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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Pupils' parents share on Facebook

They set up school-specific networks to discuss class issues to help kids settle in.
January 18, 2013
By: Melody Zaccheus
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Pupils' parents share on Facebook Mr Wilfred Tan, 37, and wife Catherine Chong (seated), 41, whose daughter is in Haig Girls', with Ms Mariam Lim, 54, from Ngee Ann Primary's support group. -- ST PHOTOS: ASHLEIGH SIM

PARENTS with primary school-going children are setting up their own school-specific support networks on Facebook to exchange tips and discuss class matters.

They said the informal groups and pages are a welcome addition to the process offered by schools to help children settle in and get through the school year.

Instead of badgering staff manning the lines at schools, parents go online to query each other on myriad issues. In cyberspace, they help each other to decipher complicated timetables, discuss the appropriate amount of pocket money to give their children and post photos and videos of their children's first day of school.

Ms Lynn Chee, 37, has a daughter who will turn seven this year. She joined the Haig Girls' School parents' networking Facebook group after securing a spot for her daughter at the school in August last year.

The sales and marketing manager said parents like her, who are doing this for the first time, need all the support they can get.

"It's of utmost importance for parents to help one another, especially full-time working mothers like myself who may have missed workshops and need others to share what they've learnt."

Mrs June Ling, 48, who set up Ngee Ann Primary School's parent support Facebook group, said: "With the increased use of smartphones, we can reach even more members through Facebook in a speedy manner instead of e-mailing them individually."

The prevalence of such Facebook groups suggests that parents are becoming more tech-savvy and proactive when it comes to information gathering, said National University of Singapore communications and new media lecturer Gui Kai Chong.

"These are bottom-up initiatives that emerge to support the community of parents in peer-to-peer communication."

He said sending children to primary school for the first time is a major event for the family that is likely to involve significant anxiety and stress.

Ms Grace Ng, 37, a manager, said she benefits from the shared knowledge of parents with children from older cohorts at Tao Nan School, who have also joined the support network on Facebook.

No topic is too frivolous when it comes to the welfare of the children, said Ms Ng, who has discussed everything from the food on offer at the school canteen to the type of ergonomic school bags their young ones should be using.

But some teachers told The Straits Times it is crucial that children are given a chance to figure things out for themselves. Nit-picking over minute details, they said, borders on being overprotective.

"Children must be given the opportunity to learn how to follow instructions from their teachers. If they don't try, they will never learn," said a 24-year-old teacher from a primary school in the north.

Ms Siti Suhailah, 24, a primary school teacher, added that parents should learn to trust teachers more. "We have the interests of the children at heart as well, so parents do not have to put too much stress on themselves and do everything for their children."

Mr Wilfred Tan, 37, a project manager who set up the Haig Girls' parents' networking page in August last year, said there is no harm done. He believes such groups exist primarily to help foster and bolster good relations among parents who, like their children, are in for a long ride through the education system.

He said: "I think it's nice to share in the joy and excitement as parents with children entering primary school for the first time."

melodyz@sph.com.sg

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