Tentang Sanggar Kreativitas Bona

Menjadi orang tua jaman sekarang memang beda dengan jaman dulu, termasuk juga dalam hal memilih sekolah. Saya sendiri sempat kebingungan karena bertemu dengan banyak sekali pertanyaan seputar masalah sekolah untuk Bintang, yang bulan Mei 2012 nanti genap berusia 3 tahun. Mulai dari jenis sekolah seperti apa yang baik (play-based, montessori, sekolah alam, kurikulum, bahasa pengantar Indonesia/Inggris/Mandarin), sampai kepada masalah jarak, jam berapa kelas dimulai, berapa biaya uang pangkal dan SPP bulanan, kondisi sekolah dan calon teman-teman sekelas.

…. cukup memusingkan, ternyata.

Dan seperti kebanyakan orang tua baru lainnya, kesalahan saya berawal dari hal yang sepele, yaitu lupa melihat karakter anak. Tahap awal yang harus diperhatikan, terutama jika menyangkut soal pendidikan usia dini adalah memahami karakter anak, dan mencari institusi yang sesuai agar nantinya anak bisa memaksimalkan potensinya. Contoh kesalahan saya adalah memasukan syarat “punya ruang bermain outdoor” kedalam checklist, padahal Bintang bukan tipe anak yang suka bermain diluar. Terlanjur pusing, padahal itu tidak penting!

Saya juga sempat menemukan sekolah yang belum apa-apa sudah bertanya, “Apa Bintang sudah pernah sekolah sebelumnya? Karena disini target kami cukup tinggi, jadi kami khawatir jika nanti Bintang tertinggal dan tidak bisa mengikuti pelajaran.” Saya dan suami cuman bisa geleng-geleng kepala, dan berkata dalam hati, “Ini kita yang katrok atau mereka yang sinting ya?”

Walaupun termasuk anak yang ekstra talkative alias cerewet, Bintang tetap butuh waktu untuk beradaptasi di lingkungan yang asing. Slow to warm, istilahnya. Jadi saya harus benar-benar memastikan dia enjoy dengan suasana sekolahnya, dan mau berinteraksi dengan guru atau teman sekelas.

Tentang Sanggar Kreativitas Bona

Tanpa ada maksud untuk promosi, saya coba datang atas undangan free trial dari Sanggar Kreativitas Bona (SKB), yang merupakan anak perusahaan Kompas-Gramedia, khusus menangani bidang pendidikan anak usia dini. Kelompok bermain yang relatif “baru” untuk wilayah Surabaya, dengan konsep play-based dan tidak ada target ataupun pressure bagi anak usia 2 hingga 5 tahun. Fokus dari SKB bukan tertuju pada kemampuan akademik anak (baca-tulis-hitung, angka/huruf), tetapi pada kemandirian dan kreativitas anak, walaupun ada sedikit (dan memang benar-benar sedikit) sekali pengenalan terhadap angka.

Dalam setiap pertemuan (seminggu 3x, masing-masing selama 2 jam), pembiasaan kemandirian sudah dimulai sejak anak berada didepan sekolah, karena anak diharuskan membawa tas sekolahnya sendiri, melepas sepatu sendiri sebelum masuk kelas, meletakan tas di tempat khusus, lalu duduk di bangkunya masing-masing. Lalu dilanjutkan ke aktivitas yang melatih motorik kasar anak (olahraga ringan), story telling untuk melatih kemampuan listening comprehension anak, lalu art & craft untuk melatih motorik halus, seperti menggunting, menempel, atau prakarya.

Setelah motorik halus, anak kembali dibiasakan untuk mandiri, yaitu dengan mencuci tangan sendiri, lalu mengambilsnack didalam tas masing-masing dan makan bersama. Setelah makan, anak juga harus mencuci tangan, dan mulai melakukan kegiatan kesenian seperti mewarnai, menggambar, bernyanyi, atau berlatih alat musik. Sekitar 30 menit sebelum pulang, anak diberikan waktu bebas untuk bermain apapun sendirian, atau bersama temannya, sambil guru menulis di buku penghubung murid. Kelas diakhiri dengan guru “menggambar” sebuah angka di papan tulis, dan menjelaskan angka berapa yang di gambar tersebut. Setelah itu, anak bergiliran memakai kaus kaki dan sepatunya sendiri, mengambil tas, dan keluar dari kelas.

