Sunday, 9 December 2012

Education Arms Race - not for my boys!

This is what a typical Primary 1 student knows in Singapore at 6 years old before she enters the formal education system.  I gleaned this list from talking to parents with kids 2-3 years older than Medium Boy.

- Recognises, spells and reads phonetically English words.  Be able to finish a storybook by himself.
- Recognises, writes and reads at least 20 Chinese characters.... and I am being charitable when I say 20.  My alma mater would probably require the child to know 200 Chinese characters.
- Addition and subtraction up to 20 is passe.  Multiplication up to the 10 times tables is good.

How to preserve Medium Boy's self esteem in this competitive arena?  First I refuse to be drawn into the P1 arms race to the bottom by choosing the correct school for him.  Next I will further his strong moments in science and spatial intelligence.  He listens well (his auditory sense is like mine!  Mr Bach will appeal to his sense of order... Small Boy hmmm... more of a Beethoven at the moment) and needs a tangible result at the end of his learning process.  Use his strengths in concentrating at his passion..... I still have the video of him at 7 months turning an orchid flower in his tiny hand for 20 minutes.... He is more than capable of focus when he loves the subject matter.  Educate him on cars, wind and the weather.   Those are HIS strong moments.

As a parent, it is heartbreaking for me that the education arms race starts before the time a 6 year old enters formal education.  Singapore is such a competitive society that our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights.  Childhood cannot and should not be a race.  I would like for the boys to learn their passions, and retain their love of learning, all through to adulthood.

I take a deep breath..... and I remind myself of the wisdom here.  Hey Medium Boy sat through a (very) short burst of Chinese reading today!  Victory :)

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