Congratulations on your precious bundle of joy! You’re officially part of the amazing, but admittedly slightly stressful, world of parenting. As an experienced parent who’s been on this wild ride for a while, let me just say, buckle up! You’re in for a whirlwind of emotions, challenges, but most importantly — countless moments of pure bliss.

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While there’s no one-size-fits-all manual for parenting (trust me, I’ve looked!), there are some tried-and-true tips and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way, and I’m more than happy to share them with you.

So, whether you’re wondering how to soothe a fussy baby, struggling to establish a bedtime routine, or just in need of a little encouragement on those tough days (we all have them!), I’ve got your back. Consider this your personal guidebook to navigating the ups and downs of parenthood with grace, humor, and maybe a few extra cups of coffee along the way.

Remember, every child is unique, so adapt these guidelines to suit your child’s individual needs and developmental stage. And most importantly, enjoy the journey of parenthood and cherish the moments you share with your child as they progress from kindergarten to primary school, secondary school, tertiary education, and finally as an adult.

How should I raise my child: The ultimate guide for first-time parents

Parenting 101: Fundamental information every parent should know

1. How much time should I spend with my child?

As a new parent, spending time with your child is a crucial thing to do, taking into consideration your kids’ age, individual needs, and developmental stage.

Balancing work commitments with family time is essential, requiring flexibility and adaptability as your child’s needs evolve. Hence, you should special outings, whether its catering to your children’s interests or exposing them to new activities. You could also ask them to plan their own family day, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility. The occasional delegation of responsibilities can create memorable experiences and contribute to a positive parent-child relationship. 

If you need a hand at planning the perfect family day, check out our list on the best family-friendly things to do in Singapore.

2. Enrichment classes or play time?

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The appropriate number of enrichment classes for a child and the right time to start attending them depend on individual factors such as age, interests, and family values. For young children, the focus should be on play time and social development, with structured classes introduced gradually around the age of 6 or 7. It’s crucial to strike a balance between the number of activities, avoiding overload schedule, and prioritising quality over quantity. 

Enrichment classes should align with the child’s interests, and regular communication helps gauge their engagement and well-being. Consider a mix of academic, artistic, physical, and social activities for a well-rounded experience, and don’t forget the importance of family time and appropriate amount of play time.

3. Screen time. At what age should my child start using digital devices?

In today’s digital age, finding the right balance of screen time for play and learning is crucial. While educational apps and online resources can offer valuable learning opportunities, it’s equally important to encourage outdoor play, hands-on activities, and face-to-face interactions. By setting limits and exposing your child to a variety of enriching activities and experiences, parents can help their children develop a healthy relationship with screens while nurturing their overall development.

3.1 When should a child start owning a phone?

Deciding when a child should own a phone is a subjective matter that often depends on the family circumstances and parenting philosophies. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, some common considerations can help guide parents in making this decision.

Typically, you may introduce a phone to their child when there is a genuine need for communication, such as when the child starts engaging in more independent activities or when they need to commute to school alone. The age range for this can vary, but it often falls between 10 and 14 years old. It’s crucial for parents to assess your child’s level of responsibility, maturity, and their ability to understand and adhere to guidelines regarding phone usage.

Before giving a device, have open and honest conversations with your children about the responsibilities and expectations, cover topics like screen time limits, appropriate online behaviour, and the importance of privacy. Additionally, parents can gradually introduce technology by starting with devices that have limited features and monitoring usage closely.

3.2 How much screen time is allowed for kids?

The appropriate amount of screen time for children can vary based on their age, developmental stage, and individual needs. For 18-24 months, screen time should be limited to watching educational programming under parents or caregiver guidance. For children 2-5, limit non-educational screen time to about 1 hour per weekday and 3 hours on the weekend days, make sure to co-view with your children and discuss appropriate content to watch.

For 6 years and older, establish consistent limits on the amount of screen time, ensuring it does not interfere with adequate sleep, physical activity, and other healthy behaviours. Setting an example for your kids at home will also help them understand why limiting screen time is important.

3.3 The importance of digital safety

For new parents navigating the digital age, prioritising online safety for your child is crucial. Establish secure digital practices early on by implementing parental controls, setting screen time boundaries, and staying informed about popular online platforms. Maintain open communication with your child, discussing responsible online behaviour and the importance of privacy protection. 

As your child grows, adapt your approach to gradually grant more independence while instilling a sense of responsibility in their digital interactions. Active involvement in your child’s online world creates a foundation for a positive and secure digital experience throughout their upbringing.

3.4 Clear boundary between education and entertainment purposes

With platforms like TikTok and Youtube becoming increasingly popular, it’s essential to curate your child’s online experience. Encourage the use of educational apps and content that align with their learning goals. Simultaneously, establish guidelines for social media usage, emphasising age-appropriate content and maintaining privacy settings. Regularly monitor their online activities, ensuring a balance between educational engagement and recreational content. 

In the age with lots of curiosities, you can help them to find educational YouTubers to watch like Ted-Ed, Edutopia, SmarterEveryday, The DadLab, and Khan Academy. These channels can become a tool to help your kids self-study, learn experiments, and develop life skills outside school.

