Geral­dine Arul­samy

Taska Tulip (Montes­sori cur­ricu­lum)

Time Out Malaysia Kids - - Parenthood - 21 Jalan Tualang, Bangsar, KL (03 2096 2220/tulip.com.my).

Choos­ing a kinder­garten is quite daunt­ing for par­ents. Weigh­ing up con­sid­er­a­tions like costs, type of ed­u­ca­tion, dis­tance to the home, safety and what kind of teach­ers are there can cause sleep­less nights, par­tic­u­larly for first-time par­ents, even more so if you de­cide to send your child at an early age. The best way to make a de­ci­sion is by word of mouth fol­lowed by vis­it­ing the es­tab­lish­ment to get a feel of the place and teach­ers, and even then you can be un­sure.

Taska Tulip is one of those kinder­gartens where you walk in and you im­me­di­ately no­tice that the kids are gen­uinely happy to be there, which is very im­por­tant. Founder Geral­dine Arul­samy has been in the in­dus­try for more than 20 years and im­me­di­ately knew this was her call­ing as soon as she started teach­ing. ‘The early years of a child are fun­da­men­tal. I chose to be in­volved in early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion be­cause I know I have the op­por­tu­nity to make a dif­fer­ence in their lives and to be able to com­ple­ment what par­ents do with them at home. I see my role as an ed­u­ca­tor not as work, but a per­sonal mis­sion to make a dif­fer­ence.’ With th­ese words alone Geral­dine shows how com­mit­ted she is to her call­ing.

When she started work­ing, she dreamt of hav­ing her own kinder­garten but at that time she had two young chil­dren and re­alised how chal­leng­ing it would be to man­age every­thing. But, as fate would have it, she was put in a sit­u­a­tion whereby decisions had to be made and a cou­ple of months later, Geral­dine got her wish and Taska Tulip opened.

When asked whether her teach­ing tech­niques and at­ti­tude changed when she be­came a mum, she had this to say, ‘Teach­ing has helped me be­come a bet­ter mum, and be­ing a mum of three has made me a bet­ter ed­u­ca­tor. Be­ing a par­ent cer­tainly helps with be­ing more pa­tient and un­der­stand­ing why kids do the things they do. It’s not just text­book knowl­edge, but ex­pe­ri­ence that helps me make sense of things.’

Do par­ents make bet­ter teach­ers? The hard part is to be able to dis­tin­guish the roles and as Geral­dine noted be­ing a par­ent does help in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions like when a kid cries as in­stinct takes over and it’s eas­ier to han­dle the sit­u­a­tion. That’s not to say that teach­ers who aren’t par­ents are lack­ing in any way, but there are times when it must be dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand the prob­lem es­pe­cially when the kids are very young.

Teach­ers may even find them­selves teach­ing their own kids and Geral­dine has first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of this and ad­mits it can be quite a chal­lenge as par­ents al­ways have higher ex­pec­ta­tions for them. ‘Some­times mum mode can be more de­mand­ing to teacher mode. I al­ways re­mind my­self that par­ents are the pri­mary ed­u­ca­tors and I need to find a bal­ance between the two. From my ex­pe­ri­ence, I know it’s hard but not im­pos­si­ble.’

It’s not just text­book knowl­edge, but ex­pe­ri­ence that helps me make sense of things

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