Khusus di hari Jumat, kelas PG-A digabung dengan PG-B, dan tidak ada kegiatan terstruktur seperti hari Senin atau Rabu. Di hari Jumat, kelas dimulai dengan menari bersama, lalu anak-anak bebas bermain didalam kelas. Setelah itu, satu per satu murid bergiliran maju untuk menyanyi lagu apapun yang mereka pilih. Hal ini bertujuan melatih keberanian anak untuk tampil didepan umum, mengafal lagu yang mereka sukai, dan menghargai penampilan teman sekelasnya.

Overall, dengan harga yang relatif ekonomis, SKB berhasil menarik perhatian saya. Dan jumlah murid yang masih belum terlalu banyak (sekitar 8 anak termasuk Bintang), memungkinkan adanya interaksi yang baik antara Bintang dengan guru. Begitu pula antara saya dan gurunya. Kurikulum yang menekankan pada pembentukan kemandirian anak dan kreativitas, sepertinya cocok dengan selera pribadi saya dan (mudah-mudahan) bisa membantu Bintang untuk perkembangan sosial dan kognitifnya.

Disamping itu, SKB juga punya agenda rutin tahunan untuk menampilkan kreativitas anak di acara yang digelar oleh Gramedia Group, seperti kids expo (pertengahan tahun 2012), ataupun acara lainnya seperti SBO-TV baby star (tanggal 12 Mei 2012), dan kids fair di Grand City (13 Mei 2012). Walaupun belum ada indikasi sebagai seorang performer saya harap kesempatan tersebut bisa pelan-pelan membantu Bintang untuk mengatasi kekhawatirannya di tempat asing.

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Empty Guns

I was watching some documentary on National Geographic Channel last night, about the government of Istanbul, trying to build underground train rails and stations, and found that most of the engineers working there were foreigners. There were local citizens but most of them are working as labors, executing orders from some European engineers, they obviously have bigger risks, but were paid lower salary.

It is the same case with a 35 year-old male taxi driver in New York city, escorting a 35 year-old NASA physicist who turned out to be his high-school friend, but is now on his way to a scientific convention to fulfill his career as the keynote speaker. They’re both Americans, they are at the same age, they even came from the same high-school, but somehow their life (and career choices) is very different.

As a parent, like anyone else, we obviously wish for our children to be the engineers, or the NASA physicist, instead of being the taxi driver, or the low-paid labor.

Question is, what can we -as parents- do? Is saving our money for a good/reputable college will be enough? Does a good university guarantees your children to have excellent communication abilities, superb character, and unimaginable creativity like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or the late Steve Jobs?

Education, which is delivered to our children through formal institutions called “school” is not the only thing parents must provide. More importantly (but somehow not everybody realized this, including myself), we need to motivate our children to utilize those knowledge in order to actually achieve something.

As a new parent, I always thought that the most important thing to do, in order to “secure” your children’s future, is by providing them good education. Perhaps it is true, in the case of engineers and scientist that I mentioned on the above story. But a good education serves only as a bullet to what made a full-package weapon to be deadly. Knowledge, is like bullets. If you don’t fill your brain with knowledge, you will be like an empty gun. Deadly on the outside, but can’t be used to kill anyone (or anything) because it lacks the basic ingredient: the bullets.

this is the result of a good education

So I guess we all need to make this our personal parenting homework. Just because you have enough money and have successfully registered your kids to a reputable school, it doesn’t mean that you’re done. You’ve created bullets, but if you fail to find the appropriate gun for them, there’s always the possibility of dropping out and your kids can end up driving a taxi. Or worse, you can fail in preparing the money for high education and find your kids working in an underground project covered with mud and being at risk of landslide.

Learning, knowing, understanding something is NEVER enough. You need to push your children to have the motivation to use what they know in order to create, achieve, and do something for themselves, and for others. And like it or not, even though good education might not guarantee anyone being successful in their life, but it obviously provide greater, better opportunities for them. It all depends on whether or not they have the ability to take advantage of the opportunities in front of them.

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God Help Teh Ninih!

I know everybody is talking about this hot gossip, so making a blog about the Preacher of A Million People will not be special, but I can’t help wondering what the hell happened on Teh Ninih’s mind!???

Here’s what happened.

1987: Aa’ Gym marries Teh Ninih. They have 7 children, and slowly but sure, Aa’ Gym’s career skyrocketed with enormous job offers from all over Indonesia. He is also known as the owner of Islamic School of Daarut Tauhid in West Java, and became extremely famous as The Preacher of A Million People (dai sejuta umat).

