Saturday, July 21

Are you pushing your kid to the limit?

Recently, I have been reading articles and forums about how some parents are enrolling their preschool kids to multiple preschools and enrichment classes. 


I agree (and I'm not afraid to say it), our government sets a certain standard for Singaporeans and if you want to be accepted and survive in this society, you have to push yourself to achieve it. Everyone should have a certain expectations for themselves. If you set a certain standard for yourself, you must be able to achieve it, if not, you move on to Plan B, isnt it? But kids? What do they know? 

I have a growing toddler and next month, she's starting Phonics enrichment class, once a week for 1.5 hours only. The kind of reaction I get from some friends is ridiculous! 

- "Are you crazy? What is she gonna learn in 1.5 hours, once a week?"
- "She will never be able to catch up with her friends."
- "Her foundation will be so poor that you will start to panic when she goes primary school."

While some reactions were ridiculous, others were supportive! Even if your "support" is just to humour me, I appreciate it. =)

- "Oh! That's good enough for her age, she should enjoy the learning process."
- "No matter what school she goes, learning begins at home so if what she learns at home is sufficient, enrichment classes are for supplementary purposes so go easy on her."
- "Step-by-step is good, don't push her or else she will have an adverse reaction."

Having worked in the education industry for 11 years, I have seen all kinds of parents, students, and systems. I started off in international schools, giving private home tutoring and then tutoring in tuition centres. I learnt all sorts of skills while in international schools and I was mentoring under the IB system (International Baccalaureate) and when I started tutoring, it was under the MOE system. The objective of learning for both system is a huge difference. I personally agree with the IB system (not the one Singapore started). Of course, MOE system has proven to one of the world's recognized, IB doesn't fall short too. But let's not talk about these systems now... 

My point here is, are you pushing your child to multiple schools and classes for your own face value or to compete with other kids? Or is it to be the best in society in the future? What are your objectives FOR your kids? At this age, they are technically like a puppet because we are arranging practically everything for them, from what they wear, what they eat, what they do, and etc. I know some parents out there will be all defensive and start commenting, "Your child and my child are two different people so you won't know what my child needs." YES YES, I KNOW. But did your child literally, verbally tells you what he/she really wants? Or are you just presuming?

As parents, our fear is our child will not succeed in life  or may lose out to society in terms of career and whatever other factors. But can we control what our government plans for us? Have our parents expected the high standard of living now when they brought us up back then? Changes are constant. We cannot change that fact. So whatever we do now, may not be even sufficient for the future of our kids!

I'm not teaching parents what to do, but to do some serious thinking. Whatever you do now, will affect how your child thinks in the future. It's a "cause and effect" factor. Some kids may be academically good in their studies, others may not. It's book-smart vs street-smart. All parents definitely want their kids to be top in everything they do. But can they? You can be good at something but not everything. That's one fact I stand by. 

I believe they are countless ways of learning and teaching. Private preschools teach using  the top popular progressive approaches; Montessori, Waldorf or Reggio Emillia. (read up the links). I'm not too sure which approach our public preschools (PCF) are using because my daughter is not in the public preschool. Singapore is filled with Montessori preschools and it has become the common ground for parents to choose. I personally don't really like the Montessori approach, no offense to those Montessori trained teachers. I prefer the Reggio Emillia approach because I believe in the three-way learning style. 

Whatever the reason you're pushing your kid, stop and think carefully. It doesn't matter if you have all the money in the world. It doesn't matter if your youngest bub is not as intelligent as your elder child. It doesn't matter if your sister's kid is smarter than yours. EVERY CHILD IS UNIQUE IN THEIR OWN WAYS. Both your hands are not of the same size. Both your feet are not of the same length. Even your eyes. So what how can you expect your kid to be the same as another kid? 

The worst comparison to make is within your kids. Don't say things like, "Your brother can do so well and score all As, why can't you?" Also, don't compare the cousins, friends' children with yours. If your friend is boasting about his/her kid academic achievements, let it be. Let it go, that child doesn't belong to you. You will never know the kind of pressure the child is facing with that crazy mother. Sometimes, the child is just smart, without a sweat, but it's STILL NOT YOURS! Don't envy other parents. Your child has his/her intelligence. Food on the next table will always look more tantalising than your plate on your table.

