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Playing an Active Part in Your Child's Education through a Parent Support Group

26 Mar 2013

Mdm Nafisah

Despite work commitments, Mdm Nafisah (left) finds time to participate actively in the Parent Support Group at Tampines Primary School. Photo credit: Mdm Nafisah

"It takes a whole village to raise a child, as the saying goes. When I joined a Parent Support Group (PSG), that concept became very real to me," said Mdm Nafisah Md Ma'mun, who is currently a PSG Executive Committee member of Tampines Primary School and a COMmunity and PArents in Support of Schools (COMPASS) member.

Sustaining a PSG, creating a bond and complementing the school's strengths are some of the topics that Mdm Nafisah will be touching on during a sharing session, Strengthening Parent Support Groups in Primary Schools, at the MOE ExCEL Fest 2013, which will be open to the public on 6 April 2013 at ITE College Central. Together with Mdm Sim Lay Khoon, PSG Chairperson of Loyang Primary School, they will share success stories and the challenges they had experienced.

When Mdm Nafisah joined the PSG of her children's school, she noticed that her two children were happier, because she was more involved and immersed in their schooling experiences. Other parents also became "Aunties" and "Uncles" to her children, which brought to her mind how it takes a village to raise a child.

"The challenge is to find the right balance between contributing to the school and my own work commitments," said Mdm Nafisah, who runs a consultancy business.

Setting Up the "Hardware"

In Mdm Nafisah's view, every PSG needs to understand how their parents can best contribute with their abilities and commitment level.

"Programmes in schools can be complemented and supported by parents," said Mdm Nafisah.

NLB KidsRead Programme

In addition to the morning reading programme, parent volunteers also support the National Library Board's KidsRead Programme at Tampines Primary School. Photo credit: Mdm Nafisah

For example, a reading support programme for pupils in Primary 1 and 2 was spearheaded by the PSG of Tampines Primary School. If the pupils are able to read independently, they would form small groups of two to three pupils, with each group assisted by one parent. For those who need guidance or have problems with reading, one-to-one attention is given by parents who can make the commitment.

As this is held in the morning, many parents, including fathers, are able to participate in this reading support programme once a week before heading off for work. The programme also taps on the existing skills of some who have teaching backgrounds, and there is even one parent who is trained to help dyslexic children read. For other parent volunteers, a briefing session with the school's Learning Support Coordinator (LSC) familiarises them with the programme structure and resources used.

Total Defence Day

The Parent Support Group at Tampines Primary School complements the school's efforts in making Total Defence come alive for pupils. Photo contribution: Mdm Nafisah

The PSG of Tampines Primary School is at a stage where it has become self-directed. For many school events such as Friendship Day and Total Defence Day, the school is able to depend on the PSG to organise celebrations according to the school funds allocated. Parents who enjoy planning events, singing and dancing would find themselves much immersed in these activities.

Maintaining "Heart-Ware"

Sustaining a PSG can often be a challenge for the parents and the school. Mdm Nafisah believes that a sense of bonding among members is the key to an active PSG.

"It's also about 'heart-ware'. We try to acknowledge and appreciate the parents who put in their effort and time," said Mdm Nafisah, who has also noticed that parents would bring in other parents, if they found the activities meaningful and fulfilling.

"The parents who volunteer usually want to make a difference in someone's life. They do it out of passion," said Mdm Nafisah.

Parent Support Group at Tampines Primary School

Mdm Nafisah believes in identifying the skills and interests of parent volunteers, so they can find meaning in what they do. Photo contribution: Mdm Nafisah

To find out more about PSGs, the current education landscape as well as innovative practices in schools, parents and educators can look forward to the ExCEL Fest on 6 April 2013. With 55 exhibition booths, 95 sharing sessions and 25 seminars offered at this event, parents and educators will be enriched with a variety of ideas and resources for educating our children.

"When we share our thoughts and experiences, we will realise that there are many other parents out there who feel the same way," said Mdm Nafisah, who will also be helping out at an exhibition booth, where a clinic session is available for those who have questions on PSGs.

Find out more about MOE ExCEL Fest 2013 and register for any of the sharing sessions offered!