With nationalism still at a peak this month and National Day songs becoming earworm, we may think more about our identity as Singaporeans. What does this mean for families raising their little ones here? What is the Singapore identity? And why is it important to embrace our national identity?
One’s national identity is a sense of belonging to nation or more. It is an identity fostered through adaption, assimilation and more importantly education. Hence, parents play a key role in this.
Why We Think a National Identity is Important
Singapore has come a long way since its beginnings in the 15th to 16th century, to a small nation today. While we are no longer part of kingdoms nor empires, this means we are an independent country that has its own identity, culture, values and norms.
Being Singaporean might mean different things to different people but our shared identity is one that unites us. Not just united by national icons nor dishes, we share a love and pride for our country regardless of race, language, religion and political beliefs.
Having a strong sense of national identity helps our children to appreciate their roots, heritage and culture. It also helps them to relate to others better, be grounded in important values and participate actively in nation-building.
The Chinese proverb “Predecessors planted trees, their descendants enjoyed the shade” reminds us to be thankful that what we can have now is only possible because of the grit of our forefathers. It also means we have to continue to support our nation to help it thrive.
Here are some ways you can foster a strong sense of identity in your children.
5 Ways to Foster a Strong National Identity in Our Children
1. Learn about our history and heritage
Even though our children may learn about Singapore’s history and heritage in school, we can also introduce it from an early age about our founders, pioneers and people who contributed greatly to Singapore.
There are plenty of resources online to watch and even sites to visit. Heritage districts like Chinatown, Singapore River, Kampong Glam, Fort Canning, City Hall, Changi are places that can tell Singapore’s story well and make it come alive. Go on a walking tour or read books about Singapore’s past.
The past is what makes the present and there is much to learn with every event or discovery.
2. Observe National Day
The most important day for a country is of course National Day, i.e. our Independence Day!
One way to foster a sense of national identity is to observe National Day. Hang our flag with pride, watch the National Day parade to understand its significance, say the pledge, catch the flypasts and celebrate with a family ritual like watching the fireworks (if any).
3. Visit Museums
Museums are a great resource for learning more about our country. National Museum Singapore is one of my favourites, but don’t forget other places such as Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum for some natural history of Singapore, Singapore Discovery Centre, Singapore Art Museum or places which are rich about war history like Fort Siloso and Changi Chapel Museum.
With plenty of exhibits, audiovisual resources, artefacts, the stories come alive with every museum visit.
4. Talk about it over Family Meals
Be involved and chat about current affairs and important issues concerning Singapore over family meals. We have all a part to play and being good citizens, it is important to be kept abreast of the latest developments. This is also an opportune moment to talk about diversity and despite our differences, we can still be a cohesive society.
If the children are older, you may even want to discuss heavier topics such as politics, Singapore’s budget and policies. You never know if your child will be playing a significant role in any way.
5. Sing songs about our Local Culture
Songs are very effective in drumming up nationalism. Quite evidently, we all have our favourite National Day songs and Singapore tunes. Sing the local folk songs together with your children or even childhood favourites like Rasa Sayang, 小人物的心声，Singapore Town and more.
Nurture the Love for Your Country in Your Child
Raising little patriots is beneficial to society at large, and also contributes towards good governance with citizens actively participating. Our children is the country’s future. Their hopes, dreams and love for their country will spur them to be the brighter future for their children’s children. Let’s help to nurture a sense of nationalism in them so that they can continue to enjoy the shade of the trees.