Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why Teach What The School is Teaching?

Children these days are getting so smart. I have been seeing many preschoolers who are academically ready for Primary 1. They can read, spell, add, subtract and some could even do multiplication and division, all under the age of 7 years old. Many would think these kids are gifted, but in actual fact, most of them are not. But they have received the greatest gift. That is, very committed parents who have spent time and coached them well or send them to renowned enrichment centres as early as 4 months old to stimulate and educate.

I don't deny I'm one kiasu parent. From a mother that is all set to teach her kids from birth with Glenn Doman flash cards and achieving academic excellence in the society's eyes, I have evolved to one who believes in providing an environment for the children to learn.

I was so fascinated when I saw babies recognizing words and toddlers adding and subtracting. I thought I want my kids to be able to do that too. I wanted my kids to be more advanced than the average kid. I used to follow the infant developmentally chart closely to make sure my boys' development are in the advanced column. Started doing my a letter a week curriculum with my boys and before I could reach letter Z, they could recognize and read all the 26 alphabets at 20 months old. I could proudly say they know all the basics, Alphabets, Colors, Shapes, Numbers 1-10 before 2 years old. I was pleased with the progress, especially when the learning was done in a very relaxed manner. I didn't even drill them, just imagine the amount of knowledge they could take in if I did, I thought. I wanted to teach them a lot more but I'm often overwhelmed by their tantrums and the responsibilities as their care giver.

Something struck me one day when I was peeping at my boys when they were at their playgroup with my Mum. The teacher was teaching them about the color Yellow and all the children were sitting down listening to their teacher. And there was my boy, playing "swimming" on the floor at the back of the classroom. I was displeased as they were the most attentive when I'm teaching them at home. My mum remarked, "he already know all these, nothing for him to learn."

What my mum said kinda woke me up. If I cover all that's to be covered in school, what's there to learn in school? School would become boring. It may still be alright at preschool level since preschool is still focused on play but it's going to get very boring as they progress to Primary school where they have to sit in front of a board.

I braked. Instead of covering the academic stuff, we did lots of open ended art, outdoor play and reading. There were times when I'm worried if they may fall behind when almost all the toddlers we know are attending enrichment classes of some sort. But my husband, never fail to bring me back to what we believed in. "Time, is what we can give them."

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