'College' to train parents planned

'College' to train parents planned

Parents will soon be going back to school to learn how to raise happy children.

A "parents college" - the first of its kind here - will be set up at the Seed Institute, Singapore's largest pre-school training provider, by the middle of next year.

It is one of several initiatives under a new campaign to support parents and pre-school professionals in nurturing happy children amid the pressures of Singapore's competitive society. Launched yesterday by local philanthropic group Lien Foundation, the StartWell campaign aims to urge parents and educators to rethink the priorities of childhood.

"More important than the learning of content and knowledge, are the social and emotional skills that are requisite before academic knowledge can take root," said Mrs Jacqueline Chung, senior principal at St James' Church Kindergarten. She is one of five pre-school industry experts on an advisory committee for the campaign.

Lien Foundation chief executive Lee Poh Wah said: "Friday is the last Children's Day before Singapore turns 50. It's an important milestone to reflect on what kind of Singapore we have created, and wish to create, for Singapore's children."

The 25-year-old Seed Institute, which usually trains teachers, will advise parents of children aged up to six years and help them cater for their children's different stages of development.

Its academic director, Ms Ho Yin Fong, said: "Currently in the community, there are many talks but these are usually one-stop, and there is a lack of a continuum."

With parents leading busy lives, modules will each last just a few hours, and some could be held online as well as in physical classrooms. There will also be networking sessions.

Other StartWell projects are also being set up, including a guide for parents and teachers to implement a values-based craft project for children.

Later this year, an international competition to design more innovative playgrounds will be launched and a pre-school and playground for mainstream and special needs children will be built.

Parents will also get an online guide about play activities which they can attempt with their children to encourage learning.

IT director Yan Chin Keong, a father of a three-year-old girl, is looking forward to learning from Seed Institute and other parents.

"What I know about parenting is mainly from my own parents and from my own research on the Internet," said the 39-year-old.

"It would be good to learn from other people, especially for first-time parents. It would save us a lot of agony and frustration if we know how to deal with common challenges, such as when kids stay up late."

This article was first published on October 03, 2014.
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