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5 Mistakes Singaporean Parents Make That Affects Their Child’s Learning

Being parents, we want the best for our kids. But usually most of the time, we don’t know what we’re doing wrong or what we’re doing right. Truth is, there is no wrong or right way to teach a child, we all have our own way of teaching.

But from our 16+ years of experience, we’ve noticed a few common mistakes that parents unknowingly commit that slows down their child’s learning potential.

These mistakes although seems normal on the surface, can slow down your child’s learning, growth and sometimes even confidence. But it can be easily identified and prevented.

So if you have a child aged 5-12, you might be making the same mistakes as the many parents we have spoken to or observed. And the pointers we’ll be sharing will be crucial to helping you make sure that your child is on the right path to using his brain effectively.

So let’s get started!


Mistake #1: Discouraging Your Child From Expressing Themselves


Many parents we’ve noticed are quick to tell their children to keep quiet and behave in public. Sometimes, they do it just because they are too busy to handle their child’s comments or maybe they’re just having a bad day.

The problem here is that if you stop your child from expressing himself, he might lose confidence in his thoughts and might feel that his presence is unwanted. This reflects in his learning as he will be more afraid to make mistakes and will be closed off when exposed to new concepts.


Here’s what you should do:

Ask him about what he learned in school that day. Not just surface questions, but get him to try and re-teach you what he learnt. This way, you will also get him to revise and reflect the lessons he learnt in school. Also, he’ll be more confident in sharing more about all the other things he experiences. He’ll always be on the lookout to learning new things so that he can explain them to you once he gets home.


Mistake #2: Letting Them Use A Digital Device At An Early Age


Many kids under the age of 3 are already exposed to using a tablet or some other form of digital device as a method of learning. Many experts have had differing views regarding the use of technology with kids at an early age. But we believe the golden rule here is moderation.


Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman says that children need to have regular face to face contact in order to pick up the social skills that are vital for them being successful during their lives. He believes that if many hours a day are being displaced by looking at screens passively these skills may not develop as fully. And it could also have an effect on how children interact with each other.


Here’s what you should do:

Control and moderate the amount of time spent on digital devices. The general recommendation is less than 60 minutes a day. And try to make sure that it is mainly used for educational purposes.


Mistake #3: Not Giving Him Time To Play Or Exercise

Bogging him down with too much tuition, after class activities (sometimes till late at night), even after all the homework he receives from school; damages and limits his ability to learn and accept all the new information that he receives.

Walking or cycling regularly for between six months to a year can improve memory and problem-solving skills in children by between 15 and 20 percent, according to researchers.

They have shown that such exercise can also increase the size of crucial parts of the brain. The scientists have also discovered that children who are fit also tend to be better at multitasking and performing difficult mental tasks than unfit friends.

Professor Art Kramer, director of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, who led the research, said their findings could have major implications for improving children’s performance at school.


Here’s what you should do:

Set aside some time, at least, an hour, purely for outdoor activities. There are many sports that you can partake with your child. Badminton, football, basketball, just to name a few. This will also build his fitness and stamina other than just his cognitive abilities.

Also, brain games and activities that exercise his brain in a fun and healthy way can also give him the right training to develop a strong and effective mind.


Mistake #4: Not Training Your Child To Pay Attention

Is your child easily distracted when he is doing his homework?

You find that he has difficulty staying on one task for longer than 15 minutes and every day… you have to constantly remind him to pay attention in school and at home.

However, no matter how many times you have reminded him, he still commits silly careless mistakes in his homework at the end of the day.

Not only that… you find yourself having to constantly repeat what you have to say to him because his mind just seems to be somewhere else.

If you find yourself nodding to any of the statements above, chances are your child may have weak attentional abilities.

Popular to contrary belief, a child’s attention can be trained.


According to a study conducted by Meghan McClelland an associate professor at Oregon State University, preschool children who were rated high by their parents on attention and persistence had nearly a 50 percent greater chance of earning their bachelor’s degree by age 25.

One of the biggest objectives of proper cognitive development is ensuring that your child remains focused and attentive when completing homework or when he’s in class.


Here’s what you could do:

1) Provide Clear Directions

Break assignments into small steps, and ask your child to repeat the directions. This will help your child with organisational and sequencing skills and ensure your directions are understood.

2) Set a Timer

A kitchen timer will help your child learn time-management skills. Knowing there is a time limit will remind children to redirect their wandering attention back to the task at hand. A timer also tells the child the task has an end, relieving them of the hopeless feeling that it will go on forever.

3) Monitor Your Behaviour

Children take cues from the adults around them. If you find yourself only half-paying attention to your child while checking email on your phone, be aware you are modelling this behaviour in front of your child.


Would you like to get a check-in of your child’s attentional ability? Join us for a Hands-On Brain Boosting session to receive an Initial Brain Profile report and let your child experience brain-stimulating activities to boost their focus and carefulness to details. 

