After the hard work of mugging for exams, the year-end holidays is a good time to think about teaching your child about doing heart-work.
Sure, there may be more enrichment classes to attend and the new school year ahead to prepare for, but why not take a break to focus on things that will nurture your child’s heart? Graciousness, giving back to society, caring for others – these virtues are often neglected in our unyielding pursuit for academic excellence.
We’re not advocating lofty causes such as championing democracy, eradicating poverty or saving a forest, at least not now. Instead, we’re talking about making a difference within your means, be it through simple kind acts or a small family project.
Take time to let your child be involved in activities that will sow the first seeds of social consciousness. With some ingenious thinking and a little extra effort, you can help to make this year-end holiday a more meaningful one for your child.
Here are some suggestions to start you off.
Be kind to animals
Letting your child visit the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) can drive home the message that great responsibility comes with owning a pet. If your family currently is not ready to commit to ‘full-time’ pet ownership, but don’t mind giving your child a one-time experience, perhaps you can consider signing up for SPCA’s Foster Care programme to provide temporary care for a young animal in your own home.
Fostering a young or sick animal can help to save it from being put down due to the lack of space in the SPCA shelter and/or till the animals is older and better able to cope with kennel life. Fosterers must be above 18 years of age and able to dedicate most part of your day for about a week to a month. Suitable perhaps for stay-at-home mums or parents who are taking a long leave to accompany your kids during their holidays, this is a good opportunity to enjoy some bonding time with your child, while loving and caring for a needy animal together.
Conserve for the future
Nature is our biggest living classroom. Events such as the Singapore International Water Festival and Clean & Green Singapore teach everyone, including young children about the importance of protecting our natural resources. Help your kid develop the habit of saving water in a fun way by turning it into a one-month challenge this December. Let your child use a mug instead of the running tap when brushing teeth and see if he or she can complete the task with as little water as possible. To instill a lasting habit of living green, make it a competition to see how much waste each family member generates in a day, e.g. from unfinished food, accumulating plastic bags, buying products with too much unnecessary unrecyclable packaging or even using tissue paper.
For a lesson on conserving wildlife, plan a family outing to the Singapore Zoo to learn about its efforts in saving Singapore’s endangered species, such as through its recent Rhino Conservation Campaign. Embark on a DIY tour of Chek Jawa Wetlands to admire one of Singapore’s richest ecosystems. Remember to check the tide table before your visit for the best experience.
Kindness begets kindness
Be part of the Singapore Kindness Movement. Whether young or old, it doesn’t take much to start, show and share kindness. After all, courtesy is for free, isn’t it? Even if you’ve missed World Kindness Day, which falls on 13 November every year, you can still encourage your child to download and print the daisy pop-up card to give to someone who has been kind. From identifying the recipients to crafting a short thank-you message, your child will be taught to appreciate others and, in turn, be spurred to reciprocate kindness as well.
Be a little philanthropist
Encourage your child to turn a hobby into a means towards a good cause. For example, if your kid is into Rainbow looming, why not help him or her sell the items made via an online channel or through a neighbourhood flea market event? The money earned can be set aside to be donated to charity at some opportune time. The power of Facebook and other online social media can also be tapped to help your charitable cause go viral fairly effectively.
Who knows, the efforts put in for the project could spark the makings of a social entrepreneur in future when your child grows up.