Parents Zone

Children are two different beings at home and school?

Parent Tips

Children are two different beings at home and school

Written by: Dr. Szeto Wing Fu, Chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Family Education 


A teacher asked me, “Many parents seek my advice on education and disciplining their children. As a new teacher with limited life experience, I often feel inadequate in dealing with complex education policies and child-rearing issues. What should I do?”


Every semester, the school arranges one or two opportunities for parents to meet with teachers and discuss their children’s performance at school. As a father, I always strive to attend these meetings together with my wife. After each brief gathering, our son would eagerly ask and want to know what we discussed with the teacher about him. Recently, the teacher mentioned that our son is relatively quiet at school, not very proactive, and often takes on the role of an “observer.” My wife couldn’t wait to say that he is completely different at home, very active and full of “many opinions.” The teacher’s reaction was not surprised but rather smiled continuously, seemingly very accepting of the fact that children can present different sides at home and at school.

My wife naturally looked at the teacher with expectant eyes, hoping to get some guidance on how to make our child more proactive in the learning environment. Fortunately, I spoke a few “fair” words, recalling how our son was fearful and often a “lone ranger” when he first started school last year. Over the past year, our evening prayers with our son have always included a request to our Heavenly Father to make him braver, and this year he has made much progress. On the way home, I also reminded my wife that there are no standard answers or miraculous remedies for many things, and the teacher, being younger than us and not yet a parent, still has experience in dealing with different children. Therefore, it is most important for parents and teachers to communicate more on the children’s journey of growth.


Embracing Our True Selves

Recently, a parent asked me: “My child is very well-behaved at school, a courteous and exemplary student, but at home, he often throws tantrums. Why does he have such different behaviors in front of others and at home? How should I handle this?”


During the first semester of my son’s primary one, there were two consecutive weeks of “inexplicable” incidents, such as his beloved “Sergeant” watch going missing, books found in the trash bin, exercise books doodled and torn. My wife and I were both baffled and still wanted to unravel the mystery in our hearts: who could be behind these incidents?

On Monday morning, my wife went to the school to discuss the incident with the teacher. However, just before leaving, I firmly told my wife, “No matter the doodles, tears, or books being treated as garbage, I am certain that our son didn’t do any of these.” She asked, “Why are you so sure?” My answer was, “Because he is my son, and I have been with him as he grew up. I know his temperament like the back of my hand.” Eventually, it was found that his neighboring classmate was responsible for those actions. Since that day, I noticed a “subtle” change in our child’s behavior between school and home – at school, he seemed to have learned that it is a community: crossing certain boundaries with books would upset classmates, and the teachers were like referees, and to “survive” he had to understand the “rules of the game.” But when he came home after school, he would immediately embrace his true self, because at home, he had his dad and mom, who understood him the most.


In fact, isn’t it true that in the adult world, we also have a different self during the day and at night?

Parents Zone

Regarding the issue of enrolling in preschool, experts will answer you

Parent Tips

Regarding the issue of enrolling in preschool, experts will answer you

Source: Education experts Leung Wing Lok and Chiu Wing Tak


Question: My daughter is currently in K2, and I want to apply for a private school for her. I plan to start her with tutoring and learning the violin. Is the chance slim? What kind of interest classes or academic classes should she take to increase her competitiveness?


Chiu: I think if you choose interest classes, you should consider what type of activities the school prioritizes. For example, many schools have orchestras, dance classes, or singing classes. If your child is learning the viola, her chances might be limited because the demand for viola players is not as high. If she learns the violin, as orchestras usually require many violin players, her chances will be better. Alternatively, learning to dance or sing can also be beneficial.


Leung: My opinion is relatively straightforward. Some parents pursue learning less common instruments, thinking that schools might prefer that. For example, learning the harp or African drums. However, I believe it is essential to consider the child’s genuine interests. During the interview process, if the school sees the child’s enthusiasm for that particular instrument or music, it will be a plus. Whether she learns a popular or less common instrument, I think the impact is relatively minor. The most crucial aspect is to let the school see the child’s passion for music.

Question: My child is about to enroll in kindergarten, but he is a bit timid and afraid that he won’t speak during the interview. What should I do?


Chiu: That’s a significant issue. If he doesn’t speak, it would be a pity, like “making a great effort but falling short at the crucial moment.” I have thought of a method that you can consider. When practicing the interview with your child, you can record the process as if it were a real interview. Then, when necessary, for example, if your child suddenly becomes speechless during the interview, you can show this recording to the school teacher and say, “Teacher, could you please watch this clip? Actually, my child speaks regularly.” Play the video for the teacher. If the teacher has empathy, I believe they will take a look. When the teacher watches it, the child will also show interest, and it will be easier for him to start speaking.


Leung: That’s a good approach, but the prerequisite is that parents need to be well-prepared. I think the most basic thing is to engage your child in conversations about topics and interests as much as possible in daily life, so that your child will speak more naturally when facing strangers. Another thing to note is that parents should not answer for their child when they are not speaking. When you answer for them, you are actually doing them a disservice, akin to cheating.


