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Independent learners: Time and head space

08 Jul 2020

1 - Mdm Chang

Isaiah performing magic tricks, which he learnt from YouTube, for his family.

From learning to manage boredom to picking up new skills, Mdm Chang Chee Siah and Mr Arthur Ling talk about the change they saw in their children during Home-Based Learning. Along the way, they got to enjoy Dalgona coffee whipped up by the kids.

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


Time and headspace – these were the best things full Home-Based Learning (HBL) and the circuit breaker gave to their family, say Mdm Chang Chee Siah and Mr Arthur Ling. The couple have three children – Isaiah, in Primary 5, and Elicia and Olivia, in Secondary 4 and JC 1 respectively. Much to their surprise, the slower pace helped their children grow in different ways.

“Isaiah learnt to manage boredom. At first, he would complain ‘I’m bored, I’m bored’. But we were all busy with work and school, so he started learning things on his own from YouTube.” His interest could be sparked by anything, says Mdm Chang. He heard a boy singing a Spanish song on a show and he decided to learn the language. He picked up new songs to play on the piano, and then… magic tricks.

“He seems to have the persistence to at least learn things at a basic level on his own. It’s leisure, so we let him explore in his own way and if he loses interest, it’s okay. We think it helps him develop the joy of learning,” Mdm Chang says.

2 - Mdm Chang
Olivia (left) and Elicia tried their hand at making bubble tea pearls from scratch. They also make a mean dalgona coffee – Mr Ling enjoyed it so much that his daughters made one for him every day!


Elicia and Olivia also took advantage of the time they now had without commuting or after-school activities.

“Before COVID-19, Elicia would leave the house at 6.30am and sometimes only come home at 8pm. CCA, student council… she had so many responsibilities and was tired. And when she got home, she’d be tense and grouchy,” says Mdm Chang. So, that “headspace to do nothing” was precious. Now that they had time to “just chill”, they cooked, tried their hands at making bubble tea pearls and dalgona coffee, exercised together every day, and played with their younger brother.

3 - Mdm Chang
Mr Arthur Ling, Mdm Chang Chee Siah, and their three children.

The family hopes that even with school reopening, they can continue this slightly slower pace of living. “If we can keep the pace down, it’ll be good for the children,” said Mr Ling.