Parents, not just students, turn out for polytechnics' open house

Parents at a forum catered for them at Ngee Ann Polytechnic last year. The poly, which is holding two such forums tomorrow, already has 500 sign-ups.
Parents at a forum catered for them at Ngee Ann Polytechnic last year. The poly, which is holding two such forums tomorrow, already has 500 sign-ups.PHOTO: NGEE ANN POLYTECHNIC

Polytechnics also tailor sessions for them as they become involved in their kids' education

It is not just school leavers who are thronging open house and career guidance talks at the polytechnics and junior colleges this week.

With the release of the O-level results next Monday, parents, too, are signing up for talks, workshops and open house being held over this weekend and next week.

In fact, polytechnics are tailoring sessions for parents, thousands of whom might attend.

Polytechnic officials said that in previous years, only students would turn up for these sessions.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic, which is holding two forums for parents tomorrow, already has 500 sign-ups.

Nanyang Polytechnic, which has a forum tonight at 7pm, already has more than 1,200 sign-ups. The polytechnic in Ang Mo Kio said that last year, parents made up close to 30 per cent of those who attended open house and career talks.

Said Ngee Ann Polytechnic's deputy principal Mah Wee Beng: "It is good for parents to have an understanding of what a polytechnic education is all about and the different courses we offer.


"They know their children well, what their strengths and likes and dislikes are. So they can help them make the right decisions."

Two parents, who are taking leave from work to visit the polys, said it was important for them to be involved.

Mr Dennis Lim, 41, a manager who is accompanying his daughter, said that he would like her to take the junior college (JC) pathway, but she prefers the polytechnic route.

"So I took two days off to go with her for all the talks. I really don't have much idea about what the polys do, and what these newfangled courses are all about. So, I am going with an open mind to find out more."

Mrs Trinna Tham, 38, a business development manager who is also accompanying her daughter, said: "I feel this is a crucial point in my daughter's education journey and don't want her to make the wrong decision. And I am glad that the polys and JCs are catering to parents."

Teenagers, though, are less enthusiastic about their parents' involvement.

Said Mrs Tham's daughter Anita, 17: "My mum is coming along because she is worried I will go for a soft option and pick something like communications and new media. She wants me to do something related to IT or biotechnology, which doesn't really interest me."

However, her friend Desiree Lim, 17, welcomes her parents' involvement. "My parents, especially my mum, know me well, and it will be helpful to have her advice."

Experts said that this is just an extension of "intensive parenting", which includes parents guiding their children through the education process.

Polytechnic officials also pointed out that navigating the education system has become more complicated as more choices open up for school leavers. But experts also warned parents against taking over the decision-making process.

Ms Cheryl Ng, principal trainer at Focus on the Family Singapore, which runs parenting programmes, said: "Parents can have an open and honest discussion with their child to understand why they want to pursue a specific course of study, and the pros and cons of the options available to them.

"At times, when children may have unrealistic expectations, parents will be able to provide perspectives that their children may not have considered."

But she added: "It is vital to allow room for their children to take ownership of their decisions, giving their teenagers the opportunity for growth."

Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2019, with the headline 'Parents turn out for polys' open house'. Print Edition | Subscribe