Letting go from Day One

Sunday December 23, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/12/23/nation/12367250&sec=nation

 

 

Mummy the protector: Over-protectiveness will encourage dependence in children. — AFPMummy the protector: Over-protectiveness will encourage dependence in children. — AFP

Parents need to allow their children to make mistakes and learn from them.

IT starts out with looking at the top pre-schools while the child is still in the mother’s womb. Before you know it, this need to have the best of everything for your baby has crept into all aspects of his or her life.

Even when the “baby” has now grown past the legal voting age.

Overprotective parents are nothing new, says Dr Goh Chee Leong, Dean of HELP University’s Faculty of Behavioural Sciences.

“In every generation, there are always some parents who are over-protective. I can’t say if there has been a rise in the phenomenon now,” he says.

Chats with parents and children alike indicate that over-parenting is prevalent in families here.

Tagged as helicopter parents, because they hover over their children, these parents’ over-protectiveness often start with the desire to keep their children safe.

Dr Goh warns that parents’ over-protectiveness will encourage dependence in their children.

“If the child sees their parent playing the role of their protector, their boss or their carer, they’ll tend to think that the parents will continue to look at every aspect of their life and always be dependent on them.”

According to the Human Resources Ministry, one reason why more than 70,000 graduates (as at May 2012) could not get a job was their lack of independent thinking skills.

Child development expert Ruth Liew also believes that when parents do too much over-parenting, children do not learn independence.

“They tend to be indecisive and lack confidence,” she says, advising parents to learn to let go from Day One.

“Know what your child can do by himself and do not interfere because you cannot tolerate mistakes or messes. Allow for mistakes (not the dangerous ones) to happen. Children learn from mistakes.”

To deal with the safety issue without stifling their children, parents can teach them personal safety skills while allowing them to do their own thing or go places on their own securely and at the right age.

“How can you instil independence when you are holding on tightly to them? Guidance means showing the way to children without taking over the task,” she says.

Marriage and family therapist Charis Wong of Kin & Kids concurs.

“If you keep protecting your children from the consequences of their own actions, how are they going to grow up to be responsible people? What is going to happen later when you are not there to rescue them, especially when they are grown up?” she argues.

Wong stresses that maturity will come naturally, but only if you allow your child to grow up naturally.

“If you continue to protect them from the world because you think it is hostile and cruel, then their natural growth will be stunted,” she says.

“They will be conditioned to believe that they are weak and cannot survive in this world, and they will get help every time they get into trouble, face problems or a challenge in life.”

On where to draw the line between supervision and giving freedom, Wong believes it depends on parents’ ability to read the gravity of the individual situations.

“Parents need to be able to discern when you should rescue and when you should not help your child. You need to look at the consequences what should your child learn to endure and what is beyond them?”

Ultimately, she reiterates, parents need to allow their children to make mistakes and learn from them.

If the consequences of not getting involved are so serious or so imminent that they will cost the life of your child, then as a parent you should go and help.

If it is a chronic problem, Wong points out, you need to look at the circumstances. For example, if your child’s car has broken down at 3am, then you should help. But parents should refrain from helping their child when they chronically make the same mistakes as they will think that they should be rescued all the time.

“Many helicopter parents are helping their children with chronic problems, so the kids think that it is their right to be rescued. If the parents are burnt out and finally say that they are not going to help any more, the child may play a guilt trip on their parents they will say the parents don’t care about them, or throw a tantrum because they think they should be rescued.”

Dr Goh reminds parents the importance of encouraging independence in their children and equipping them for adulthood.

It is a long-term goal, he stresses, and as a child grows up even at a young age to their teenage years and late teen years gradually parents need to give more independence and responsibility to the child.

“This means they need to be given the opportunity to make mistakes and take responsibility for their decisions.”

However, he stresses, this does not mean that the safety of the child will be compromised.

“For example, teaching them independence does not mean letting them wander around in the park on their own or allow them to out of school. It needs to be planned.”

One way, he highlights, is to allow your children to make their own decisions when they are old enough.

