Se­crets of su­per kids

They’re all be­low 16, but look what these kids have achieved – two are champs at un­usual sports, one is a clas­si­cal opera singer and yet an­other is a TEDx speaker. What drives them and their par­ents?

Young Parents (Singapore) - - FEATURES - KYRA POH 15, IN­DOOR SKYDIVER

Carolyn Teo, who runs her own ad­ver­tis­ing rm, has a dif­fer­ent view when it comes to school and her child’s sports ca­reer.

Her daugh­ter, Kyra Poh, 15, is the Ju­nior Freestyle Cham­pion of the World, and Carolyn is will­ing to let her put school on hold for a few years to pur­sue her pas­sion for in­door sky­div­ing to the max.

Kyra rst tried the sport when her mother asked if she wanted to ap­pear in a video for iFly Sin­ga­pore. Since then, she has not looked back.

“I’m off the ground when I’m ying and I love the feel­ing of be­ing com­pletely free with no bound­aries,” she says. “I also love that it is a com­bi­na­tion of many sports, from the grace­ful move­ments of ice skat­ing and gym­nas­tics to su­per fast dy­namic (move­ments) like a sprinter.”

She has since built up an en­vi­able track record, with ve Guin­ness World of Records ti­tles un­der her name. They in­clude “Most Back­ward Som­er­saults in a Wind Tun­nel

in a Minute” (she com­pleted 68), and Most Num­ber of Passes Through a Hula Hoop by a Pair in a Wind Tun­nel in a Minute”, in which she and her part­ner did 49.

On top of that, the thirdyear School of the Arts stu­dent is also a cham­pion in the Solo Freestyle Open and Solo Speed Open cat­e­gories at the 2017 Wind Games. She has also been win­ning var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional in­door sky­div­ing com­pe­ti­tions.


Carolyn, who has an­other daugh­ter, seven, thinks that peo­ple put too much em­pha­sis on aca­demic goals, and even more on how fast a per­son achieves them. She sees her chil­dren’s lives as a jour­ney, and there is no need to rush be­cause ev­ery day is an ex­pe­ri­ence in it­self.

“What dif­fer­ence does it make if Kyra grad­u­ates with a de­gree when she’s 21 or at 24?,” she asks, adding that it would be a big waste if she couldn’t pur­sue her sport be­cause of an ex­am­i­na­tion.

“I’m all about ex­pe­ri­ence, and I think what Kyra has gar­nered from the sport has given her a jour­ney that far sur­passes what you would get from school.”

She is all for her daugh­ters tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for their lives, so Kyra de­cides whether or not she needs tu­ition or ex­tra train­ing pro­grammes.

“This as­pect of my par­ent­ing style is very much inuenced by my late fa­ther, who taught me that the hard­est thing to do is to give your child the free­dom to make all de­ci­sions – good or bad.”

Her tip for rais­ing a su­per-achiever kid? “Let your child live her life, not yours,” she says. “When they love some­thing, they al­ways do it best with­out be­ing told how to.”

Which is ex­actly what Kyra is do­ing. Two years ago, she was picked for the David Mar­shall schol­ar­ship in her school and ad­mits hav­ing difculty jug­gling school, train­ing and tu­ition.

“Be­cause of my busy sched­ule, I don’t have much time to rest or spend time with my friends,” says Kyra. “But I love ying and I know I have to make the sacrice if I want to do this se­ri­ously while jug­gling school.”

She hopes that in­door sky­div­ing will one day be an Olympic sport and she would be able to rep­re­sent Sin­ga­pore.

Even if it doesn’t hap­pen, “I will be ying my whole life if pos­si­ble, whether or not as a ca­reer, but denitely as a sport.” At the age of 10, Dy­lan Soh did what few kids his age do: He gave his rst TEDx talk in Sin­ga­pore. It was about ur­ban farm­ing.

When he was 12, he gave his sec­ond talk – to an au­di­ence of 1,800 peo­ple, about a book his fa­ther wrote and which he il­lus­trated, about self-condence, em­pa­thy and adapt­abil­ity.

He’s no straight A stu­dent, ei­ther. In fact, he “passed only three sub­jects midterm” says his fa­ther, Calvin Soh, lead­ing his teacher to say that he was un­der­per­form­ing.

But rather than pun­ish Dy­lan or ramp up his tu­ition, the for­mer ad­ver­tis­ing vet­eran asks only that his son try his best, and at least pass his ex­ams.

“I asked him to come up with a plan, and we’re work­ing on it. The pres­sure he faces isn’t the same as the other kids. There’s noth­ing wrong with pres­sure, but there’s some­thing wrong if it’s only about ex­ams – be­cause life isn’t about ex­ams.”

While he started out as the “typ­i­cal Sin­ga­porean par­ent” who fol­lowed his own par­ents’ meth­ods of up­bring­ing, Calvin de­cided that life skills would be the pri­or­ity for his chil­dren over aca­demic ex­cel­lence.

In­stead of fo­cus­ing on grades, he wants Dy­lan, 14, and his sis­ter Ava, 11, to “nd them­selves, know who they are, be pro­duc­tive for the greater good, to nd pur­pose and prot from it”.


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