I hope you will find value in reading this list I publish, as I reminisce my past and prepare notes for if and when I have a child, whether you are a parent of a child under twelve years’ old, a young adult who could become a parent, or a student under twelve.
I also want something that I can hold on to in this ever-changing world because I find my memories slowly fading as the years fly by.
Below, I present my top ten things to have going for in the first twelve years of life.
1. Know what you want to do and fail all it takes to get there. Yes, fail big time. Still, stand up and chase it because the world is your oyster; time is on your side. Nobody will laugh at you for wanting to be the President in future because, really, who knows? Work hard. Work very, very hard.
2. Master a second language; be effectively bilingual because it gives you practical work advantage in this increasingly small world. A different language also provides a new method of thinking and stimulates creativity because of its different contexts/stories. Most of the times, a new language also introduces you to a new culture and helps you relate better to others.
3. Be kind. Volunteer to help everybody for the sake of helping. Provide value and you will become worthy for chances to be offered to you. Mentors will start guiding you. Opportunities to gain exposure will start knocking on your door.
4. Learn all the life skills, such as, cycling, swimming, climbing. Keep fit and say ‘No’ to fast foods. Staying fit is truly invaluable as you will find it easy to take part in activities when you are adult as you never know if your work requires it. In addition, life skills greatly increase the dimensions of your travels.
5. Pick up a hobby-type skill. Learn drama. Learn music. Learn dance. Learn a sport. Try to learn these in school for free or at low costs. It will cost much more when you are an adult.
6. Read. Make learning your life’s goal. Reading comprehension will prove to be far more important than you can imagine when you are a under twelve. Reading not only increases the standard of your language but it also builds your character and demeanour. Non-fiction tends to expose you to the world. Fiction tends to expose you to human behaviours and mind sets.
7. Save diligently. Save for college. You want to either have an insurance plan that you could withdraw in order to pay for college, or you want to have saved the full cash required for college by the time you are of age. If you can, save all your pocket money. If you cannot save all, remember the one-third rule – save a third of your income.
8. Make friends. Be sociable. As a friend, be loyal and do not sabotage your friends. If you think a friend is wrong, talk it out with him/her before you decide to tell on him/her! Do not talk behind your friends’ back.
9. Train your memory. Pick up techniques such as mind-mapping.
10. Choose not to have tuition/paid extra lessons. Spend your time playing in the sand or watching cartoon. Be the child. A child-like sense of wonder, deep appreciation, and gratitude for this world will carry you far. That said, you really have to make real effort to motivate yourself and stay conscientious in order to keep tuition at bay.
I am curious about what you think of this topic and this list. Could there be something essential which I have missed? Comment!
This is subjected to change as I grow. It is not an end-all-be-all list.
[Photo: Taken at the Changi Simei Community Centre Open House, Singapore, in 2015.]