“I knew early on as a parent that I’m not just my children’s protector or provider, I am their facilitator as well. I am responsible for creating opportunities to enhance their development in as many areas as possible. I can create a nurturing home environment to help them.
There are no battery-operated toys in my house because I want my kids to take part in active play. Active play engages one’s mind and encourages movement, so that they can interact with other people or with objects, compared to passive play where the child sits idle.
My parenting philosophy is inspired by education guru Glenn Doman’s book, How to Teach Your Baby to be Physically Superb From Birth to Age Six. Doman’s principle that children learn better through movement than sitting still resonates with me.
I am also intrigued by the Brachiation Ladder, an example of the gym equipment Doman uses, which he created to help brain-injured children. While learning about the benefits of the ladder, I got to know a grandpa in the United States who had built one for his granddaughter as she suffers from cerebral palsy. Impressed by the positive effects the ladder had on his granddaughter’s development, he builds and sells these ladders now as a business.
“There are no battery-operated toys in my house because I want my kids to take part in active play.”
Keen to see the benefits of the ladder on my kids, I decided to order one from him. It cost me USD$750 ($1,043.40), including shipping. It arrived in several flat packs, just like Ikea furniture. On the day the packages arrived, my helper and I enthusiastically assembled the ladder in just half a day with a spanner. It was that easy!
The moment my three kids — Winter Fayye, 3, Summer Rayye, 7, and Hyynen Skyler, 9 — were able to walk, I let them play on the monkey bars. As there are holes on either side, I can adjust the ladder to a comfortable height above the ground and increase it progressively. My kids took to the bars from the start — confidently and playfully swinging from bar to bar. The sense of happiness and satisfaction I get from looking at them having tonnes of fun makes the time and effort spent assembling the ladder well worth it!
When they were toddlers, I placed my hands around them for support — like a safety net ― although I did not carry them because I wanted them to have faith in their abilities. As they continued to play on the monkey bars, I started to notice my kids growing physically stronger. They are also building an endearing relationship with one another. Hyynen and Summer turned into a nurturing gor gor and jie jie, watching over their younger sibling, Winter.
My kids still have the ladder in their room ― when their friends drop by routinely to study together, they know that they’ll be able to have a go at the bars during their break.
As I also want my three kiddos to be confident enough to take calculated risks, what better way than by teaching them how to swim? I got started on water-conditioning exercises, which I picked up from Douglas Doman’s book How to Teach Your Baby to Swim From Birth to Age Six.
When Hyynen, Summer and Winter were newborns, I’ll put them in the bathtub and fill up a cup of water. I explained to my child that when I called out their name after counting to three, they would have to hold their breaths while I emptied the cup on their heads.
“Hyynen and Summer turned into nurturing a gor gor and jie jie, watching over their younger sibling, Winter.”
Hyynen was about 4 months old when I brought him down to the condo’s pool. As he got into the pool, I was relieved the conditioning exercises worked like a charm. He did not cough or choke on the water! I remember the excitement, delight and happiness I felt as he got into the water. I went on to have the same experiences with both Summer and Winter, who both got into the pool without a hitch.
Another thing my kids do away from schoolwork is cooking and fixing Ikea furniture. For cooking, I allowed all my kids to use stainless steel sandwich knives when they were a little over a year old. Besides training their fine motor skills, being able to use the knives also gives them the ability to handle adult tools. These activities also ensure they stay away from gadgets as much as possible and allows them to train other vital skillsets to help them thrive in life.
My friends remark that I’m very daring to do these things with my kids. I feel so long as the activity is not life-threatening, I will let them carry it out on their own. When I disagree, I will explain my actions. While it may be tiring to constantly negotiate and explain why we do certain things, I know that just by listening, my children are learning what goes into the decision-making process.
The saying goes — teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime. As a parent I believe that is the best thing I can do.”
Josse Tan, 45, is a stay-at-home mum to Winter Fayye, 3, Summer Rayye, 7, and Hyynen Skyler, 9.
Photos: Josse Tan
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