When he found out that I was going to leave the university, the Interim Dean of SMU’s school of business told me he had an important task for me to do.
“Do something about it, Pam, so that our children don’t have to waste their lives in tuition centers, so that our parents don’t have to spend all those money on tuition.”
As university lecturers, we are concerned about students who come to us “overtuitioned”. And while they do produce sterling ‘A’ levels and IB results, they don’t necessary make the best university students.
Since I had my own children to mind after I left the university as a lecturer, I could not work full-time. I decided to put up seminars to train parents to teach their own kids so that they don’t have to outsource their kids to other people. I wanted children to spend time with parents.
So I crafted some seminars (many of which I have retired now), one of which is the “How to teach your baby how to read”.
Fortunately, every parent who attended and who bothered to spend five minutes a day with their kids managed to get them reading in three months. Many have written to me to tell me how miraculous it is.
But it is really not a miracle.
You see, like every first-time parent, I wanted to raise Oldest Boy well but I didn’t know how. In a time when there was no social media and websites were hardly heard of, I scoured the bookstores for information on how to raise my kids well. I bought every single book.
From these books, I learned how to teach my son how to read, how to be physically excellent, how to play, how to prepare him for academic pursuits, how to ride a bike etc etc etc.
When accompanying my husband on one of his business trips to the US, I visited a well-known child brain development professor who taught me how to teach babies to read and explained to me why it is important. Old Boy was only three months old, then. Impressed and convinced, I thought of starting a center to teach babies how to read when I returned to Asia but my career got in the way.
That was 26 years ago.
Now, after working with thousands of parents, I know for a fact that if we want our children to read well, we have to teach them ourselves. The reasons are: a. it saves you thousands and thousands. b. it gives you back the time with the child. c. the child will love to read for the rest of his life d. you will learn a whole lot about motivating your child, his learning style and his passion.
So instead of a center for teaching children to read (of which I can earn a lot more), I decided to teach parents in one day how to teach their babies. I have distilled down what the child brain guru taught me into a seminar and taught it many times. Parents from as far as China and the Middle East, Hong Kong, and South east Asia traveled to learn from me.
Actually, it is not about teaching a child to read. It is about how to teach the love for books. Once you have achieved that, you will open up a world of imagination for them and help them with their creativity. I also explained why activating creativity is the highest level of learning to achieve in the academia.
Over the years, people ask how a child with dyslexia could learn to read using the same method. The key is to teach them before they are diagnosed. People ask how me how to motivate a child. The key is to have him so interested, you don’t have to motivate him.
Once a child can read, they can read everything and become really knowledgeable. Many of my old participants have come forward to tell me how their kids have made it to gifted programs, become early entrants to universities etc etc. Although I am not surprised, I become a little concerned as well.
I realized, while I taught the parents how to teach small children to love to read, I had not taught them how to satiate that thirst, how to avoid the good and bad consequences (e.g. eyesight, attention in class) of loving to read, and how to work on motivation in other areas.
We have also found that there is a vast difference in engagement in a child who reads young. A child who reads younger has a different level of engagement from a child who reads even a year or two older. This engagement cannot be taught.
This is why I now have a two-day session on how to teach your child to read. While I am confident I can teach the parents how in just a day, I needed another session to address longer term academic issues.
If you are interested to know how to help your child enjoy his academic pursuit, if you want to know how to motivate them forever, please attend my November seminar. If you cannot afford it, please PM me for a scholarship. If your family is struggling financially, this is even more important because I hope that your child will never have to attend tuition once they have a great foundation, of which I am confident I can help you build as long as you are committed.