Small Steps, Big Leap: Fifi’s Learning Begins 

This story is written by Myona, who embarked on a journey with 8-year-old Fifi* under CARE’s Home-based Learning Support (HBLS) programme. Fifi and family resides in a low-cost flat where CARE has been actively working with the community there. She grew up in a low-income family, and due to some family circumstances, Fifi dropped out of school since the beginning of 2024. 

HBLS assists children in catching up with their education by providing resources and assistance at home. It also aims to raise parents' awareness about education and involve them in their children's learning journey. 

I eagerly anticipated embarking on this journey with Fifi, as I have heard many testimonies shared by colleagues about their transformative experiences with different children. By enrolling her to HBLS, we hoped to empower Fifi to read and write in English by the end of this programme.

Odoo • Image and Text
Myona's colleague, Joshua & Fifi during a Phonics Learning session.

From our very first session together, she was great; responsive and was able to blend well with us through games as well as arts and crafts. In the following week, with much joy, we entered her home and officially started the first learning session with Phonics Learning, focusing on the alphabets and the sounds of A, B, C, and T. 

However, “Entah? (I don’t know),” was her reply after we had taught her repeatedly. “Tak faham! (I don’t understand),” was her favourite phrase when we try to speak to her in English. Her handwriting was crooked most of the time. Her mother too, gave feedback that she finds it difficult to teach and guide her own child.

Fifi’s progress did not meet my expectation, which became discouraging over time, to say the least.  I felt annoyed and frustrated, needing to put in extra effort to guide and teach her.

Nevertheless, I changed my teaching approach by including more fun learning activities in every session. I adjusted my expectations and started praising her as often as I could when she showed even the slightest improvement.

After nine sessions, Fifi's growth was palpable! She could now identify all 4 alphabet letters (A, B, C, and T), and recognise the sounds of these letters with minor prompting. Notably, her handwriting has improved to become neater, and she responds in English whenever we greet her.

Each small progress in our eyes is a huge leap for both Fifi and us. Our hope for her is that one day, she is able to read and write with joy and she would explore the world through words. I've learned that in serving the community, persistence and perseverance is crucial. Despite the challenges and setbacks faced along the way, continuing to show up will make a significant difference in the lives of individuals like Fifi. We not only contribute to their personal growth and development but also foster a stronger and more resilient community for all.


Story written by Myona Hong - Community Development.
*Name altered to protect identity.