Friday, September 12, 2014

Teaching kids to keep our spaces clean

Just the other day, I witnessed a middle-aged woman getting off a bus, and then very conveniently, threw away a used tissue paper on the grass patch as she walked down the pavement.

I was appalled, to say the least. I mean, what’s wrong with her? Couldn’t’ she see a dustbin nearby? Was she so lazy that she couldnt’t even take a few steps to throw her disgusting tissue? Did she do this all the time? Did she litter in her own home? Whatever was she thinking? That it’s ok to throw your rubbish all over the place?

Yes, as you can see, I get really peeved when I see people throw rubbish all over the place. It just goes to show how inconsiderate they are. They only think of themselves, their own convenience. Their selfish conduct absolutely spares no thought for others around them, and how their actions can affect others, let alone the environment.

To me, being gracious, being considerate, being nice doesn’t just apply to how we behave and communicate with human beings, but also in our actions as we walk past buildings, stroll in the parks, play at the void decks or wait for the bus. Basically, our conduct as we ‘communicate’ with the environment around us. And by conduct, I mean how it is essential to keep our surrounding environment clean, wherever we are, no matter the place.

I’ve always been trying to inculcate in EV and AA, an understanding of the need to keep our surrounding spaces clean. Whenever we walk around the neighbourhood and we spot litter, I would always highlight to EV and AA to observe how the litter makes the neighbourhood extremely unpleasant. I also tell them that the persons responsible are extremely inconsiderate. If it’s not too dangerous, we will pick the litter together and put them into their rightful places. Gradually, I’ve noticed that both kids have become more aware and do understand the importance of keeping the neighbourhood clean.

Chinatown 1

Recently, I’ve started broadening this ‘keep clean’ habit that I want to inculcate in EV and AA to all places that we visit. Earlier this week, we visited Chinatown. Now, Chinatown has special meaning for me. My daddy has a shop there which opened three months before I was born, and I practically grew up in the area, as I used to frequent the shop quite often. I go down quite rarely now, with family and work and what not, but every time we go, it feels extremely warm to be on familiar grounds.

Chinatown 2

EV surprised me the moment we stepped out of the train at Chinatown. She said ‘牛车水’, Chinese for Chinatown. It was something totally unexpected and caught me pleasantly by surprise. She asked me what it meant, and I told her a very brief history of how the name came about. She asked me where were ‘cars’ and ‘cows’ and I had tell her that the name was referring to ‘carts’ and ‘buffalos’ instead. Exactly the kind of questions that a modern girl like her would ask.

Chinatown 7

We walked into the midst of Chinatown, and amongst the crowd of tourists and locals, I pointed out the buildings and the wooden shutters on the second and third levels, and explained how houses used to be in the past. EV was quite intrigued by it, probably wondering why the buildings are so low. We went in search of the entrances of these buildings, which were hidden by the many stalls that target tourists. EV and AA were both curious about the wooden doors, reaching out to touch them, wondering why the doors are smaller than ours at home. As I explained to them about the doors and how people lived in the past, EV and AA also became interested in the tall and steep staircase.

Chinatown 8

Chinatown 3

One of our pit stops at Chinatown was the Heritage Centre. It was about to close when we went there, but we got to see some ‘红头巾’ or Samsui women dolls, so I took the opportunity to tell them about these women from the past.

Chinatown 5

On the way out, both kids noticed a lifesize sculpture of a Samsui women, and that got their focus for a while. They were curious why the woman was squatting down, why she didn’t seem to be wearing any shoes, why she seemed to be closing her eyes. Again, this was another opportunity to tell them about these women, how these women made personal sacrifices and were involved in construction work, how they were living during a time when Singapore was extremely poor, and hence they didn’t have proper covered shoes like we do now. While I was explaining all these, EV looked rather contemplative, as she tried to absorb all that I was telling her.

Chinatown 4

Walking through Chinatown, I was comforted by the fact that the place was rather spotless and clean. It seemed to me that everyone was extremely conscious and gracious towards their surroundings, keeping it clean and pleasant so that everyone, both local and foreign, can enjoy it.

Chinatown 6

Of course, we had to be gracious of our surroundings too. We had some used wet tissues that were used to wipe the kids’ hands. Instead of just throwing them on the floor while feigning ignorance, like the lady I mentioned earlier did, we kept the used tissues in our bags and threw them only when we came across a dustbin.

With such actions, I want to show EV and AA that it is important to think about how our actions affect others, and the environment around us. No matter where we are, whether we’re in a well-known place like Chinatown, or just around our own neighbourhood, we have to keep our surrounding spaces clean and not litter. Because it is only through this that we can make our living environment pleasant for ourselves, and for others.

Chinatown 9

And this is one of many values which I believe will help EV and AA grow up to be gracious and caring individuals.


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1 comment:

  1. Hi Winnie,

    I’m also planning to start teaching about the cleanliness and the environment to my young ones. Glad to see fellow mummies are educating our younger generation on such issues :)

    Love reading your blog, keep it up!


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