Learning through play with minimal academic focus

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Learning through play with minimal academic focus

Postby ConcernedDaddy » Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:57 am

From letter published on straitstimes forum

http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/for ... e-20120901

Proper childhood? Mum outlines challenge

I am a mother of three, aged four, six and eight, and a part-time teacher. This is my family's story about letting children play in kindergarten ("'It's good for young children to play'"; Monday).

Nicholas my son and eldest child, who is now in Primary 2, enrolled in a popular kindergarten that stressed learning through play, singing and team building, with minimal academic focus.

Apart from swimming lessons, there were no enrichment extras. He was having his childhood, and we were happy.

When he started Primary 1, he was excited and I took leave to volunteer in school. Then came the shock, for him and me.

He failed in English and mathematics consistently. He was not really reading because he wasn't taught to read in pre-school.

Then the calls started coming in from his school teachers, advising me to send Nicholas for enrichment classes and to get him more help. And that was what we did for an entire year, even as I asked myself why schools were not doing what the extra classes and tuition were.

He was tired. So was I. And I vowed that what happened to Nicholas would not happen to Sarah, my second child who begins Primary 1 next year.

She is currently attending two pre-schools; one focuses on play and cultural activities, while the other drills her on the three Rs that Primary 1 demands.

My husband and I believe that children should have their childhood and enjoy school. But I just do not want to be getting phone calls from the primary school teachers about Sarah as I did with Nicholas.

So before parents like me are told to let our children have their childhood, and as much as we believe it is the right thing to do, the primary school system must be changed to help us.

Lisa Latip (Madam)

ConcernedDaddy
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Re: Learning through play with minimal academic focus

Postby SAHM_TAN » Sat Sep 01, 2012 11:08 am

I wonder why knowing how to read, basic numeracy concepts means no childhood.

Why must it be so extreme? Happy childhood means play and min. academic focus, bad childhood means academic focus and min. play.

My childhood was good. I knew how to read and my numbers and I played a lot during my pre-school years. I was in PCF kindy. I'm a mother of 3 now. I'm sure this can be achieved now too. Why parents think now it's either or?

I don't think the PM meant for a child to not know how to read before going to P1 wor.

SAHM_TAN
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Re: Learning through play with minimal academic focus

Postby ConcernedDaddy » Sat Sep 01, 2012 12:41 pm

Maybe that's the reality of life in Singapore. Education is everything here, and our maths science are top in the world. Kids have to be well prepared for primary 1, and there is a significant risk if you are not able to catch up when there are other kids that are more advanced. By that time, it will be seriously too late to regret.

However, for parents who can afford to emigrate to other countries, their kids will not need to be tied to the reality of the education system here.

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Re: Learning through play with minimal academic focus

Postby slmkhoo » Sat Sep 01, 2012 1:10 pm

ConcernedDaddy wrote:Kids have to be well prepared for primary 1, and there is a significant risk if you are not able to catch up when there are other kids that are more advanced. By that time, it will be seriously too late to regret.

However, for parents who can afford to emigrate to other countries, their kids will not need to be tied to the reality of the education system here.

I don't agree that kids can't catch up at P1 and beyond. Perhaps the writer's son's P1 teacher had very high expectations? Or perhaps her son is a late developer or just not so academic?

I agree with SAHM_TAN that it's not an either/or situation of play vs academics in preschool or at any age. My kids didn't even attend much kindy in English as we lived overseas most of the time, and they played a lot in their overseas kindy and at home. I still managed to teach them to read without too much stress (about 3 hrs a week for 6 mths for the slower reader) and they integrated fine into Singapore school. I think it's possible to have a mostly play-based preschool with enough academic focus and still not stress the kids, certainly not to the extent of attending 2 different kindys.

slmkhoo
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Re: Learning through play with minimal academic focus

Postby Jevons » Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:21 pm

I agree with SAHM_TAN that it is not either or. My son was graduated from MindChamps preschool last year. He was very happy and loved going to school. Towards the last 2 years in preschool, my wife and I also worried whether he could cope as we didn’t see him doing any homework. It has been proved now that is over-concern. Not only my son. From what we chatted with other parents from the preschool, all agreed that their kids like going to school and feel learning is fun. He is doing well in P1, at least his teachers do not require him to go extra lessons to catch up with the rest!

Jevons
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Re: Learning through play with minimal academic focus

Postby airdancer » Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:46 am

Learning doesn't mean doing worksheets. Learning through play doesn't mean just all play. Educational activities can be made fun.

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