Mother’s day – Remembering

This mother’s day is extra meaningful to me as I had the opportunity to honour the three mother figures in my life – my mother, my nanny and my godmother.

When Channel NewsAsia approached me for an interview, I hesitated because I didn’t feel I had any special story to tell. I was just an ordinary mum going about my ordinary life trying my best to cope with the various demands that tend to fall on the shoulders of women – raising children, family, work, keeping it together.

Then I realised that it wasn’t about me. It was about my nanny, my godmother, and my mum.

a quote about tantrums

It’s funny how I remember those carefree days of endless play, mischief, and childish dreaming. I remember my nanny, how she took care of me, how she modelled to me selflessness, how she grew weaker in her old age (and how that triggered an instinct within me to protect and care for her just like how she cared for me).

I remember how my godma would nag at me to go to church, remind me about values and all the important things, and bring me out on outings to the zoo and on holidays.

I remember how my mum would swing me on this giant swing until I thought I was so gonna fly off and land on the top of the nearby tree. I remember how she was soft-spoken and gentle with me even when I made mistakes. I remember how she never put pressure on me at school and just gave me freedom to do my own thing and explore my areas of interest.

I remember, and I am thankful. For all their love, and so much more. (And now their love and care for the kids too…)

I am thankful that we could somehow encapsulate all those memories in this little video. For my kids and perhaps theirs too, to watch, understand, and remember.

Remembering is important, to know where we come from, and to know where we’re going.

Blessed mother’s day.

Linking up with A Pancake Princess

Simple pleasures

Sometimes the simplest pleasures make up the most precious moments.

Childhood. Is made up of simple joys.

Let’s not be in a rush to grow up.

This weekend, choose to simplify.

Say no to unnecessary activities, words and thoughts.

Allow yourself to just be present, and very much alive. Allow yourself to love and be loved.

And soak in those sunshine smiles.

Blessed weekend, friends

Does tuition have a place in childhood?

Childhood is precious. What do you remember about yours?

I remember playing marbles, hopscotch, running about with the neighbourhood kids, and getting up to all sorts of mischief with my brother.

Kids today seem to be growing up to a different beat, a more competitive one. The ages of kids attending tuition classes are getting younger. The number of enrichment courses and tuition classes continue to climb, with some programmes even catering to infants as young as six months old.

I spoke to some of my peers and one of them made an insightful remark. She thinks that only a handful of parents in Singapore are truly and deeply “kiasu” (fear losing out); the rest of us are pressured to follow suit because we see everyone else do the same, and we start to worry that our kids will not be able to keep up.

At the end of the day, we just want what is best for our kids. But is tuition and enrichment really the best way to go?

Join me at World Moms Blog today as we ask the question: How do we say yes to the best, and no to the rest?


Education is not a race

The article titled ‘Sorry, your child is not bright enough’ published in Today has been creating waves lately, at least where my Facebook and Twitter are concerned.

I’ve heard from some parents sharing about how the tuition industry and its proponents have ‘mercenarised’ education, and about how wrong it is that some enrichment centres reject children from entering if they don’t pass an entrance test. And we are talking about children as young as six here.

The idea about enrichment centres ‘streaming’ and selecting ‘the cream of the crop’ is appalling. I think it’s also very revealing about the way Singapore does education.

But my main focus here is on parents — who feel that if they don’t enrol their children in these centres they will get left behind even before they set foot in primary one. I know we live in an extremely competitive and ‘kiasu’ environment, and as parents, we only want to provide the best environment for our children’s intellectual growth and well-being. But have we ever stopped to think that all this pushy parenting and undue stress can be counter-productive to the learning and development of our young ones?

If you were a 6-year-old, and you’ve just been told that you didn’t make it into a particular enrichment centre because you didn’t do well enough on a test, how would you feel? What would it do to your self-esteem?

At best, the child makes it through, does sufficiently well through primary school and secondary level education, and lands himself a spot at a local university (something he might have been able to do anyway without the help of an external education provider at a young age). But at worst?

Perhaps we need to rethink the equation that child + enrichment courses = good grades = highly intelligent and eventually successful individual. Perhaps we need to rethink the entire concept of intelligence itself.

I’ve been reading John Medina’s Brain Rules for Baby, and it’s been a refreshing read. Medina is a developmental molecular biologist and author of the New York Times bestseller Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School — a provocative book that challenges the way our schools and work environments have traditionally been designed.

In Brain Rules for Baby, Medina talks about the danger of hyper-parenting, and lists the ways in which it can potentially hurt our children’s intellectual development:

  1. Extreme expectations stunt higher-level thinking — pushing your child to perform tasks his brain is not developmentally ready to do can lead to them resorting to lower-level thinking instead of higher-level thinking and processing skills.
  2. Pressure can extinguish curiosity — where children focus their energy on securing parents’ approval instead of exploring their worlds.
  3. Continual anger or disappointment becomes toxic stress — at the extreme, this can create a psychological state known as learned helplessness, which can physically damage a child’s brain, and is deemed a ‘gateway to depression’.

Really, good grades are not the be all and end all. Don’t stress our young. Let them enjoy their childhood. If you really want to invest in their education, try these instead.

Spend time with them.

Nurture their love for exploration and discovery.

Model timeless values such as kindness and generosity.

Instill gratitude.

Read great books together.

Hone their social skills.

Emphasize the value of effort and hard work.

And perhaps, just perhaps, these will benefit them in all areas of life, above and beyond the academic realm.

I leave you with this quote from the book:

“Write this across your heart before your child comes into the world: Parenting is not a race. Kids are not proxies for adult success. Competition can be inspiring, but brands of it can wire your child’s brain in a toxic way. Comparing your kids with your friends’ kids will not get them, or you, where you want to go.”

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