Epidemiologist and paediatrician Lim Hong Huay advised parents, especially those with special needs children, not to stress themselves too much. “Parents need to know what they’re comfortable doing, how much time they have, where their child is emotionally and their skill sets.”
For instance, parents can work with professional therapists to readjust learning goals for their children, she said.
Dr Lim, who led the development of Echo, a framework for early childhood intervention in Singapore, said: “Don’t copy-paste what other families are doing. Take a step back and personalise your plan for your family.”
FIND TEACHABLE MOMENTS
“Start transferring daily living skills to the children, through teaching them household chores,” said Dr Lim, herself a mother of three children, two of whom have autism.
“These chores require fine and gross motor skills and coordination. Besides learning language and vocabulary, you can teach concepts like size, shape, quantity, volume, weight. Use real-life opportunities to stimulate their curiosity.”
For those with moderate to severe special needs, Dr Lim said learning can be weaved into daily routines. “Make it as natural as possible, think of what the child is ready to learn, like basic self-help skills, such as washing up, hygiene, having breakfast.”
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