Friday, September 15, 2006
posted by PabloPabla at 2:45 pm

I was having dinner with a couple of friends in church yesterday evening when we started talking about our children. We agree that our children's generation today is quite different from how it used to be when we ourselves were children.

It was then that I shared with them about my wife and my stand that we would only send our daughter to kindergarten at the age of 5. Our daughter shall have 2 years of kindergarten education prior to entering primary school. This is not the first time we have shared our stand. In fact, many friends have asked "Is your daughter in kindy already?". My elder daughter has just turned 3 years old last July.

"Why do you only want to send your daughter to kindergarten at the age of 5?" Many ask that question. Some sounding alarmed. Well, I usually reply saying "She goes to Sunday School and her grandpa teaches her at home on simple ABC books etc.". The usual reply we get is "But then, she may be left behind and unable to catch up when she gets to kindergarten at 5 or even at primary school. The syllabuses nowadays are different and tough".

We have read some expert's (child experts) views that children below the age of 5 are too young to be exposed to formal education, what more to say, tuition. A report showed that by the age of 3, 85% of the child's core brain structure has formed. By 5 years old, 90% of the child's core brain structure has formed. So, between 3 to 5 years old, there is only an increase of 5%. Why the hurry?

By the time the child starts "formal" education at 5 years old in the kindergarten, the child will have many more years of education ahead till, hopefully graduation from the university. Isn't there enough number of years for the child to "catch-up"? Or should we subject the child to various classes in the hope that the child will reach the standard expected of us? I really pity the children when I see them feeling tired and bored from attending classes after classes. Be it language classes, piano lessons, ballet or general tuition for all subjects. It is not uncommon to hear of pre-schoolers having do to homework till late a night.

Anyway, what is the whole point of ensuring that a child gets the maximum equipping with formal education plus skills such as playing a musical instrument or speaking an additional language? Is it to groom the child so that the child will serve society with the knowledge or skills acquired? Or is it to ensure that the child has a good future? If it is the latter, what would the definition of good be? To be able to earn more money? Climb the social ladder? Or could it be that it is our desire that our child be better than others in terms of knowledge and skills? A prideful ambition? Or perhaps, unknowingly, we are cultivating a habit of "keeping up with the Joneses" or "kiasu" syndrome in our child of tender age. We do not deny that education and skills are important. But they are not the most important.

I must admit that it can be a struggle for me to wrestle with the question of "Am I making the right decision for my daughters to only send them to kindergarten at 5 years old or am I being stubborn and old-fashioned?" I am human after all. And I continue to ask for God's direction and will on this matter.

Our wish for our daughters is that they will know why they were created in the first place. That they will know their Creator, our Father in Heaven, and be able to live a life to glorify Him. Central to that would be to teach them to love others, be joyful, have peace, be patient, having goodness, persevere, being faithful and having self-control as guided by the Holy Spirit. Those are qualities which we pray that our daughters would have and it is good to start young.



At 4:22 pm, Blogger hippo

It's very heartening to know there are still people like you around. Excellent post.


At 7:26 pm, Blogger Wuching

dun worry too much, they will grow up fine!


At 1:48 am, Blogger David

One of my major regrets in life was not spending enough quality time with my children when they were little kids. The bonding between parents and children is certainly more important than any thing else. The Lord will guide you. There is nothing to worry about.


At 10:26 am, Blogger Anak Merdeka

Just follow your instincts coz you'll know what is best for your own kids.

I taught my own kids how to read by using flash cards and the Ladybird series. It worked very well for me because both of them could read independently by the age of 4. And at 7, my girl could "read" the English newspaper aloud although she could not understand most of the words. The point is, she could pronounce words which are alien to her.

hehe ... needless to say, I'm a rather proud mummy. :-)


At 11:14 pm, Anonymous hijackqueen

Every parents have dream for their children. I won't argue with what you've decided. Anyway, we'll learn from mistake and improve. What I meant is trial and error with your 1st child and you will know where is the need. Can understand ah?


