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SCMP Column: Between The Lines

Between The Lines: Is there a right way to deal with a sleepless child who wants to share mum’s bed?


The domestic helper who looked after my younger daughter for the past four years left our home six months ago. My daughter appears to be adjusting well because, rather than hire another helper, I have personally stepped in to fill the void. I know that she is thrilled to have so much of my time […]

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Between The Lines: Why a good tutor improves a child’s mindset, not their grades


  Until recentlyI equated tutoring with cheating or laziness. I reasoned that if I was paying for my children to attend great schools, they should be able to do the work and should turn to the teacher for help if they encountered any difficulty. An outside tutor was a lazy indulgence of the well-heeled and […]

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Between The Lines: How young children learn to enjoy reading


I was quick to stock our bookshelf at home with Frog and Toad, Ling and Ting, Mouse and Mole and other great character pairings in early chapter books, ready for when the children start to read independently. Yet for all of her first year in primary school, my daughter preferred to have me read aloud […]

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Between The Lines: How to cut through the chatter and cultivate your child’s most important qualities


Have you ever heard a parenting expert say push your kids to breaking point, sign them up for multiple extracurricular activities, make them take all honours classes, allow technology in their bedrooms to keep in touch with friends all night, eating on the run is fine, and free time is a waste? Neither have I. […]

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Between The Lines: Vocal heroes: how children of all ages benefit from being read to


I recently read an article about a woman whose marriage improved after her husband read aloud to her while she was sick in bed. Everyone loves being read to, no matter one’s age. Hong Kong has an emerging read-aloud culture. In the beginning, parents and teachers only read to children who were learning to read, […]

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Between The Lines: If ever there was a classic children’s book, Alice in Wonderland is it


This year is the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. You need not have read the book to recognise the iconic images of a spunky girl in a blue dress, a peculiar rabbit with a pocket watch, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts. The story includes a number of unforgettable […]

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Between The Lines: ‘Benign neglect’: giving kids the scope to learn, make mistakes and grow


“Benign neglect” is the phrase that best describes my parents’ approach to parenting in the 1970s. What today might be called “free-range parenting” or actual neglect, back then was just childhood. I grew up in a rural part of the American state of Pennsylvania; our home bordered a cornfield and a nature preserve with a […]

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Between The Lines: Hong Kong kids can benefit from reading quality books


Numerous studies point to the same finding that children who love to read grow up to be more astute, aware, compassionate, resourceful and resilient than those who don’t read for pleasure. Parents and teachers should pause and give thought to what they want to accomplish in getting children to read. Finding joy and comfort in […]

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Between The Lines: Religion in Hong Kong schools: teach it, don’t preach it

Child takes part in the Holy Week procession in Malaga, southern Spain.

  Schools should not promote religion, but they should teach it. Understanding history is impossible without an understanding of the religious traditions that helped shape the world. From a purely secular standpoint, even atheists should know and understand what they choose not to believe in. Schools have very different approaches to the question of religious […]

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Between The Lines: Let children play musical instruments, their way

Giving children ownership of their music tastes will increase their interest. Photo: AFP

If your evening routine includes arguments, incentives and timers in order to cajole your children to practise an instrument, you might want to rethink your approach. While creating music should be a joyful lifelong experience, the path towards mastery of an instrument can be tempestuous if the motivation is wrong. Music, like competitive sports, Advanced […]

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