An introduction to ST Smart Parenting: What is it about?

ST Smart Parenting will also guide parents on how to develop the love of reading in children. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Parents know they need to be involved in their children's development and education for better outcomes.

But it is hard to know if they are going about it the right way and whether it is likely to reap benefits.

This is where The Straits Times' Smart Parenting aims to play a part and make a difference.

The site launched on Monday (Nov 2) will give parents deeply researched information on what they can do to help their child thrive.

Unlike the fragments of parenting advice found across the Internet, ST's team of education and parenting reporters will search out experts in different fields and get them to explain, verify and give advice to parents that will be useful and focused.

ST reporters will also seek out officials and experts at the ministries and other relevant agencies to explain schemes and policies.

For our inaugural issue and over the next few weeks, we have decided to focus on reading. Because if there is one thing that parents can do to help their child succeed in school and life, it would be to immerse them in reading.

I am sure many parents have been given this advice. But how many parents know about the research behind it, and how compelling the evidence is? We will distil the research to what is important for parents to know.

But once parents learn how important it is to get their children to develop the reading habit, what do they do next? Mind you, the research also shows that it is not just reading, but also reading for pleasure that makes the difference.

In the following weeks, we will guide parents on practical steps that can go a long way.

For example, not many parents know that for very young children, it is best to use printed books rather than e-books. We will present our readers with the evidence behind it, where children reading different print and e-books were monitored by magnetic resonance imaging machines.

ST Smart Parenting will also guide parents on how to develop the love of reading in children. How to select the right books to get children hooked on reading and how difficult or easy should the book be - all this will be covered in articles in print, online and videos.

For older children, with many of them accessing information and resources online, there is a need to develop critical reading skills.

Students, especially at the higher levels, do not go to pre-approved textbooks anymore. They are often required to go to multiple sources online, in different formats. They will have to compare, contrast, evaluate and draw on the sources to construct their own knowledge and understanding of a topic or issue.

All this requires critical thinking and reading skills.

Ms Leslie Davis, a consultant with The British Council Singapore, will be sharing tips on how parents can help develop these higher-order skills in their children.

The site already has a library of original content, and the team will add to it every week.

Over the next few months, we will cover various topics of importance for parents - from the new scoring system for the Primary School Leaving Examination to picking the right secondary school to choosing between the junior college or polytechnic route.

We will also offer information and guidance on university options, addressing concerns on university costs and affordability.

There will be features from Life parenting reporters on how to help parents deal with their children's behavioural issues and human interest trend stories such as one on the challenges of raising premature children.

Also on the cards are guides for parents on things to do during the school holidays and the best new playgrounds for kids.

Further on, we are planning on organising talks, workshops and forums on various topics.

We will be sending out a weekly newsletter informing parents on what to look out for in ST Smart Parenting every week.

Sign up for the newsletter here.

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