Tag Archives: school

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 weird  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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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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School for My 3 Year-Old?

Lately I’ve been very confused in determining whether or not to send my 2,9 year-old son to a preschool. As a mother who is totally hooked with the internet, I often do some research before making any parenting decisions. Sometimes, I find my answers, but sometimes I became even more confused.

What I need to explain first, is that every child is different, and just because I decide something that is not like most parents/mommies, it doesn’t mean I disrespect other opinions.

After giving some thoughts, and having searched the web for different alternatives, plus those enormous discussions I had with my husband, we have decided that my son will not be going to school this year.

Here’s why:

1. The cost, to send our son, to this Elementary School of our current choice  (which shall be paid 3 years from now) is way above our financial capability.

However, we strongly believe that this is the place where my son can “unleash” his full skills and abilities under its flexible curriculum. The school is also located very near to our house, and it focused on the application of theories in the real world. Therefore, we will do whatever is possible, we will work hard, save our money the best way we can. And by saving money, it means we will also save the money we have prepared for play group fees. 

If he goes to school NOW, we will lose some amount of money which we can SAVE for his elementary school fees.

2. My idea that regular schedule at play groups can increase his self-confidence and social skills is NOT a hundred-percent correct.

My son hates crowd. Especially a bunch of kids and adults staring at him, telling him to do stuffs, or are playing with his toys. I see this respond again last week when we have a party at our house, and my son did nothing but observing others. He also need some time to ‘warm up’ his engine before being able to relate to others, before he can talk friendly to others the way he never stop talking so much to his family.

There are other reasons, such as to give him better options besides TV, to increase the possibility of introducing him to letters, alphabets, art & craft activities, music, paintings, art and other educational stuffs.

However apparently, this great article have given me some thoughts about the mistakes most parents did when it comes to sending their kids to school. It was the idea of, “is my child ready for school?” instead of asking, “is the school ready to accept my child?”

We don’t expect our kids to be friendly to others by sending him to school, we must prepare them to be friendly. As mentioned on the article,

Indicators of “readiness” include possessing a level of composure and the ability to cope when things go wrong, being able to speak clearly and engage with adults so that they can say when they need help, understanding the importance of being able to share and play nicely with other children, and the beginnings of some responsibility so that they can look after their belongings.

Consider not just the importance of an emotional readiness for school and the confidence to make friends, but how well developed a child’s fine motor skills are. Can your child hold a pencil correctly? Draw simple shapes? Write their name? Dress themselves? Use a pair of scissors? Hop, skip and jump and tie their shoelaces?

And I very much agree with one of the comments in the article, that parents tend to force their children to school, which will put the burden to the teachers, instead of teaching their kids by themselves first, to give experiences which they need.

The biggest problem today is that parents are not being expected to ready their children for school and life in general. Teachers are having to spend a great deal of their time teaching children basic skills that should have been taught at home.

Bottom line, I plan to give more experiences child to my son before he starts school, that way he will have better abilities to cope with problems that will arise at school, such as sharing, independence, concentrating, and asking for help. I don’t need play group classes on which its fees will decrease the saving for my son’s elementary school, I can teach him myself.

Here’s what I’m going to do with my son for this year, now that he’s not going to any school yet..

1. Teach him on how to eat, drink, brush teeth, bathe, wear clothes, pants and shoes, by himself.

2. Teach him on how to draw shapes and associate each shape with everyday stuffs. (Or just follow some samples of children activities in this website).

3. Introduction to letters and numbers (will buy posters of letters, numbers and tracing books if necessary).

4. How to sort, match, compare, and perhaps.. count?

5. How to take turns, share toys, and get involved with other kids, maybe I will send him to this robotic course where he can play with these fantastic educational legos and listen to his tutor.

6. Will take him to the swimming pool, playground, animal museum, zoo and parks, more frequently.

Anyway, this is just my personal decision and thoughts, I still respect other parents who choose to send their kids to school as early as 3 years, and wish them and their kids the best.

I just need to save more money and help my son to be more independent, self-confidence and ready to start (and actually enjoy staying at) school. And when he does, I will NOT neglect my parenting responsibility to educate him, and leave it to his school teachers, I will still do everything I can to dig out his true talent, skills, and abilities, and support them the best way I can.

Because in the end, as written by Ms Tiffany Cooper here, children spend less than 20 percent of their waking hours in school, so we can’t expect schools to teach children everything they need to know. It is a shared responsibility between school and parents to create learning environments and opportunities within our homes, to support kids’ curiosity and critical thinking capabilities.

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A School is..

Smart children are those who do well in school. Who can pass tests, and got good grades.

Oh yeah?

Well, I’m not against test.

It’s just that we need to have the right kind of test, to measure a child’s capability, skills, and to find out which are his/her strengths/weakness.

We can’t use standardized test to every child in order to determine whether they are smart or stupid, whether they deserve to move to the next class/grade or to repeat at the same grade, to pass or not to pass. Every child is different, unique and have their own skills and interests, and school tests are supposed to be adjustable to this.

Children who do well in sport or art subjects, have the same opportunity with children who do well in mathematics or linguistics. Both are equally smart, but they are different in the areas of strength.

Apparently, school and the whole system have failed to see this, but we, as parents, must put it in our mind and help our children to regain their self-esteem.

Every children have their own strength and weakness, they are unique, special, and deserve the same opportunity. And yet, there are educational institutions (even the most expensive ones, or especially those expensive ones!) who is using a standardized test to determine whether a child belong or doesn’t belong to their school.

