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Tuesday 25-Oct-2016
【The Standard】Take your foot off the pedal



"MY CHILD HAS just started at a prep boarding school in the UK. How can I best support my son?"


I am glad I have received this question because I've had two very compelling articles about parental support sat in my drawer for months. They were sent to me by Richard Follett, headmaster of Vinehall Preparatory School.


Hong Kong parents are generally still striving to find the right balance of involvement in everyday school life.


I have met those who feel guilty for having micromanaged their children, which has had a detrimental effect on them as they do not feel liberated to have fun, make decisions on their own and, indeed, make mistakes - a "vital part of growing up," as Follett confirms.


Assuming that you communicate regularly with your son, I believe that the best support comes merely through taking a regular interest in his school day.


The ultimate method of showing interest when families are together is "listening to a child read," Follett says.


However, this is not quite applicable to your situation so showing your interest in everyday events and reinforcing the content of certain topics learned would mean a great deal to your son.


A great deal of research points to the need for children to develop resilience, persistence and self-regulation, as well as being able to recover from setbacks.


These traits are all traditional bastions of independent education, as is empathy.


Parents must bear these traits in mind and encourage children as mastery of them opens up the door to successful adulthood and exciting careers.


The reason I believe that merely showing interest and encouragement is enough is because you should trust in the levels of pastoral care at your child's school.


Staff members and matrons are there to lend a shoulder to cry on. Parents need to let children overcome challenges for themselves and encourage them to resolve issues using staff and pupils.


By taking your foot of the pedal, and not fretting over the slightest of mishaps, your child will learn two key skills: independence and conflict resolution.


Given the support systems in place at top prep schools, perhaps the best way for Hong Kong parents is to let their children "get on with it" because when they learn to take responsibility for themselves, they are also in a position to become leaders and head boys and girls.


Mabel Chan is a principal consultant at Britannia StudyLink.


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Education Experts

Samuel Chan, the winner of Alumni Awards 2017, is the founder of Britannia. He had studied in the UK since the age of 9 for 15 years and achieved his master degree in International Political Economy at University of Warwick. Now he shares his experiences and professional advice in education columns in Hong Kong’s major newspapers.


Mabel Chan is the Principal Consultant of Britannia. Having studied in both the UK and the US, she is an expert in school matching for overseas education. She writes education columns for Sing Tao Daily and The Standard, and answers questions arising from parents and students patiently.


MB Cheung, our senior consultant, has been writing education columns for major local newspapers for more than 25 years. With his experience and unique insights, he shares a variety of tips and advice on overseas education for the readers (and DSE students)

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