Parents role in education

With shrinking family sizes and higher education of parents today, parental involvement in their children’s education is much stronger than before. Any form of involvement with school-based activities, classroom learning, homework, and parent clubs are often well-explored options.

Increasingly, parents have to choose between more options for the education of their children then ever before. Starting with schools, some parents opt for home schooling, while majority go with MOE schools. Then there are those who choose to send their children to international schools locally.

Choosing schools is not the only major involvement parents should have in their children’s education. Schools mostly focus on academic achievements, while also instilling in students discipline and morals. However, schools tend to instil these through a “punishment” mode. Such as facing detention when one is late, canning or even expelling students for more severe offences etc.

This is needed as a school has large numbers of students and offences that go unpunished may lead to others replicating the same habits. However, the young cannot be brought up to only do good when there are rewards, and avoid doing bad when there are punishments in place. As the saying goes “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching”. Young people should be brought up as such and parents are in the best position to pass on such teachings.

Lead by example – There is no need to sit down for an hour each day and go through a “Civics and Moral Education” with your child. The best way to impart value is to lead by example in what you practice each day and stay constant even in difficult situations.

Partnering schools by participating in parent groups which may influence school policy development is another way of getting involved. If that would take up too much time, at least make sure to attend the parent-teacher meetings to keep updated about your child’s progress. A teacher may be in charge of at least 40 pupils at any one time, knowing that you will turn up for the meeting would at least require them to track your child’s behaviour and performance. It would also be timely to use the opportunity to discuss any concerns you have regarding your child, instead of waiting for the year end results.

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Child Parent Teacher

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Adapting to online learning

Whether you are a student or an adult looking to further your studies, online learning is definitely one method you should consider to gain the skill sets you need. The advantageous are obvious – self directed learning at your own pace, picking the topic of your choice, and possibly even cheaper than an on campus course.

However, online learning is a route that is new and you may possibly encounter some hurdles you did not foresee. Things that you would normally take for granted in a traditional classroom, such as asking a classmate for help or voicing out your opinions, may no longer be available. It would take some shift in attitude and mindset to readjust to the new normal.

Meanwhile, online learning has come a long way. Course makers and hosting websites have made much improvement to the structure of online learning and there are now ways for you to interact with your course-mates via forums. The added benefit is that you are able to get an international experience while sitting at home. This is amazing considering many people have never even set foot into another country! You’ll quickly realise that debates can be a lot more robust, and your learning through such interaction may teach you even more than the course itself!

While in the past, you could quite easily turn to your classmate to ask a question when you cannot keep up in lectures, this will be replaced in the form of rewinding and playing a video. While it may initially be a tad lonely, the plus point is that you can replay what you have missed and didn’t understand the first time around.

The hardest part about learning online is perhaps the motivation to get started and to keep going even when the going gets tough. There are plenty of distractions out there and many things that will need your attention and time. It can be easy to say “I’ll do the course tomorrow” when such situations pop up. After all, one of the benefits of online learning is that it will suit your time right?

However, such a mentality would often result in courses not completed and you not mastering the skills and knowledge you had set out to learn. By dragging courses too long, one would tend to lose the enthusiasm of learning.

Everyone must develop their own methods to overcome it. You may consider having a course buddy, either a friend in real life or a course-mate that you met online. Set a date and time to discuss certain topics, so it will pressure you to complete your learning before your meeting. Practise what you learn along the way. If you are picking up a course about marketing tactics, immediately put into practice new concepts you have learnt. This will show you the relevance of your learning and you can also connect to your course-mates to discuss why this method works or not, or how to modify it so that it suits your target audience. Ultimately, the most important is to develop self discipline. Plan a schedule on your course study dates, stick to it and take a monthly stock take on your progress.

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How students can adapt to online learning?

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Your senior, Your teacher

There has been a vast change in the education system in the recent years. Many countries come to realize that the past models of educating students are no longer sufficient to prepare them for the workforce of the future. With many new methods such as online learning, customized curriculum and an added focus on hands-on skills, there is one “old-school” method of teaching that has been neglected – getting older students to tutor and mentor younger students.

Incorporating this into a student’s learning would be beneficial to both the tutor and tutee. What would make this system work, is to have an agency or school to facilitate the matching and assessment of needs.

