Parents Zone

How do we develop children’s reading habits?

February 2023

Source: Shirley Loo, Executive Director, Family Development Foundation


Reading habits are best cultivated from a young age, and every school and every teacher should encourage students to read. I think a “book” at the starting line, which is a book, will allow children to win at the end of the line. It can be cultivated in infancy. There are many kinds of books available for babies, such as Muppet books, soft books, books with no words and only pictures, and many tactile ones. Let him try to open and read books.


In addition, there are many parents who wonder whether it is necessary to recognize words from reading. A book has its own gold house, meaning that as long as it’s well-read, wealth and profit will come naturally. There is a beautiful world in books. First, do you know what the most important thing is? It is to pick up a book, and parents should like to read. If you don’t like to read but you keep telling your child, “Read it,” how will he read it? Will he see the side shadows of his mother and father reading? I always say you can pick up a book and say in amazement, “Look at this book, it’s cute!” “How cute is this little bird!” This entices children to read it.

And should we tell the story from beginning to end? This is not necessarily the case, you may see a picture here. Then you can ask, “Guess what she went into the kitchen to do?” When he can’t understand the story, you can make him feel it and let him guess, and there are other ways to play. You should not underestimate children; their powers of observation and the density of their minds are usually far beyond what parents can imagine.

Parents can also teach him to count things, such as by asking him the time shown in the storybook. I often feel that reading is not straightforward. We want him to be interested in the pictures in books, and the second level is to learn to read, memorize, and write.

In fact, we can also incorporate some of the stories in books or character settings into the challenges or new environments that he may face in the future so that he can experience them in books. When K2 or K3 children have more vocabulary, they can even sit and listen to you tell stories. However, many parents feel that their storytelling is not vivid enough. But it doesn’t matter because you are the best storyteller for him since you are his mom and dad.

It’s not necessary to read the story, but I think it’s better to make it oral so that he feels it fits the scene. If most of the family speaks Cantonese, you want the story to penetrate his mind, of course, in the language he is most familiar with. I think the most important thing is to be close to his life, to his language, and to his interests. The most important thing is that the parents read the book first so that they can instill a strong infectious power in their children!

Parents Zone

How can children learn to take care of themselves?

February 2023

Source: Shirley Loo, Executive Director, Family Development Foundation


As we may notice, in today’s society, the children of the previous generation have grown up and are now working in society, but it seems that their parents are involved in many things. It made me think back to my own childhood—did our moms always take care of us in a pampering role? Did everything seem to be taken care of so well that the kids could just focus on school and academics?


In fact, this is definitely not a healthy phenomenon for the growth of children, but I also understand that mothers think that children do not need to care about anything, mothers take care of everything for you, remove any adversity and difficulties for him, establish a protection zone, and tell him to focus only on studying well. But being a good student is not the same as knowing how to be a good person. Both things should be balanced.


They may find it very profound to know how to behave. If you narrow it down, it means the ability to take care of oneself. Parents should know how to let go and let their children learn to take care of themselves; that is, if they know how to do things themselves, they should let them do as much as possible. For example, he knows how to pack his schoolbag, and how to put things into it. Of course, you have to teach him first and then let him do it.


This ability to care for oneself is also a survival skill; from the initial tying of shoelaces and packing of a schoolbag to growing up a little to take care of one’s own bookshelves and desks, and later applying to university, all are very basic survival skills. For example, what does it mean to “pack a schoolbag”? First, he must know how to write a handbook. He did not write everything down at first, but he can ask his classmates, and mothers can take the initiative to find different parents to chat with and compare the handbook with.

Second, check if he is shortsighted because many children do not copy properly because of eye problems. Third, in addition to the handbook being fully written, is how to organize in accordance with the timetable. Mom can demonstrate how to organize once a day before. The next day, ask him, “Get the General Studies book.” Slowly, he learns to organize, his mother can praise him, and some parents even use those reward tables. Give him a stamp if he packed the schoolbag today so that he has some sense of achievement. When he knows how to pack his schoolbag, it means he knows how to sort things.


Many times, parents are preoccupied with their own lives or work pressures, or their moods do not always remain positive. “Don’t do that; I’ll help you do it instead.” There will be times when there is no way; we will miss and be exhausted. But if you really do his homework for him, there is a risk because it’s dishonest and you don’t let him learn, because he would only learn and remember after making mistakes. I remember once a mother telling me that her daughter’s writing was crooked, so the mother kept erasing and breaking paper.