This can be done gradually, he highlights. At the age of two or three, he suggests, children can be allowed to start making small decisions like deciding if they want to wear a blue or red shirt.

“If you don’t allow your child to make the small decisions, they will not be able to make bigger decisions later when they are older,” Dr Goh notes.

Good early education reaps benefits

Monday November 26, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/11/26/nation/12354042&sec=nation

Talented bunch: Children from the Peter and Jane Kindergarten performing a dance routine during the launch of the National Early Childhood Education Week 2012 at the Sime Darby Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur.Talented bunch: Children from the Peter and Jane Kindergarten performing a dance routine during the launch of the National Early Childhood Education Week 2012 at the Sime Darby Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: Pre-school education needs to go beyond the pages of books to help children obtain a holistic education experience.

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Council president Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng shares the sentiments.

“Psychologists have long noted the importance of early childhood education because the skills acquired by a child at a later stage are all built on this foundation.

“This is why psychologists call it the formative years’,” she said.

According to Dr Chiam, neuroscience findings have shown that stressful experiences in a child’s early years can harm the developing brain and affect the brain architecture.

She added that the benefits of high-quality early childhood education were manifold.

“This means the memory of the child, his learning ability, and even behaviour, for example, whether he’s able to regulate his emotions, will be affected if he’s not provided with the appropriate experiences,” said Dr Chiam, formerly Professor of Social Psychology at Universiti Malaya (UM) and an authority in child development and early childhood education.

Citing studies in the United States, such as the Perry Preschool which was conducted over a period of four decades, Dr Chiam said children who were provided with high-quality early education tended to stay longer in school as compared to those who were not given such a benefit.

The Perry Preschool study found that “more of the group who received high-quality early education, particularly females, graduated from high school than the non-programme group” and “the group who received high-quality early education had significantly fewer arrests than the non-programme group (36% vs 55% who were arrested five times or more)”.

Dr Zahari Ishak, UM’s Educational Psychology and Counselling Department head, said the way children were taught in the formative years would mould their view of learning as they grew older.

“From the ages of three to six, it’s their time to play.

“It’s not supposed to be a time for grading,” he added.

Recognising the need for quality pre-school education, the EducationNKRA under the Government Transformation Programme has set targets to increase the number of pre-school classes in the urban, rural and remote areas.

Under Budget 2013, an allocation of RM1.2bil has been set aside for various government agencies in an effort to provide quality pre-school education.

In addition, RM380mil will also be provided to the Education Ministry for placement of kindergarten teachers.

Also announced was a provision for a launching grant of RM10,000 to assist operators of ECCE private centres in setting up new high quality pre-schools.

It’s good to start them early

Sunday November 11, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/11/11/nation/12303753&sec=nation

By LISA GOH
lisagoh@thestar.com.my

Dr Chiam: The world today is so much more complex. Preschool education should teach children intellectual skills — how to think, reason, reflect, create, and solve problems.Dr Chiam: The world today is so much more complex. Preschool education should teach children intellectual skills — how to think, reason, reflect, create, and solve problems.

The benefits to having a high-quality early childhood education are manifold.

WITH her son turning four next year, Amy (not her real name) is now on the hunt for a good kindergarten, but finding one which meets her expectations is proving to be more difficult than she had anticipated.

“It’s surprisingly hard to find a kindergarten where everything fits. I want one which emphasises holistic learning, where children are allowed to learn through play.

“But so many of the kindergartens I’ve seen (near where I live) focus so much on classroom-based activities. It feels so rigid,” says Amy, 34, an accountant who studied and lived abroad for many years before returning to Malaysia.

Among the factors which will influence her decision include cleanliness, safety, a curriculum that looks at the holistic development of a child, and the quality of the teaching staff.

She adds that her son is a hyperactive child.

“I really don’t think he’ll be able to sit still for hours on end while at kindy. And I believe children learn so much faster if they’re having fun while they’re at it.

“Maybe I’m fussy, but I believe in him getting a good kindergarten experience as that sets the foundation for his education,” she says.

