These days even picking a pre-school requires in depth background research. There are so many early childhood programs available, it would be a mistake to blindly send your child to the pre-school down the road. Admittedly I didn’t really do much research since my concern was largely about whether I could get Gavin to accept school or not. My selection of Kinderland was only because we knew the principal and because Gavin’s god brother and sister were there. I thought the familiar faces would help him adjust more quickly and easily to the idea of school.
I’m glad to say that he has really adopted the school routine very well. He no longer cries or protests about going to school. And after hearing the entry requirements of the International schools, I must say I am glad that we decided to send Gavin to preschool ahead of my original schedule. Based on what they children are expected to be able to do during the entry assessment, I am not so sure that Gavin would have made it if he hadn’t been exposed to pre-school.
Anyway, I’m digressing… I signed for a free online subscription to Today’s Motherhood – a Singaporean publication – some time back and one of their recent articles was about the teaching methodologies available in various pre-schools around Singapore. Unfortunately, you won’t find all of these methodologies available in Malaysia. The only one I’ve heard of is the Montessori approach. In fact, I’m not even sure which methodology Kinderland follows! Nevertheless I thought it was worth while knowing about the different teaching methodologies because I run my own home programs with Gavin and have incorporated some elements of various early childhood development programs I have heard about.
For instance, at home, I try incorporate the following activities into Gavin’s after school and weekend time:
- Play pretend games
- General playing with toys – Thomas trains, Duplo, Jigsaw Puzzles, Ball House, water play, etc.
- Linking memory
- Doman Bits of intelligence
- Doman Math Dot cards
- Doman Word cards
- Quantities recognition
- Recognising Symbols
- Heguru homework
- Eurotalk Chinese CD ROM program
- Disney’s Phonics Quest
- Signing Time
- Positive life lessons
- Writing – using Kumon books, stencils, and scribbling on notepads
In my last meeting with Gavin’s sensei at Heguru, she mentioned it was important for us to practice some of the activities at home in order for him to maximise his learning from the Heguru program. Since then, I’m been industriously preparing new flash cards at home for Gavin to practice with. I’ve also been bribing him with smarties to play games with the Doman flash cards I bought previously. So far it’s been working marvelously.
If you want to know more about the pre-school programs, you can read the article from Today’s Motherhood: Parent’s Guide to Choosing the Right School. The article is excellent if you’re a Singaporean mother because they have links to pre-schools in Singapore that follow each methodology. For Malaysian Mums, it’ll be handy to know about these teaching methodologies when you’re researching your pre-schools so you know what sort of programs to look out for when you visit.
It probably sounds rather “kiasu” (translates to “afraid to lose” but means competitive) to be so concerned about teaching methodologies in pre-school, doesn’t it? A few years ago I might have thought so too. Knowing what I do know now about the young brain and how it develops, I think selecting the right pre-school is probably more important than the schools your child goes to later.
School life is going to be a big part of your child’s life for some two decades of his life depending on what he chooses do to in University. These days it can be even longer than that with Masters degrees and PHDs being so common. If you’re child is going to maximise the returns from that education, I think it is important to set him up right from the beginning. Personally, I feel it is important to inculcate a love for learning and the type of methodology used in pre-school can make or break it. Get off on the wrong foot and it’s going to be an uphill battle for the next twelve years.
This is why I’ve been so engrossed in all these early childhood development programs like Shichida, Heguru, Glenn Doman, etc. I don’t have much faith in the school system. Personally, I would rather homeschool. Then again, I’m not sure I have the confidence to homeschool either. So to get the best of both worlds, I send Gavin to a formal school while I try to “school-proof” him with the activities I do at home with him. The philosophy of these early childhood development programs is that if you start your child off early in a fun way, you will inculcate a love for learning that will “school-proof” him in later years.