  • Figuring out what style of learning is suited for each student
  • What are the strengths and needs of each student
  • How well does the student score in other subjects – Is the student in a class which learning pace is too fast or is there an underlying learning disability? Or is the student’s foundation in a certain subject too weak for advanced learning?
  • Making a decision on which tutor’s ability and attitude is best able to connect and complement the student’s

Such a model was common in the past when school resources were much more limited and it is time to re-explore the benefit of it. Older and younger students are much more similar in ages and tend to be able to connect better in terms of personalities. At the same time, the older student would have just been through the curriculum recently and may even have had problems learning themselves! This would put them in a better position to teach the younger students how to overcome the problems they face when learning. For the seniors, such a model would greatly allow them to gain coaching and mentoring skills. There are plenty of them who go on to become teachers themselves when they grow up.

As with any other teaching, it is important to keep it fun and engaging. Interactive lessons can be held with the use of technology like videos and apps. The simple rule of “what gets measured gets done” would also be applicable in this situation. Keeping track of student’s progress would be essential to monitor the usefulness of the teaching methods and style. In the spirit of passing it on, I’d hope that the students receiving such benefit go on to train their juniors in the future too.

Your senior, Your teacher

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Education rethink

Of the many psychological theories out there, Constructivism is one which is embodied by new educational practice. Jean Piaget was a philosopher originating from Switzerland who proposed the theory of constructivism as something which influences conceptual growth. This theory works by incorporating a unique learning process whereby a student will gain their own conclusions as a result of the creative aid of the teacher.

Instead of the current model where teachers provide answers and solutions to problems, the new model would focus on teachers acting as facilitators instead. Teaching would be by the means of guiding students to solve problems, with monitoring by the teacher. This encourages critical thinking and allows students to make mistakes in the process of finding the right answer.

A typical day in school would involve teachers posing open-ended questions before leaving time in between to allow the students to think, analyse and find a solution. Such open-ended questions do not limit students imagination to the “4 possible answers” in multiple choice questions. It’ll allow students to collaborate through discussion, debates and project work.

One obvious benefit of this system is that it is not only catered to students who are strong in academics. It has the potential to cater to a much wider range of learning abilities and styles as students are no longer confined to reading books to obtain information and answers. Those who learn better through hands-on learning could easily replicate a physics question on the law of motion.

Overall, applying such a learning method in the classroom will enable students to discover their intellectual identity, it shifts the focus on learning from teacher to student and allow them to take responsibility for their learning.

Encouraging Independent Learning

Independent learning is a form of individualized study whereby students come up with their own solutions and take action steps with very little guidance from a teacher. There are many benefits to be had from independent learning. Students who practice it often enjoy a myriad of benefits including improved workplace or personal performance, improved motivation and confidence, and a greater ability to manage limitations.

The key ingredient to successful learning for students is the ability for students to shift responsibility away from others and onto their shoulders. This means that students need to understand their learning, be motivated to learn and to collaborate.

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Education rethink

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The Art of Traveling

Meet a millennial and one thing you’d expect from them is to list travelling as one of their greatest joys. While those in the older generation would think of traveling as “holidays” and “luxury items” you should splurge on only after you’ve amassed your retirement savings, those in the new generation regard it as a fundamental experience no different from going to school.

Here’s why, travelling isn’t just sitting in a sardine can for 10 hours to reach your destination and go about a life similar to what you have at home. What the young ones are looking for is a different experience that enhances their lives. It would be enriching to travel even while you’re a student, if time, finances and your courage permits!

Learn to be patient & Expect the unexpected

Natural disasters causing plane delays, waiting for the bus that never comes, hitch-hiking on the most ulu road ever.. These are some of the unexpected situations that may happen to us while overseas. Often, we get caught unprepared as these are not things we come across in Singapore.

It causes us stress and worry, we imagine the worst case scenario and start wondering why we even spent money to arrive in a foreign land to get into distress. This is when the patience in us, the gan-cheong spider, gets tested. This is also when we learn to be patient and many things will work out fine – someone will come to our rescue, the bus eventually turns up and the plane finally takes off.

We heave a sigh of relieve and when we look back, wonder why we were ever worried in the first place. Similarly, you may be faced with situations where your whole class seems to understand a topic well, while you remain clueless. It may cause you to panic and you try to catch up by giving yourself a shorter time to grasp the concepts.

Remember, your studies is a marathon, not a sprint. If you are unable to keep up in class, slow down. Return to the first chapter and learn it all over again. Yes you may lag behind others a little while more, but your patience will eventually pay off. Build your foundation well and you’ll realise that the next chapters get easier. The unexpected is always going to happen, break down your problems so that a solution can be found and tackle it bit by bit. Staying stressed, worried or panicky won’t make you wiser!

Be creative & Think out of the box

If you’re backpacking across South America, you will be carrying at least 15kg (only, if you’re lucky to go in summer!) on your back. You would want to make sure that everything in there has a use, or two and maybe even three uses! This is when your creative spirit kicks in and you need to make the impossible possible.