The experts, including Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Council president Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng, would agree with Amy.

According to Dr Chiam, quality early childhood education is extremely crucial.

“Psychologists have long noted the importance of early childhood education, because whatever later skills are acquired by the child, they are all built on this foundation. This is why psychologists call it the formative years’,” she says.

She adds that neuroscience findings have shown that stressful experiences in a child’s early years can harm the developing brain, and affect the brain architecture.

“This means the memory of the child, his learning ability, and even behaviour, like whether he’s able to regulate his emotions all these will be affected if he’s not provided with appropriate experiences,” says Dr Chiam, formerly Professor of Social Psychology at Universiti Malaya, and an authority in child development and early childhood education.

She says the benefits to having a high-quality early childhood education are manifold.

Citing studies in the United States, such as the Perry Preschool, which was conducted over a period of four decades, Dr Chiam says children who have high-quality early education tend to stay longer in school, compared with those who don’t.

The Perry Preschool study found that “more of the group who received high-quality early education, particularly females, graduated from high school than the non-programme group”, and “the group who received high-quality early education had significantly fewer arrests than the non-programme group (36% vs 55% who were arrested five times or more)”.

“This is particularly important for children who come from low social economic status. With high-quality early education, they would be inclined to stay longer in school, with less likelihood of dropping out,” Dr Chiam says.

“This means that the country saves in terms of remedial measures, of criminal justice administration, in terms of security, and even healthcare (for example drop-outs who get involved in drugs), and so there is cost savings.”

Cost savings aside, she adds, the country would also benefit because these individuals would end up being productive members of society, instead of “social hang-ons”.

When she says “high-quality preschool education”, she means preschools that go beyond teaching children how to read, write and count.

Dr Zahari: How the children are taught sets the mould to how they will view learning as they grow older. Traditional teaching methods will set them up to have a very narrow view on learning.Dr Zahari: How the children are taught sets the mould to how they will view learning as they grow older. Traditional teaching methods will set them up to have a very narrow view on learning.

“It’s so much more than that. Overseas, children learn problem-solving skills through play. So when they go on to primary schools, they are already able to look for information. They are more resourceful.

“The world today is so much more complex. Preschool education should teach children intellectual skills how to think, reason, reflect, create, and solve problems. In today’s society, just learning how to read and write, without actually learning how to think creatively, is not sufficient.”

Dr Chiam gives an example.

“In Malaysian kindergartens, when you talk about writing, it usually means that a teacher will write a word, and the child has to copy it and write neatly within the lines. That’s not writing, that’s just copying.

“Real writing means the child should be able to express him or herself. Even if they write phonetically, it’s okay. If he doesn’t have the word to express himself, and he draws to show what he means (half in words and half in pictures), that’s okay too. As he grows older and his vocabulary increases, the pictures will be substituted into words. That’s what writing really means,” she explains.

Dr Zahari Ishak, Universiti Malaya’s Educational Psychology and Counselling Department head, concurs.

“At the age of three to six, it’s their time to play. It’s not supposed to be grading time.

“How the children are taught sets the mould to how they will view learning as they grow older. Traditional teaching methods will set them up to have a very narrow view on learning,” he says.

Realising the importance of quality early childhood education, the Government, through its Government Transformation Programme, has set the target to increase the number of preschool classes in the urban, rural and remote areas.

In line with this was the recent Budget 2013 announcement of an allocation of RM1.2bil to various government agencies in an effort to provide quality preschool education. In addition, RM380mil will be allocated to the Education Ministry for placement of kindergarten teachers.

Also announced was a provision for a launching grant of RM10,000 to assist operators of ECCE private centres in opening new high quality preschools. It is estimated that 1,000 new private ECCE centres will benefit from this initiative.

The announcement is timely in making preschool education more accessible to many children, but Dr Chiam and Dr Zahari say the quality of the childcare providers and educators still needs a lot of working on.

It was recently reported that only 3% of private preschool teachers have formal qualification in early childhood education. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the rest only had workplace training, or had undergone courses which were not accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.