Question: Is there a problem if we don’t enroll in Pre-Nursery (PN) classes? Because the tuition fees are quite expensive, and some friends say their children take more sick leave days than going to school.


Leung: It’s hard to generalize. Actually, if the family environment permits, and there’s someone to take care of the child, not attending PN classes may not be a big problem. However, some parents worry that not attending PN classes might make it difficult for their child to progress to K classes, and that’s another concern. So, it depends on individual circumstances.


Chiu: Indeed, many parents are concerned that if everyone else attends PN classes and their child doesn’t, their child may lag behind in competition. This is a real worry. As for what to learn in PN classes, they typically focus on cognitive abilities, self-care skills, social skills, and communication abilities. As long as parents can teach these four things to their children, such as teaching them to recognize words, communicate effectively, make friends, and take care of themselves, there may not be a need to attend PN classes.

Question: My daughter was born in mid-January, which is an awkward month. Should I enroll her in the younger class (N class) as a “younger child” or put her in the older class (K1) as an “older child”?


Chiu: Personally, I prefer being an “older child” as there are many advantages to it. Firstly, you’ll be stronger and have the opportunity to become a leader or class monitor in the future. If you’re a “younger child,” others might pat your head, and younger kids being treated like little brothers or sisters might not be too happy. Secondly, being an “older child,” you’ll have more experience. You’ll be a few months older than other kids, so you’ll have more experience, making it easier to absorb knowledge while studying. Being an “older child” also means you’ll have stronger self-care, communication, and social skills, benefiting you in many ways.


Leung: The age difference between children might already be significant and being an “older child” entering school would truly give an advantage at the starting line. There’s another downside to being a “younger child” as it’s possible that your child might not keep up with the rest and could face repeating the same class. Facing the possibility of repeating can seriously affect a child’s confidence, and it’s challenging to regain once it’s lost.

Parents Zone

How to enhance children’s resilience?

Parent Tips

How to enhance children’s resilience?

source: Education expert, Cheung Jok Fong


I attended a lecture by “Warrior of Regeneration,” Miss Yeung Siu Fong, earlier. She shared her experience of losing both hands in an accident at the age of nine. However, she did not give up and instead equipped herself more actively. With hard work, she not only became a swimming athlete in the Asian Games but also started art creation by using her feet in place of hands. She successfully enrolled in the Hong Kong Academy of Arts and became an inclusive artist. In 2011, she was selected as one of the “Ten Most Touching Hong Kong Figures” and became a “Hong Kong Spirit Ambassador” in 2013. After the lecture, I asked some classmates for their opinions, and they all expressed that if they encounter difficulties in the future, they will no longer be afraid because they believe that there is always a way to solve things and they want to face difficulties as positively as Sister Siu Fong.


Cultivating resilience from an early age

In the journey of life, we will inevitably encounter adversities. At that time, how should we face them with the right mentality and approach? Nowadays, parents often invest a lot of effort in their children’s academic performance, hoping that they can “win at the starting line.” However, while pursuing academic excellence, it is equally important to cultivate a spirit of perseverance. Unfortunately, some people choose different ways to escape when faced with difficulties, and some may even be so disheartened that they end their precious lives, which is truly regrettable. As educators, we have a responsibility to help students enhance their ability to cope with adversity, and this resilience needs to be cultivated from an early age.


Three key elements to enhance resilience


Experts point out that there are three key elements to enhance resilience: “optimism,” “efficacy,” and “belongingness.” “Optimism” is easy to understand literally; it means having hope for the future and believing that there is always a way to solve problems. This is the attitude one should adopt when facing difficulties. “Efficacy” includes how to manage emotions and establish problem-solving methods when facing challenges, which represents the ability needed to overcome difficulties. “Belongingness” refers to the care and support from people around the individual in question.

For children, the roles of family members and teachers are especially important. For example, when a child faces academic difficulties, if they can feel the care and support from their parents and teachers, and not be treated with disdain, scolded, or spoken to harshly because of low grades, but instead walk alongside them and seek ways to improve their academic performance, it will make them feel that their family and school are a place of “shelter from the storm.” In short, “belongingness” is the cornerstone for establishing “optimism” and “efficacy,” and it serves as the motivation provided to those facing challenges.


Cultivating resilience starts with small things


So, how can we cultivate children’s resilience in daily life? Should we wait until they encounter setbacks to teach them? In fact, we can start with some small things. Take skipping rope as an example. No child is born knowing how to skip rope. At this time, parents can encourage them and let them believe that they are capable of learning, which is the aforementioned “optimism.” Additionally, parents can assist from the side or demonstrate the correct way to skip rope, making them feel that their parents are accompanying them and going through difficulties together, which is the “belongingness” mentioned earlier. After the child experiences a taste of success after a few attempts, they can try to figure out how to coordinate their body and master the technique of skipping rope on their own, which is the “efficacy” mentioned above.


In conclusion, we can teach children from an early age to face difficulties with an optimistic and positive attitude and provide them with opportunities for self-challenge. More importantly, let them feel the support and care from the people around them.