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Independent learners: Bosses of their own schedules

08 Jul 2020

1 - Mdm Trisha Khoo

The Ch'ng family

Mdm Trisha Khoo let her Primary 3 daughter and Primary 6 son dictate their own schedules during Home-Based Learning. How did they handle the freedom? 

This story is part of our series of 7 parent reflections on the impact of this extraordinary year on our children. By Neo Wen Tong.

“Always PE first, then art and craft. Subjects that involved papers always ended up last.” That was the order in which her daughter, Sarah-Anne Ch’ng, decided to do her work during Home-Based Learning, says Mdm Trisha Khoo. Her daughter is in Primary 3.

Sarah-Anne and her brother John Ch’ng, Primary 6, were given the freedom to choose how they wanted to go about their daily learning and assignments.

3 - Mdm Trisha Khoo
Sarah-Anne during a Google Meet session, which her Principal arranged for to check in on the students.

“It was as self-directed as they wanted to be. As long as they didn’t miss their Google Meets, and submitted their Student Learning Space (SLS) work on time within the same day, they could be bosses of their own schedules,” says Mdm Khoo. The bottom line? “The earlier they finish, the earlier they can play.”

There were bumps along the way. “John missed out on work once or twice early on, and it rolled over to the next day. He experienced the consequences for himself – that he had to complete the missed work on top of that day’s assignments. After that, it didn’t happen again. He learnt that it was his responsibility to check,” shares Mdm Khoo. Sarah-Anne, too, forgot to attend a Google Meet with her class, but subsequently, made sure to always double-check her schedule.

2 - Mdm Trisha Khoo
Mdm Khoo leaves John to work out his own schedule for HBL.

She also noticed that John learnt to depend on her less. “Previously, if he couldn’t solve a Math question, he’d leave it blank, and ask me when he got home. In school, teachers leave the classroom after a lesson, and by the end of the school day, he may have forgotten to look for his teacher to ask for help, so he’d rely on me,” says Mdm Khoo. “But during the circuit breaker, I was busy with my own work. Mum was not available, but his teachers and friends were, so he went to them and figured it out. He knew he had to get it done or he couldn’t play,” she laughs. 

With her son at the cusp of teenage-hood, Mdm Khoo reminds herself that as a parent, she has to let go. “At Primary 6, I have to prepare him for secondary school and there’s a lot of letting go. I have to trust that the foundations laid in his earlier years have set him up well. I can only stand on the sidelines and watch and be the cheerleader, and trust that he is growing.”