“It’s so important for early child educators to have a good understanding of child development. By understanding child development, they will be able to conduct activities which are age appropriate,” Dr Chiam says.

“If it’s too easy, you’re not challenging them (the children). If it’s too difficult, they will not be able to complete the task; it will be frustrating for the child, and it could affect their self-esteem.”

She adds that a ratio of one care-giver to three children should be sufficient “for normal children who do not have special needs”.

Citing examples of countries such as Russia, Finland and Canada, where early childhood educators are PhD holders (minimally with a masters degree), Dr Chiam says that Malaysia could learn a thing or two from them, and “adopt some of their best practices”.

“I believe early childhood educators should have a background in child development and child psychology,” Dr Zahari agrees.

In the grand scheme of things, early childhood education is possibly the best place to start when it comes to human capital investment, says M. Neela Mehan, a lecturer in the Faculty of Economics and Management in Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).

Neela Mehan, who is the former deputy chief executive officer of the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF), says 80% of Malaysia’s 12 million strong workforce are unskilled workers.

“Only 20% of Malaysia’s workforce are skilled workers. Compare this to Taiwan or Singapore, where about 50% of their workforce are skilled workers.

“If 80% of our workforce (are drop-outs and) don’t even have SPM qualification, where do we correct this? In secondary school? I think it would be too late by then. I believe the best way it to tackle this as early possible at preschool stage,” he says.

Dr Chiam supports this by citing the Perry Preschool study, which found a return to society of more than US$17, for every US$1 invested in the early care and education programme, “primarily because of the large continuing effect on the reduction of male crime”.

“These are research based on economic models and human capital development, and they have found that there is definitely an economic gain by investing in quality early childhood education. But to me, this is a bonus. What’s most important for me is how this benefits the individual child,” she says.

And perhaps the most important point of all is summarised in a question raised by Dr Chiam: “Overarching all of this is what society values. What do we want our children to become?”

Institusi prasekolah cemerlang perlu dedikasi guru, pengasuh, ibu bapa

Posted on November 5, 2012, Monday

CEMERLANG: Fatimah menyampaikan hadiah kepada salah seorang murid Sekolah Rendah Islam Al-Amin.

KUCHING: Institusi pendidikan prasekolah yang cemerlang memerlukan dedikasi sepenuhnya daripada guru dan pengasuh serta ibu bapa untuk memastikan perkembangan positif kanak-kanak dari segi minda dan sahsiah diri.

Menteri Kebajikan, Wanita dan Pembangunan Keluarga Datuk Fatimah Abdullah berkata pendidikan prasekolah seperti taska dan tadika memainkan peranan penting pada peringkat asas pendidikan seseorang kanak-kanak.

Beliau berkata setakat tahun 2012 Sarawak mempunyai 117 taska dengan bilangan kanak-kanak seramai 2,186 dan 346 pengasuh manakala bilangan tadika di negeri ini adalah 3,331 buah dengan bilangan kanak-kanak mencecah 77,002 dan guru seramai 5,243 orang.

Untuk menggalakkan lagi pendaftaran kanak-kanak ke insititusi prasekolah, kerajaan telah mengambil beberapa inisiatif melalui Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia termasuk menambahkan bilangan taska dan tadika di negeri Sarawak dengan kerjasama agensi kerajaan seperti Jabatan Kemajuan Masyarakat (KEMAS), Jabatan Perpaduan Negara dan Integrasi Nasional (JPNIN), SeDIDIK dan pihak swasta tambah beliau.

Menurutnya, statistik daripada Jabatan Pelajaran Negeri Sarawak menunjukkan peningkatan sebanyak 97 peratus murid-murid Tahun Satu yang pernah mengikuti kelas prasekolah bagi tempoh 2010 hingga 2012.

“Bagi membantu meningkatkan kualiti pendidikan awal kanak-kanak khususnya di peringkat prasekolah dan tadika, Majlis Pembangunan Pendidikan Awal Kanak-kanak Sarawak (MPAKS) telah menggubal dan mewujudkan Manual Standard Kualiti Pendidikan Tadika di Negeri Sarawak yang telah dilancarkan pada bulan Mac lepas.

