Parents go 'back to school' to learn how to coach their children in maths

Mr Muhammad Faizal Jamil and his wife Normaya Johari, with their daughter Nayli Yusyairah and son Izz Haziq.
Mr Muhammad Faizal Jamil and his wife Normaya Johari, with their daughter Nayli Yusyairah and son Izz Haziq.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - When children struggle with mathematics, some parents go back to "school".

It was the case with Madam Normaya Johari, 32, who found herself at a loss when it came to helping her young daughter understand mathematical concepts.

So she persuaded her husband Faizal Jamil, an interior designer, to make time from work on Sundays so they could join a pilot programme to learn how to support their children's learning.

"The classes were very interesting and it makes it easier for us, as parents, to understand the concepts," said Mr Faizal, 35.

Besides learning about mathematical concepts, the couple also got to play games with their six-year-old daughter at the end of each session.

"The programme changed how we interact as a family, and now, after work, we know how to coach her in her homework," Mr Faizal added.

The KelasMateMatika @ CC programme (KMM) is an initiative of three key Malay/Muslim organisations: Mendaki, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council (Mesra).

By next year, the aim is to have 1,500 Malay parents and children go through the free educational programme, which is an enhanced version of self-help group Mendaki's existing Tiga M programme.

The KMM programme is targeted at families with children aged between four and six years, and whose household per capita income is $450 or less a month.

Over six sessions, parents learn basic numeracy concepts as well as techniques to build the child's self-esteem and confidence as they learn. During the sessions, there are also interactive activities for the children to pick up mathematical concepts.

It is not all work and no fun. There are an additional four sessions to expose families to other life skills and encourage family bonding, such as making a halal bento set or fairy lamp, and doing zumba exercises.

A total of 150 parents and children have completed all 10 sessions of the KMM programme under the first pilot phase at three divisions in Marsiling, Nee Soon East and Pasir Ris East.

At the graduation ceremony at the Science Centre on Sunday (Dec 2), Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said feedback from parents has shown that they are now more confident in coaching their children in maths.

"That has been something we are looking closely at because in terms of getting our children prepared for primary school, especially for maths, this is one thing we have always seen as a weakness in some of our Malay students, looking at the PSLE results," said Mr Zaqy.