November 2006: After almost 20 years of marriage and 7 kids, Aa’ Gym marries second wife Alfarini (Teh Rini). Being a polygamist, his career began to fell down but it doesn’t stop the couple from continue creating a happy family, and gave birth to a baby on November 2008.

June 2011: Aa’ Gym divorced Teh Ninih, due to different preaching style. Rumors said it was also heavily influenced by Aa’s decision to marry second wife Teh Rini.

March 2012: Aa’ Gym (re)marries Teh Ninih, and said that everything has been arranged by God. That it was all a matter of destiny, and it should be good for religion and for all mankind.

According to Teh Rini, she will not stay together with Teh Ninih because they never stay together anyway. Teh Rini stays in Jakarta, while Teh Ninih stays in Bandung. She said “Everything shall return to previous arrangements. Aa’ will stay in Jakarta with me, from Monday to Wednesday, and then goes to Bandung to be with Teh Ninih until the next Monday morning. Let’s pray that this will be good for everyone.”

Here’s what I think..

Aa’ Gym might have said a lot of wisdom to all his followers during his lectures. But a man’s character is based on his actions, not just words. Especially when his words are contrary to the fact that he treats his wife like sh*t. First, you told her you want to marry another woman. Even when she gave you her approval, you still filed for divorce and leave her with your 7 (seven, yes he have seven for God sake!!!) children alone.

Now you finally see that she’s the best thing that ever happened to you and you simply go to her house, asked her to marry you again, and then went to the KUA and mention your ijab kabul.

Not only you’re being a complete hypocrite, you hide yourself behind your religious covers, saying that God is the One who arranged this, and that everything is simply a matter of destiny.

It’s not destiny, you idiot hypocrite! It’s the wisdom of a woman name Teh Ninih who have a very big heart and endless patience to deal with man like you!

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Kids & TV: You Name It, He Watched It!

I’m a TV addict. And I let my 2 year-old son “Bintang” to watch TV for almost 12 hours a day. From Barney & Friends, to Thomas The Tank Engine, Pingu, Ava-Riko-Teo, Mr. Maker, Boogie Beebies, Teletubbies, In The Night Garden, and everything else, you name it, he watched it. Since he was born, we live in a small house and put the TV in our bedroom. We were pretty much attached to it, so badly, that we -almost- always fell asleep every night with the TV still on.

..and the TV watches us sleeping..

But last January, my husband and I were finally able to buy our own house, and while moving in, we have made a tough decision to no longer put the television in our bedroom, and moved it to the living room instead. We made a deal that, if, we can’t survive with this condition, we will move the TV back to our bedroom. To make the transition even harder, we also began sleeping separately from Bintang, whose bedroom is right next to ours, with a connecting door, in case he needs to sneak-out at night.

It wasn’t a major change but I was terrified and thought, “this is not going to be easy..

It wasn’t easy indeed.

For me.

As for Bintang, he instantly fell in love with something else:

Books.

The first night I took Bintang to sleep on his own room, I was confused as hell. How the hell am I going to make him feel sleepy, since there is no TV around?

I guess, there’s always the first time for everything. Suddenly I find myself trying to imitate what other parents (and what all the articles about bedtime story say I must) do: read him a book.

And there he was.. Loving each and every moment of it. A lot!He laughed every time I imitate funny voices from the book’s character. He pointed his fingers to every interesting pictures available on the book, asking me what it was and why do the characters show certain facial expression. Is he sad? Is he mad? Why are they laughing, why is he crying?

I read to him, a story about how a little boy bravely go to the dentist. About a worm who just moved into a new neighborhood. About a tiger who doesn’t want to go to sleep and got lost in the woods.

I admit, I used to have second thoughts about TV and books. That watching too many TV is not harmful as long as I am there with him, and after all we are watching children-dedicated cartoons, but I never realize how powerful a regular “Bedtime Story” is, until I took him to playschool trial class last week. My son, who (I thought) is withdrawn and shy, was considered “highly communicative” by the school tutors.

He also mastered extensive amount of vocabularies which makes his language ability higher than other kids at the same age.

I guess all the funny voices and the so called “grown-up-alike” conversations I have with him prove to have some results.

😀

But this doesn’t mean that we hate our TV now, on the contrary, we love it even more (especially The Big Bang Theory, my personal favorite, among others), -although- we do try to limit the time we’re being attached to it. And replace it with doing something else instead. Reading books, playing bicycle outside, making a mess in the living room with play-dough and crayons, water-color, and scissor practices, are just some cheap (and yet so much fun) alternatives that we enjoy so far!

