Happy childhood is important: Mum

Madam Michelle Chen, 42, often gets looks of disbelief from friends when they find out that her children do not have tuition.

"They say I have no ambitions for my children. Most can't accept it," the housewife said.

Her 10-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter went for phonics classes in pre-school, but stopped going for these after they entered primary school.

Madam Chen's friends told her that she should be pushing her children harder. "They say my kids could be getting 90 marks instead of 70 if I send them for tuition or enrichment," she added.

But she and her husband do not believe in doing so. "Children should have a happy childhood and we, as parents, should be less fixated on exam scores," she said.

This is even though the family is well able to pay for tuition.

Madam Chen's husband runs his own company that provides party supplies to nightspots.

During the June holidays, Madam Chen and her children watched movies, had a barbecue party and visited the Adventure Cove theme park in Sentosa. They also went to Pulau Ubin, where they cycled, ate durians and observed wild boars.

Madam Chen's daughter, Vivian, who is a Primary 5 pupil in CHIJ Primary (Toa Payoh), said: "It was my first time seeing wild boars. I was a bit scared."

Her younger brother, William, a Primary 4 pupil in Pei Chun Public School, skinned his knees in a fall but that did nothing to dampen his joy. "I enjoyed myself. I cycled till my legs hurt," he added.

Vivian is an avid reader and likes English and Chinese. William enjoys the outdoors and loves playing basketball. Both struggle with maths and science. But instead of sourcing for tutors, Madam Chen believes this is a problem her children have to tackle on their own.

"They have to be responsible for their own learning, ask their teachers when they have problems, instead of relying on a tutor," she said.

At the family's four-room flat in Toa Payoh, assessment books on various subjects and story books are stacked neatly on a study table in the living room.

Madam Chen leaves her children to plan how much work they want to do. "I want them to be independent, responsible and diligent. Life is a long journey that goes beyond exams. These are traits that will prepare them for life," she said.

This article was first published on July 4, 2015.
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