10-mark system to encourage students to speak up in class!

And who knows, your child may be the next Oprah Winfrey! Winfrey’s grandmother once said that ever since Winfrey could talk, she was on stage. As a child, she played games interviewing her doll and crows on the fence of her family’s property. Now she is the most influential woman in the world, according to some assessments and North America’s only black billionaire.

So who knows, with your nurturing, your “naughty” son/daughter may just be the next Steve Jobs.

Love can conquer all – Be cruel only to be kind

Help Your Child By Letting Him Fail – Five Ways of Motivation

I was visiting my Alma mater the other day and sweet memories flowed back. I recalled how I enjoyed being in the student council and my mum would get angry as I was spending too much time on extra-curricular activities. There was the good old study room where I would hang out with my best friends and *sometimes* study. I remember how I preferred revising my work in school because my mum would nag at me incessantly at home.

That was two decades ago and it dawned upon me that things haven’t really changed. Parents are still worried about their kids and children are mostly still unmotivated.

What has changed is we have grown up. And guess what, we know how it’s like to dread the school work, hate the nagging from parents and we should use this to our benefit. The best way to motivate our children is to be in their shoes and use the benefit of the hindsight that we have.  

1. No Nagging

Did your mother’s nagging ever worked? Half the time, it just drove you to do the direct opposite of what she wanted you to do, right? Especially if your child is a teenager, the desire to spite you could be pretty huge. Don’t take it personally, it’s the hormones. I know I know. I can’t help nagging sometimes too. Try to use more positive methods to encourage and motivate your child.

2. Let them fail

You can dispense advice to them. If they don’t listen to you, let them be. Sometimes, children need to be hit hard before reality sinks in and they learn their lesson.

I remember how I did last minute revision for my ‘A’ levels and it was the most horrid experience I ever had. I continued having nightmares about taking the ‘A’ Levels in the next few years. I did learn my lesson. When I was in university, I was the most hardworking student, often finishing my revision five weeks before the exams.

3. Let them have fun

There’s a reason why we fill my classes with games to camouflage the fact that we are really doing exercises. You can do that at home with your kid too.

For English, make him the “teacher” and mark his younger sibling’s composition. This helps him to spot mistakes and improve his grammar. Instead of writing a composition, embark him on a project to write his own book or write about fantasy/science fiction- something he’s really keen on.

For Science, do simple experiments with him. Seeing is believing- he will get intrigued, fall in love with the subject and most importantly, understand the concept. For Maths, instead of doing boring exercises, use real-life examples. For instance, use beans to illustrate the concepts of multiplication or fractions.

4. Encourage and praise

Don’t scold a kid when he fails his exam. Don’t show your panic when he is last in class. I am sure he feels awful already.

Do you know how frightened he is when he failed his exams? He’s probably even more worried about breaking the news to you. We want our children to be able to tell us everything/anything in the world. So scaring him is not the best option.

Instead, work together to improve his grades. If he fails for the second time and there’s a significant improvement in his marks, give commendation.

Don’t be stingy with praises. It’s a vicious cycle sometimes- a kid doesn’t do well, gets punished, has a low self-esteem, believes he isn’t capable of doing well and it continues. Break the sequence by letting him know he’s better than he thinks he is.

5. Love

Last but not least, show them lots of love. Regardless whether you are a teacher or a parent, this is the most important ingredient to motivating a child.

A child may not have the life experience that you have to understand why he needs to be educated and learn, but he definitely can feel your love and concern for him.

 No matter how ill-disciplined the child is, if he sees your unwavering concern for him, he will eventually be touched and work hard. I am lucky enough to meet enough caring mentors to know that this is the most effective method.

It may take time, but the rewards are hefty. Each kid is unique, the methods above may not work for everyone, but it can serve as a guide.

Most importantly, enjoy the time you spend with your child when you are motivating him. These are memories you will remember fondly forever.

Learning is most effective when done happily and willingly


Learning is spontaneous and is most effective when it is done willingly with a Happy Heart. To me, learning cannot be forced, it has to be done at your own free will to achieve the desired results!

When I chanced upon my son’s facebook posts and What’s App messages, I was very disturbed to realise that all this while, he had the misconception that he was being ‘forced to learn for the sake of passing examinations in school’! This perception is definitely incorrect.

Learning is an essential and compulsory skill required for survival. Education is important as it moulds our character and offers us the skills which are applicable throughout our lives. Knowledge gained in Maths and Science can be applied in real life and an excellent command of languages enables us to communicate effectively with people from all walks of life. Hence, knowing that what is learned in school now will be useful to us for life is surely an important factor that can motivate one to learn happily and willingly not only in school but throughout his life.

In order to achieve the optimal results of effective learning, one must be made to realise or enjoy the benefits of learning from time to time. For example, if one starts to learn fishing, the first fish he caught will be his first achievement in this learning process. To make him further cherish this achievement, he can be given an opportunity to barbeque this ‘first achievement’ and then share it with his family and friends. This unique experience will definitely make the learner realise that for the effort he made to learn fishing which is a new skill to him, he will in turn gain a new experience (The experience of sampling his own catch). This new experience would have been non-existent if the learning of that new skill did not happen in the first place!


However, how then can we create an activity to allow students in our schools to realise the difference that their academic learning can make to them or their everyday lives to motivate them to continue learning? This portion can prove to be challenge to educators and parents alike.