Yesterday, I did some research to three kindergartens in my neighborhood. My son will turn 3 this May, and maybe I will send him to a pre-K institution. I have to admit, I got disappointing result because all three institutions are focusing on introduction to numbers, alphabets, enforcing reading ability, and mathematical ability as their main target, and forgot other areas which need to be emphasized as much as numbers/alphabets.

This is pretty common for early education institutions to be focusing on math and reading as the main subject, dominating 70-80 percent of their curriculum. The remaining 20 percent of the curriculum, goes to other areas such as musical ability, socialization, art/craft, sport activities, and technology/computers. This is so wrong for me, because I want my son to learn (more appropriately, to play) in an institution which have equal/balanced curriculum between academic and non-academic.

It will be a heaven for parents whose children are talented with numbers, alphabets, math and linguistics. But for kids who haven’t got any interest on numbers of alphabets, they will obviously be considered as “less smart” just because they love to draw pictures, able to swim, ride a bicycle, play lego, or sing a song perfectly on pitch.

Not only they will have lower self esteem due to their slow ability in learning numbers/alphabets, the pressure from friends, teachers, and even parents will ruin the child’s entire schooling experience.

So it’s not enough for us to constantly demand the correct education system, to send our children to expensive schools or courses, we must open our eyes as wide as possible and spent enormous quality times with our children to understand what their interest are, what their skills are and what areas are their strength/weakness.

In the end, school as a place to learn will have “some” responsibility to teach certain things to our child, but the belief that “I have sent my child to a reputable school with great program, great curriculum and great teachers. I am sure the result will be satisfying, and I can relax a little bit..” is WRONG. School is one source of knowledge, but it’s not the only one.

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Smart and Outgoing (Part 1)

Can we (or our children) be both smart and outgoing? What’s so great about it, and why is everybody making it such a big deal? Does it have anything to do with how our future will be, our success?

Did you ever hear of the term “multiple intelligences” from Howard Gardner and realize that being smart means a lot more than just having good grades at school?

I just did.

All my life I’ve considered myself as a smart person. During my elementary years I always got good grades and were proudly positioned as no. 1 in my class, twice. I was accepted to a good school, and even though I failed my UMPTN test, my parents sent me to a highly reputable university, which costs them twice the expense of my other sisters’ college fees. And even today, I got a better salary compared to my other sisters.

When I was 13, I learned to play the guitar. I tried to follow several songs, and my favorite was Guns ‘n’ Roses’ “Patience” on which it taught me how to whistle too. I joined several bands afterwards. For years and years I played with so many bands, until 2004 where I leave all of them to finish my college assignment. Then I graduated, got a job, got married, have a child, and seems like there’s no room for my musical abilities.

But musical ability is not my only ability. Art, is something I find interesting, too. I was capable to make various pieces with CorelDraw and Adobe Photoshop. I designed some of my frends’ CD covers, made several posters, and until today I still use that ability to create a my blog’s header.

During my college years, in between practicing songs with my bands and playing on several gigs, I also work part-time as a translator. I “helped” college students with their assignments, and were paid-per-page in return. I began to have a certain feeling for English literature, began to love writing and the like.

So there it was, my story, on which, if related to the theory of multiple intelligence, in addition to my academic achievements, I was also blessed with musical and linguistic intelligence. I am pretty lucky to have parents who supported my curiosity, and allowed me to follow my interest without any prohibitions.

But not everyone realize this, right? Most people still relate “being smart” as “having good school grades” and never consider other non-academic areas such as sports, arts, linguistic, etc, as part of a person’s intelligence. Not only that, there are also parents who were blessed with a “not-so-outgoing” kids, like me. And instead of empowering their child’s talent, they are trying too hard to create an (academically) smart and outgoing child. I try not to make that mistake.

I will discuss this on Part 2 .

🙂

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How College Ruined My Life, and Then Saved It

I use to dream to become an architect. But when I was in high school, I got a terrible grade on chemistry (the perfect score was 100, and mine was 40). I couldn’t continue to IPA (natural science) class, and hence couldn’t apply on any university to study architecture.

I don’t know whether this system is still used until today or not, all I know, the Minister of Education, sucks!

After 3rd grade, I tried the UMPTN test but failed. So my parents sent me to one of the most expensive college in Surabaya, where I choose the Economics major. Because it felt like the right thing to do. Sort of.

Turns out, studying economics makes me extremely bored. I lost my motivation to study and got pretty distracted. Instead, I learned to held music gigs with my friends, joined and played with a few indie bands, and worked part-time in a computer store. Suddenly, I have spent 7 (yes, SEVEN !!!) years in college, and still didn’t know how it will END.

That’s it. Do it or leave it. I got one year to complete my final assignment, or the university will kick my butt.

So I decided to finish it. I left my bands, put myself together, do my final assignments, and eventually, graduated. Since I never went to the graduation ceremony, I always wonder how my face would look like wearing the toga.

Wonder how this hat feels..

While some graduates were facing difficult times looking for a job, I was pretty lucky to have a friend who told me that her office needed a Secretary. I sent my application, did the interview, and were successfully hired. I was working full time, felt proud with myself, even though..

NOTHING I LEARNED IN COLLEGE WAS USEFUL FOR MY WORK !!

The only thing that was useful was my graduation certificate. My friend told me that one of the reasons I got accepted by her boss was because I graduated from a reputable university.

The decision to attend college may have destroyed 8 (eight) valuable years of my life, but on the other hand, it has also gave me a job, with monthly salary and health insurance, a job which helped me to raise a son, pay the mortgage, and eventually moving on.

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(End of the first part of “should you or should you not go to college” series)

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