Stressing the Importance of the Parent in a Child’s Formative Years

If the theme of Saturday’s talks was rhetoric on a child’s inclinations to read, and the different issues surrounding it, the theme here on Sunday definitely has shifted focus onto parents and teachers, and how they play a key role in a child’s formative years. There is an oft-repeated sentiment people are familiar with, and that is the sum of a child is the product of childhood and upbringing. This is indeed stressed heavily today, as different speakers touched on different issues with a familiar theme of, basically, exhorting parents to be there to lend a guiding hand to their children in whatever they endeavor in.

I went for two talks, done by different speakers but focusing on the aspect of creative writing and reading with children, and most specifically the importance of a parent’s involvement with it. In a creative writing workshop held by Catherine Khoo and Carlo Venson Pena, it was notable how the recipients of the Young Author Awards – which is an annual award for creative writing for Youths – attribute most of their success to their parents.

“My story takes inspiration from bedtime stories my father used to tell me… and I dedicated the book to my mother, who made me write a hundred words a day”, said Kendrick, in a television interview on Channel Newsasia that was aired during the session. Another girl in a montage video credits her grandmother as her hero, as she “takes care of us”. This has great implications, as it suggests that a child’s imaginative and psychic landscape is very much dominated in his/her early years by the actions of parents – especially in activities like creative writing where personal experience is taken into account do parents have an inevitable measure of influence over the child’s creative agency.

Indeed this inspired parents in the audience, who later enthusiastically took part in the creative writing exercise that was held by Catherine Khoo.

Another talk I went for was a tutorial of sorts by Roselind Wee, who is a lecturer from the Universiti Teknologi Mara, Malaysia. It was a little disheartening at first to see the lack of audience attending this talk (maybe because it was directly after lunchtime?) but it was nonetheless encouraging to see parents offering their insights on how they try to motivate their children to read and write, and how those experiences were like. Roselind listed several steps to success, all which required heavy involvement with parents.

Many parents seem to agree, with many professing to take an active role in finding out their children’s interests, and encouraging them to read books based on those interests. When Roselind moved on to talking about the benefits of parents reading to their children, several families and their kids exchanged knowing looks.

While it is true that, as written yesterday, it is unhealthy to adopt an overbearing supervising presence on a child, and should instead create an environment of autonomous learning, it is still crucial for a parent to take special care in guiding her child through his/her formative processes, and most importantly, provide positive encouragement for the child.

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