Friday, March 23, 2012
Sabbatical leave reflection - Family, Relationship and Career
No technical posts this month, as I'm on sabbatical leave for the entire month of March. It's a moment of personal and career reflection. My company offers sabbatical leave as part of talent retention programme for every 10-year of service. But it does come with a "price" i.e. I'm obligated to stay on with my current company for at least another year. For me, the "price" is the career opportunity cost when Singapore and regional economies in Asia are still booming.
Before I decided to take the leave, I was still mulling over whether its benefits worth the opportunity costs . It's one of my greatest dilemmas in life of pursuing between a new jet-setting regional career with a big name MNC or to stay at least another year (or probably longer) in government sector with more family time. Frankly speaking, for the past couple of years, maybe because of my passions and expertise in IT infrastructure and security, I've no lack of recruiters and head-hunters on LinkedIn (whom I've never met) "enticing" me with attractive high six-figure annual remuneration packages.
As my month-long leave is finishing in a week, let me try to reflect whether this is a "right" choice. My 6 year-old child was at risk of being diagnosed as dyslexic. Even at age of 3-4, we could hardly understand what he was trying to say and express. And he had great difficulties remembering new simple words that we taught him repeatedly. (Unlike my younger 3 year-old, he could already speak in complete logical sentences.) Since then, he had been on KKH's early childhood intervention programme. However, the therapy sessions were patchy at best and the progress was so slow that both my wife and I were concerned that he could never catch up with his peers. We were even at thought of delaying him to primary school enrolment a year later.
During these couple of months, I've worked closely with an newly assigned English literacy therapist who hailed from England - Teacher Ann. She was my son's favourite teacher who helped him to improve his English literacy by leaps and bounds. She was encouraging and engaging. Both my son and I enjoyed her many lessons tremendously that involved interesting actions of jolly phonics like ee-or (both hands on heads), sh (finger across lips) and interactive readings. How I wished I was taught this way when I was young! Hence, I've to re-learn English from her, so that I know how to train my son. If I didn't do my part well, I would get an "earful" from her in next following Monday. I supervised my child every evening for at least 30 min in writing, reading and phonic. The efforts paid off. Before intervention, his literacy score was only 26/100. In his recent latest assessment, his score was 81/100, which compared well to the median score of 50/100 among his peers in England (that's what according to teacher Ann). We were so happy and excited that we asked his another local teacher Jacqueline (from NuturyIn) to put him on her K2 class (he was placed on K1 class originally, as he was behind his peers). But the class was full. Because she shared our joys, she decided to open up a new K2 class just for us. We were so thankful and relieved. But it's not going to end our "intervention". We know we're in a long haul process to keep him going until he can fully read and learn independently.
Meanwhile, I took a step back and reflected on goals and objectives in life. I've started relating to my loved ones and people around me. I've also settled on our Wills and Testaments in case both my wife and I "leave" this planet pre-maturely. We also went to Chiang Mai, Thailand and had good spa/massage and hair treatments.
Coming April, I'll be moving on to a new technical consultancy role within the same organisation. I still can't decide whether this is a right choice ultimately. But at least, I've no "regrets" for my personal "achievements" within the month, as it's not "wasted" and something that I probably couldn't and won't do normally.