It’s time to look away from exam preparation classes, and consider skills that will be truly valuable to your child in the long run.
The art of storytelling is not about generating a high-scoring essay for school purposes—knowing how to use stories to engage and convince a reader/listener, a potential client, an interviewer, or an audience is a skill that will give one an edge in adulthood. People are naturally drawn to stories, and the ability to tell a compelling story in any situation is as vital for one’s career as it is for building personal relationships.
Parents of younger children can look at storytelling centres such as The Dimple Loft (set up by local actress Joanne Peh), while those with older children and teenagers can explore workshops by veteran storytellers such as Sheila Wee.
For those hoping to take on leadership roles, public speaking has become an essential skill. It is “the key to unlocking empathy, stirring excitement, sharing knowledge and insights, and promoting a shared dream,” and with technology, a powerful speech can reach audiences far beyond the confines of a seminar room or conference hall.
A popular public speaking school in Singapore is the J Carter Centre. You can also contact local Toastmasters groups to find out about their “Gavel Clubs,” meant for those under 18.
For those concerned about pronunciation, the British Council offers workshops that teens may benefit from. Former news presenter Norman Lim also runs “Better English Pronunciation” classes at local community centres, catering for all age groups.
In our polarising times, the ability to listen to someone else’s perspective, weigh the strengths and weaknesses of their argument, and offer your own point of view is what the world needs.
Debating builds thinking, listening, and speaking skills, and you can encourage your child to join a debating club in school, or look to enrichment centres such as The Rhetoric Collective, which offer debate training programmes. Another option is The British Council, which incorporates debating skills into its secondary school holiday courses.
A broader approach towards enrichment could have far-reaching effects on your child’s creativity, critical thinking skills, and love for learning. Enrichment centres such as From Tiny Acorns use specialised learning approaches (such as lapbooking) that draw from different disciplines for a central purpose: to challenge your child to think and question harder, dream bigger, and articulate his or her ideas in a clear and confident manner to others.
This is a skill that has gained prominence locally; it was also a directive in one of Singapore’s national “master plans” for growth. Design thinking is about bringing together empathy and technology to improve others’ lives, and advocates such as ThinkRoom run workshops to help transform your children into compassionate and creative problem solvers.
Knowing how to manage one’s money and plan for the future is a crucial skill in moving your child towards independent living. Unhealthy money habits could affect your child’s personal development and relationships, while a lack of awareness about the different ways to generate income, especially passive income, could limit your child’s financial potential. Enrichment providers such as MoneyTree use games and other learn-through-play activities to help inculcate healthy money habits and attitudes in children.
Resilience & Growth Mindset
Is your child able to deal with setbacks and push ahead? Is your child confident about his or her ability to learn and improve, at any age?
In our exam-focused academic environment, children can be easily discouraged and they may develop a negative self-image or a bleak view of the future. To combat this, look for emotional and mental health service providers such as Positive Focus or The Open Centre, which run camps and workshops to restore your children’s enthusiasm for life and learning.
As our children begin to conduct more of their lives on digital platforms, exposure to green spaces will take on greater significance, if you care about creating a generation that values nature and works to protect it.
Outdoor child-led playgroups are gaining popularity in Singapore; some parents feel that such groups promote learning in a natural environment, as well as skills such as problem solving and healthy risk taking.
Parents are also hiring nature guides to learn alongside their children on field trips. A freelance nature guide who is popular with the local homeschooling community is Dr Leong Tzi Ming, affectionately known as “Uncle Ming” to his tour participants. To arrange a small-group tour with him in your preferred nature spot, you can contact him by e-mail or SMS (+65 9833 7507).