After two weeks of sneaking out to our bedroom in the middle of the night, my 2.8 year old Bintang is now finally sleeping on his own bedroom until morning! But hey, he also decides that he will not go to sleep until I tell him stories from -at least- 3 or 4 books.

So I read to him. In between yawning, and my funny voices..

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Picture credits : Digital Journey

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The Old Times

Time, have surely change. If 20 years ago, when I was 13 years old, my parents got mad at me, it was because I didn’t come home straight after school, but went to my friend’s house instead, to hangout and play basketball until 6 or 7 PM. But yesterday, my nephew got into a terrible fight with his dad, because he came home at 9 PM, and admitted he had been at his friend’s house after school, browsing and playing games, on the internet.

Twenty years ago, instead of spending hours and hours staring at a computer screen pretend to carry a gun and shooting terrorists through an internet-connected games, I spent hours playing basketball under the hot sunshine, and fell down, hurt my legs under the rain. From hanging around in my friends’ house, I’ve made more new friends whom I know face to face and introduced myself through a handshake instead of sending a “buzz” or a “ping” in the messenger applications.

Apparently, for some people, “change” can not be embraced in a positive way, including my 22 year old nephew “Nina” who recently got her diploma degree in midwifery. Her mother, a principal for a public-elementary school in the village of Condong, Probolinggo, East Java, who is also a PNS (civil employee) insisted that Nina should become a PNS and start working as a midwife in the nearest village. Nina’s mother have already prepared IDR 125,000,000 to pay the local government officials to “secure” her daughter’s position in the PNS “industry.”

She was pretty angry when Nina refused this plan and wanted to continue  studying in Surabaya, to get a Bachelor Degree and joins a program to become a lecturer. Nina’s mother told me, “I don’t understand Nina, she has this dream to educate other people because Indonesia is very poor when it comes to education. While for me, her dream is useless because she lives in Indonesia!”

This particular clash between a mother and her daughter is very rare, especially in villages of East Java. Everyone “adores” PNS and will do everything they can to be one. They invested their money in cows, gold jewelries, rice fields, and plantation, just to sell them all one day in order to pay government officials and seal-the-deal for a PNS status. Nina’s parents have already done this 2 years ago, when Nina’s older sister graduated from college and became a midwife (with a PNS status) at a nearby Puskesmas (village hospital).

Some things from the old times were much better than today, but the great PNS status is definitely not one of them. As for Nina, she will have to keep fighting her own mother, and repeatedly saying, “I don’t care about the PNS status. I can find my own money which I earn with dignity” which should make a mother proud, although in her case it was completely the opposite.

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2nd Playschool Trial at Sanggar Kreativitas Bona

The successful student is one who learns how to use research materials, libraries, note cards and computer files, as well as knowledgeable of parents, teachers, older students and classmates, in order to master those tasks of schools which are not transparently clear. ~ Howard Gardner, on “The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach.”

Last Friday, I took my son Bintang for the second trial-class at Sanggar Kreativitas Bona (SKB). This time, all children age 2 to 4,5 year old were joined together in the same class. There were around 10 children and they were given free time to play anything they want, alone or together with others, for approximately 30 minutes. The class started at 09.30 AM, two assistants were present, so one of them can handle the more-active kids without interrupting other children.

After 30 minutes of free play time, the teacher then continued the day with dancing lesson using a very traditional Javanese song of “Cublak-Cublak Suweng” along with relevant hand and feet movements. Bintang loved this activity a lot, and practices the moves again at home. Now I’m thinking to buy music CDs with traditional songs because I no longer remember the words.

After jumping and singing, everyone washes their hands and eat the snacks they brought from home. Unlike the 1st trial a couple of days before, this time I’ve prepared Bintang with cheese bread and milk. After finishing their meals, children take turns to sing any song they want. Most of them sang “Bintang Kecil” or “Pelangi, pelangi” and we clapped our hands afterwards.

Then the class assistant took two hand-puppets (Bobby and Angel), and began telling a story about independence (that smart kids should enter the class by themselves instead of being accompanied by their caregivers). Again, my son loved this scene a lot, he even asked “Where is Bobby?” after the puppet show is finished.

At almost 11 AM, everyone clean the classroom, threw away snack covers to the trash-can and returned the toys to the boxes, sat together in circle, and began singing a song about gratitude. Everyone thank God (in a universal way, not just according to a certain religion) for having played, learned and ate, and now they want to go home safely.