At 1:09 am, Blogger doc

it's imperative that you stand up for what you strongly believe to be right, including what's appropriate for your daughter. my generation was not brought up on tuition & i still believe it is not entirely necessary, provided the student pays diligent attention, is prepared to ask questions in class & revises consistently. but i have to admit that the standard of most subjects, & their teaching, have dropped markedly, with the exception of BM.


At 12:20 pm, Blogger Ryan

I'd say children nowadays deserve a childhood.

There are many other ways to learning than attending kindergarten.

I still think a revamp of our education system is very much needed.


At 2:30 pm, Blogger PabloPabla

hippo : Thanks for the encouragement!

wuching : I shall have to leave my worries with the Lord! :)

david : I am blessed because I do get to leave office early (5.30pm) on work days and need not work on Sats. Will try to spend more time with the girls. You can just see the joy in their eyes when they greet you as you come home from work :)

anak : Yeah. Kids are actually quite smart nowadays. My elder daughter can understand some mandarin even though we never taught her. Puzzling sometimes but pleasantly puzzled :)

hijackqueen : Can. Our dream for our girls is that they know the Lord and live a godly life :)

doc : Both my wife and I were not fed a diet of tuition also except during Form 5 when I took intensive tuition for 3 months to brush up my Add Maths (as I had never passed a single Add Maths paper since Form 4).

ryan : Yes, I echo your views. When I was back in hometown attending grandma's funeral, I showed to my daughter the drain which I used to catch tadpoles when I was a boy. There are still tadpoles there and she was so fascinated looking at them. I taught her what they were and what they will turn out to be. I also showed her some fruit trees like banana and rambutan trees. Nothing beats learning on the field :)


At 3:45 pm, Anonymous Laksa

i'm not a father yet (i'm not even married) so don't have much experience with this sorta issues. i hardly read up on articles relating to children's development either, but i'm sure you guys are great parents and know what's best for your kids :)

all i can say is, from my personal experience, at the end of the day the greatest influence on a child is the surroundings and the other kids he/she grows up with. parents can only do so much but the real role models out there is the world - what the kid is exposed to will affect the attitude.

errrr, i know it's out of topic, but relating my own experience - i grew up totally different from my parents, the exact opposite :P


At 3:48 pm, Blogger blurblur

I'm really glad to see you stand by your principles...kudos to you! :)

Before Damien enters Nursery, he didn't attend any school too! Many of my friends (even my own MIL) questioned me, and kept telling me that i should sent him to one. To me, i just want my son to enjoy his childhood as long as possible, is there anything wrong in this??


At 3:56 pm, Blogger PabloPabla

laksa : It is precisely because the world out there is falling that we need to go back to basics with our children. There is far too much undesirable influences out there which are clamouring for our children's attention. Many children and even adults get hooked to pornography. They might not become the next rapist / sexual offender in town but you can agree with me the negative influence it can have in that person. Actually, studies have shown that kids do look up to their parents as a role model especially during the younger age. If we do not spend enough time with them before the age of 12, it may be a little too late.

blurblur : Hey! You are not doing badly either. Looks like the responses which I have above shows that many think quite like me (and you). Is it that bloggers / readers of bloggers are different from the rest of the world??


At 5:14 pm, Blogger mumsgather

My girl is 4 this year and many often express surprise or shall I say shock that she is still not in "school". Our plan is to send them at age 5 too. However, may even have to postpone to later because of wrong timing due to moving house so maybe 5 1/2 or 6. The only thing I'm worried about is not being able to provide her with the social skills she needs. Both my children are a bit shy and clingy as they don't get much exposure. However, one or two years should be able to catch up on social skills hopefully. As for the rest, ie the education part, I'm not worried at all. I'm at home to teach them aren't I? I teach my girl English, Maths, Arts and Science at home and we both enjoy it very much. Later if I'm ambitious enough I'll teach her some BM too. Haha.


At 10:08 am, Blogger PabloPabla

mumsgather : I think since you are at home with the kids, you are their best teacher. I am sure by being with them daily, you have given them a sense of security and confidence.