5 Tips On Raising Holistically Well-Rounded Children

Contributed by Stephanie Lee Lynn, Director of Jus Students.

With the results from the end year school exams, some parents might be conflicted when it comes to handling their child’s poor examination results. While MOE is working towards the upliftment of holistic education, some parents might still cling to their obsession with ‘good’ grades.

The move towards holistic education is a welcome development for student care centres. The success of the enterprise stems from a business owner’s love for children and teaching. As the Director of Jus Students, I am a firm believer that the “passion for learning” is an important skill to instil in our children.

As a professional who has been working with children for nearly a decade and also with the experience of raising 2 teenagers, I have adopted a holistic approach to after-school care, with the line-up of activities reinforcing collaborative and cohesive learning and here are some of my tips:


1. Happiness Comes From Within

When asking any parent what they truly want for their children, the most common reply is for their offspring to be happy, and healthy. While there is much information out there on how to raise smart kids, or how to raise successful children, what does it really mean to raise happy adults?

This study involving 51 children aged between 4-6 shows that happiness is proven to affect the creativity, cognitive development, and emotional maturity of children and that happiness is a learned emotion.

According to the Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory, there are 4 stages:

  • Sensorimotor stage (0–2 years old)
  • Preoperational stage (2–7 years old)
  • Concrete operational stage (7–11 years old)
  • Formal operational stage (11 years old through adulthood)

After learning how to consolidate information using their sensory organs, it is the preoperational stage that they start to learn to process their emotions, and they do so through observations, learning and surroundings. Once they reach concrete, they will have a better understanding of their emotions and the consequences of actions, and in the formal operational stage, they will start to practise it.

One way to plant the seed of joy in your child is to build their confidence – encourage exploration, incorporate opportunities and practices for our children to speak or share their points of view and allow them the freedom to discover who they are, what they like and dislike and continuously support them all the way.

Another important factor to consider as well is to learn to be happy yourself, as how happy you are will definitely rub off on your kids.


2. Allow Them To Fail

This pre-pandemic study shows that Singaporean teen students are more afraid of failure as compared to their global peers. For example, 78% of Singaporean respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the following statement: “When I am failing, this makes me doubt my plans for the future”, whereas the global average is at 54%.

After surviving a global pandemic, perhaps it is high time for parents to ask ourselves what is more important – academic achievement or a holistic education?

We may need to abandon our outdated kiasu (afraid of losing out) culture and focus on implementing a holistic approach in educating our children to prepare them for real life outside of the classroom, with transferable skills to cultivate the love and joy of learning and shape our children into responsible and self-managing lifelong learners.

This means allowing our children to fail – that to err is human, and to forgive is divine. And failure is just the stepping stone to doing better and putting in the effort, not perfection is the key.

When the learning attitude is right, success will follow.


3. Encourage Socialising For Overall Mental Health and Wellbeing

Some parents think that as long as my child is in school, he or she will be making friends, and it’s all part and parcel of growing up until tragedy strikes.

In July 2021, our whole nation was shocked when a 16-year-old was convicted of the murder of his 13-year-old schoolmate. Could this have been prevented?

Keeping abreast with our children’s academic progression is one thing, and understanding their mental health and general well-being is another thing. We may never be able to delve into the minds of our children; however, we can encourage socialisation and, through that, help your child develop empathy and learn to express themselves in a healthy way through emotional regulation.

Holistic education involves cultivating a wider and more inclusive network for your child, and that practice can create a good platform and opportunity for your child to interact, understand and foster tolerance towards diverse learning habits, traditions and cultures.

Socialising teaches your child to be more conscientious as well, and that is a trait of self-discipline.


4. Learn That Learning Is Not One Size Fits All

A total of 37,095 Primary 6 students sat for the PSLE this year, with 98.4% eligible to enter secondary school, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB), and while we await for the secondary school streaming to be abolished in 2024 (which comes with divided opinions), basing a child’s progress and development solely on grades can be detrimental to their self esteem, confidence and self worth.

Singapore MOE has identified the framework for 21st-century competencies that are essential for your child’s development and preparation for the future and at the heart of it is core values. These core values include respect, responsibility, resilience, integrity, care and harmony, which are acknowledged as values that are at the foundation of our shared societal and national values.

As much as schools and parents can work together to help the future generation to develop these core values, we must first recognise that learning is not one size fits all and that academic results do not determine the outcome of adulthood for an adolescent.

By instilling strong core values in our children at a young age, and a more holistic approach, we can also identify our children’s strengths and weaknesses and support them the best we can throughout their growth.


5. Eat Dinner Together

This may seem trivial, but as Asians, food is more than just sustenance that we consume. It reflects family values and the act of dining together represents opportunities to converse, share, listen, communicate and bond.

Our lives are filled with digital consumption, chasing after the next achievement and being competitively busy that the only time we get to spend as a family is at the dinner table.

This study shows that regular or frequent family dinners not only allow your children to consume more key nutrients that are vital for their physical growth and development but are also linked to children having lower anxiety issues.

Even though it is our responsibility as parents and adults to raise our children, we must first be the example that they can follow, so that when they grow up to be adults and parents of their own, they can also raise holistically well-rounded children themselves.

As Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train children in the way they should go; when they grow old, they won’t depart from it.”

Images: Jus Students

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