I said, “You can use some creative methods to teach children in first grade.” I like to tell her that every word has its own home, and that home is inside the square. Those words like to return home, and you can help them be securely placed in their home. Parents need to be patient and wait for their children to improve slowly. Each child has his or her own pace of growth. I hope parents will respect the rhythm of their growth and respect their pace. In fact, while they are learning, we are also learning, so we can all progress together.

Parents Zone

What can parents do when preparing their children for elementary school?

February 2023

Source: Unleashing Mind, Psychotherapist, Dr. Lee Wai Tong


Next semester, K3 children will start to prepare for elementary school. Apart from getting to know the new school, preparing stationery, and learning to wear school uniforms, what else can parents do to help their children transition smoothly and make a good transition to elementary school? It is often the case that children will feel anxious when they encounter many unknown things. To deal with the anxiety of children, it is best to prepare for the situation in advance.


What’s for preparation? Open the schedule before school and remind the children, “Look, there will be a recess after these two classes, and then another recess after these two classes.” They will know in their minds when there will be a short break, then lunchtime, and then the school will be over after a while.

In terms of teachers, they don’t know who the teacher is, so we can say, “This teacher should be a male teacher, and this one is a female teacher.” This is the advance preparation so that the children know more about the things that have not happened and are better prepared. In particular, many elementary schools will hold orientation activities. Parents should not think that they don’t need to participate now because they are busy and their children will only return to school in September. If you can participate, you should do so, as it actually helps children know more and be well prepared for the unknown.


With all the preparations we have just made, what are the other minor things that we need to pay attention to? We say that children are anxious when they enter first grade because they are unprepared for something that has not happened yet, and then they feel worried. When they have a good grasp of what they need to do in each class, their anxiety will be much less.


Some issues are beyond the control of the parents, namely, his classmates. Children face some situations, such as when classmates next to them make a lot of acts like going to the child’s place to take a look at his things suddenly. These are not good times for children, but there is no way to prevent them, so they need to be nurtured, especially if they have just entered the first grade. Talk to them more after school and ask them if they have encountered any unpleasant things so that they can express themselves. They will find that even if they are worried, they can talk to their parents after school, and they will be comforted by their parents, and their anxiety will be reduced a bit. Then, the next day, when the unhappiness is over, they will be happy to go back to school again.

Every parent wants to ask their children more when they come home from school and know more about the school picture. Parents should learn more questioning skills so that children can say more and the picture is more complete. Some children are more extroverted and talk more, so it is easier for parents to understand; some children are more introverted. A major characteristic of an introverted child is that he or she has not yet grasped the situation internally and therefore does not know how to express it.

When dealing with introverted children, you can make it simple by drawing a poster with many different emotions and asking them what they are feeling today. When they see the pictures, they will think about them, and sometimes they will point to “angry,” sometimes to “sad,” and sometimes to “happy.” This way, they can be asked what they are happy, angry, or sad about. They will then have room to express these emotional things.

Parents Zone

What constitutes a language development delay in a child?

February 2023

Source: Speech Therapist, Mok Yee Tuen

Typically, babies start making sounds as soon as they are born, such as different crying sounds to express their demands. From 4 to 8 months, they start babbling, which is part of the language preparation period. Children actually go through a ladder of language development, starting with just learning single words and ending with being able to tell stories with their words.

Babies from 9 months to 1 year generally start producing their first meaningful word, such as “ba,”  “ma,” or “ball ball.” From 1 to 2 years old, their understanding and vocabulary expression increase greatly, with the accumulation of single words forming two-word phrases, such as “mommy drink” and “eat bun bun.”

From 2 to 3 years old, children generally speak in longer sentences and can express different needs. For example, they like to add a word to the two-word phrases, forming three-word combinations, such as “Daddy eat bun” and “I want grandma.” Some children start using adjectives, such as “sister eats a big apple.”

Young children generally recognize more different sentences and start using conjunctions after 3 and a half years old, and by 5 years old, they slowly understand how to combine different sentences and use more conjunctions and start to narrate things logically, that is, by telling stories.

In fact, the language development of young children is slightly different for each person, but through empirical research, we also have some important reference indicators to see if a child may have a speech delay.

The first is that there are no words at 2 years old.

Second, no sentences appear before the age of three.

The third is that speech is unclear and hard to understand after 3 years old,

Fourth, sentences are still unclear after 5 years old.

If the child is not speaking more and more as they grow, parents should seek the help of a professional to assess and train them as soon as possible.