Clarifying Your Educational Philosophy

This post is for non-teachers because teachers already know how and what to teach babies and small kids right?  Totally not true!  I was a secondary school teacher and I felt so, so lost, some 5 years ago when I first had Kyra.  While I knew how to add knowledge to primary schoolers and secondary school teenagers, how do children start learning was a complete mystery to me.  How do kids learn to read and write?  How do they go from nothing to counting, to doing equations?  I kinda had an idea where they had to be at at 7 years old (P1) but had no idea what the intervening steps were!  Sure.. they will go to preschool and I assume they will learn something there.  But for me, I felt a desire to want to be more deeply involved in my kids’ education.

So being lost, and very bored then (cuz’ SAHM-ing and only 1 kid), I went to do a part-time diploma in Montessori mainly because the school hours fit my schedule (only one afternoon a week! LOL), and I badly wanted to learn something that wasn’t too mainstream (having gone through NIE).  Wow, I was honestly MINDBLOWN.  I finally know how someone gets from 0-6, from a (almost) blank slate to a reading/writing/counting 6 year old who has knowledge and who can manipulate and apply knowledge.  That is A-Mazing… It made me want to be there every step of the way because it is so fascinating!  I’ll definitely share more about what I’ve learnt in the course in future posts <– send me comments or email us to remind me to get to this!  

Anyway, if you are a bit interested in teaching your child (that’s why you’re still reading this right?), I will say, you can start reading up on some preschool learning theories and methods more commonly used in Singapore.  You can just hit google and type in key words like “preschool learning”, “play-based learning”, “how to teach your child”, “how children learn” etc and you can start from there!  If you’re at the stage of deciding which preschool and you are particular about the kind of curriculum and programmes they have, you can google words and phrases like “Montessori”, “Waldorf”, “Reggio”, “NTUC My First Skool” and “PCF” because they are the 2 largest preschool operators so they must be doing some things right, right?  Be careful of getting lost here because each teaching philosophy espouses a way of life that their individual proponents can get quite emotional about.  Uh-hem.. you already know which camp I am in.  I suppose which educational philosophy you choose can be quite an accurate reflection of your own values and priorities.  Nothing wrong to admit that I’m results-driven and I want my child to go the academic route, or I’m protective of my child’s right to play.  What’s helpful is to reflect what is important to you and your spouse and be honest about it.  If not, you may end up enrolling your child in a school that emphasizes different things.  You may find yourself being very dissatisfied with the programmes and teachers when there is a mismatch of expectations.  E.g. why is the school giving me and my child so much homework and 听写 when my kid and I should be playing after school?  Or the converse – the school is not giving my kid homework when they should be preparing them for P1! 

So what is my educational philosophy?  I always thought I was a chillax mum.  But over the years, I’ve accepted I’m a tiger-mum who wants to be a chillax mum.  In fact, I’m a greedy mum who wants the best of every world – I want my child to play and enjoy learning and learn something and I chillax.  Is that too much to ask for?!  

*I’ll let you chew on the last statement for a few days because it came as a shock to me that in Singapore, the common narrative we hear is that studying is so hard, learning is tough, our kids are so pressurized in schools, learning can’t be fun, parents have to force them to learn, no choice but to send to tuition etc etc… That to want our kids to learn and enjoy themselves is akin to having our cake and eating it. Is it really? 

Some links to get started thinking about the approaches:
http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/going-to-school/grade-by-grade/preschool/
http://www.montessori.edu/FAQ.html – a really good introduction to Montessori
http://www.aneverydaystory.com/beginners-guide-to-reggio-emilia/main-principles/


2 comments

  • Hello Kai Ping, thank you for your sharing! How’s the Montessori course going? I felt that my eyes were opened to an alternative world!

    I guess it took me awhile to be true and honest to what I really wanted. There’s a “political correct” camp that ways oh… kids… let them be kids.. let them play. I FULLY agree with the statement, at least in my head. But if I dig deep… I ALSO want my kids to do okay, if not excel in their studies too. So I suppose honesty is the best policy. Let’s not sugarcoat the fact that in SG, there is a very strong sentiment that education is EVERYTHING and only when we acknowledge that, can we decide as parents, how much to listen to good advice and how much to pull back and be counter-cultural.

    We definitely have thoughts on doing boxes that cater to a younger age group! We are still listening to our friends and customers to see what they really need at the moment and trying to see what are the most pressing needs. Hopefully in the near future so please keep an ear out for our updates! :D But continue on the great effort in making your own materials (as much as you can!) They may or may not be Pinterest-worthy but they are definitely made with love and intention!

    Abigail CHEE
  • Hi Abigail, I can’t say enough how much your post resonated with me. I am currently also doing a part time Montessori course, and I also want to be a chillax mom but the reality is that I probably will turn into a tiger Mom at times given my admittedly sometimes competitive streak (though I’ll try to resist) ? Growing up I did enjoy learning, and I hope my daughter will be the same. When I was on maternity leave I made up some materials to facilitate my daughter’s future pre-school learning, but nothing on the scale of what you are doing with these boxes. I love the idea! Will u be doing boxes for 6 mths to 2 years too? Something along the lines of sensory play, art, music and movement and early language development? I’m working on the materials myself now, but if I could just buy boxes it would be so helpful! (Busy full time working mama here.)

    Leong Kai Ping

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