To achieve this target, we can start a project in school for the brighter students to offer assistance to the weaker ones. When these students are given a chance to try out ”the teaching role” on their peers, it not only reinforces what they have already learned but also enables them to take pride in themselves and boost their self confidence. At the same time, the weaker students can easily catch up with them in the learning process and continue with the learning journey together.

As different students are strong in different subjects, they can exchange their knowledge in their strong areas and brush up on their weaker areas from others. This system is typically a small replica of society at large. People who are strong in their sciences may become doctors and scientists who contribute to society in these areas while others who are skilful in art and craft can make contributions in other ways within their own niche areas.

In short, in order for everyone to embrace learning as a life-long skill from a young age, we have to realise the benefits of learning and do it happily and willingly to achieve the optimal results.

Fostering a love for reading

Foster love for reading

I am a self-proclaimed reader who love reading from a very young age. As such, I am always excited to begin sharing the love of reading with anyone I know. The time I spent with books transformed my life and sparked my imagination. I wanted to create a similar experience for my children, but I found that it was sometimes a challenge due to the different environment that we were brought up. Luckily, it was all well worth the effort.

Fostering the love of reading in youngsters today do take a little work, but there are plenty of resources available to support us in this effort. Below are five suggestions that can be used to get started with leading the “love for reading” charge.

1. Read Aloud

Read-aloud time was one of the favourite things enjoyed by my children. They loved the chance to sit together on the carpet and listen to me reading to them. It was one of the best times of the day for me. I loved to read in different voices and “ham it up,” depending on the book we were reading. It gave the children a chance to see me in a different light and connect with me in a down-to-earth way.

Don’t neglect this opportunity to bring reading alive to the children. Remember that it’s OK to read five books many times during the year, and to include chapter books and poetry as well.

2. Visit the Library — Weekly

When was the last time you stepped into your local library to check out the haps? When was the last time you did this with your children? It’s true that many school libraries have been shut down, but why not consider planning a routine visit to the library? It’s an amazing opportunity to get books into the hands of your kids — for free!

3. Develop a Home Library

Did you know that research says that it’s a good step to set up a Home Library for the children to support their literacy? To share the love of reading with the kids, we need to have a variety of books that are easily accessible for them to read.

4. Start a Book Club

The idea of a book club can be so exciting for our kids. Many children will benefit from the fun interaction that a book club can provide. Book talks with friends makes the idea of reading that much more enjoyable. The whole social nature of book clubs can be a very positive activity for kids who may still feel that reading is boring.

5. Write Stories

Writing stories can be overwhelming for kids. At the beginning, let’s make this easy and fun. Try the idea of adapting a current storyline of a favourite book and having students turn that into “their” story. Young children especially can benefit from this strategy to support their writing until they are ready to write (with your guidance) on their own.

The five tips I’ve shared above may not be new to you, but they are a way to help you stay on course with nurturing a love of reading in your children.

Five Quick Tips to improve your English

5 quick tipsfor English

Everyone knows you need to be constantly exposed to a language to improve it. That’s why some schools provide immersion programmes for students who learn foreign languages. For instance, they may be sent to live in Germany for a year to learn German.

It’s not easy to improve a language days before the exams- you need persistent work. Today, I will divulge a few simple tips to help your child with this process.

1. Reading

Read frequently. Start with baby steps. Your child can begin with an easy book/a short story/an interesting article.

Start the habit by allocating 15 minutes a day to reading and then increase the time when he/she gets more interested.

Have a notebook with him on the go. Get him to write down every word he doesn’t understand and check the dictionary later. If he sees any good phrases, write them down as well. It takes a bit of time but the effort is well worth it.

2. Writing

Write a journal. I love to get people to write diaries because 10 or 20 years later, there’s the added perk of reminiscing the younger you.

If not, try to write about something he fancies. If he is into minecraft, write about the various game strategies. Share it with like-minded people by posting it on Facebook or start a blog- that will motivate him to write more when there’s an audience.

3. Speak more

For families who speak their mother tongue at home, the children may sometimes find it awkward to speak in public. Get him to overcome his fear by using English more, even if he thinks he would trip his words or embarrass himself.

I have a Taiwanese friend who speaks with a very strong Chinese accent but he has no qualms about approaching people and talking to them in English. His English has improved and people understand him better.

What’s the worst case scenario? There may be some awkwardness but it’s not life or death! Take part in debates in school and don’t shy from the stage. Get him to speak to friends of other ethnicities so he’s forced to use English.

(NOTE: I am not saying that you shouldn’t speak Chinese, Malay or Tamil at home. It’s fabulous to be bilingual!)

4. Listening

Listen to the BBC channel on radio. It may be a bit boring for a child, but who knows, he may like it.

If it’s too dry, watch TV. Yes, some TV shows are of horrendous standards and indeed, reading helps a child concentrate better compared with TV shows. However, it does help to get the child exposed to the language. I used to learn my vocabulary watching the Electric Company and the Word Shop by CDIS. (Anyone remembers this?)

Even listening to pop music may help with increasing interest for the language at the bare minimum. I know many non-native speakers who learn the English language through songs.

5. Get a Mentor

Get someone to speak to your child, listen to him, read what he has written and tell him what his mistakes are. It always helps to have someone watch over you and guide you. It could be you, his teacher or even his peers in school.

These are really very elementary steps. But if your child follows through them, I guarantee his grades would improve in a year’s time!