Register here now!


Mistake #5: Too Much Stress

Before you continue reading this,

I want to stress that this is the worst of all the 5 bad mistakes we have shared.


Especially in Singapore, too many kids are already so stressed out with high expectations from their parents and experience high competition in the class itself.

So please pay careful attention to your child’s stress levels.

Like I mentioned before, many parents are now placing too much stress on their kids by sending them to excessive amounts of tuition. Some even send their kids to tuition just because they don’t want their kids to “lose out”.

**Don’t get us wrong, It’s not that tuition doesn’t work (many children have had massive help and success with tuition), What we are saying is that there is a fine balance between having enough and having too much. And excessive tuition is definitely harmful and affects your child’s academic ability.

This “tuition fixation” was also addressed by past Minister For Education, Mr. Heng Swee Kiat, and he even calls it “harmful”.


Here’s what you could do:

Send him for just enough tuition and only if you think he really needs it. It would also be good to communicate your expectations to him clearly. Also, cognitive development will help him learn better and in turn, reduces the stress he experiences when doing homework.

But we’re sure another big reason why parents send their kids to tons of tuition is because their child usually gets bad grades in school. They might even get stuck on a question and start to lose concentration and ends up doodling on his book and loses interest in continuing.


The truth is…

It is not because their child is not smart.

It’s not even because he is “slow” or “takes time” to learn.

Or even because he is ill-disciplined or has behavioural issues.

Their child may just have…


Poor Cognitive Abilities!

“What’s that?”


Cognitive abilities are the core foundation for all our learning functions. Without strong cognitive abilities, it will be almost impossible for us to understand something new.

And this is the root cause that most parents don’t understand.

Many may believe that feeding more content or even teaching their kids “mind mapping” will help them learn better or achieve better results. No doubt, these are useful study techniques and tactics but it only works well if the child is first able to understand, focus, remember and apply what they are learning.

The truth is, without a strong foundation, your child will not be able to easily grasp new concepts and apply newly taught information.


Thus, the critical missing key for successful and effective learning is to ensure our children have been given a strong cognitive foundation – to equip them with the skills to help themselves learn confidently and effectively!



To kickstart your child’s journey in building a strong cognitive foundation, join us for a Hands-On Brain Boosting session to ignite their brain abilities NOW! Register HERE.

3 Ways To Improve Your Child’s Attention Problem… Fast!

Attention is a term (and probably a concern) many parents are familiar with and is something that we always emphasise to our children.

Being able to pay attention in class while learning is very important because if the child is attentive, he will be able to follow what the teacher is teaching, take in all the relevant information necessary to do well and maximise his learning in every situation.

While most parents treat attention as a broad term… the truth is that there are actually different forms of attention abilities our child needs to have in different learning situation and tasks. To help our child get the most out of every learning situation, it is important for us to understand the different forms of attention abilities so that we know how we can help them in different situations.

In this article, I am going to share with you the 4 most critical attention abilities your child should have… and what you can do to help them build up these attention skills. 

First of all, let us take a look at the:

4 Forms Of Attention Abilities

  • Sustained Attention – The ability to stay on task for the given duration of time. For example, paying full attention for the whole period of English class (for 30 – 60 minutes).
  • Selective Attention – The ability to concentrate on any given task without being distracted by stimulus in the environment. An example of this will be completing given worksheet without stopping to talk to the classmate next to him.
  • Divided Attention – The ability to complete two separate tasks at the same time (also commonly known as multi-tasking). For example, you might notice that your child has problems copying notes from the board while still listening and understanding what the teacher is teaching all at the same time.
  • Auditory Attention – The ability to follow pace of teaching via auditory input. Following and remembering the teacher’s given instructions is the best example of this ability.

It’s important to note that these 4 abilities are not mutually exclusive and instead, they are like the different organs, muscles and systems of our body… working together at times, complementing and supporting each other in the learning process.

However, here’s the thing….

These abilities are present in varying degrees of efficiency within a child.

For example, while a child may be able to sit and work on a piece of worksheet for 30 minutes (strong in sustained attention)… he may find it difficult trying to copy notes in class while still understanding what the teaching is explaining (weak in divided attention).

And in order to help our child maximise their learning, we need to make sure that they are equipped with the different froms of attention skills.

Here’s why…

In the daily classroom, our child  is required to tap into different attention abilities for different tasks such as:

–     Sounding out, blending and segmenting words when reading, spelling and writing

Learning to read, spell and write with the phonics approach requires the child to be able to hold the parts of the sounds in their mind (auditory attention) while they blend the letters together and try to spell or write out the word (divided attention).

–     Listening comprehension

To listen to a story and remember the details of the story requires the child to have strong selective attention so that the child is not distracted while listening to the story. At the same time, a strong auditory attention is needed to ensure the child can follow the story and remember the details correctly.

