Top 5 Gifts You Can Give Your Children
By Fitri Handa Yani, 24 August 2018 13816
Our children are the best gift we are given, and naturally, out of unconditional love, we want to always gift our children the best things in life. With limited resources and the rising costs of raising children, we’ve shortlisted the top 5 gifts to give your child.
Education is an important aspect of Singaporean’s lives and spending on it is a must. In Singapore, children start attending school as young as 2 years old. Undeniably, providing the best education for your child is almost akin to providing him the best future and makes it to the top 5 things to spend on for your child.
What is the importance of education? Education is much more than gaining knowledge. It teaches your children beyond literacy and numeric skills. Education provides the chance for your child to form opinions – They learn how to take information, digest it, and form a personal judgment for the information they receive. With guidance, this is a lifelong skill that will aid in all their life decisions. Besides the formation of opinions, education also builds your child’s confidence. When they can read and write, they become more confident in their ability to succeed. With each concept they grasp, each question they get correct, each test they do well in, their confidence in themselves increase.
The cost of education in Singapore is hefty. There are some ways to save cost without compromising on your child’s education.
- Most Singaporeans students are eligible for bursary such as Edusave Merit Bursary, Edusave Character Award, Edusave Good Progress Award. These bursaries are given to those who have good grades, characters and progress in school.
- Opportunity Fund Grants are also given to students from lower income households for their co-curricular development opportunities.
- The Ministry of Education provides financial assistance to needy Singapore Citizen students regardless of their financial background so everyone can benefit from the best opportunities in education.
- Find out if your children really need the extra help. If they failed to understand concepts taught in school, one option is to try out online tuition. Tutors often charge lesser as they do not have to make a trip to their tutees place. Tutees can also save on transport fees and learn at the comfort of their home without the need to travel to tuition centres or their tutor’s place.
2. Experiential gifts
Gifts and rewards are something we would want to shower our child with. As parents, we would do anything to see the sheer surprise on our child’s face when we gift them with something they have been eyeing.
Question is, what gifts and rewards should we be showering our children with?
We have all received gifts in the form of toys or the latest gadgets. Looking beyond those material gifts, an alternative reward we can give to our children is in the form of experience such as doing volunteering work to cultivate compassion. In an article featured by The Straits Times, families spoke of their volunteering experience and how it has helped them find a sense of purpose in life. Volunteering as a family not only help children develops important values such as empathy and ability to care for others, but also allows your family to bond.
As parents, we are often too focus on giving our children the best education and tend to overlook the importance of teaching them empathy through first-hand experience, so why not start now by introducing volunteerism to your children as a form of reward?
3. Enrichment Classes
We all want our children to be well rounded – and more parents are starting to focus on developing our children’s right brain (the creative side) as it is a useful skill to have in life. Signing your kids up for enrichment classes is one way to cultivate their creativity. However, too many classes may cost you a lot of money and their energy. For instance, one session of piano practice can cost around SGD$20 to SGD$60 and a ballet lesson in a private school can add up to about SGD$160 per month. As these enrichment classes often cost a pretty penny, you must make the choice of what is best for your child.
What is more important is for you to provide your children with a lot of opportunities in developing their creativity and curiosity in the early years. Most of the time, this does not need to involve expensive and structured enrichment classes. You do not need to fork out big bucks to give your child the best start in life. Perhaps you could set aside some time to plan for low-or no-cost activities such as a visit to the Botanic Gardens to learn about plants and nature. It is a way to encourage them to be more mindful and observant of their surroundings. In the process of learning about the environment, you can also stimulate their creativity by asking them to collect different types of dried leaves for art and craft. When children are relaxed, they learn the most.
Allowing your children to have the freedom to engage in activities they really enjoy at a young age not only helps them in the development of a healthy brain but also encourages them to interact with the world around them. In fact, 85% of Singaporean parents surveyed by The Asian Parents believe that children are born with an intrinsic value of creativity and 99% of them agree that a child’s creativity can be enhanced through play. Hence, the activities planned for children should be implemented through play and not assessment books.
So instead of distressing over which enrichment classes to send your children to, maximise the growth of their creativity and process skills with outdoor classrooms. In return, the money saved from the unnecessary enrichment classes can be put into your retirement fund which will reap more benefit for your child in the future.
Giving your childrenholiday experiences makes this list because holidays give our children a view into the world beyond this tiny dot, Singapore. It opens their eyes to new experiences, new cultures, new beliefs. Travelling gives our children a learning experience beyond the four walls of their classroom. Going on hikes allows you to teach them about geography, leaves, trees and flowers that they may never see in Singapore. Going to a museum to teach them history, appreciation of art, architecture – All these come to live in front of their eyes, which beats any education through a computer screen. There is so much to explore, and so much to experience.
On top of that, travelling also allows you to give your child undivided attention – which we all know, is so difficult for parents to do when in Singapore. With no work obligations, no chores waiting to be done, you can spend some quality time to build on your relationship with your child.
Travelling is also one of the best ways to instill curiosity in your children. It encourages them to explore beyond their comfort zones, and open their mind to ask ‘why’. Why do people in Japan slurp their food so loudly, while we are taught to eat quietly at home? So many teaching opportunities, with the best lesson being acceptance of other culture’s customs. Perhaps with these lessons we instil in our children, the world will become a more accepting place in the years to come.
Although travelling can be expensive, but there are also cheaper alternatives that fulfil the same objectives. Take a trip across the causeway or stay within South East Asia, what matters is how you make the most of your trip for your child.
5. Your retirement plan
While it’s important to ensure you have sufficient money to provide for your child now, it is also important to spend on yourself to keep yourself healthy, happy and planning for the future.
Research shows that if Singaporeans want to retire comfortably by the age of 50, the amount to have by then is SGD$2.42 mil. Thus, in the long term, it is also important to make sure you have financial stability and a retirement plan. As we do so much for our children to ensure their best future, it is important to take care of our own... This way, we are giving our children the freedom to pursue the future they want without needing them to overly factor their parents’ financial position into the equation. Should they want to take a gap year to explore the world, they would have the freedom to do so because we are able to provide for ourselves. If they are presented with the opportunity to bring their career overseas, they would do so with peace of mind that their parents are able to take care of themselves financially. Their love for entrepreneurship may lead them to start a business, and having your own retirement plan will give them the assurance to take risks in their start up.
Thus, your retirement plan would definitely be a gift for your children!
Bringing up a child is more than just money. You are responsible for the guidance of your children and the best thing you can give them is ultimately your unconditional love. So, start loving yourself by planning for your future as a worry-free life affects how happy and successful your kids are.