THE T FAMILY
Amanda and Clement are a Singaporean family, they have a daughter aged 11 years old and a son aged 10. In 2019, Amanda left her career in the banking sector to be a stay at home parent. Recently Amanda has returned back to studying and achieved a diploma in counselling psychology.
I cannot deny the fact that the children are growing up in this environment, but I can do my
best to support them and find a balance. Instead of working only on the weaknesses of my children, I prefer to focus on their strengths and let them prosper. I refuse to chase unrealistic goals and expectations, putting stress on myself and the children. Children should be able to enjoy learning and at their own pace. I follow their lead and celebrate what they are good at, but also acknowledge areas where they are weak and it is my responsibility to provide the additional support when necessary.
The children are aware that their scores determine which schools they would be allocated to. However I instill that happiness is not measured by the score they achieve only. They need to appreciate their own hard work and determination. I hope to foster a healthy learning mindset and individual accountability. I want the children to feel that they have done their best according to their ability and have done themselves justice. My son didn’t achieve a very good score in a subject, which he acknowledged and is determined to do better. He has found the drive and motivation to improve for himself and not just to meet expectations.
Do you feel any pressure from the other parents when enrolling children for enrichment or tuition classes?
I definitely know that I have not enrolled them near as much as their peers. From a young
age, some children in Singapore started going to enrichment classes, learning a whole plethora of skills, aiming to push the potential to the fullest. I believe that my children should learn to explore and be given the time to play. It is up until now that they have both found a love for basketball, they have been playing for 1 year and are very enthusiastic about it. I gave them the time to choose what they would like to participate in and in the long run they enjoy it more because they decided for themselves.
My daughter liked dancing when she was younger so I encouraged her to choose that as a Co-Curricular Activity in school instead of enrolling her in long term classes and she had fun doing it. They are not at a competitive level as compared to their peers who started young and this is something I acknowledged.
How do you cater for the 2 different characteristics of your daughter and son?
The children are placed at different schools. Neither of the schools are too academically driven, but align with my beliefs of holistic education. This approach sees children as individuals with unique needs and talents and recognises that children learn best when their individual needs are met. In this nurturing environment, they have excelled in their own areas and I have seen their confidence grow year after year. Confidence is a skill that is acquired and can be developed and strengthened. Both schools have given my children this space to build on their personal development.
The children’s Chinese level is average and when it comes to conversation, they have a hard time stringing together a sentence and speaking fluently. Even though my husband and I speak to them in English, we have a good knowledge of their level when they are speaking with their paternal grandparents. We usually have to correct the children on their grammar as they do a literal translation from English to Mandarin.
I have only recently enrolled both of the children in Chinese tuition classes which is seen as late because the majority of children have already started since a younger age. However our mother tongue is Mandarin, and I would want that for my children as it is part of their Chinese identity and roots.
In my opinion, in order to be successfully bilingual there should be full immersion in learning and the environment to practice. In school, the subjects are taught in English, and Mandarin is taught as a second language. The Chinese tuition class will give them more exposure and with this support, it will help boost their assurance in mastering the language.
You have a passion for psychology, how does a healthy mental wellbeing of a teacher affect the students?
Being an educator is a highly stressful profession. Enhanced mental well-being ensures that the teachers can give their best at school because they need to care for themselves before caring for others. Teachers can be positive role models for their students. Children will look at teachers and learn from the skills they use daily to deal with challenging situations, such as being calm and having a positive attitude.
The mental wellbeing of my children is paramount and I am eliminating the stigma of seeking therapy and have encouraged my children to connect with counsellors if they ever need to. Asking for help is critical and especially when they are not able to bounce back from tough situations.
In this ever evolving environment, we cannot teach them everything, but we can be their emotional support and help them develop healthy emotional regulation. I encourage them to share their feelings and instill that showing sadness is strength and courage. I especially do not want my son to suppress his emotions and therefore normalising that boys can cry and it is more than okay to do so. Effective communication of their feelings is important too as it will help forge better relationships. Also intentionally teaching my children to embrace discomfort as I do not want to limit their resilience and ability to cope well in life’s challenges since life will not always be kind. I hope for the children to protect themselves against the negative effects of stressful times and hopefully their resiliency muscle kicks in when they navigate through adversity or hardship in the future.
Amanda and her family are very private and I managed to persuade her to do this interview as she is very inspiring. She’s humble and grounded and this is reflected in her children too. It’s refreshing to see Amanda not conforming to the competitiveness that is of the Singapore education system. Amanda places great emphasis on holistic development and that having a healthy mental wellbeing will set the children up for success in later life. I love that she is changing the male narrative and rejecting toxic masculinity. As much we want to empower the girls, we shouldn’t forget that boys also face inequality.