Schooling is an important part of our lives. I am currently spending two weeks in Penang to visit my parents and relatives. It has been great to meet up with my dad's side of relatives, realising I have lost a few uncles, but meeting their children and their grandchildren. That really made me realised how time flies and how long I have left home, since I finished high school in Penang. Our schooling has impacts on how we live and how we raise our families.
Apart from meeting up with relatives, I am attending the 30th anniversary celebrations for our graduation from high school. I will be meeting up with high school friends I have not seen or heard from since we left school. Many will be coming back from overseas. It will be a time for memories and reflection.
With the many gatherings, it was also a great opportunity to chat with my nephew and nieces as well as friends about their parenting challenges, in particularly school readiness. We talked about how they balance their children’s academic requirements and social interactions.
Some of you may recall, I mentioned in one of my articles that studying in Asia is pretty full on. I have known children as young as preschools being tutored for "school readiness" from preschool age.
Parents worry whether their children will be left behind if they are not tutored, as they believe with extra tutoring, their children will excel academically and rank highly in their grades.
Let's think about why parents do that?
I am sitting here recalling my own experiences at school. Yes, competition was keen, as we had few universities in Malaysia during my time and the competition to get in to one of the top universities was very high. However, I only got external help during the end of primary for school entrance exams and during high school years when the university entrance exams were near, but never at a preschool age.
During preschool days and primary and lower primary school, my grandparents were reading to us most of the time, and we mostly learned from listening and observing the conduct of the adults around us.
Why do you think parents are more worried nowadays?
– Is it more competitive to enter special or private schools?
– Parents have more time on their hands to supervise now?
– Do they feel that they will be perceived as failing in their parenting duties should their children do badly in their studies?
– Could it be because they were brought up believing that is the only way to educate children?
Now here is an exercise, put yourself in your children's position; go to maths and English tuitionfrom preschool age. You are aged 3+, and all you want is to play and rest. How would you feel? What would you be thinking?
Please note that what I am talking is different from attending normal preschools, where social interaction and fun learning are encouraged.
Below are consequences that could happen when children are deprived of self-exploration, self-expression and being self-sufficient:
Children lose the ability to think for themselves. They are being "told" what to do and what everyone expects of them and not what they really want and need, thus they lose the ability to really know what they want and how to attain their goals.
They will lose the ability to make decisions and take risks, as everything is planned and laid out for them; there is no need to think, thus they never have the chance to question and step out of the boundaries. They lose the ability to take risks and lose the confidence to think outside the square and take on new challenges.
What can you do about it?
Be aware of your expectations of your child/children. Are you worried about their academic success or are you more worried about whether you will be judged whether you are a good parent?
Have a connected day with your family.