Did you know your dental floss can not only keep your teeth clean, but also function as a clothes line for light items like socks and undies? In a desperate situation, you might even be able to triple its function as a thread replacement to sew up the tears in your jeans. If you’re hiking out in the forest, don’t bother bringing a pillow for the night. Roll your clothes into your sleeping bag cover and it’ll give your neck the perfect support as well!

Coming to your studies, be equally creative. Don’t give excuses like a boring teacher caused you to be uninterested in the subject. You did not think of not going South America because of that heavy backpack didn’t you? =P Find ways to make learning fun again, your education is your responsibility.


How teachers can engage students

There are times teachers feel lost, you’ve done everything – a proper curriculum, being on time, giving enough practice questions, recommended reading lists, opening up your afternoons for weak students to approach you. These may be what your teacher gave you when you were a student and it worked….. back then.

A purely curriculum focused education is a thing of the past. Students are engaged in different ways today. While it may be difficult to adjust your teaching style overnight, you can always try some small changes and make tweaks along the way. Take it as a new challenge in your career and a good way to learn new things, you are in the business of lifelong learning after all 🙂

  1. Show your passion

Most of us have been in school for more than 10 years in our lives, looking back, couldn’t we all tell which teachers were the passionate ones and who were “just there for the money”. When dining in restaurants, shopping at retail stores or watching the gardener at work, we can tell passion within a minute. And it influences us. We feel happy working with people who are keen on what they do, their enthusiasm brushes off us and magically you get a little more energy then you did the minute before.

Students experience the same thing. If teachers dragged their feet to work and treated their job as a chore, learning is immediately related to an unexciting activity. If you’re trying to get your pupils to be enthusiastic about a project you aren’t enthusiastic about yourself, tough luck.

Let your passion shine through, in the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you smile. It’ll be one of the easiest ways to get your students excited about school, and it’ll make your day brighter too!

         2. Relate your curriculum to real life problems

It’s hard to relate to subjects like geography when you live in Singapore. All the talk about mountains and rivers are often imaginary views for students who have never been overseas. Showing videos would be a good way to let students get a more realistic feel of certain subjects. Can’t find a good video? Tourism videos from other countries are a good source to showcase spectacular sceneries. The added bonus is they also tend to invoke positive emotions in the viewer.

Relate it back to real world scenarios. When facing an unnaturally hot season as now, teach students how global warming affects livelihoods and changes the way people and animals live. It’ll make the content much more relevant and impactful.

          3. Give students a voice

Many students have opinions and questions, yet teachers are sometimes afraid to hear their views as they may not know how to handle the situation. Do not be afraid of saying “I don’t know”. Instead, encourage discussion among students. Ask another classmate, “what do you think of Aaron’s opinion?”. If there are strong opinions from different groups, you may even want to encourage a mini debate session during the next class. Students learn much more than the subject itself, it also teaches students how to disagree in a civil manner.

You can’t be that teacher who knows everything, because you are not. While there are a lot students can learn from you, always remember there may be more you can learn from them.

how teachers can empower students

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Three life lessons to learn from successful people

People often only see successes and jump to the conclusion that great people were born great. They think that celebrities and successful people were special from the start and blessed with a lot of luck. Often, the public do not see the bumpy road that they’ve gone through to reach to where they are.

  1. Success accompanies hard work

There is no magic trick for achieving success. You will need to work on improving yourself for months, years and even decades. While “working smart” and “being talented” is a lot sexier, it cannot fully substitute pure hard work.

In our talks with successful people in their chosen field, one common expression was how hard they worked in building up their reputation, portfolio and gaining experience. Hard work is a marathon, not a sprint. Hard work means sacrifice, in order to gain something more important.

So, everything depends on your goal, where you want to go and what you want to become. Like riding a bicycle, you’ve got to keep looking ahead and your actions will bring you there.

2. Stick to your beliefs and be confident

Great people never give up. Walt Disney was fired from his job because his editor thought he lacked imagination and good ideas. Your value does not decrease because of somebody’s inability to see your worth. Your ideas may not be appreciated because one person did not find it good. Try sharing your ideas with more people, you may eventually find the right person who share your dreams and can aid you to fulfil it.

Stay focused on your goal and work your way up till you reach the glory. It may even mean going against the traditional way of doing things. Always bear in mind that you cannot keep doing the same things and expect different results.

3. Be ready to fail – even more than once

There is no easy way to becoming extraordinary. You have to work your way up to your goal slowly and steadily. The road is long and harsh and it may cause you to stumble many times. Expect the unexpected and act accordingly. Many great people have gone through similar experiences and did not reach their stage of success overnight.

“The only people who have never failed, are those that have never tried.”


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