We recently wrote a post about "How to give your child the best head start in life" and shortly after, I read an article on The Straits Times titled "Relax, why turn childhood into a race for results?". I realised that although my post was about encouraging parents to read to their children, the title somewhat reflects a certain desire to race ahead of others.
"Enjoyment is the inner fuel that fires a man or woman's desire to keep learning. So it's best not to extinguish that flame early in life by pushing children to produce immediate results."
This particular sentence in the article is both encouraging and refreshing given how the "kiasu" mindset (an irrational fear of losing out) is prevalent in Singaporean society. How often do we hear children or even teachers promote the enjoyment or love for learning?
So what can be done you may ask...I think we should first talk about what we can stop doing to prevent destroying their love for learning.
1. Send them to a myriad of enrichment, tuition and extra lessons from a very young age.
Push them to the point of exhaustion and exasperation. Learning becomes a chore and they will lose interest.
2. Constantly tell them how much they are falling behind and losing out. Although having good results can improve your chances at landing a good job, young children are not able to fully understand or internalise this. They will lose hope. They will hate learning.
3. Force them to focus on certain disciplines that you deem more lucrative or important. This is the fastest way down the slippery slope. Children won't love to learn something because it pays them well 20 years from now. (We don't even know what pays 20 years from now...)
I am so thankful that my parents never forced me to attend so many lessons or choose only the "science stream" for the sake of securing a job. They have always inculcated in me the virtue of doing my best in everything I undertake. They gave me space to grow my interest in reading, literature, writing and eventually teaching. I still love reading and writing not because it earns me anything but simply because I enjoy it.
What are your thoughts?
Vincent & Debra Kwan, Founders of Hiro & Jack and stay-at-home parents with the odd life.