Too Much Pressure For Kids?

You’ve heard of the Tiger Mom and the strict parenting approach, right?

Well, parenting here in Jakarta to be exact is a little different. I’ve been mulling over this and been keeping my eyes to how different things has evolved since I was a school kid myself.

Ever since Lil’ A started school I began to feel the pressure. From where? From the other parents, from magazines, from ads that targeted pre-school children, from stories of how school systems in Jakarta have changed over the past few years. It’s a competitive world out there aimed for these youngsters.

The school I picked is a Montessori based one with English as their primary language. It’s not an international school because the price tags are just too insane and so far Lil’ A has so many improvements considering he doesn’t start school until he’s 4 years old – which by the way is so unlike most children here who started school since they are just mere months old!

At times I honestly feel overwhelmed with juggling my already little time spend with him and teaching him. He’s not the only one learning because I must learn the  Phonics Sound alphabets myself. Growing up, we practiced with plain old ABCs – in Indonesian language. Understandably, learning the phonics sounds supposedly will help these kids to read faster but since the whole system is new for both of us; I had to arm myself with lots of practice first. He even managed to correct me when I said the letters wrong! Myself, I can read when I was on K2 but I don’t remember how.

Are We Putting Too Much Pressure Too Soon?

With the shocking revelations that Elementary Schools teachers in Jakarta now refused to teach kids to read, the pressure adds up to have my 4 years and 8 months old to learn to read. Not easy with a boy who would rather play and be a goofball!

Did you know these kiddos will have to pass some tests just to enter Elementary School now? WTF?! Yeah, this shocking news came from other mothers at my office whose kids went to regular schools.

We still have over a year since Lil’ A is only in K1 but the pressures are a lot.

When I went to Kindergarten I don’t remember bringing home homework. Now, Lil’ A have simple homework daily, from Math, Language and Reading. Math involves counting and writing the numbers. Language homework involves lots of pictures and words that he must complete. Reading homework uses flashcards and books from the library to read.

I know it means well but part of me does questions are we putting too much pressure for our kids too early? It is hard enough to have Lil’ A to sit down and concentrate for more than 5 minutes and his silly self would be playing while he knows the letters. Insert a frustrated tired cranky Mommy? Not good! But there are good days where he would come up to me and said “Can I do my homework, Mommy?

I have known some parents that actually started their kids on early learning courses outside of school at young age which is fine but personally I think it’s too extreme to my liking. My boy already goes to school every day from 8 to 12 so afternoon classes seems too much, at least for now. Maybe I will change my mind when he’s in Elementary School.

There are even some ads splattered on parenting magazines giving heavenly guarantee that they will make our kids able to read if we took their programs. Really?

Honestly, I’m more interested in art after school activities for Lil’ A since his teachers said he loves art but then again I haven’t give it a try, maybe soon.

Parenting Wars or Status Importance

Enrolling our children to as many after school activities as possible, from math class to Mandarin language class, you name it we have it in Jakarta! There are just about any classes out there imaginable available and parents in Jakarta seems to be so very competitive in bragging what their kids are doing.

This got me thinking…is it purely for the kids sakes or just another dose of parenting wars out there? Are we as parents has lost sight of our children’s mental being by putting so much pressure for them to speak fluent Mandarin, fluent English and to count millions before they even hit 5 years old? If they truly enjoys it then great, but if they are doing it just because we keep reminding them how expensive these classes are or how they MUST become the smartest, brightest kid in their school, aren’t we robbing them from their childhood instead?

I’m still trying to figure out how teaching Lil’ A to read will work but I’m taking it one day at a time and trying so hard not to push him too hard or fall into the frenzy of enrolling him to every after school classes there are just because every body else here is doing just that.

Do you thinks it is necessary to put this MUST be able to read before starting Elementary School? Do you thinks parents compete with one another in education too these days?



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6 Comments on Too Much Pressure For Kids?

  1. Sylvia, Jake and Matt
    August 29, 2011 at 3:39 am (5 years ago)

    I was so lucky that Jake was able to teach himself reading when he was just 2 1/2 years old. Yes! Back then I was so busy taking care of baby Matt in addition to working from home. A lot of time when I was working, I let him sat in front of the computer on the PBS website Between the lions. One day, I was sitting with him in front of the computer and for some reason the computer speakers were off, when I asked him to point out those words, Voila…… he managed to do so. He knew about 46 words, so amazing as he hadn’t go to school yet. Personally, I disagree with the idea of sending kids to school early. I would say I prefer homeschooling, however, I don’t have time to teach them and they need socialization. I am kinda glad that his middle school let the advanced kids to jump ahead. If they are good at Math, these middle school students would be allowed to take algebra and when they’re in High School, they could start taking college credits.

  2. Bicultural Mama
    August 29, 2011 at 10:28 am (5 years ago)

    I didn’t bring homework home in kindergarten, either. Can’t believe the teachers won’t teach them to read in elementary school. That’s really when I learned to read and I turned out fine. Yes, I think it’s too much pressure at a young age!
    Bicultural Mama recently posted..Photos: Hurricane Irene Damage in Long IslandMy Profile

  3. Rosalynn
    August 30, 2011 at 5:40 pm (5 years ago)

    Ugh, don’t get me started on the homework! Yup, it was definitely a shock. Kecil is only going 3. She starts a bit early because at one point of time she lost her best friend in the neighborhood (the friend moved back to home country), and she’s already getting homework!
    I’d say I can’t remember myself bringing home any homework when I was her age!
    Rosalynn recently posted..Selamat Idul Fitri 2011My Profile

  4. Nami
    August 31, 2011 at 1:43 am (5 years ago)

    Most certainly, schools in other countries have higher expectations and therefore more work at an earlier age. Although I think it’s great that we’re expanding and exercising children’s minds with trusting them with this information, I just wish the education system would “explore” more creative ways to teach academics.

    There’s a little genius in every child, it’s up to us adults: parents, teachers and tax-happy-politicians, to give children every opportunity to enrich their minds.
    Nami recently posted..Vacation IreneMy Profile

  5. Saundra Rohn
    January 13, 2012 at 9:53 am (5 years ago)

    I enjoyed reading your views on education Maureen and believe me I certainly understand how you must feel. You know I want my grandson to excel and be all that he can be but not at the expense of not enjoying and having time for just being Alex♥ There is a balance that can be had and I know you will find it for you and him. Love Mom♥

  6. Karyn
    June 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm (4 years ago)

    I think there is way too much pressure on kids to start academic learning early. Play is the work of childhood current neurology research indicates it is archetypal open-ended play which is most useful for long term academic and general life success. Good luck with balancing all this!
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