Bintang enjoyed this class so much, but I’m still having second thoughts about it. I’m still planning to take another trial-classes at other playschool and see which one he likes the most.

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Playschool Trial No. 1: Sanggar Kreativitas Bona

I know.. I know.. All of you might think, “What the hell is wrong with this mom? First she said she won’t go, now she can’t get enough of trying out all different kinds of playschool ?”

Fine, I apologize.

Now can we all move on?

😀

Yesterday, I finally accept the invitation from Sanggar Kreativitas Bona (Bona Playschool, or I will say SKB to make it shorter) to attend their free-trial class with my son Bintang. I’ve been avoiding their text messages for more than a month, but after I read the article about how the preschool kids spent their time everyday in Finland, I change my mind.

I’m a working mother who left her son everyday, from 8 AM to 5 PM, from Monday to Friday, which is why my son spends most of this time at home, ALONE with our nanny, and eventually (after having too much) got bored with the TV. I was always in such dilemma thinking whether playschool is going to be good for him, or whether he’s not ready to socialize with other kids or adult (the class assistant). But based on yesterday’s trial, I was completely wrong.

I’m writing this blog to keep in mind that there are important things to consider when choosing the right playschool for your kids, and to keep a record on my son’s first days at school.

So here it goes!

SKB playschool is different from other similar institutions because they’re focusing on only three areas of a child development: (1) Gross motor skills, (2) soft motor skills, and (3) mental/emotional well-being. Their slogan is “promoting creativity and children independence” and they only have classes for kids from 2 to 5 year old. They are operating under the close observations of Kompas-Gramedia group (a reputable printing company in Indonesia), and they held annual exhibitions on which the kids from SKB got the chance to perform their abilities in dancing, singing, playing drama/acting, or to show their creations (art & craft), and so on.

Here’s what happened during the two-hours class for 2-3 year old children.

(1) At 10.00 AM, all kids entered the class, they pray together in a universal (not-religious specific) way, and then the teacher begin to deliver today’s material by telling a story. Yesterday’s story was about day and night. This session was performed for + 30-45 minutes.

(2) Art & craft time. Because the theme was about day and night, all children was given a blank paper, some square papers, some stars, and a circle (as a moon), and was told to create a house at night, using a glue. Complete with stars, a moon, and other papers, all must be glued to the paper. This was performed for around 30-45 minutes as well. My son enjoyed this session very much, because he loves playing with papers and glue.

(3) Meal time. After playing with glue, all kids must wash their hands. Then the kids were given around 30 minutes to eat their snack and drink. After meal time, all kids were told to clean their table and throw any trash to the garbage can. Then wash their hands again.

(4) Coloring activities. Kids who already finished their meal, can start coloring various animals, shapes, and other characters. Also around 30 minutes. If, at home, my son usually refused to do this, it was totally the opposite yesterday. He took a crayon and colored the elephant nicely, and ask the teacher to check out the result over and over again!

(5) Free time! At around 11.30, all kids can grab any toys they want, and play alone or together with other kids, while the teacher write about the kids’ progress and activities in their daily-report book. My son, beyond my expectation, played together with other kids! He even have the courage to ask the teacher to give him some balls.

(6) Praying. Everyone sit at their chair, singing and saying thank you God, for today’s lesson and we are going home now. The class is dismissed at exactly 12 AM. My son repeated this song again and again at home.

From the whole session, I found some interesting facts and guidelines about what kind of playschool is appropriate for my son. The arrangement of one session to another was okay, but perhaps kids doesn’t need to listen to the teacher’s story about day and night. Perhaps this should be replaced with watching a video or something else more attractive to increase children’s interest.

Second, there were only one teacher for 7 kids. So while she was telling a story about night and day, at the same time she was also screaming calling out names of other kids who are running around the classroom. I feel bad for other kids who already seriously listened to her, and got distracted by that. There should be one more class assistant to handle those highly-active kids.

I think that’s about it. I am still feeling a bit euphoric because my son’s reaction was far better than I assumed. Although, during the whole class activities he didn’t allow me to leave the classroom! Which is, as I have expected. But he was communicating, interacting and socializing with the teacher and other kids whom he just knew for a few minutes, and I am so happy for that!

I’m still taking some trials elsewhere, and hopefully can obtain more experience to talk about here. Let’s just wait and see!

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