Making family memories and learning life skills under home-based learning

Ms Yvonne Kong-Ho (middle) joins her children, Gabriel and Natalie, for a game of Taboo. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - On Wednesday (April 8), the first day of home-based learning (HBL), eight-year-old Natalie Ho asked her mother: "Are you stressed?"

"Have you had your coffee?"

Her mother, Ms Yvonne Kong-Ho, had sighed deeply while trying to get her own work done, alongside Natalie, who is in Primary 3, and her 10-year-old brother, Gabriel, who is in Primary 5.

That moment of empathy from her daughter is part of a trove of family memories that Ms Kong-Ho is collecting during this month of school closures, as the family spends more time together.

Home-based learning for primary, secondary and junior college students will run till May 4.

Meanwhile, working from home is challenging for the assistant director at a local university, who is in her mid-30s.

She sometimes works till 2am after the children sleep and finds it frustrating when her flow of thought is constantly interrupted.

Her husband goes to work daily as he is an essential worker in the petrochemical industry.

But she resolves to create good memories, rather than have her children remember how she lost her cool during the enforced stay-home period.

Yvonne Kong-Ho and her son, Gabriel Ho, cook Korean rice cake stir-fried with minced pork. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

She is also using the time to ensure they pick up life skills.

Gabriel has learnt to cook Korean rice cakes with minced meat. Next, he will tackle pizza and fried rice.

"It's a good time to let them grow up," says Ms Kong-Ho.

She feels it is a privilege to be on hand to guide her children during HBL. Gabriel is learning about genetics in science, such as whether family members have the same physical characteristics like single or double eyelids. She encouraged him to watch YouTube videos to deepen his understanding of the topic.

"Now that we have the time, we can expand their learning. This is a precious time for me to journey with them. I am able to observe how they learn," she says.

She has become aware of little things she would have otherwise missed, like how Gabriel needs more movement breaks, brief interludes that enable students to move their bodies so they can continue to be engaged in their learning.

Watching her kids' teachers via lesssons on video-conference, she also steps in when her children need pointers in "conference etiquette".

She observed that some schoolmates' siblings walked in and out of the frame while others fidgeted and mumbled.

Working at the same table as her children engenders a sense of bonding.

"They would feel upset if I watched TV outside while they were working. We're in this together; it's teamwork," she says.

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