Determining What Is Success And Achieving It Together With Your Child

Every parent wants the best for their child. We would provide our children with the best education and opportunities to the best of our abilities. In Singapore, children as young as preschool are faced with certain expectations of success. For example, some might consider success based on a child’s ability to read or spell before they enter primary school. It is easy for parents to conform to societal norms and have expectations based on these definitions of success.

The challenge lies in how each and every child is different in their own way; this includes talents, abilities, strengths and weaknesses. It can be very demoralising for a 6-year-old child to be unable to achieve what others benchmark as success. It is therefore important for parents to understand the differences between ‘societal standards’ and your child’s personal goals.

Understanding The Differences Between Your Child’s Goals And Societal Goals

As parents, you would know your child best. It is important to spend some time thinking about what is important to your child and what your child can comfortably achieve. A personal example was when I noticed my daughter enjoying music at a very young age. She was dancing and singing to the music playing and nodding her head to the rhythm. My wife and I started investing time with her on the piano and she enjoyed herself very much. My goal in grooming my daughter in music would be specific to her and different from parents who have children her age.

In the work that I do, I have come across children who struggle to read. A common conversation I encounter with parents of children who struggle to read, is the fear of their children not being able to catch up with their peers or cope with school readiness. While this worry is real, it is also important to put yourself in your child’s shoes. Instead of worrying about what your child cannot achieve, work towards what your child can. Allow them to learn at their pace and progress systematically. It is important not to compare them to their peers, and have them work towards improvements based on their prior achievements instead.

Knowing How to Celebrate Success

As a parent, it is important to learn how to identify and celebrate our children’s successes no matter how small, this also includes non-academic successes. For example, instead of focusing on the number of words your child can spell correctly or the results of tests and examination papers, you can celebrate smaller things like sitting through a reading session together and feeling positive about learning and perseverance. These are just as important to your child’s development.

Do monitor the words that you use when speaking to your child, or in front of your child, and reflect on how your words might have an impact on your child’s motivation or self-esteem. For example, in correcting a mispronounced word your child reads, instead of saying “That is wrong, it should be read as light,” try saying this instead “You read very well! That was a very challenging word, and you almost got it right! It was meant to be read as light, you read it as night, which was almost accurate.”

An encouragement can improve your child’s self-esteem and happiness which can impact their learning and development positively.

In summary, to achieve success together with your child, here are some important key points to take note of:
1) Understand your child’s interests and abilities and do not compare them to ‘social norms’ or others
2) Ensure your child progresses at a pace they are comfortable with
3) Do not neglect non-academic goals that are just as important to your child
4) Ensure that your child has healthy a self-esteem, is happy and motivated to learn


About the Writer

Edmen Leong is the Director of Specialised Educational Services at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS). He oversees programmes including the Preschool, Speech and Language Therapy, Math, Chinese, Prep 2 PSLE and Speech and Drama Arts programmes. Edmen strongly believes in unlocking the potential of every dyslexic learner and aims to empower educators and parents with sufficient knowledge and strategies to support struggling learners. Edmen has presented in conferences and published papers on exam skills, curriculum development, reading comprehension and language testing. He is currently pursuing his PhD on the topic of reading motivation for struggling readers.
(Contribution to Kiasu Parents by Edmen Leong, Director of Specialised Educational Services at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore)