Most parents no longer focus only on grades: Poll

From left: Kieran O'Rourke, 10, his brother Tiernan, 12, and their mother Emily Mathews, 38, enjoying some time outdoors. Ms Mathews has been investing time and money in getting her sons involved in sports such as rugby and mixed martial arts.
From left: Kieran O'Rourke, 10, his brother Tiernan, 12, and their mother Emily Mathews, 38, enjoying some time outdoors. Ms Mathews has been investing time and money in getting her sons involved in sports such as rugby and mixed martial arts.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

But only half of those surveyed are familiar with their kids' talents; most don't know how to tap their potential

About four in five parents here believe career success is no longer driven just by academic achievements, a recent survey has found.

Instead, they recognise the importance of discovering their children's passions and talents early on. But only half are familiar with their children's talents. In addition, nearly one in five parents is unsure how to tap his child's potential.

The survey, conducted by the United Overseas Bank (UOB) in May, gathered responses from 447 parents with children aged 12 and below, on their attitudes towards their children's future success.

This comes as the Republic's education system moves away from academics, and towards broadening opportunities for students to discover their aptitudes and interests, and develop a love for learning.

 Kieran O'Rourke, 10, his brother Tiernan, 12, and their mother Emily Mathews, 38, enjoying some time outdoors. Ms Mathews has been investing time and money in getting her sons involved in sports such as rugby and mixed martial arts.
From left: Kieran O'Rourke, 10, his brother Tiernan, 12, and their mother Emily Mathews, 38, enjoying some time outdoors. Ms Mathews has been investing time and money in getting her sons involved in sports such as rugby and mixed martial arts. ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

GRADES NOT EVERYTHING

Just getting the best grades doesn't mean that you will be successful tomorrow.

MR DENNIS KHOO, UOB's Singapore head of personal financial services.

PURSUING PASSIONS

When parents realise that grades are not everything, kids are hopefully more exposed and encouraged to follow their interests, and not necessarily take the conventional routes.

MS EMILY MATHEWS, a mother of two boys aged 10 and 12.

Mr Dennis Khoo, UOB's Singapore head of personal financial services, said: "For their children to have an edge in the future economy, parents will need to reassess their traditional notions of what defines career success.

"It is fair to say children who pursue what they are naturally good at are more likely to cultivate an interest in what they do and therefore excel in their chosen career."

In response to the findings, UOB last Thursday introduced a programme to help parents discover and nurture a child's potential early. The KidSmart programme utilises an assessment tool to identify a child's aptitude.

Mr Khoo said the programme's launch is timely, because with increasing globalisation and rapid technological change, jobs of the future will require a different set of skills such as creativity and the ability to think critically.

"Just getting the best grades doesn't mean that you will be successful tomorrow," he said.

Parents contacted agreed, saying the focus on grades alone takes the joy of learning away from children.

Ms Emily Mathews, a mother of two boys aged 10 and 12, said: "When parents realise that grades are not everything, kids are hopefully more exposed and encouraged to follow their interests, and not necessarily take the conventional routes."

The 38-year-old risk manager said her sons have a flair for sports. She has been investing time and money to get them involved in sports such as rugby and mixed martial arts, and will continue to encourage them to pursue these interests.

National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser said the findings resonate with the shift towards celebrating a holistic set of achievements, including in non-academic areas such as sports and the arts.

"Singaporean parents recognise that there are alternative pathways to success for their children," he added.

"They are aware that for their children to harness their inherent talents successfully, they need to encourage and invest in the development of their talents from the outset, while being careful not to undermine their motivation."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2016, with the headline 'Most parents no longer focus only on grades: Poll'. Print Edition | Subscribe