Thursday 16 December 2010


Heritage Education: Introducing the Singapore Flag to J

I mentioned in my earlier post that being a cross-cultural family, it is my responsibility to teach J heritage education. After introducing the Singapore National Anthem and the National Pledge, introducing the National Flag is next on the list.


As early as possible during toddlerhood, so that the Singapore Flag would not be a stranger to the child, but something he is already familiar with during his childhood.

It should, however, be introduced at the appropriate developmental age. For example, J is currently very interested in moon and stars. He would point us to the moon in the sky and say “måne, måne” – moon, moon in Danish. He would also point us to the stars on the carpet, etc. and say “xing xing” – stars in Mandarin. I decided to seize the opportunity to introduce him to the Singapore Flag, which comprises of moon and stars.

How to make it fun?

• For Baby:

1. Hang the Singapore Flag above baby as a mobile.

2. Sing the Singapore National Anthem as part of bed time routine's lullaby.

In the early days, it is said that babies are best exposed to high contrast and bright colours such as white, black and red colours. The Singapore flag is blessed with to be with solid white and red colour with graphic star and moon. You can place the Singapore flag like a mobile above the baby, and sing The Singapore National Athem as a lullaby for baby.

• For Toddler:

1. Sing through song "There are 5 stars arising" when introducing the Singapore Flag:

There's a new moon arising, out of the stormy sea
Youthful and bright and bearing hope, and tranquil as can be
Reach out for the moon above, savour freedom, truth and love
There's a new moon arising, out of the stormy sea

There are five stars arising, out of the stormy sea
Each is a lamp to guide our way; a lamp for all to see
Reach out for the stars above, savour freedom, truth and love
There are five stars arising, out of the stormy sea

There's a new flag arising, out of the stormy sea
Crimson as the blood of all mankind, yet white and pure and free
Reach out for the flag above, savour freedom, truth and love
There's a new flag arising, happy and proud are we

2. Describe the colour to the toddler and ask the toddler what the colours are.

3. Show the toddler the moon and the stars in the Singapore Flag and make hand-signs.

4. During drawing session, I bring in the Singapore Flag and draw it for him.

• For Pre-schooler:

1. During colouring sessions, print a few copies of the Singapore Flag here and include it in the colouring session.

2. Make the Singapore Flag with playdough.

3. Explain the meaning of the symbols in the Singapore Flag using puppets - a puppet for the moon introducing itself and what it represents, a puppet for the stars introducing themselves and what they represent.

For the Child:

Introduce the history behind it - how Singapore rose from the stormy sea of the past... one of the poorest countries in the world in 1960s to what it is today... from being a majority population of illiterate coolies (labourers)... to being top 5 in the latest PISA 2009 chart... from bloody racial riots... to racial harmony and One Singaporeans.

Symbols of the Singapore’s National Flag:

The Singapore’s National Flag consists of two colours, red and white, in equal horizontal sections and in the top left canton is a white crescent moon beside five white stars within a circle with the meaning as follows:

The red colour symbolises universal brotherhood and equality of man.

The white colour signifies pervading and everlasting purity and virtue.

The crescent moon represents a young nation on the ascendant.

The five stars stand for the nation's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.

Additional Information:

Much as I spend time introducing J to the Singapore Natioanl Anthem, the Singapore Pledge and the Singapore National Flag, technically J is not a Singaporean. This is because he is not a Singapore citizen.

When J was born, I agonized over this decision, as I would have to register him within a year of birth for Singapore citizenship. After much consideration, I chose not to. It is not because I did not want him to go through National Service (NS). In fact, I wish he would have a chance to experience NS, as this is one of the best way to get to know Singapore, his motherland, his fellow Singaporean heartlanders.

It is because both Singapore and Denmark do not recognize dual citizenship, which means that J will be forced to make a choice between being a Singapore citizen or a Danish citizen, when he turns 18 years old.

To require him to make such a choice would be equivalent to asking him to choose between his mother or father. I don't want to subject him to such agony, and thus I have made that choice for him - from birth.

So why am I spending so much brain juice, time, energy and money (it costs us a lot of money to make it a point to go to Singapore every year) teaching him the Singapore National Flag, teaching him English, Chinese and occasionally Singlish?

I was at a loss of how to make such a "either-or" decision, until a very wise friend told me, "Elaine, ties with a place is dependent on people and not on a piece of paper. Your commitment to communicate with J about his Singaporean heritage is the most important thing to keep him emotionally attached to Singapore". I will always remember her words.

Yes, J is every bit a Singaporean and a Dane. Both Singapore and Denmark are his motherland and fatherland. Technically, he is not a Singaporean, but in soul and blood relations, he is every bit a Singaporean. And in my heart, he will always be a Singaporean AND a Dane. Both Singapore and Denmark are our countries.

I still harbour the hope that one day... maybe one day... both Singapore and Denmark would recognize dual citizenship, and welcome their son with open arms. But even if it does not happen, I will still go on with my perseverance in heritage education.


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