Tag Archives: kids

Less Instructions = More Creativity

After 2 weeks attending playschool, today my son Bintang made a scene. This isn’t the first time he did something weirdΒ  because couple of days ago, when the teacher told everyone in the classroom to sing “Bintang Kecil” my son refused and yelled “No! let’s sing Gundul-Gundul Pacul instead!” .. which made the whole class sing Gundul-Gundul Pacul first… and then Bintang Kecil.

Today, the whole class played outside the classroom and took a trip inside Carrefour for “practical life” lesson about grocery shopping, healthy food vs junk food, and payment issues. After the trip, all kids took part on “Doughnut Contest” where the fastest kid who can eat a doughnut, wins. Bintang, who already ate breakfast with a glass of milk, did nothing but stare at the doughnut. He was focused on something else instead. The “kereta kelinci” (small train) in front of Carrefour which is ready to take everyone for a ride around their playschool.

Up to the train ride, Bintang was “okay” as in enjoying the whole outdoor activities, although he refused to join his friends and teachers standing in front of the train for a photograph, and asked to take their pictures instead.

During all those activities, Bintang was excited and his nanny was there with him all the time. I wasn’t there until the train ride has finished.

And then.. the next schedule was one of the big moment: performing “Cublak-Cublak Suweng” dance, in Carrefour’s stage, in front of a bunch of people, where everybody paid their attention to the s-t-a-g-e.

Bintang totally refused to perform. And I got upset. So both mommy and son were emotionally exhausted, right in front of the school teachers, and other mommies as well. What an embarrassing scene it was!


According to the teacher, there were three reasons:

1) Because I was there, he choose to spend time with me, instead with his friends and teachers.

2) Because he got scared with the idea of “performing in front of a crowd

3) He never enjoyed following other people’s instructions.

For reason number 1 and 2, okay I will accept my son the way he is, and try to be more patience.

But for reason number 3, I got confused.

One of the great things about children is how much creativity they have. And we, as parents, were sometimes got blown away by the funny things they said, or by the unexplainable (but cute) things they did. And one reason behind all this amazing development is due to their free will. Their initiatives. Their imaginations run very wild because they are free to think about anything, and this is very important in any kids’ healthy development.

Now let’s talk about instructions. Structure. Obligations.

I don’t mean to refuse the idea of giving instructions to a 3 year old like Bintang, but I also couldn’t understand the point of it. I want my son to have the courage to walk towards the stage by himself, I really do, and I must work on this matter. But to have him dance in accordance to the teachers? It’s okay if he want to, or if he can imitate the moves of his friends or teachers, but I wouldn’t blame him if he choose to perform his own movements. I will be proud of him, a lot!

I know it will be awful to look at, a bunch of kids, dancing around with different moves one from another, but come on people, they’re only 3-4 years old! We should be focusing on their courage to perform in public, and enjoy their creative moves, instead of being frustrated by the fact that they don’t follow their teachers’ moves/instructions.

And that was the thing I realized after having my own emotional meltdown today. I simplify my duty to support Bintang to have more courage in public, to have fun on stage with friends.

I will give less instructions, and allowing him for more initiatives.

After all, that is the root of their self esteem and creativity.


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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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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 forΒ + 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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I Was Wrong About Early Education

Okay, so first of all I have to admit that until yesterday, me and my husband was planning to postpone this preschool thing until Bintang is 4 years old next year. We thought, instead of paying some amount of money NOW, for activities which only lasts for 1 year, why not keep the money and use it to add our primary school fund later. And second, I personally believe that my son is just not yet ready for a regular activity in a classroom, with tutors, and friends..

But I guess, you can all call me a hypocrite for changing my mind, or.. well, simply realize that as a parent, changing our minds is very normal when it comes to deciding what’s best for our kids.


So after thinking too much about it, I finally decided to take my son yesterday, to Sanggar Kreativitas Bona (Bona Creativity Class) and experienced a marvelous two-hour class of fun, friendship and now I can’t erase them from my mind! I was also heavily influenced by how the 3 year-old kids in Finland spent their time everyday, and was being fascinated by the Finnish education system, so badly, that I plan to give my son the same opportunity, even though it’s not going to be free here.

