Photo courtesy of Evelyn Tan
An Interview with Evelyn Tan, celebrity mummy who home schools 3 children
Life has been in a familiar order – there was school where you entrusted academic learnings to the teachers, there was an office where you worked or there were scheduled me-times in the day for the stay at home parents. Yes, your life had been pretty much comfortably structured - till now. When the government announced the circuit breaker measures closing schools and non-essential businesses, allowing a month long stay home ‘opportunity’ for parents with their kids, parents, especially those with young children at home were being thrown into the seemingly scary unknown that doesn’t look like a bed of roses (as the ‘Frozen II’ song goes where Elsa felt disturbed and scared despite possessing strong powers…Ah well, how can managing restless kids as a parent 24/7 be less scary than hearing singing from a distance…)
Learning from home, spending most time with parents than teachers and friends – don’t these sound familiar to home schooled children? There will surely be things we can learn from their parents isn’t it? The first person who came to mind when the home school topic pops up is none other than media darling and mummy Evelyn Tan, who has been home schooling 3 of her 4 children, Kristen 15, Jairus 13, Way 11 and Elliott 7! Serious About Preschool eagerly contacted her for some precious advice.
Tip 1: See home-based learning as an opportunity to reset the learning pace for your child
Evelyn: One of the main reasons I have chosen to home school my children is for them to have an education that takes into account their strengths, weaknesses and needs and to have more parental influence in their moral development during their growing years. Take on a positive note and realign your children’s learning milestones with a pace that is suitable for the child and in the process of it, discover their learning weakness and strengths alongside other talents and interests which may not be known to you all this while!
Tip 2: Establish a routine
Evelyn: There can never be a perfect way to achieve balance and harmony at home especially for families with very young kids. But for a start, establishing a routine will definitely be helpful. Kids learn fast when you are very explicit in your expectations in terms of accomplishment of tasks for learnings within the scheduled time frame hence setting up daily routines will be important to ensure that the day is meaningfully spent.
Tip 3: The carrot and stick approach always work especially for young kids
Evelyn: Some tantalising carrots include: a TV show, a baking/ cooking activity or read a book together or even ice cream time can keep the child motivated to a great extent! For younger children, keep the motivation going by making the tasks simpler and rewards frequent.
Tip 4: Engage the child to understand the upcoming changes
Evelyn: Prepare the child for the possible changes that will happen in the next few weeks so that they will not be shocked by the effects on their emotions, eg. Unsettled feelings, longing for friends, space limits, even getting into the face of siblings more often! Do not neglect the mental health of your child. Talk to them on what kind of drastic changes they will expect and how they might affect them emotionally, so that they will not be overwhelmed by their own meltdowns and hopefully they can self-manage their own emotions when negative emotions set in.
Tip 5: Setting realistic expectations
Evelyn: Managing our own expectations on what we can realistically achieve of ourselves is just as important. If work life balance has to be achieved at home, can we schedule different timing for different tasks for the day so that we can focus on a task at a point in time?
Serious About Preschool:
Taking learnings from school to home need not be a solo affair for the parents as the teachers and educators are still made available to give assistance and advice. We took some learnings from the enrichment experts too.
Kumon, whose centres have always place emphasis on independent learnings strongly urges parents to avoid the helicopter parenting approach and guide their children to work independently, while maintaining regular communications with their educators who are on standby during this period to continuously assess the child’s progress.
Continual learning is imperative to achieving consistency in the child’s learning journey, hence a confidence booster when school reopens and the child is found to be in good pace.
MPM math, whose centres turn to online learnings during this period is an advocate for continual learning and boosting of the children’s confidence in math. Advance preparation in their knowledge, but according to the pace of the child is what the centre believes in and strive to achieve even in times of closure.
Remember, you are not alone, we are parents going through this together. We will definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel.
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