Tag Archives: parenting

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!

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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.

πŸ™‚

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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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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.

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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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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?

πŸ˜€

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.

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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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Present Comfort, and Sacrifice

I’m an easily-bored kind of person who always seeks for new opportunities in almost anything, and right now I am thinking to get a new job. I’ve been surfing through the internet to check out some new job offers and have submitted my applications as well.

So far, I have caught the eyes of 2 (two) big companies, which I already had an interview with but still haven’t been called for further tests or more discussions. One is a second biggest tobacco company in Indonesia, and the other one is a Switzerland-based power generation company.

I should be grateful ? (Google Images)

Like any other jobs, all of them have positive as well as negative sides. Compared to the condition in my current company, I surely will be more busy, will have to wake up earlier in the morning, and possibly arrive more late in the evening. In short, I probably gonna spend LESS time with my son..

😦

But on the other hand, I will have a better salary to pay everything in my monthly expenses, including his school fees and hence (in the long run), provide a better future with better opportunities for him.

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So in the end, sometimes.. as a parent, or as a regular human being, there will be times when we have to sacrifice our comfortable present, in order to pursue a better future, for ourselves, or for our children..

If life is the distance between what we have right now and what we hope for in the future, then how is the best way to take the path towards the future?

How much do we have to sacrifice to make the journey meaningful for us, for our family?

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