Like many parents, the husband and I hope to instil values and necessary skills to equip the boy for life. Like many parents, too... there are times when we don't even know where to begin.
Far beyond learning and educational skills, we would like BabyMoo to grow to be a discerning individual, adaptable to his surroundings, and street smart to a point where he can get out of or avoid unnecessary altercations with others. I am of the belief that it is much easier to teach a person subjects which can be found in books, but it is a challenge to ensure that they are able to 'read' situations and respond appropriately.
The Singapore Education System is a rigorous one, whereby children are required to not only be able to think on their feet - but ideally, also have a learning capacity far beyond their years. Children in Kindergarten are given 'homework' and assignments... on top of the Enrichment Classes which parents are apt to enrol their kids in so that they are better prepared for Primary School.
Different parents have their own different approach to providing their best for their offspring, so I definitely am not in any position to judge anyone for their chosen ways. Ultimately, I believe that all parents want the best for their children... and they are the best persons to judge what works best based on their children's individual personalities and preferences.
There are times, however, when I'm made to feel that I'm not doing enough for the boy.
Reading updates on efforts and attempts to introduce the basics of English, Maths, Science and the Mother Tongue from mothers and their success stories can evoke feelings of inadequacies to even the most loving and well-meaning Mum. Usborne, Eric Carle, FIAR (Five in a row) method, just to name a few... didn't make sense to me. I was clueless about these, and suddenly felt that my son could be missing out on a lot of things - because his Mummy doesn't know.
DaddyMoo and I have decided that we will let BabyMoo develop at his own pace, for we believe that every child will meet developmental milestones in their own time. I then wondered (perhaps due to the information overload from other Mums who seem to be doing so much for their children) that if this train of thought is just a poor excuse for laziness on our part? Are we denying our son the avenues to help him reach his fullest potential?
At the risk of sounding like a super kiasu parent (afraid to lose out), I worried about having an ill-equipped child in terms of exposure. What if he enters nursery or kindergarten in a years' time, and feel out of place because he was never introduced to the basics of learning? What if these feelings manifest itself into something sinister... and (God forbid!) stomps on his self-esteem? BabyMoo has always been a very sensitive child, no matter how aggressive or adventurous he portrays himself out to be, and I am fully aware that with such sensitivity, he is more prone to feeling the effects of negativity even more.
I thought about it, and wondered aloud. Of course, the husband thinks I'm thinking too much... but it's a mother's duty to worry, is it not? :)
I finally decided that it would do all of us (especially the boy) a world of good for me to at least find out about the wide array of developmental books and be informed about the numerous methods of teaching and learning. It will not kill me to read up on these... and implement those that I think will be appropriate for the boy. Even though every day is still a process of trial and error with BabyMoo in terms of discovering the 'real' person inside that bundle of energy, I think I'm able to figure out what will work best for him. I rely on my mother's instincts most of the time - and it hasn't failed me thus far.
He can identify words now!
I try to incorporate what I've learnt (thanks to the many wonderful Mums who put in so much effort out there!) into every day communications with the boy. I found that numbers can be taught in a fun way that captures their attention and gets ingrained into their minds even when their attention is directed elsewhere. I realised that phonics can be introduced to him using word sounds that he associates with things he loves. Learning through play is still play to a curious boy... and that makes him eager to learn more.
I admire the tenacity and creativity of the many Mums who come up with so many fabulous ideas to introduce the concept of learning to their children. Gone are the days where kids are made to sit at a table to learn their multiplication tables through conventional methods (i.e: memorising) instead of understanding and the ability to visualize. History comes with 3D effects via interactive museum activities. English is fun with colourful books with graphic crafts to bring the stories to life.
I have a long way to go... but I'm learning. I don't hope to be a Super Mum who can craft, bake, story-tell and soothe aches and pains with a ready smile; neither do I wish for a Super Baby who can speak in complete sentences, have impeccable manners and is able to not only say his ABCs but read simple story books all before he turns Two.
Ok... this is a posed picture.
I only hope to provide adequately for his first steps towards being his own person in life. I want him to be comfortable in his own skin... and I don't want him to miss out on things that other kids do because he doesn't know. I would introduce concepts to him and expand areas where he shows his interest... and I trust him to learn enough to be able to participate in conversations about a wide range of things as he grows older.
BabyMoo is going to have to rely on his instincts in the future... but until the day when he proves to us that he is perfectly able to hold his own - I will worry, guide and help him along. That's the very least I can do.