Regardless of whether you send your child to a childcare centre or kindergarten in Singapore, preschools in Singapore do not only focus on preparing young children to be academically proficient.
An all-rounded education starts from early childhood and instilling firm values in your child ensures that they grow up to be grounded individuals with a strong sense of morals. This includes being brave enough to stand up for what is right even when there may be possible negative consequences and being honest yet respectful are qualities that are developed over time.
Children are not born with integrity, but their behaviours are influenced by all aspects of their lives. How they observe people around them behave and act, how their family members react to situations and societal pressures play a part.
There are no short-cuts to teaching children about character and integrity as it is not a straight-forward process, but this learning experience will benefit them in the long term.
How parents can build character and integrity in their children attending preschools in Singapore
1. Read and discuss stories promoting positive moral behaviours
The library is a great place to start looking for children’s literature containing moral lessons. As you read to them, emphasise the values and ethics in the books to your children.
Other than the library, there is an abundance of stories involving moral lessons that can be used to discuss with your child in the newspapers, on television and in the media. When your child relates stories about school and classmates, you can guide them along to consider if they thought they did the right thing and reinforce your values.
2. Act with integrity to be a role model
Children have a simple understanding of right or wrong and they are quick to pick up hypocrisy. The best way to teach your child integrity is to live with integrity as much as possible by being honest, owning up and taking responsibility for mistakes, avoiding gossip, working hard and treating others with respect.
3. Empathise with your child
Empathy is commonly mistaken for sympathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the other party’s feelings. Only then will your child who spends hours a day at a preschool in Singapore will feel more motivated to learn the lessons that you are trying to teach them.
4. Respond appropriately and consistently
While you cannot control how your child behaves, you can make a conscious effort to respond consistently while reinforcing family values. A way is to use negative behaviour as teachable moments. If your child is dishonest or disrespectful, he or she should be able to reflect on their behaviour.
When dealing with bad behaviour, talk to your child and listen to their thinking before reinforcing your stance that dishonesty or disrespect will not be tolerated in your household. Your child should be aware of the consequences that follow.
5. Be specific
To a young child, it can be confusing if you are ambiguous when describing character traits. Instead of plainly telling your child to be “kind”, “polite” or “nice”, following up with a specific example can give them a clearer picture.
For example, when your child attends a theatre play, tell them that “It takes effort to practise and prepare for this show. To show our support and be gracious, we will be quiet during the play and clap for them at the end”.
While the main responsibility of building character remains with parents, teachers of young children often guide them on being considerate to those around them. MindChamps PreSchool, a preschool in Singapore, develops positive behaviours in various ways, such as using positive words when reinforcing rules, teaching character building in each lesson and putting values into action.
Written by Jamie Koh