Northoaks Primary

Nurturing leadership traits in the young

MADAM RACHEL KOW, with daughter Janelle. Her views are shared by Madam Nahrahyeenee Tamil Selvan, who is pleased that the school is helping her child, Tharine, develop self-confidence
MADAM RACHEL KOW(above), with daughter Janelle. Her views are shared by Madam Nahrahyeenee Tamil Selvan(left), who is pleased that the school is helping her child, Tharine, develop self-confidence.

At Northoaks Primary School's open house earlier this month, its Primary 1 pupils took the lead in hosting visitors.

Some served as tour guides, introducing various aspects of the school to curious parents and children, while others put on performances to entertain the visitors.

The tour guides were given mini microphones and balloons to help parents identify them.

Older pupils from Primary 2 took on supporting roles, and provided help only when the young ones needed it.

At new primary schools, the age and size of the population means that young children get opportunities that would normally be given to upper-primary pupils.

OTHER VALUES MATTER TOO

I want my children to enjoy their first six years in school. Sure, studying is important, but it isn't everything.

MADAM RACHEL KOW, with daughter Janelle. Her views are shared by Madam Nahrahyeenee Tamil Selvan, who is pleased that the school is helping her child, Tharine, develop self-confidence

Principal Theresa Hong, 48, said: "We made sure that every child was involved in our open house event. It was a frightening experience for the Primary 1 pupils, but they pulled it off."

Having young pupils take up leadership roles is a practice that Mrs Hong hopes to continue, even as the school population grows.

The school, located in Sembawang, took in its first batch of pupils last year. It now has six Primary 2 classes and five Primary 1 classes.

Mrs Hong noted: "We believe that every child can be a leader. We also hope to show parents that it is not just the older pupils who can lead. Your child can, too."

Housewife Nahrahyeenee Tamil Selvan, 32, whose eight-year-old daughter Tharine Sandaran attends Northoaks, believes primary school is a time for children to build self-confidence, and it is important for a school to nurture that.

This belief was what led Madam Nahrahyeenee to choose a new primary school with a small enrolment and a homely setting.

"Watching your child display leadership skills speaks louder than any PSLE numbers that a school can give," she said.

The mother of two, who lives in the neighbourhood, said she picked Northoaks Primary because it offers Tamil, and because she wanted to avoid having to ballot for a place.

"Children also feel a strong sense of belonging when they are in a new school. They really get the sense that 'this is my school, and it's me and my teachers'," she added.

Tharine, a chatty and lively girl, said that she enjoys her Tamil lessons as she gets to act out the characters in stories.

"I also like to learn new words, and I enjoy reading," she said.

Her schoolmate, Janelle Yeo, also eight, said English is her favourite class. Pupils get to take part in activities such as making sandwiches and caring for caterpillars.

Janelle took a caterpillar home to care for it, and it eventually morphed into a butterfly. "I was sad to see it fly away," she said.

Her mother, sales and marketing manager Rachel Kow, 35, said: "I want my children to enjoy their first six years in school. Sure, studying is important, but it isn't everything. Values such as self-motivation and responsibility are important as well."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2015, with the headline 'Nurturing leadership traits in the young'. Print Edition | Subscribe