“Ia adalah sebagai garis panduan bagi tadika awam dan swasta merangkumi lima dimensi utama iaitu aspek fizikal, program pembelajaran, kebajikan dan kesejahteraan murid, personel dan pengurusan,” katanya.

Beliau berkata demikian sewaktu berucap pada  Majlis Penyampaian Sijil dan Hadiah Tadika Nurul Iman dan Sekolah Rendah Islam Al-Amin di Auditorium Dewan Bandaraya Kuching Utara semalam.

Beliau juga menekankan kelayakan guru-guru khususnya di tadika hendaklah memiliki sekurang-kurangnya Diploma Pendidikan Awal Kanak-kanak bagi memastikan keberkesanan program prasekolah.

Bagi guru-guru yang tidak memiliki sijil tersebut digalakkan mendaftar bagi menghadiri Konvensyen Pendidikan Prasekolah Siri 7 Tahun 2012 yang akan diadakan di RH Hotel Sibu pada 12 hingga 14 November ini, jelasnya.

Konvensyen yang diadakan sejak 2006 itu bertujuan memberi pengetahuan, meningkatkan kemahiran dan menjadi ruang perkongsian pengalaman bagi guru-guru prasekolah mengenai kaedah penyampaian pembelajaran yang berkualiti dan berkesan, ujar beliau.

Majlis semalam juga menyaksikan penyampaian hadiah kepada pelajar cemerlang akademik oleh Fatimah serta persembahan menarik daripada murid-murid Tadika Nurul Iman dan Sekolah Rendah Islam Al-Amin.

Preschool paradigm

02 November 2012 | last updated at 11:20PM

Standard assessment will improve every facet of early education

DECEMBER is fast approaching; by which time, 20,000 trained early education teachers would have entered the job market. Holding diplomas in early education, they will bring a new approach to the nurturing of young minds. This should be a boon to an educational level thought, thus far, to be more play than learn and to ensure good physical care. In the past, school activities such as reading and writing at this stage was viewed more as a bonus than a need. Today, that perception is obsolete and intellectually children should be stimulated as early as is practicable. Towards this end, this educational sector will be restructured accordingly to secure the quality looked for.

Teachers are, of course, the main target if preschool education is to be improved. Those already in the system and those aspiring to join what is an admirable calling will be given a leg up by the government. They can now apply for financial assistance from the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) to pursue relevant courses. Increasing the intellectual input alone will not, however, quite achieve the desired objective. What the government proposes to do, as announced by the deputy prime minister, is to better every facet of early education through a standard assessment by the Education Ministry. The aim is to provide a system of accreditation — not a means of persecution — so that preschoolers receive the kind of quality education that “encourages mental and holistic development”.

One aspect that was discussed through a lab exercise was the needs of disabled children so that the findings could be included in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 preliminary report. In this respect, caregivers and teachers are important in identifying the cases to enable early intervention. Consequently, improving the training curriculum of teachers becomes an imperative. While disabled children require special attention, all children in their care need early scrutiny, for these are the most formative years of a human being. It will shape their perceptions towards school and education, and in the long run, determine the future quality of Malaysia’s human capital. It is, therefore, essential that teachers are competent to assess whether their charges have had a typical or an atypical development from aspects such as cognitive, social and emotional, language, play and perceptual. Building and expanding the skills of teachers is a necessary follow-up to the paradigm shift in early education that is being officially put in motion. And, one academic discipline that will serve to enhance a preschool teacher’s skill would be child psychology, given the desire for early intervention. After all, handicaps come obvious and hidden.

