Friday, April 27, 2007

Educating a 2.5 yr old...

Hi all,
Its really interesting to read all the posts..this site is just wonderful.

Wanted to post something on "what to teach my 2.5 yr old" ? By this I mean, is it the right time to introduce alphabets? or numbers? or rhymes are enough for this age? etc etc.
By the way, all the tips from the "desimomz " are great..

Education system in Holland is pretty different. They aim to bring up the child in a very normal balanced pace. They also allow the child to be the judge of their actions from a very young age.

I will give you an example. Couple of weeks ago I went to register my son in a Dutch school. ( "A" will be going to school from sept 2008). While I was there, a senior teacher was showing me around the school and said that "this school is based on a system of education that allows students (4 yr olds) to "choose" whether he/she wants to do homework or not!"
Its a pity that I dont have a picture of my facial expression on hearing this!!!
For me this is absurd...SURELY my Indian upbringing makes me think like this. Times have changed..I agree, but still its very difficult to imagine a 4-yr old WANTING to do homework!

On the other hand, last time I visited India, found my friends daughter (5 yr old) carrying a school bag which weighed 2 kilos atleast, with books, note books, cursive writing workbooks etc etc..Here in Holland my 8 yr old niece goes to school still without books. Inspite of that, she reads/write fluent Dutch and quite good english.

I personally believe that no education system can be BAD..all have their good points and bad. The confusion arises when a person brought up in a certain system faces the other.
On one hand, "A" being treated like a kid, not being burdened with kilos of books makes me very happy. On the other hand, "A" not being able to cursive write at the age of 5 might disappoint me...
On a lighter note: Good that we cant see the future...because "A" with his DANGLA(dutch+ bangla) language is influencing me so much that I am afraid I might need to go back to school again.......

If only I could put the two education systems (dutch and indian) in a jar, shake it and use the final product .....


Asha said...

Hahaha!! Dr,that was a fun post to read,specially the Dangla!:))

DO NOT try to teach alphabets and numbers at this age,let the school take care of it.They ABSOLUTELY know what they are doing ,trust me!!

A 5yr old learning to write cursive in India amazed me!!In US,they ask the kids start cursive writing when they are in 4th grade!Do not teach the kid at home like we Indians tends to do.I did and kids were so advanced in the class that they got bored and teacher called me and asked me to STOP teaching them!:D

I did stop,and only helped when they asked me and my kids are doing very well now.Let the school system take over and just listen to what they say,Don't compare to what Indians do bcos your kid is going to grow up in Europe!

Personally,I don't like Indian system of education which teaches you nothing but memorize the text books and put it all down on the exam day!!If you are rich enough,you can BUY Med. seats too!!

Sandeepa said...

Asha the most experienced Mom gave the best advice. She is right about Indian school system being different. Its pretty relaxed here too and public schooling does not start until age 5.

However I can only share my experience with my 3 yr old.

My daughter started daycare/pre school at age 2+.
At that age they would teach her Shapes, Colors, Alphabets, Numbers (1-40 counting), days of the week but and a BIG BUT all through play. They have something caled a "Circle time" a half hour when they have some teaching. Rest of the time it is mostly fun. But through that she picked up such basic stuff. At home I did teach her alphabets but I was amazed that they taught her small letters at school too.

Now she is 3. I see Still the same things are being re-inforced. But I saw that their school asks them to trace letters and now she has got hang of writing some of the letters too. No cursive anything mostly tracing the letters. At home we try to make letter shapes with whatever we have say dough or sticks etc.
But she is not very keen to write.

I want my daughter to get a hang of reading though and so I spend 20 minutes or so to play with letters making words with her. She seems to enjoy it and thinks of it as a game, so fine.

I don't spend any more time on teaching

(My experience is based on two pre-schools in the US
-- Prodigy under KinderCare
-- Goddard Schools)

DR said...

Thanks Asha and Sandeepa,
I know, its best to take it easy. I have no intention of putting extra burden on his shoulders..just let him learn his own pace!

Sometimes actually its hard to let go off the "porte bosho, shondhe hoye gelo" tune still ringing in my head from my childhood...

yes, reading is something A enjoys very much too...I dont know how much he understands..but some pages seem to be "more interesting" than others...and those I have to repeat many times....


Vee said...

