Preschools aim to en­hance ba­sic skills

EARLY ED­U­CA­TION HAS DE­VEL­OPED TO MORE THAN JUST AN OUT­DOOR PLAY­GROUND.

The Jakarta Post - Magazine - - Education - Ruth Ni­na­janty) AP

Par­ents en­roll their chil­dren in preschools, toddler classes and other baby pro­grams, some­times start­ing from as young as six months old with the hopes of putting in place the ba­sics for their ele­men­tary and sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion down the road.

Ac­cord­ing to UNICEF, gross en­roll­ment ra­tios in pre-pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion in In­done­sia last year reached 46 per­cent. This shows the grow­ing con­cern and aware­ness of to­day’s par­ents for their chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion. As dur­ing their own child­hood, th­ese par­ents didn’t ex­pe­ri­ence the same type or early ed­u­ca­tion, they feel the urge to start send­ing chil­dren to school from an early age.

Laksmy, a mother of two who lives in Bin­taro, en­rolled both her chil­dren in school at the age of two. She is con­cerned about her chil­dren’s so­cial skills be­cause she and her hus­band are both work­ing and the kids are left with maids. “We live in a neigh­bor­hood where kids don’t go out and play in the park. So my chil­dren don’t have friends.”

But she ad­mits that, as a new par­ent, she was clue­less about preschool en­roll­ment. “Most of my friends en­rolled their chil­dren at 2 years old, so I fol­lowed their lead.”

Child psy­chol­o­gist Ine In­dri­ani M.Psi said that preschool was not part of the 12-year com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram. “But preschool can have a pos­i­tive af­fect for those liv­ing in big ci­ties where peo­ple usu­ally don’t know their neigh­bors and chil­dren are un­der-stim­u­lated. Pre-school can be a great place to learn ba­sic con­cepts like left and right.”

Still, par­ents need to watch out to make sure that their chil­dren are ready for school. “Par­ents can see if the child is happy and ex­cited to go to school. Don’t force them to go if they’re not ready be­cause it can be a trau­ma­tiz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for the chil­dren. Chil­dren aged zero to five need plenty of play time.”

Laksmy re­calls that her old­est, Al­ban, started at a na­ture-based school, oth­er­wise known as seko­lah alam.

“When we de­cided to en­roll Al­ban, he was more than ready for school skill-wise and at­ti­tude-wise, so reg­u­lar preschool may not have been of much use. We were hop­ing he could learn some­thing new. That’s why we de­cided to sign up for a seko­lah alam with a reli­gious bent. There he can learn to the proper pray­ing rit­u­als as well as chan­nel­ing his bound­less en­ergy.”

THE RIGHT STIM­ULI

But her sec­ond child, Bin­nar, is to­tally dif­fer­ent. “She had yet to talk when I en­rolled her at preschool this year. She also has some prob­lems ex­press­ing her emo­tions. So when I en­rolled her in preschool, I ex­pected her to be able to so­cial­ize with other chil­dren.” So far, it’s only been a few months and Bin­nar has seemed to im­prove.

“She used to hit peo­ple if she didn’t like how things were done. Now she’s a lit­tle calmer. She also seems to un­der­stand the con­cept of ‘wait­ing’, which is a great re­lief for the whole fam­ily,” Laksmy shared.

As for which school to choose, Laksmy said she de­pended on the In­ter­net for in­for­ma­tion. She started search­ing for preschools near her house and at­tended tri­als and open houses.

Ine sug­gested par­ents do the same be­fore sign­ing their chil­dren up for any­thing. “First, find the one school your child is com­fort­able with and look for preschools with lov­ing teach­ers. Preschool teach­ers shouldn’t be judg­ing kids as naughty, and they should have enough knowl­edge and pas­sion to help chil­dren de­velop. Then look at the cur­ricu­lum. Preschool should be about play­time and not learn­ing how to master read­ing or count­ing,” said Ine.

Both of Lakmy’s chil­dren are cur­rently en­rolled in a pri­vate preschool, and she is hop­ing they can score a seat in its ele­men­tary school.

“I like the sys­tem in that school and I hope both my chil­dren can en­roll there for ele­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion. That’s why, aside from the lo­ca­tion, I chose the school be­cause I want to con­tinue to their ele­men­tary school. If you’re en­rolling since kinder­garten, you have a greater chance of be­ing ac­cepted.”

From ed­u­ca­tors’ per­spec­tive, preschools are get­ting more at­ten­tion. Ruth Mau­reen, the prin­ci­pal of Seko­lah Cita Per­sada in Cinere, Depok, be­lieves that preschool plays an im­por­tant role in pre­par­ing chil­dren for fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion be­cause learn­ing starts as soon as the child is born.

“It is very ben­e­fi­cial to give chil­dren the right stim­uli for them to be able to max­i­mize their po­ten­tial along with pro­vid­ing a sup­port­ive and ap­pro­pri­ate learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment.”

Seko­lah Cita Per­sada ap­plies a cre­ative cur­ricu­lum at its preschool, fo­cus­ing on the so­cial, emo­tional, cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal as­pects of ed­u­ca­tion. They also teach young chil­dren the skills of prob­lem solv­ing and the abil­ity to con­nect what they learn at school with what they see in the real world.

Mau­reen sug­gested par­ents be­come ac­tively in­volved in their chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion, es­pe­cially when they are very young.

“The chil­dren will ben­e­fit if they are sent to the right place where the right stim­u­la­tion is given and the right en­vi­ron­ment is pre­pared for the chil­dren.” (

Cour­tesy of Tu­tor­time

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