Parental conversations are for parents only, right? Not so for Let Us Chat !, a structured program developed by the Admiralty High School Parent Support Group. Parents and children attend conversations together, leaving common topics for conversation in each class, such as the joy of learning compared to grades and grades, and, above all, a better understanding of each other. Nea Wen Tong
Grades, grades and more grades. When Ms. Joey Ching chaired the Admiralty High School (ADSS) Parent Support Group (PSG) in 2017, she and members of its Executive Committee (EXCO) noted that the parents they spoke to were very focused on academic grades. ; at the same time the mental health problems of young people were increasingly in the spotlight.
It didn’t take them long to establish a connection between them. Wanting to help parents and their children shift their focus to the primary goal of education, Ms. Ching and her EXCO members began to encourage families to listen. “For about three years, we’ve been offering one-on-one chats, and we’ve seen positive results for these families.”
Then in 2020 hit Covid-19, and all their activities and tea sessions were postponed. “We’ve started a brainstorming session on how best to reach parents and their children,” Ms. Ching says.
One thing that stood out was the one-on-one conversations they had. Feedback was positive, so EXCO took the opportunity to expand the initiative. After almost a year of planning, EXCO has launched the Let Us Chat program! a program in May 2021 that was open to their 580 PSG members.
Parents and children visit together
The program is fully developed by EXCO members based on their understanding of the common challenges faced by parents and their ADSS children. They also drew on the own experiences of parents and students, referred to books and reference materials, and focused on topics not typically addressed in other parenting talks or seminars. They then received school approval before deploying the program.
“The big topic we are talking about is the fundamental goal of education, which corresponds to one of the school’s values - lifelong learning. We want to make families think about learning, assessments and results, and what it really means, “says Ms. Ching. Other topics Let’s talk! as well as establishing good relationships between parents and children.
Held once a month online for about an hour each time, more than 30 families take part in each session.
“Even though it’s a“ parenting ”program, we want parents and their kids to attend Let Us Chat! together, ”said Ms. Cindy Tay, PSG Vice President.
Sessions are open to all ADSS parents with a child in ADSS, but their siblings from other schools can also attend, no matter what level they are at.
Ms. Ching says, “We have children from primary schools joining higher education institutions. It is a form of family ties and a chance for parents and children to better understand each other’s perspectives. It also creates common themes for family discussions, which helps improve their parent-child relationship. ”
In addition to sharing information, tips, and strategies on the topic of the day, facilitators also share tools such as the iceberg metaphor for parents to trigger productive conversations with their children.
An iceberg metaphor used as a tool of conversation between parents and child. (Credit: ADSS PSG)
An example she shares is that parents tend to focus on their children’s behavior, such as how they spend long hours on social media or games without figuring out the root causes. “To correct such behavior, parents turn off Wi-Fi or confiscate their children’s devices, but it won’t help them solve the problem if they don’t focus on what makes their children behave that way. There are many layers and factors that affect the mental well-being of our children and their behavior.
Let’s talk! The program proved to be popular, the number of participants increased over the months. “Some students even walk on their own when their parents can’t keep up. It is quite unusual that children will attend parent-teacher talks! We have received feedback that the content affects students and is related, ”Ms. Tay said.
Participants interact with regular facilitators, which builds trust and connections in the small community. And to better serve their busy parents, EXCO also makes it clear that members don’t expect them to spend time and effort managing PSG.
Most of all, Ms. Tay attributes the success of the program to the fact that parents and children immediately build their relationships through the chats they lead during classes. It’s a small victory that makes them come back.
The impact of the program has also spread beyond ADSS parents and students. Picking up the wind Let Us Chat! and its positive results, some PSGs from other schools are also keen to pursue similar programs for their parents.
The school provides a foundation of support
While PSG EXCO has developed and managed the program, the basis for the program is formed by school principals, counselors and ADSS teachers.
“We are not professionally trained consultants, so we can listen, but do not go beyond,” – says Ms. Ching. “After school, some parents realize that their children need more support from teachers, school counselors or health professionals. What we can do is refer them to the school staff who will organize the necessary activities. If we just raised the awareness of families without a framework to support those who need more help, we cannot expect positive results. ”
On the success of the program as an effective channel of communication between parents and the ADSS Parent Support Network, PSG ADSS head teacher Ms. Amiza Bte Mohamed Azhar says the school is grateful for the PSG initiative. “Parents have a safe environment to share their ideas and tips for managing their children’s learning. Our students also feel more confident under guidance. We believe that together with their parents they are more knowledgeable, able to better manage their expectations and make more informed decisions, for example, when it comes to higher education.
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