DR, I know what you mean. My son will be 3 in August. He goes to what is called early preschool now. He recognises alphabets, numbers and always tries to read them off of anything he can get his hands on whether it is his shirt, the ball or the advert board at a stop light. I read a lot to both my kids but I have not started doing alphabets or numbers with my son yet as I believe there is still time for that. That does not stop me from preening when he tries to read. The thing is we are selfish. We want it both ways. We want our children to learn at the indian pace but with the pressure-less system that the western schools advocate. But then that applies to other aspects of our life in the western world too, doesn't it? I say, try introducing the alphabets to 'A'. If he shows an interest,well and good. If not, drop it. The way I see it, It does not depend upon the education system as much as it depends upon the kids.

Asha-ji, with due respect, I disagree with you that all the indian education system teaches you is to memorise. The negative point of the Indian Education System is that it lets you get away with memorising. My mom never let me memorise a single sentence. I was always an above average student, in the top 10. My mom never forced me to be a top ranker which is why I never felt the need to memorise. There in lies the difference between the memoriser and the student who actually gets an education. That is why even though I am just another churn out from the great wheels of that system, I can do simple fractions in my head without a calculator. This is not to say I have anything against the American education system. I like the low teacher:student ratio. I like that the way they are encouraged to think for themselves as opposed to follow rules (which is the british leftover in indian schools). But, wouldn't it have been nice if the teacher, instead of asking you not to teach your kids, had worked with you to challenge your kids more? Isn't it a good point of the Indian Education System that the kids get bored from trying to stuff too much in their brains but not because they already know what is being thought.

I know it is your personal opinion and I am hamming all over it. But,The Indian education system is the one that brings out the IIT's and the IIM's and 70% of the doctors of the Western World. Obviously, something is very RIGHT about the system. I agree that some things are wrong, but that can be said of other education systems too, can't they? They are trying to rectify the things that are wrong. There are new schools cropping up which have equal emphasis on extra curricular activities as in swimming, dancing, sports are part of the curriculum not 'extra' to it.How do I know? My niece goes to one such school.Soon(hopefully), they might come up with the locker system so the kids won't have to carry so many books.

{Sorry, Asha-ji. I couldn't help it.}

DR said...

Hi Vee,
Thats the reason I want to put both systems in a jar..shake it...etc etc..
Like Asha said about memorising..its partially true because we are brought up with this exam-grades-marks-ranks mentality. There, exams are a measure of how much you learnt in a specific time and how much of it you can put down on paper in a specific time.Here, learning is done in a more "applied" way. Small kids are taught to spell words by the sound...NOT memorise....

Again on the other hand I agree with you that Indian system in not ALL bad (me, being a product am proud of the system)...What I really appreciate about indian way of learning is the "competitive" spirit that was attached to it--Does not mean that every single moment you are being compared to the "neighbours daughter" who is sooooo good in sooooo many things(like some of my friends mothers used to do).
What it means is that "tiny" extra bit which can differentiate between you and 10 others. What I miss in the education system here is that all children are taught to be alike...uniform....homogenous the average grade of the class is more important than individual performances.

So maybe with the right amount of flexibility at school and indian rigidity at home..our children will turn out to be real good!!
[touch wood]

have a nice weekend..all of you

Sandeepa said...

Hi Vee and DR

I do agree about the IIT and the IIM . But don' t you think the Current Indian Education system is somewhat different from what we had in our childhood.

I went to a ICSE board scool till grade 7 after which I moved to CBSE.
In my LKG , UKG (Kindergarten) classes we were NOT given any homework neither were we allowed to take books home. My school was just one of the Catholic schools that shapes India's education.

But now I see things are very different.
We never needed to go for Tution Classes till the 10th grade, after that some of us did go for all those entrance exam preps. Now I see tiny 5 year old going for tutoring classes so that they can pass the entrance to a good school

Another diff is -- Here I think the importance is not on being a Enginner or a Doctor so much. The society is kind towards all professions (unlike India) and so if you do good in any field it is good. So even if you can't do fractions in you head and you are good at painting you have a choice. Maybe you don't earn that much money but you still get a choice.

That I think is a big difference !!!

Vinita said...

