21 September 2017, by Joel Chng

Singapore Parenting: How To Get Involved

The Ministry of Education advocates parent-school partnerships, and this is evident in my son’s school – their various celebrations and activities encourage parents to support their children’s education journey.

Simple as they may be, let me share Ezra’s experiences in school so far, and how I would rate the efforts of my wife Petrina and I:

21 July: Racial Harmony Day

The school’s instructions: “Children to dress up in ethnic costumes.”

Wow. The first celebration in my son’s first school, and already I was stumped!

Petrina and I are not the type to wear red on Chinese New Year, so we do not own traditional clothing and never considered putting Ezra in such outfits (especially since he cannot rewear them the following year). Buying a new outfit was out of the question, as we could not guarantee that Ezra would still fit into it in seven months’ time (#CNY2018).

Our best efforts? Ezra’s Mandarin-collar polo shirt from Shanghai Tang.

Outfit aside, Petrina was a parent volunteer at the food stalls, where she served Chee Cheong Fun, sausages, roti prata and keropok to the children.

Score: 3/5 (Brownie points for volunteering?)

8 August: National Day

The school’s instructions: “Children to come dressed in red and white.”

Sounds easy enough, right?

However, Ezra did not own any red or white bottoms, and I did not realise how difficult it would be to find solid-coloured bottoms that can be reworn after National Day. I visited Cotton On, Uniqlo, H&M, Kiddy Palace, Mothercare and Motherswork – all to no avail!

Then, the day before the celebration, I got lucky at FOX Kids & Baby – in fact, they sold red bottoms, as well as white ones! I decided to go with the latter as white is easier to match, and Petrina happened to snag a red t-shirt for $8 in the bargain bin at Mothercare.

Ezra might be too young to understand the concept of National Day, but he was thrilled to get a temporary tattoo on his hand, as well as a goody bag from school (containing a mini Singapore flag, clappers and other National Day paraphernalia).

Score: 4/5 (The white shorts were one size too big!)

15 August: Book Week (Costume Day)

The school’s instructions: “Kindly have your child come to school dressed in costume of his favourite book character. If he does not have any costume, please let him come in home clothes.”

Petrina and I came up with this list to decide on Ezra’s costume:
1) It must be a character that Ezra can recognise and identify.
2) The costume must not be warm, as Ezra will have to keep it on for the duration of school, and the commute to school and back.
3) The costume must not restrict Ezra’s movements. Besides allowing him to move freely, the costume must not be a hazard to others.
4) No additional head or face gear, as Ezra hates such stuff.

With that, we flipped through all of Ezra’s books and browsed his wardrobe (in a bid to only work with what we have at home) – we decided that Ezra’s ‘character’ would be a cow. The cow spots were cut out from black felt and we used double-sided tape as adhesive. We then stuck the spots onto a white t-shirt (Ezra’s school uniform) and white shorts (recently purchased for National Day).

Although the costume was simple, ‘Ezra the cow’ was a hit – with both teachers and parents alike! More importantly, Ezra was very happy with his costume and gave an enthusiastic “Moo” whenever someone asked him, “What sound does a cow make?”

Score: 4/5 (A few spots were falling out, by the time school ended.)

30 August: Teachers’ Day

Petrina and I saw it as the day for pre-school parents to show appreciation to teachers, so we prepared gifts for nine of Ezra’s teachers. We wanted continuity from Ezra’s book week costume, hence the cow elements and the nature theme (terrariums).

We figured that we would do ‘handmade cards’ when Ezra is older, as putting a crayon in his hand and getting him to scribble on paper does not mean anything at this age. Furthermore, his teachers already know how much he loves them – with his enthusiastic greetings, wide smiles and generous hugs.

Score: 5/5 (The teachers loved their gifts!)

12 September: Ezra Turned Two!

I took leave for Ezra’s birthday celebration with his classmates, and we arrived in school with the birthday cake and goody bags. No decoration or balloons; we were new to this and wanted to keep things simple.

What we did not expect: Ezra clung to Petrina the moment we arrived, and did not let her out of sight. He refused to eat with his classmates at mealtime, and would not even look at the candles on his cake (clapping along to the birthday song and blowing out candles are some of Ezra’s favourite things to do)!

I was disappointed that we almost did not get the cake-cutting done. Trying to get a group photo also took impossibly long, as the 10 kids (half the class were under two years old) were looking in different directions and Ezra’s crying affected a few of his classmates.

Score: 2/5 (Two words: Separation anxiety.)

Petrina and I are always eager to volunteer at Ezra’s school for celebrations and special events, as we believe that such parent-school collaborations create holistic learning experiences. We look forward to when Ezra grows older, when we can provide more support and get more involved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *