SINGAPORE - Children tend to have better literacy and numeracy skills when parents are involved in simple learning activities with them at home, a study has found.
For example, researchers found that a child's proficiency in their mother tongue improves when parents read books in that language to them.
The Singapore Kindergarten Impact Project (Skip) study was conducted between 2015 and 2017 by research scientist Dr Ng Ee Lynn and her team from the National Institute of Education.
Dr Ng said: "Our findings have shown us that parents' interactions with children at home during the early childhood years really do contribute to their learning and development."
She was speaking to The Straits Times senior education correspondent Sandra Davie at the askST @ NLB panel discussion, "How to help your child in school and life".
The virtual talk was shared on ST's Facebook page on Friday (Oct 29) at 7pm.
Dr Ng recommends parents engage their children in simple games and activities at home to expose them to language and mathematical concepts and inspire their curiosity and eagerness to learn.
One idea is for parents to fill two jars with different levels of water and let their children decide how many marbles should be placed into the jars to cause the water to overflow.
She said: "This begins a conversation with the child, where they can think about what they've just done and what they predict would happen to the next jar.
"This is an activity that allows parents to engage in conversations with their children.
"It does not necessarily teach the child a scientific concept, but just to have fun, and from there, they learn to observe what they see and make a guess of what they think might happen."
Dr Ng said it is important for parents to develop a child's reading habit from a young age and introduce them to a range of topics.
She said: "Some kids will gravitate towards certain topics like cars, vehicles and trains, and they will always go to those books, and that's fine because they are interested to read that book, but parents can also help to widen their repertoire to introduce them to different books."
Dr Ng highlighted the importance of pre-school attendance, saying it allows children to learn about social emotional skills, which will help them when they enter primary school.
She said: "When you are in a pre-school classroom, you have the opportunity to interact with your peers and friends and learn how to play together.
"You learn how to learn together, and from those interactions you learn how to communicate, you learn how to manage your own frustrations or anger when things don't go your way, you learn how to share, negotiate and handle conflict with your friends."
Dr Ng added that children also learn to become self-regulated in pre-school as they learn to follow rules and to take turns.
"These skills are helpful when children move to formal schooling because the situation changes, we're in a bigger class size in primary school, and you're expected to be more independent in your learning," she said.
For more information and resources on this topic, use the keywords "education", "parenting" and "raising children" to search ProQuest Central at str.sg/proquest - a database the National Library Board subscribes to.
A myLibraryID is required to access the database.
If you don't have a myLibraryID yet, you can go to account.nlb.gov.sg and sign up for one using your Singpass or identity card number or Foreign Identification Number.
AskST @ NLB is a collaboration between The Straits Times and the National Library Board.
The video recording of the event and past sessions can be found here.
The next AskST @ NLB session will be held on Nov 26.
• How to raise successful people [electronic resource]: Simple Lessons for Radical Results, by Esther Wojcicki
• The innovative parent: Raising connected, happy, successful kids through art, by Erica Curtis and Ping Ho
• Raise happy, healthy & successful kids [electronic resource], by Omar Periu
• 21st century parenting: A guide to raising emotionally resilient children in an unstable world, by Rick Capaldi
• Digital for good: Raising kids to thrive in an online world, by Richard Culatta
• Gentle discipline: Using emotional connection - not punishment - to raise confident, capable kids, by Sarah Ockwell-Smith