Father-and-son bonding takes place through cybergames at Montfort Junior School's gaming corner.
Sleek racing cars zoom down winding streets. The drivers strain as they go bumper to bumper and narrowly miss the curb. Their intense concentration is broken by random cries of excitement as one car succeeds in overtaking its rival.
Sounds like Formula 1? In fact, all this action took place at Montfort Junior School, where four Xbox consoles let pupils match their gaming skills against their dads. And no matter who finishes the race first, every player is a winner in this hour of paternal bonding that takes places at the MJ iTech :) Corner.
Getting together through games
The brainchild of Mr Amos Choy, MJ iTech :) Corner emerged from Mr Choy's desire to promote a closer relationship between fathers and sons at the all-boys school. Known to the pupils as "Uncle Amos", Mr Choy heads the Father's Wing at Montfort Junior School. "Fathers need to engage their sons through their common interests," he says of the need for more active involvement by fathers in school.
An avid player himself, Mr Choy found common ground with his sons through computer gaming and wanted to share this experience with the pupils and their fathers. MJ iTech :) Corner has been so successful that what started as a corner in the library has grown into a Father-and-Son Xbox Competition that took place early this year. More than 150 families joined in the fun, which also featured a Gaming Carnival where families could battle it out on not only Xboxes but also PS3 and Nintendo Wii systems. Besides jamming on guitars and working their muscles on dance machines, parents and their kids also benefited from a talk on cultivating healthy gaming habits.
A Montfort Junior School father-and-son soccer team takes to the fields.
Thanks to MJ iTech :) Corner, players are learning valuable life skills and becoming more active in the school community. Collaborative games like Tennis and Winning Eleven Soccer help teach the value of cooperation. Parent volunteers also also chip in to monitor the pupils' gaming habits and coach them.
Role models for real life
For those who relish real-life challenges, Mr Choy has organised outdoor events such as street soccer and badminton challenges, as well as an MJ Amazing Race - Family Edition. The Father's Wing also holds regular talks on fathering and family, and invites fathers of pupils to share about the working world at Career Talks. "Fathers bring a different perspective which the school treasures," says Mrs Judina Cheong, Principal of Montfort Junior School. "They act as good role models for their sons."
Fathers can play an enriching role in the school life of their sons, says Mr Amos Choy (in white long-sleeved shirt).
Both parents and teachers benefit. "The parents have earned the respect of the teachers and we have learnt to communicate and collaborate with one another," reveals Mr Choy. "The teachers also found that parents are another resource they can tap on and work with to enhance their teaching."
Volunteers with the Father's Wing also share with other parents how they can get involved in the school, from planning programmes for the boys to helping out in the library, Learning Support Program or Lego Room. "Fathers and mothers can play complementary roles," notes Mr Choy, who gives the assurance that every parent who wants to contribute is welcome.
Having led the Father's Wing for four years, Mr. Choy is now handing over the reins to a new Head, Mr Roger Khoo. But if you still have doubts about the value of fathers in schooling, read what his wife, Mrs Choy, has to say. "My husband's involvement in school is one of the best things that have happened to our family," she shares. "When we talk about school, we know more intimately what the issues are. My sons now help out in events and gather their friends to help as well. It has definitely built up leadership skills and confidence in them."