About Belinda Chee
Belinda Chee is a full-time mum and a part-time TV Host, Actress and Voice Over Talent. Having been a performer, a competitive swimmer and a TV personality, she is taking on parenting with the same gusto. An ordinary girl leading an extraordinary life, she makes the best of everything life presents to her. Her love for music and travel has now been passed on to her 4 year old daughter and they can't wait to travel the world together, singing as they go along! Follow her on her personal Instagram account and Facebook page.
I’ve been stressing out over which primary school to enrol my daughter in. Should I put her in a private, international school and pay an exhorbitant amount of money, possibly, for her to get a slightly above average education or should I enrol her in a Chinese Primary School so she can master her mother tongue but be put through a very strict, linear learning? Mind you, my daugther, Danielle, is only 3 turning 4 this year, but trust me, I’m not the only parent who is stressing out about their child’s education even at this age – judging from the waiting list at some of the better preschools and kindergartens!
It got me thinking, seriously, what do parents get out of their child doing well in school? Sure, you get bragging rights that your child is above average, but what else? Kids as young as 3 are being sent for ‘enrichment’ classes - mandarin, math, arts, music, the list goes on. It got me wondering, is it more for their benefit or our own? Why are we as parents stressing on academic excellence when we all know that a well-balanced child will succeed more in life as adults?
With that in mind, I’ve come to the conclusion that life experiences are the most enriching lessons a child can get, especially when they get to experience life with their parents as their teachers. That’s why whenever we get a weekend free or a long weekend, my husband and I will try to plan short vacations to local or international destinations to spend quality time with Danielle and let her experience life.
If you’re planning to expand your child’s horizon by giving her a lesson outside of the classroom, look no further than to our neighbouring country, Singapore. Danielle and I have been to Singapore countless times since she was born because my sister lives there. And every time I go, I come back feeling slightly jealous of my sister’s children because they have so many fun and enriching activities there that they can do together!
For one, the Singapore Zoo is one of the best zoos in the world (ranked #5 by Tripadvisor), and one of its newest attraction is the River Safari. Children get to learn about the life-giving rivers around the world and at the same time learn not to fear but appreciate each species of animals, from the tiniest bug to the largest mammals.
When we bring our kids to the zoo, especially younger children, we don’t just tell them, “hey, look that’s an elephant, oh look, a dugong swimming in the water”. Let them look, let them ask you questions, read the info board to them (that’s what I do) – it gets them interested and adds to their knowledge of the animals (where they’re from and what they eat, etc). When they know and understand, they won’t fear and what they don’t fear, they will eventually protect.
I also believe that outdoor play is crucial in raising healthy and happy children and it’s really important too to get your child comfortable playing in water because of the myriads of benefits when it comes to water play. We’ve been to Sentosa with Danielle once before but we’ve never ventured to the beach. This time around, we heard about the Port of Lost Wonder located at Palawan Beach.
It’s the first kids club to be located by the beach in Singapore! And for only S$10 weekdays or S$15 on weekends, kids below 12 can play with water guns, water slides or pretend that they are pirates and play to their little hearts’ content! Besides the pirate ship, there are also plenty of other activities to get your kids involved like the foam party and, pots and planks (where they get to try their hand at a bit of gardening). The entrance fee earns your child Curio coins in which they’d have to use to pay to take part in the different activities. This is a great way for them to learn about paying for things and earning money in the real world!
Like a lot of kids her age, Danielle loves music, and I make it a point to bring her for musicals to cultivate her love for music and story-telling, whenever a good play comes to town. In Singapore, with theatre groups like The Little Company and iTheatre producing quality plays for children specifically, there is a great play for you and your child to enjoy every month!
It just so happened that when we were in town in March, Goldilocks and the Three Bears were playing at the Singapore Repertory Theatre, but it was in Mandarin! But since I had wanted Dani to embrace more of our mother tongue, I decided to bring her for the play, although I knew she wouldn’t understand half of it. Beautiful set, great storyline and great music to boot, I’d have to say, in the end, Danielle truly enjoyed it and for a princess lover like herself, her exact words to me were, “I liked it even better than Snow White!”
So, you know, after spending some quality time with my daughter on our vacations and finding out so much more about her personality, and likes and dislikes, I’m reassured that no matter which school I choose to send her to, it won’t help in making her more “intelligent”, or ensuring her success in life. If she can excel academically, great; if she’s not the book smarts type, then so be it. I want her to be able to experience all that life has to offer, find her own passion and eventually lead a fruitful and fulfilled life that she’d chosen on her own.