Project 365

Just in time for the new year, here’s an idea for an out-of-school activity you can do with your children. Feel free to adjust the project to fit the schedule of your family – perhaps aim for one lollipop moment a week – and see if your child can persist in coming up with random acts of kindness for a whole year. Good luck and happy 2014!

Holiday (homework)

Personally, my view is that homework is totally unnecessary for primary school pupils and those in the first three years of secondary school education. However, I will concede that it is necessary when students reach their crucial exam years.

At that stage – from year 10 and higher – homework assignments serve a purpose; they provide opportunities for students to develop valuable skills in independent research, academic citing, and the fundamental principles of academic honesty.

A few days ago, we came across an interesting article which questions the necessity of holiday homework. Here in Singapore, it is evident that we’ve gone past the stage of questioning. Parents accept it as a fact of life for their school-going children and complain among themselves while nagging their children to complete their homework at the same time.

What do you think of the writer’s view? Should holiday homework comprise of repetitive exercises which help reinforce what has been taught in the months before, assigned readings that would be tested upon in the new semester or project work that help develop other skills not taught in the classroom? We know which one of these would be the toughest option but education isn’t about taking the easy way out, is it?

Happy holidays in the meantime, we’ll see you again next year!

Why we procrastinate

We are our own worst enemy, this we already know and we are guilty of succumbing to procrastination more often than we would have liked. Now the problem is: How do you get your teen to watch this without appearing overly preachy? Do you think this method could work for teenagers too?

Fun science experiments for kids (and busy parents)

Never thought you would be able to whip up science experiments with your children right in the comfort of your own home with everyday items from the kitchen in a matter of minutes? Go check out this video for five mini science experiments you can do with your little ones for when you have a bit of time to spare before dinner or before they head to bed (instructions and required materials listed here). You’re welcome.

Rethinking our mother tongue education

Mr.Irai Anbu said, “To know a language, one should understand the culture of the people speaking it. Language isn’t just based on letters, it is about the people and their emotions.”

N. Subramaniam, chief instructor for Tamil Learning from the Ministry of Education, Singapore, said, “Many students question the relevance of learning their mother tongue with respect to Tamil. We believe that it is important for their development and we tell language teachers to encourage them to master it.”


Not just Tamil, we reckon, as this is probably a longstanding issue regarding mother tongue education in Singapore. While I am not ashamed to admit that it has been years since I last had my Chinese class, it sure looks like the methodology has not evolved much. It was only years after, on my first trip to China when I was in university, that I discovered the relevance of learning my mother tongue and subsequently became more interested in speaking better Mandarin. It was better late than never yet we question if this interest should not have been sparked earlier in our primary and secondary school mother tongue classes.

What can our schools and teachers do more to revive students’ interest in their mother tongue? Is it possible for children to master their mother tongue without turning to rote learning? Mother tongue education might never become a fun process, whether or not memorization is involved, but we believe more can be done to spark our children’s interest. Perhaps we can start by intertwining lessons on Singapore’s history and its forefathers with mother tongue classes. Let us know what you think.

School’s out

With the school holidays almost upon us, here’s a fun video that might inspire you to hone your child’s description skills to ace that PSLE English oral exam for that next outing to the museums. If you need any ideas, here are two exhibitions worth checking out before the year is over – it’s never too early for your little ones to enjoy art!

Haegue Yang: Honesty Printed on Modesty, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, runs through 23 November 2013

People and Places, Singapore Art Museum, runs through 31 December 2013