8 Valuable insights to Heng Swee Keat's parenting beliefs
Let's take a look at some of the advice and wisdom relevant to parenting that he has shared over the years.
Singapore’s Finance minister Heng Swee Keat is rumoured to become the next prime minister of Singapore. This observation comes after the news today (23 November 2019) that the Singapore People’s Action Party (PAP) will likely name him as first assistant secretary general.
Insiders believe that the person who is made first assistant secretary general will succeed current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as the next prime minister. PM Lee, who is now 66, announced after the 2015 general election that he has plans to step down before he turns 70.
Singapore should be getting ready to welcome a new prime minister soon and should Heng Swee Keat take on this role, it’s important for us to look at how he is like as a parent, as he will be acting as a father to the nation as well.
While Mr Heng is a parent to his son and daughter who are in their 20s, he has remained very private about his personal life and family. But he has been vocal on his parenting beliefs.
8 insights to Heng Swee Keat’s parenting beliefs
1. He believes in partnering with educators
As former minister for education, Heng Swee Keat has repeatedly brought up the importance of the partnership between teachers and parents in the Ministry of Education’s Work Plan Seminar. “For our children to thrive, it is essential for parents to be supportive partners in the school,” he says.
“Parents have to support not only the child but also the teachers and one another, so that their children can excel in life,” he added at the Parent Support Groups conference in 2014. He emphasised bringing out the best in our children is a cause that all parents can rally around.
“When parents support one another, and when we do so in a total environment together with schools, teachers and the broader community, it can lead to great things.”
With his previous portfolio as education minister, Singapore can rest assured that if he is the next PM, education will be at the forefront of his expertise.
2. He prioritises heritage and mother tongue
“The mother tongue is crucial in multicultural, multiracial Singapore and it helps Singaporeans to stay connected to their heritage,” he said earlier this year.
“Building a strong foundation in mother tongue languages starts from young. The preservation of our cultures, values, Asian heritage and sense of identity in our students is best delivered through our mother tongue languages. Not only will it give them an advantage in life, it also enables them to be culturally sensitive and connect with the world,” he added.
He also went on to say that giving children a strong foundation in their mother tongue is one of the “best gifts we can give them in life”.
Though many of the Gen-Y Singaporeans now have lost touch with their mother tongue, it is good to see that if Mr Heng is made PM, the future generations might have a chance to have a better grasp on being multilingual.
3. He believes children should be supported to pursue their dreams
Heng Swee Keat said in 2013 in his opening speech of the Montfort Secondary School’s new campus, that it’s important to encourage children to pursue their dreams, no matter what these are, as this will encourage them to become lifelong learners.
4. He believes children are naturally creative
In a Facebook post in 2015, Mr Heng visited West Spring Primary School to interact with students. There, he sat down with the children and built bricks with them. The children produced playgrounds with flying foxes, swings, monkey bars and slides using MOE’s SG50 “Building My SG” set. In the journal post, he wrote: “Children are naturally creative. They imagine possibilities, and enjoy playing and experimenting with their creations.”
5. He believes kids shouldn’t be judged on their PSLE results
Even before this year’s viral posts about parents saying how their PSLE results did not define them, Mr Heng had already said this. In 2013, during his stint as education minister, he said: “It’s not about the exam results, but the journey of learning.”
“When the results are out, please do remember not to judge your own child, or others’ children, by a number. Give them a hug for the good work they’ve put in all year (and to yourselves too, parents, because I know you’ve walked this journey with the children), and continue to motivate them to learn and to develop their confidence,” he added.
6. He uses positive language with kids
But more than just using positive language, Mr Heng stresses the importance of using the right words to praise children. He believes telling your kid he’s smart is not a smart thing to do. Instead, there is a “right way to praise children”. “Don’t tell a child he is smart. Instead, tell him he is a good learner,” Mr Heng advises.
7. He emphasises a need to be adaptable
In his Singapore Management University (SMU) 2018 graduate speech, Mr Heng said that we should be adaptable. In fact, he says we should be like an adaptor plug.
As a minister, he is often required to travel and no matter where he went, he found that the adaptor plug is one very useful device.
“Wherever I found myself, my adaptor allowed me to plug in, draw power from the places I went, and stay connected,” he said, opening the speech. This “will be more important than ever” as Singapore positions itself as a hub of technology, innovation and enterprise.
“Adaptability is about the active ability to find commonalities amid differences and a genuine readiness to collaborate, so that we can build connections and rally people round what we have in common, to solve problems and create new value together,” he added.
8. He strongly believes ‘play’ is important in early childhood education
Back in 2013, at a family festival in Tampines, Mr Heng said that ‘play’ is important, especially in early childhood development.
“Play time is not a waste of time,” Mr Heng added. “In fact play brings very important values in developing the self-confidence and social skills of our children, in stimulating their curiosity to explore the world around them and in nurturing their creativity.
Laying down a concrete foundation is always important. A prime minister who has a heart for education is also one who will invest in future generations to come.