Tingkatkan kualiti pengajaran – TPM

1 November 2012, Khamis

Muhyiddin Yassin bersama kanak-kanak Tadika Peter & Jane selepas merasmikan Minggu Kebangsaan Asuhan dan Pendidikan Awal Kanak-Kanak (ECCE) di Kuala Lumpur, semalam. Hadir sama Dr. Chiam Heng Keng (lima dari kiri) dan Ketua Pengarah Pelajaran, Tan Sri Abd. Ghafar Mahmud (kanan). – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR 31 Okt. – Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin hari ini menyarankan guru prasekolah Kemas dan Jabatan Perpaduan Nasional dan Integriti Negara (JPNIN) supaya mengikuti program diploma dalam pendidikan awal kanak-kanak bagi meningkatkan standard dan kualiti pengajaran di sekolah.

Timbalan Perdana Menteri berkata, saranan itu bagi membolehkan guru mempunyai pengetahuan dan kecekapan dalam bidang yang diceburi, seperti mana syarat yang ditetapkan Kementerian Pelajaran kepada guru prasekolah yang perlu mempunyai ijazah dalam jurusan pendidikan awal kanak-kanak.

Muhyiddin, yang juga Menteri Pelajaran berkata, untuk itu, kerajaan telah mengambil beberapa langkah antaranya membenarkan mereka membuat pinjaman dengan Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional (PTPTN).

”Dengan ini, adalah diharapkan bahawa guru prasekolah Kemas dan JPNIN juga akan mencapai taraf seperti guru prasekolah dalam masa terdekat bagi memastikan standard dan kualiti guru adalah setara merentasi semua pusat asuhan dan prasekolah.

”Dalam hal ini, saya menyarankan para guru mengikuti sekurang-kurangnya diploma dalam pendidikan kanak-kanak di mana kerajaan juga sentiasa mengkaji bagaimana dapat membantu merealisasikan aspirasi itu,” katanya ketika berucap merasmikan Minggu Kebangsaan Asuhan dan Pendidikan Awal Kanak-Kanak (ECCE) di sini hari ini.

Hadir sama Presiden Majlis ECCE, Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng.

Menurut beliau, bagi meningkatkan lagi kualiti asuhan dan pendidikan awal kanak-kanak, Kementerian Pelajaran dan Majlis ECCE sedang membangunkan standard kualiti untuk taska dan prasekolah.

”Program pentaksiran kendiri itu bertujuan membantu pusat berkenaan mencapai tahap kualiti yang dikehendaki dalam memastikan minda kanak-kanak berkembang dan mencapai perkembangan holistik,” katanya.

Beliau berkata, penaksiran itu bukan bertujuan ‘menghukum’ mana-mana taska atau prasekolah, sebaliknya untuk membantu mengenal pasti aspek yang perlu dibaiki dan jurang perkhidmatan yang perlu dirapatkan.

Bagi meningkatkan kualiti guru prasekolah swasta yang dianggarkan hanya tiga peratus yang memiliki diploma atau ijazah dalam pendidikan awal kanak-kanak sekarang, Timbalan Perdana Menteri berkata, kerajaan menerusi Kementerian Pelajaran telah mengambil inisiatif menyediakan kursus selama tiga minggu, secara percuma, bagi semua guru prasekolah daripada sektor swasta.

”Menjelang akhir tahun ini, Kemeterian Pelajaran menganggarkan seramai 20,000 guru prasekolah akan dilatih melalui kursus ini,” katanya. – BERNAMA

DPM: Only 3% of kindergarten teachers qualified

Published: Wednesday October 31, 2012 MYT 11:33:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday October 31, 2012 MYT 11:41:28 AM
http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/10/31/nation/20121031112952&sec=nation
By KAREN CHAPMAN

KUALA LUMPUR: Only 3% of private pre-school teachers have formal qualifications in early childhood education.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said rest only had workplace training or unaccredited qualifications.

“In this regard, I urge the teachers to take up at least a diploma in Early Childhood Education.

“The ministry has also taken the initiative to provide a free 3-week course for private pre-school teachers,” he said in his speech before launching the National Early Childhood Care and Education Week 2012.

Muhyiddin, who is Education Minister, added that the ministry was considering a proposal to make special needs education courses compulsory for all preschool teachers.

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