Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy Childhood

There's been misgiving about early academic learning, that it robs a child of his childhood. I don't agree with that. On the contrary, i think early academic learning enriches one's childhood.

First, let me give you my own defination of a 'happy childhood'. I think it's one where the child grows up feeling AND knowing that he is loved, valued & needed. He grows up in a secure, loving and stable environment. As simple as that, nothing to do with providing or not providing early academic learning. These are seperate matters, you cannot equate the two. Likewise, it's not just about allowing alot of free play i.e. you can give the child alot of free play but little love, the child can still grow up feeling like he never had a good childhood.

That said, i do understand why the misconception & i blame it on the average Singaporean parents- who, in my opinion, are doing it all wrong. Typically, these parents carefully dicatate their child's learning path based on what they, the parents, want or think is needful for their child. They often overlook what their child wants. When these parents choose something that are against the child's interest, is it a wonder why the child end up unhappy i.e. feeling that his childhood has been forfieted?

The right way is to make learning fun and more importantly, to always allow the child to lead you- let the child decide what he wants to learn! Otherwise learning will inadvertently becomes a drag for them & it'll probably scar them for life. My husband, is one living example. His mother forced him to take up piano- thinking it was for his own good. He went all the way up to grade 8 and stopped. Today, he hates the piano, refuses to lay his finger on even one key, insist that he DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO PLAY and flees at the very sight of a piano.

As for N, I really, i say it again, REALLY, wish he'd pick up a sport or two. My dream is for him to be a sporty lad, because his mama was never good in sports. Bleh. Likewise for music. Double bleh. Unfortunately, he shows NO interest in these areas- at the moment. BUT he loves reading & academic learning. Say i take up the notion that 'oh early academic learning will rob him of his happy childhood' and i insist that he takes up sports and music & deny him of his love for books. Would he grow up happy? I doubt. He'll probably look back and say 'i wished my mama had read me more books, i hated those sports & music classes!'.

Equally importantly, we must allow the child to learn at his own unqiue way and pace. Every child has a different learning style and rate. Some learn best by seeing, others playing or hearing. Some learn faster and some needs more time. Most parents today are pushing their child to fit into the standard mould, they mistakenly think that if so and so can achieve this result at age 3, so can their child. They blindly send thier child to popular enrichment classes because that's what others are doing without stopping to think if it is suits the child. As a result, the young child gets stress beyond what he can bear and therefore burnt out. That's when people wrongly think early academic learning is not good for a child.

There's is nothing wrong with early academic learning. Children are born to be learners, they love to learn & oh how fast they learn! Listen to what your child is saying- he's learning even when you're NOT deliberately teaching him. Watch what he's doing. He's learning every minute from you, from his surroundings. It's really comes to no surprise that a 1 year old can read a book, a 3 year can swim or a 2 year old can speak in dual languages. They are natural learners!

Early academic learning can, and should, be made fun even for a 1 year old. It doesn't have to be all flashcards, in a strict classroom setting or clocking 2-3 hours of learning. The secret to success is to marry play and learning together. You can teach with his existing toys, teach when you're cooking, teach when you're in the park or at the beach..there are so many ways! It's all about HOW you do it and knowing your child's limits.

What i am trying to say, don't be too quick to assume that a child who is given early academic learning will be robbed of a happy childhood. If done correctly & wisely, early academic learning can bring on fond memories for the child too.

I have always let N decide what he wants to learn and how he wants to. Our 'lessons' are always enjoyable for N with him skipping, jumping all over the room and with him asking to 'do some more?'. I dare say he is a happy kid, in fact, more happy & secure than most kids. He's default mood is always happy and positive -it's actually rare to catch him moody and whiny.

All children are born with different strengths & interest. As parents, we are obliged to identify what their interest is and steer them into that direction, be it academic, sports or music etc. I am sure most of us parents want our children to have pleasant memories of their childhood.

I believe it's really all about loving them, letting them know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we love them unconditionally. And like all things in life, it's striking a balance, giving our children a well rounded childhood and not denying them of one area or another.


  1. Darn, does it ALWAYS have to be play mixed with learning for it to be the "right way" for a child to grow? Why doesn't anyone just think that the child simply LOVES learning all those things!

    Anyone observing can tell that our kid is having a ball of his life!

  2. well said! Learning is actually play for them!

  3. AMEN, SISTA!!!

    *clapping clapping clapping*

  4. Hi Seema, thank you for dropping by and the encouragement! :)


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