Indian Parents trying to raise kids in the western world can give their kids the best of both the worlds.Work on their mental math skills, reading skills at home and also respect and encourage what imagination , learning thru play , indpendent thinking which is taught at school. Just giving lot of information to a child and asking him to memorise it may not be right because it does not teach anything to the child. You want him to be curious and have a thirst for knowledge(I know it sounds too heavy here .. but tell me more mamma kinda of thingy or something which makes them think)but at the same time memorizing something helps their brain cells too. You girls might remember whatever shlokas we recited as yougsters during prayer time we remember till this day. Memorizing of tables is a very good habit too. You will see so many indian kids doing well in spelling Bee and mental math and being toppers.

Both the systems are good. We just need to find a balance. As DR said ...shake shake shake


Sandeepa said...


I recently learned that here in the US (at least in New Jersey) there is something called Magnet Schools. But that is in the High School stage and the kid is admitted only if he/she is good in academics.
Also the SAT etc. does instill competition in kids.

But not in a 5yr old which any way is not a very good idea I feel

Vee said...

I am sorry if my comment took the conversation away from what you meant to discuss. I was just surprised by Asha-ji's comment as normally I tend to agree with her sentiments. "teaches you nothing" are strong words, don't you think? Having said that, here goes.

About Spelling, what you are talking about is phonetics. we learn Indian languages that way. 'A pe aa ki matra AA', ' A pe e ki matra EE' etc. remember that?? :D Phonetics was introduced in India about 2500 years ago. The reason we don't learn English that way might be because English is not an indigenous language.

I know the 'extra bit' part. That is where your shake, shake thing would come in real handy. The Indian System, in challenging the students to their limits, leaves a lot of below average students labeled as failures when they might actually be good at different things. The US system in trying to think about those students and their 'no-child-left-behind' Act don't challenge the above average kids. Best of both would be really nice. I am not sure how things are in Holland, though.

I am talking about the current system in India (at least, in cities like Bombay, B'lore, Hyd) where a lot of emphasis is on the more all-round development of kids. You will be surprised at the options available. I thought we were talking about education per se, not career choices. You can be anything you want when you grow up, but basic education is a must, don't you think? Would it be a bad thing to be able to multiply numbers in the head? Especially while trying to sell multiple copies of said paintings... :D

Also, I have never heard of 5 year olds in tution classes. My niece is 4, no homework, swimming, dancing, painting and reading,writing are her main activities at school. I agree in India the emphasis is on becoming a professional. But, that is changing , too with the economic boom and globalization. Many people wouldn't mind seeing their kids become tennis players or chess players or models thx to Sania Mirza, Vishwanathan and Aishwarya-Sushmita. I think our generation can afford to be more flexible about that. Our parents didn't have that luxury. If my kids dream of becoming someone which might have them dependent on us even at age 30, you can be sure they will coerced into choosing something else. :D

Sandeepa said...

But Vee, if your kids have a dream they need to try it out at least else how will they know if they are going to be still dependent on you at 30 :D
You are right about the math in head though, it always helps :)

In Kolkata I know that getting into the "so called" good schools is pretty tough and so kids have to be tutored etc. to answer the interview questions.
There are new schools like DPS etc. (DPS was not there in Cal before) coming up but I think most parents want their kids to go to the "famous" schools in Kolkata.

What I am talking about is 2-3 years back. At 6 my cousin bro's son had to know what a Noun , Pronoun is when he could barely write a sentence in english. I don't know the situation as of now, neither do I know the situation in B'bay.

namvor said...

interesting comments. not sure if this is even going to be read since its ages after the original discussion happened but will post anyway.

i guess there are two things that motivate people - one is an internal drive to learn and the other is external pressure to succeed. i went to an IIT and then to an IIM and since i have no sample of folks who do well in other fields (like say law or education or psychology) i will analyse this bunch. from what i have seen of folks there, there needs to be a balance of both factors i mention above. i think parents have a serious role to play as far as the internal drive part goes - maybe by creating an attitude of not accepting things at face value and by not comparing unfavourably with others and thereby killing off self-esteem. as far as external pressure goes some amount of competition is necessary i think and maybe this is where the school matters.

totally agree with the shaking-the- two-systems-together bit. if we think we can raise bright kids abroad by giving inputs at home to bolster learning at school, why not the other way?! can we not introduce creative bits at home to supplement the more academic school system in india?