When children look to us for wisdom and guidance, it can be exhilarating – and daunting.
Chen Wei Teng, an author and a teacher, probably knows this feeling all too well. She’s been working with kids with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia and ADHD, in Singapore for the past 13 years. She wants to do right by them.
But it’s not that tough a task – not when her students inspire her so much. Wei Teng particularly admires them for their “great resilience” and ability to care for others despite their tough situations.
“I’m not entirely sure I can do it if I’m in their shoes,” she admits.
“They’re some of the most sensitive individuals I’ve ever seen. It’s like they have this ultra-sensitive empathetic chip embedded in them that can be activated easily, and which may not be present in their peers who are more neurotypical.
“And because they’ve experienced some of life’s struggles at an early age – a taste of academic failure, bullying in school, a lack of understanding from adults (which can be their parents or teachers, unfortunately) – they’re more attuned to the suffering they see around them.”
Her mission is clear
As it’s always been – that is, to use “whatever knowledge and resources” she can gather to help these kids become their best selves.
One resource is her children’s picture book, Murphy, See How You Shine!, which was illustrated by Quek Hong Shin.
“It’s about a blind assistance dog called Murphy, who’s always there for his owner, Candy, who has Type 1 diabetes – but he doesn’t know how much of a blessing he is to her,” Wei Teng relates.
“He encounters a young boy subsequently who makes him realise the unique gift he has within him, which he can use to help the people around him.”
It’s a story that was 10 years in the making, and it came to life with her desire to “raise awareness and funds for two schools in Nepal”, and with “reading about Stella Chew – the lady who inspired me with her efforts to break new ground for herself and other Type 1 diabetics by harnessing the strengths of their dogs to be diabetic-alert”.
The book won Gold in the Children’s Picture Ebook category at the 2018 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, and received a five-star rating from book-review site Readers’ Favorite that year as well. Plus, it has been taken onboard by Armour Publishing under its “Live to Inspire” series.
“It has helped me to connect with people in incredible ways,” Wei Teng recounts. “It’s most rewarding when I’m able to reach out to my students, as they’re the population that inspired the story.
“They understand the key messages I wanted to tell – possibly because they’ve seen every kind of difficulty and challenge in life at an early age. Hence they can identify with the various themes very well.
“I’m very grateful to Murphy too, for it has become a tool for me to reach out to people from different corners of Singapore and the world through my storytelling sessions,” she adds.
“It allows me to make more friends, learn different perspectives, and experience life richly.”
We can have that too
Even if we don’t have a Murphy, and we’re not parents or teachers. :)
Like Wei Teng, we can help a child grow with her tips, as she believes “there’s an ‘intuitive’ educator in all of us’.” We can use them with our friends and family too.
Because who wouldn’t want their loved ones to succeed? :)
#1 Teach children from young the importance of being kind