‘It was really tough’: Actress Evelyn Tan on raising three dyslexic sons

SINGAPORE – Singaporean actress-host Evelyn Tan has opened up about raising her three sons who were diagnosed with dyslexia.

Tan, 49, has four children with local actor-host Darren Lim, 51: daughter Kristen, 19, and sons Jairus, 17, Way, 15, and Elliott, 11.

Tan, who put her career on hold when she became a mother, decided to homeschool her children during their formative years. However, she faced an uphill task when she discovered all three boys were dyslexic.

“It was really quite tough,” Tan told The New Paper. “I saw other kids do well and thought that I, the homeschool mum, was the one who was teaching badly.”

Although homeschooling went smoothly with Kristen, Tan realised that Jairus needed more time to grasp concepts and found reading a little more difficult. He was diagnosed with dyslexia in 2016.

“Thankfully, Kristen performed well, and I was not doing anything different, so it could not have been my teaching methods.”

Determined to support Jairus, Tan signed up for the Dyslexia and Literacy Teaching course offered by the Dyslexia Association of Singapore in 2016.

“It was a beacon of light for parents like myself,” she said. “For a dyslexic mind, you have to give very specific instructions. The course taught me that not everyone learns spelling the way I did.”

She added: “I also learnt how to make the task simpler by cutting up words into chunks or syllables. It was beneficial for me as well.”

Way was diagnosed with dyslexia in 2018, and though Elliott was not officially tested, Tan said she noticed he exhibited some traits of dyslexia.

Tan said had she known her sons were dyslexic, she would not have taken the homeschooling route.

Kristen is pursuing a Diploma in Digital Film and Television at Temasek Polytechnic, and Tan is still homeschooling Jairus, who will take his O-level exams in 2024.

Way, who is now in Secondary 2, started his mainstream education at Primary 6, when Tan realised he was struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic and needed to socialise.

Elliott, who is now in Primary 5, was not homeschooled as her hands were “full with the other two”.

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