Princess and The Rock

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014

"I have very important work to do too. I need to play."

The Rock uttered those words one day when I told him to sleep on his own because I needed to complete a piece of writing. I said, "Rock, go sleep on your own first, I'm going to finish up this important piece of work then I'll go to you." His response was, "I have very important work to do too. I need to play." I thought those were words of wisdom from a three year old to-be.

Indeed what can be more important than play at his age or pre-schooling age. I've always thought that the term "preschooler" is self-explanatory; it means that the child is not of schooling age so formal schooling is quite unnecessary. However it is preferred and even deemed as crucial in a child's development in Singapore, so that they can be "prepared". Prepared for what? Primary school education? Coming in first for their first test? Future vocation and challenges in life ahead?

It is interesting that the primary education in Singapore is no longer Primary. The term "primary school" is really a misnomer in our local context. Primary education in Singapore starts at infancy in the form of The Shichida Method, speech and drama and many parent-child courses. I have nothing against putting children for such classes if they enjoy them but I have a nagging feeling that sometimes parents sign them up for fear of losing out or being left behind. I have been through that pressure and I signed Princess up for school when she was past three year old. I even managed to secure a place at a "premium preschool and kindergarten".

However I found I had very little time to spend with her once she went to school. Everyday became a "school - lunch - nap - short time of play - dinner - bedtime" routine. Play time suffered greatly and that was a red flag to me. Time for imaginative play, reading and outdoor play/sports are important components of a child's routine so I decided to restore those necessities to Princess and the rest is history.

My idea of a perfect environment for learning at preschool age consists of these:

  1. An excess of human interaction and communication. 
  2. "A growing body of evidence suggests that a huge influence on early language development is the number of words that children hear as infants and toddlers.  The more that parents speak to their infants and in front of their infants, the better infants get at understanding speech and learning words." Art Markman, Ph.D., Ulterior Motives

  3. Little exposure to television and electronic devices. This is no surprise to anyone. There is a large amount of research and discussion on the detrimental effects of overexposure to television and electronic device. The latest I read was about a toddler who was addicted to the ipad.

  4. Plenty of play, both outdoor and indoor. Do you remember the wildly popular novel, "Flowers in the Attic"? Although the story is fictional, the negative effects of the lack of sunshine, fresh air, freedom and stimulation is real.

  5. Encourage incidental learning. Hands up those who prefer to memorise 15 pages of facts about Spain as opposed to keeping a travel journal of your 15 day study trip to Spain. Maybe this is an extreme example but you get the idea right? 

  6. Model positive attitude and behaviour. I've heard my fair share of "I thought you say ... then how come you can ..." Actions really do speak much louder than words. 

What is your take on preschool education? 

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