There are also other reasons such as this book by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, especially on the chapter titled “Searching for Intelligent Life in Kindergarten” and the introduction of Tools of The Mind Program which can develop children imagination as well as teaching them on how to self-regulate themselves through better managing their executive functions.

Perhaps I’ve read to much, and was pretty curious on how my son would react to playschool activities. What ever it was, yesterday’s experience kinda blow me away. To my surprise, my son turned out to be very communicative to the teachers, and he did everything the teacher told him to do. He played with other kids, talked to other kids, asked (a lot) of questions to the teacher, and when the class is over, he refused to leave!

I am sinful for underestimating my own child’s capability. The fear that my son will be quiet and scared during the two-hours of classroom activities.. It didn’t happen!

And I admit that I was wrong about neglecting the importance of early education, at some part. I will tell you more about this playschool that my son tried yesterday on separate blog.

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Poor Stressful Kids

When I was young, I just went with the flow when it comes to going to school. But by the time I arrived home, I occupied myself doing fun and simple things. Drawing pictures for Pak Tino Sidin, learned to whistle and how to play guitar with Guns N Roses. School was never a source of stress for me, at least not until I was stuck in college. We didn’t have a telephone, cell-phones were not invented yet (I guess), and my TV only have 10 channels, with just one to watch: TVRI. But I was far from what they call “A stressful kid.” Although (until now, sadly), I’m still pretty stressed with getting up too early in the morning.

Today, kids can watch different cartoons on more than 5 children-dedicated channels from a satellite TV. With various communication gadgets, they can entertain themselves by launching a bird to shoot a bunch of caged birds, pigs, and monkeys, and laugh like a devil..

No, wait. That sounds a lot like my son.

Anyway, I was planning to write about kids today and who are their role model. But apparently, kids today are too busy to think about having one. They might be spoiled, that is, if you compare them to me, 20-30 years ago, but somehow, they are also more stressful than I was. The below tweet by Bincang Edukasi proves it.

a good question

Well, seems like we need to stop pointing our fingers to anyone, because it only makes us feel better, but it does NOT solve anything. In reality, kids today are the victim of a f*cked-up education system. So in this case, anyone who follows a questionable system is unquestionably stupid. Including schools, teachers, and even parents. You know it leads you nowhere, but you’re forcing your children to go with it.

On the other hand, I personally always believe intense communication between parents and children is always the ultimate key to success. Anyone might think that school grades are most important, but for me, as long as children don’t stay in the same class for years, we all should focus on finding our children’s talents and support it as much as possible. And one way to find these hidden talents is to maintain a healthy communication habit within the family. Children needs to know that parents are available anytime and are always supportive with solutions, AS LONG AS they are willing to speak up, share their problems.

Hopefully, when kids are doing something they love, chances for being stressful can be put to the minimum. And we need to shift our thinking from the old habit of memorizing a lesson, to actually make something. Create, create, create. Even if it’s only a picture of 5 eggs, in a plate, above a table.

No, wait. That sounds like my son, again!

So I guess we all can see that time has surely changes. But the unique relationship between parents and children remains. Educators, school system, gadgets, TV shows, video games, or even the internet, are inevitably present today. But the decision on whether we’re going to make them destroy our kids’ future, or to support it, will entirely (and always) depends on us.

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[PHOTO] The Rusty Playground

Last Sunday, I went to one of Surabaya’s oldest shopping mall “Plaza Surabaya” and stopped-by at its playground. Located on the rooftops, this playground used to be one of the coolest place (back, perhaps 10 years ago) for kids. Before, the era of electronic game centers such as T*mezone and the like.

But today, the condition of this playground is, well.. kinda being abandoned and desperately in need for improvements. The colors and available toys are lovely, though, with rusts and broken paints. All photos were took using a Nikon D3100, with 55-300 lens.

Please do not copy without permission. Thanks and enjoy!


merry go round



rusty control box | insert coins

happily hanging

drowned & exhausted

More of these photos can be found on my Flickr page.

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