When she sat for her A-Level exams, she submitted her ‘Further Mathematics’ and ‘Principles of Accounting’ papers without writing anything on them because she “had no interest in studies”.
But Suria Sparks, who eventually retook her A-Level exams as a private candidate, now runs her own seminars to help students build a self-motivation to study and get ‘A’s in their subjects.
The students attend her seminars with their parents.
To date, over 6,000 students and their parents from countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Kuwait and China have taken part in her seminars.
Suria, who has two teenage children, believes the positive parenting strategies and skills that she shares in her seminars can improve the performance of the students in school.
She says: “Most kids are hungry for acknowledgment and approval, so having the parents praise and hug their kids can make a big difference.”
Few people know this better than Suria, who grew up in a conservative family.
Both her parents worked and rarely brought her out, so much so that she spent her birthdays at home.
Her father also didn’t talk much to her.
Suria recalls: “There was one time I did very well for an essay competition in school and won the top prize.”
“My father came to see me receive the trophy on stage, but he didn’t speak a word to me throughout the ceremony.”
“When I got down from the stage, he just looked at me and told me to go back with him.”
The lack of communication with her father gave way to a deepening feeling that what she achieved was “always not good enough”.
To make matters worse, her father was very strict with her studies.
Although Suria wanted to take up ‘Literature’ and ‘History’ in junior college, she ended up choosing ‘Further Mathematics’ and ‘Principles of Accounting’ because her father insisted on those subjects.
She started hating school and deliberately failed her A-Level exams to rebel against her father.
Not knowing what to do with her life, she went through a string of part-time jobs at convenience stores, factories and childcare centres to pass her time and earn pocket money.
It was during this period that her father finally broke down and cried in front of her.
Suria says: “He asked what was going to happen to me.”
That was when she realised that her father actually cared for her.
She decided to retake her A-Level exams, but her father passed away from a sudden heart attack before he could see her results.
For Suria, it was a painful way to part.
“It’s the biggest regret of my life, and I never want any child and parent to have to go through a moment like this,” she says.
These days, Suria maintains a close relationship with her teenage children.
Every weekend, her 17-year-old son texts her to ask whether she’s interested to go for a movie with him.
When her son’s school results dipped at the beginning of last year, she didn’t reprimand him; instead, she took him out for dinner and a walk along East Coast beach.
She discovered that he had just broken up with his girlfriend and that he was depressed.
By being more of a friend than an authoritative figure to her son, Suria managed to help her son overcome his emotional challenges and achieve top marks for his O-Level exams.
Suria aims to impart these positive parenting strategies skills at her Genius IQ seminar, which will be held on Friday, 31 March 2017.
Suria says: “Kids nowadays are not the same as kids from our time anymore, so if we try to parent them the way our parents parented us, I think we’re going to lose our kids.”
“This is a life-saving skill.”