So we’ve started taking Gavin to Henguru. He was generally very receptive to the idea of going because it meant I’d be there and he seems eager to do things with me these days. So far he’s attended two classes and we seem to be getting mixed reactions from him regarding the class. After the first session, he said he wanted to go again. After the second session, he said he didn’t like it and didn’t want to come any more. When I told him he had to go five more times (because that was the minimum number of lessons we were committed to complete after taking the first two lessons), he told me okay but he wanted to go to seven more classes because seven is his favourite number. Yesterday, when we were in Midvalley shopping, he recognised the place and told me he wanted to go to class.
Does Gavin enjoy Henguru? I’m not really sure. Sometimes he pays attention to the sansei and sometimes he’s off with the fairies. They say that he’s listening even when he doesn’t appear to be, so there is value in him being present even if he doesn’t appear to be paying attention.
After observing Gavin at two classes in Henguru, I find myself more concerned about a greater underlying problem. Gavin’s been affected by the inverse power of praise. He’s always been precocious with his speech development and I know others think that he’s smart for his age – heck, I think he’s smart for his age. I suspect he is being affected by the praise despite my attempts to focus on effort-centric praise because his participation at Henguru seems geared towards those activities that he excels in. Looks like I’ll need to speak to his teachers at school and talk to him more about his brain muscle.
I digress… The first session of Henguru was quite overwhelming. The volume at which the sensai speaks is very loud and intimidating. Upon reflection, I suppose volume is necessary in order to gain the children’s attention. Secondly, the speed at which the class progresses is very fast. Again, I understand that speed is necessary to stimulate the right brain. Thirdly, the sensai’s English pronunciation leaves something to be desired. I cringed a few times at the way she pronounced certain words when she was flashing the cards for the children. That said, the teachers at Henguru must be fluent not only in English but also be able to speak Chinese and Japanese so it can’t be easy to find teachers who can speak all languages well. Given the option, I’d rather the sensai pronounced the Chinese words correctly since I can’t speak Chinese but I can always correct Gavin’s English pronunciation.
What do they do at Henguru?
They learn a lot of miscellaneous general knowledge. We’ve covered Buddhism, elements from the Periodic Table, date and time, art, Chinese words, Japanese words, English words, counting, math, quantity recognition, tangrams, writing, mandalas, speed reading, card recall using silly stories.
Here’s an example of a silly story from Memory Magic:
The idea behind the silly story is to train the brain to remember random picture cards in order by using what is essentially a silly story.
The sensai will show an image of a simple mandala and the parent and child will be required to remember where the colours are located. Then they will have to reproduce the pattern.
The tangrams are simply mini puzzles where the children have to figure how to create the shapes with the pieces that they have.
Quantity recognition involves an activity where the sensai will allow the children to see a certain number of items and the children have to be able to determine how many items they see without counting.
I suppose the stuff about art, Buddhism and the Periodic Table is merely intended to expose the child’s brain and activate the neurons.
Much of the lesson is conducted using flash cards. Personally, I can’t remember anything that I’ve seen because the speed at which the cards are flashed is so quick, I can barely absorb anything. Children under six are supposed to be more right brain skewed so they are supposed to be able to take material at this speed.
At this point, I honestly can’t say what Gavin is getting out of the classes. At the end of the day, I’m shooting for two things – the ability to speed read and a photographic memory. If I had to choose one, I’d take the photographic memory. If he picks up anything more than that, it’s an added bonus.