–     Taking a test or exam

A test or exam usually requires the child to work at it and concentrate on the questions over a given period of time, usually an hour or more (sustained attention).

–      Follow teacher’s pace of teaching in class

Typically when a teacher explains a concept or topic, she begins to talk continuously as she teaches while at the same time she may write down the key points or steps for the given problem; and she would likely not have the luxury of time to stop and pause at every sentence to ensure the child is following the lesson. Therefore, a child needs to tap into their auditory attention and divided attention abilities to follow the pace of teaching and be able to write down the information correctly.

Attention Skills Determine How Much Our Children Can Learn 

From the above tasks, we can easily see that attention skills play a very key role in how well our children learn in the classroom and how much learning they can take in (or may be missing out if are they not equipped with the necessary skills)

Besides facing difficulty with the above tasks, children with weak attention skills may also display some of the following behaviours and/or learning observations:

–       Daydreams in the classroom or when doing work

–       Difficulty working on a task for a period of time, i.e 30 minutes or more

–       Gets restless, fidgety and moves around when doing work

–       Looks up at the slightest distraction or sound

–       Finds excuses to get away from task (needs to go to the toilet, drink water, take a break, etc)

If you find your child displaying some of the behaviours mentioned above and is concerned about his/her learning ability… fret not.

The good news is that just like any other learning skills, attention abilities can be trained, practiced and improved on… if you have the right strategies.

If you are looking to build up your child’s attention skills…

Here Are Some Interesting Activities You Can Do To Help Them Improve

Activity 1: Work towards a time goal (suitable for young children 3 – 5 years old)

What to do: Give the child a box of building blocks and have them stack up the blocks in towers of 10 (or 5 for younger children with developing motor skills) and provide them a stopwatch with a given time goal of 3 minutes (for a start). Using a rather easy motor-driven activity, we want to build up the child’s span of attention gradually. Besides attention span, this activity will also practice on fine motor control and focused attention as the child attempts to stack the tower higher.

*Pro tip: Teach the child how to stop/start and read the minutes on the stopwatch. When they are involved, they are likely to be more engaged in the task.

Level of difficulty: As the child achieves the initial time goal, gradually increase the length of time they need to work on stacking the blocks (remember, the key is gradually because we want the child to experience small successes and build up their confidence and ability progressively). For variety, instead of just towers of 10, they can build the stacks in increasing numbers of 2 (also a good way to introduce maths concepts of timetable) or in a domino pattern (to encourage creativity).

Activity 2: Listening to ‘key words’ in a story (suitable for children aged 6 – 8 years old)

What to do: Read a short story or passage to the child and have them listen out for a given key word (that you know will appear multiple times in the story—so parents have to read the story beforehand). Usually words like ‘the’, ‘she’ and ‘he’ are likely to pop up quite frequently or names of the main characters are also good key words to choose. As the child listens to the story, they can raise their hand, ring a bell, clap or do a funny dance action every time they hear the key word (this keeps interest high and incorporates the fun element).

Level of difficulty: Begin with easy key words like the main character’s name and slowly progress to high frequency words that makes the child have to follow the story closely so they don’t miss out anything. Words that appear frequently are harder to catch because we tend to listen to key ideas instead of the small details. However, take note that if the key word will be appearing many times, the accompanying action the child does should be less distractive (i.e instead of a funny dance action, they might just draw a line on a paper to keep track of how many times the key word appeared)

Activity 3: Doing two things at one time (suitable for children aged 9 and above)

What to do: Have the child build a model, fold an origami, doodle or work at a puzzle. (it is good to set a time goal too) Explain to the child that while they are doing the activity, we will be asking them some simple arithmetic questions and they need to work out the answers while they continue to do the activity.

Level of difficulty: The objective of this task is to train the child’s ability to do multiple activities with effective mental effort and not about the ability to do challenging arithmetic questions. So, keep to the four operations (plus, minus, multiply, divide) with just single digits. And if the child is having difficulty with multiplication, keep the questions to what they are good at (maybe addition or subtraction). Also keep in mind to ask these ‘distracting’ questions with a good time gap in-between, for example every 15-20 seconds if the time goal is 3 minutes (after the child has answered the previous question). A good way to monitor the progress is to write down the questions you asked and the child’s answers. As they build their divided attention, their accuracy level should improve too.

*Remember, this is not an arithmetic-driven task. So, do not fault the child if they make mistakes in computation.

As we all know, building up any skills requires time, practice and patience.Therefore, as you work these activities with your child… it is important to encourage them for their efforts and provide positive reinforcement to keep them motivated. Start off with an easy goal and gradually stretch their capacity overtime.

Remember: just like any other skills, attention ability can easily be built up and improved on. And once you equip your child with a strong attention ability… he will be able to learn more effecrively and maximise his learning in any situation.

If you are interested to help your child become more focused, more confident and most importantly… able to enjoy learning once again, click here to find out more.

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