4. Caregivers. Will my relationship with my child be ruined?

As we began our parenting journey, we often struggled and sought help from other people such as caregivers to help take care of our children’s needs. Although it may affect the family relationship, a positive impact is possible when the caregivers complement the parenting style and work collaboratively with the parents to create a nurturing environment for the child. 

However, if there is a lack of communication or differing approaches to childcare, it may pose challenges. Regular discussions and check-ins with both your caregiver and the child can help maintain a cohesive and harmonious dynamic, ensuring that the parent-child relationship remains strong and supportive. Ultimately, the key lies in fostering a sense of teamwork and shared commitment to the well-being and development of the child.

Primary school: Developing confidence and identity in their formative years

For most children in Singapore, primary school typically begins at the age of 7 and is mandatory for all. The 6-year basic education is divided into two stages: lower primary (primary 1 to 3) and upper primary (primary 4 to 6).

Regardless of whether your child was home-schooled or attended kindergartens, the transition to primary school offers a completely new set of challenges and obstacles. At the age of 7-12, your child is still undergoing his formative years, and these 7 years will create a lasting impact on their identity, comprising but not limited to their personality, confidence, interests, skillset and more.It serves as a foundational phase that significantly influences their overall growth and sets the stage for future academic and personal pursuits. 

Hence, here are some pointers to look out for when your child is in primary school.

1. Everything you need to know about primary school

As your little one grows and blossoms, the next big step in their journey is primary school. In Singapore, primary education is not just about academics, but a holistic experience that shapes young minds and prepares them for the future.

Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about primary school in the Lion City:

Streaming and Subject Banding in School: Singaporean primary schools implement a system of streaming and subject banding to cater to students’ diverse learning needs. Streaming typically begins from Primary 3 onwards, where students are placed in different academic streams based on their performance in subjects like English, Mathematics, Science, and Mother Tongue languages.

PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination): Taken at the end of Primary 6, this exam assesses students’ proficiency in English, Mathematics, Science, and Mother Tongue languages. PSLE results determine the secondary school each student can enroll in, making it a crucial point of transition from primary to secondary education.

DSA (Direct School Admission)/GEP (Gifted Education Programme): The Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme allows primary school students to secure a place in a secondary school based on their talents and achievements outside of academic performance. This scheme recognises students’ strengths in areas such as sports, arts, and leadership, providing them with opportunities to excel in their chosen fields.

On the other hand, the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) caters to academically gifted students by offering a specialized curriculum that challenges and nurtures their talents. GEP students undergo a rigorous selection process in Primary 3, which includes tests and assessments to identify their aptitude for advanced learning.

Types of CCA (Co-Curricular Activities): Co-curricular activities (CCAs) play a vital role in a Singaporean student’s holistic development. Primary schools offer a wide range of CCAs, including sports, performing arts, uniformed groups, and clubs. Participation in CCAs not only fosters teamwork, leadership, and discipline but also provides students with opportunities to pursue their passions and interests outside the classroom.

As your child embarks on their primary school journey, remember that education in Singapore goes beyond academic excellence. It’s about nurturing well-rounded individuals who are equipped with the skills, values, and resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world. So, encourage your child to embrace every opportunity, explore their interests, and most importantly, enjoy the adventure of learning and growing in primary school

1. Learning to adapt to schedules and time tables

With an increased workload in school, longer hours coupled with earlier wake-times, it is wise to come up with a schedule for your primary school child.

Aside from homework time, the children should also be given some down time for play and outdoor fun. Staying seated at a desk for extended hours can be difficult for the child to adjust to. After school, let the child decompress with some play or perhaps a nap before the homework.

2. Teaching the kids to Enjoy this phase of New School Life (Formal Education)

Navigating each season of school life presents unique challenges for your child, and it’s crucial to be a steady presence throughout these changes. Adjusting to primary school hours may require some time, but with your unwavering support and guidance, your child will not only adjust but also discover the joy of being in primary school. It takes time, but we’ve all been through those early school days, and your presence as parents makes a world of difference in making it a positive and exciting experience for them. 

3. Managing homework time

As parents, supporting your child with homework is an essential part of their academic development. To encourage your children in managing homework, providing a conducive environment is necessary. You can start by creating a dedicated, quiet, and well-lit space for them to study and finish their tasks. 

Other support that you can do is to be present to give assistance and help them understand the materials without doing the work for them, encourage them to ask questions, and foster a sense of responsibility for their own learning. Creating a consistent routine and teaching them time management from a young age could also help them to be more focused and alert.

4. Staying involved in school

Without a doubt, as parents, we are often worried about the social dynamics within our children’s school environment. Parental involvement serves as the cornerstone to foster positive communication with our children and help our children navigate social interactions at their school. 

Some attempts that you can do is to actively participate in parent-teacher conferences, volunteer in various school activities if possible, and stay updated on your child’s progress. Consider joining parent associations or organisations, to foster ongoing communication channels with both educators and fellow parents. By staying engaged, you not only contribute to the school community but also provide crucial support for your child’s educational journey, reinforcing a strong connection between home and school.

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