Updated: Sep 10, 2019
The statement above is heard too many times and still sends chills down an educator's spine.
A common misconception, that surprisingly continues to be embedded deep in the minds of many parents, is that early learning is only for parents who want their children to be geniuses, high-flyers or GEPers.
This is not true. The sole intent of thoughtful early learning is to ensure that children are given sufficient time to pick up, and more importantly master, foundational skills that would undergird their ability to learn and develop.
To not provide them with such a foundation is in fact, ironically, depriving them of a childhood.
How? When the reality of unavoidable academic responsibilities come knocking, a child whose foundational skills are underdeveloped will face high pressure -- having to back-paddle to pick up those skills, while the rest of his cohort and peers power ahead.
It breaks our hearts when parents only come to us when a child is entering primary school to try establish basic reading skills. Such a delay is a true loss as by this time, many children are literate and are ready to explore the power of the written word, as well as express their creativity through it.
Early learning simply encourages incremental learning, and incremental (proper and steady) learning is always the most meaningful and effective.
The world has changed significantly since we, the parents, were kids. Singaporean households (among other first-world nation households) are more affluent and educated, which in turn results in more informed parenting.
Such translates into a raised national academic standard as a large segment (increasing every year) of children are learning at a much higher level than what we would have expected of a child their age, say twenty years back.
How can such learning progress be achieved without placing unnecessary pressure on an individual? Consistent systematic learning that makes sense, coupled with enough time given for mastery.
Of course, to swing into the other extreme in response to this article and expect your child to learn complex skills without setting the foundation right, or when he/she is not developmentally ready, is silly.
Even exposing your child to every untested cognitive sharpening method or strategy in an extremely commercialised and profit-driven education market can be very damaging.
We just urge you to be informed, be aware, be participant in your child's learning development.
The discipline of slow, steady and consistent learning is a habit that needs to be set from the most developmentally appropriate age -- not ridiculously young but none of us want to fall into the trappings of complacent parenting either.
We thank you with all our hearts. Here's a happy video of our children reading to add some cheer to this pretty sombre post!
The I-CL Team