I constantly cheer on when my daughter knows her alphabets at random order, or even putting the plate away after snacks. Little things bring that megawatt smile on the child's face. I often encourage my students if they did not do well in their tests and say it's ok, there's round two. Just focus, and revise consistently. Last minute revision never helps. When they score well for a particular section in the worksheet, I will be thrilled cos for me, that's improvement. It means to say, they put in the effort, and that deserves my applaud. If your child don't do so well, don't yell, scream and throw a fit and punish. Sit down with them over a meal, just mother/father and child. Ask them if they are facing any problems, or if they need help. Suggest a tutor, not say, "That's it, you're going for tuition." Involve them in decision making. Don't make decisions for them (only when necessary) and expect them to fulfil YOUR expectations. Beating, caning, or whatever sorts of punishment is not going to bring the marks back or let them go back in time to do well. Move on, encourage.

Learning with your child not only bring you closer to your child, it will make your child feel that he/she is not alone in the learning process. Don't just throw them into the deep end of the pool, expecting he/she to start swimming. You have been in school before. You have gone through all sorts of learning process. Don't expect the school teacher to be able to focus on your child alone or the tutor to sprinkle fairy dust and make your child a genius.  It doesn't work that way. Be involved in what he or she is learning. Ask the form teacher or talk to the tutor how you can help. Don't listen to stupid suggestions like "give extra tuition" or "read the reader's digest", or "do more assessment books". Take some time, do your research online. It may be good to talk to other parents, but Singaporean parents have a typical mentality which irks me. Sadly, I'm one of the odd Singaporean parents that does things out of the norm. Sitting down with your child to study is NOT the way. Knowing what is going on their mind is key. Kids, as the grow older, they tend to keep things to themselves cos to them, "my parents don't understand me," and why is that so? You, as a parent may have exhibit such behaviour of not talking things out with your spouse or family members so therefore, monkey see, monkey do.

Instead of bogging your child down with academic classes over the weekends, why not bring them to places where they can learn? You can learn facts that you might not know with the kids and involve them in breakfast making, setting up the table, going to the beach, etc. Don't force them to do things they don't want. The way we talk to them, the choice of words we use, affects the outcome of his reasoning. I have seen extremely demanding parents as they want their child to just score 95% and above for all their subjects. I have also seen parents who only want their child to pass and enjoy the learning process and understand that academic results will only bring them to a certain level and they would rather inculcate morals and values to their kids. 

Like I have mentioned earlier, kids are not our tools. They are our life, a miracle given. We are suppose to nurture them to be useful citizens and to be happy. They are not for us to maintain face value in front of OUR friends and family. They are not for us to make use of. We have a duty to fulfil as parents. Don't turn the responsibility to them. It's not their call to be in this world. 

I hate it when parents refuse to accept their child's disabilities. Don't blame yourself if they are not normal. Accept they way they are. They didn't ask to be born this way. Autism, ADHD, ADD, Down Syndrome, Deaf, Mute, whatsoever they have, REMEMBER this; they have a special intelligence in them and it takes time for THAT intelligence to surface. God is not cruel to give you an "empty" child. Don't make them feel like they are useless to the society or they will be a burden to you. Yes, to a certain extent, they will be quite dependent on you, depending on their condition but unless they have severe mental retardation, they are intelligent in their own ways! Don't push away signs. If you notice something is wrong, don't blame them, HELP them. Money can be an issue as treatments are expensive but they have alternatives and financial assistance everywhere. God will not see you suffer. There's a reason for the child to be yours. Accept it, move on to seek help and give them happiness for as long as possible.

Kids feel emotionally safe when they see the affection from their parents. Hugs, kisses even a cheeky pat on their head makes them smile. Always tell them you love them so much and they will feel the assurance from you. That can be a driving factor for them to do well. Don't say,"NO, MY CHILD WILL TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE LOVE I SHOW." Of cos they will. They are kids! They are not adults! They cannot control emotions. Don't deprive them of that affection. Smile and talk to them maturely, discuss situations with them and who knows, they may come up with a better solution than u! Don't feel that kids doesn't know anything. How you are feeling emotionally, they can feel too. Don't forget, you carry them for 9 months in your womb. Mother and child will always be emotionally connected. 

Sending your child to multiple preschools, hiring multiple tuition centres and enrolling in multiples enrichment centres WILL NOT MAKE YOUR CHILD A GENIUS. They might end up hating you, rebelling in school, and be emotionally disconnected with you when they are older. Don't compare you kid with other kids or siblings. They are unique in their own ways. It takes time for their intelligence to surface. Be patient with them and accept them for who they are. 

I'm not a professional person to tell you what you should or should not do. I'm just giving you my two cents' worth of advice. Don't stress yourself with your kids future. Don't try to fit into our government expectations of "future kids". Don't make your child be detached with u. Learning begins at home. You want your child to be well-equipped with the right morals and values, not scoring all the As for your sake and lost himself/herself in the process of it. 

With that note, have a good weekend and enjoy your time with your kids!


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