We take pains in raising bright, active and happy kids. I could not say we have been entirely successful but we are trying our damn best.
Ari spent the past school year in the Child Development Laboratory of the UPLB College of Human Ecology. It is called a laboratory because it is a training vehicle for UP professors and students and it is a venue for formulating new strategies for early childhood development. The laboratory adopts a very eclectic approach to learning, with emphasis on developing a child’s multiple intelligences, including behavior and home-school integration.
At the laboratory we have witnessed how Ari became more independent and how he interacted with other children. Here he developed greater self-discipline, self-motivation and self-expression. We have been more than pleased with Ari’s performance in his first year of “little school.” But that was before we began scouting for a new school for him for the preparatory level. In the course of taking school assessments and evaluation prior to acceptance to big school, we realized that more traditional schools demanded a lot more academically than what our son was currently capable of. And we do not blame his former school because we were perfectly satisfied with the kind of well-rounded preparation he received there.
In the last few months, we were practically scrambling to prepare Ari for entering a traditional school. We have math, reading and writing lessons everyday. We do science experiments at home. Ari was learning at lightning pace and I am confident that he can perform well academically alongside other children his age in a more structured learning environment. But somehow, I felt that he still wasn’t completely ready for an academically challenging and competitive environment, considering how young he his, and the kind of interests and intelligences he possesses.
This is where the concept of “readiness” comes into play. A child, or any individual for that matter, has the capacity to learn any amount of knowledge if he has the proper motivation and if he knows how to process information into a form that would be useful to him. There is a reason why the preparatory level is called such because the objective is to “prepare” children for more structured learning, and not expect them to know what graders should already know.
Readiness for learning. Readiness for absorbing information and processing them into useful concepts. Readiness for integrating what one already knows to what one is starting to learn to result in even greater learning. Readiness is not simply knowing how to write, but knowing how to create each stroke and knowing what each stroke is for. Readiness is not simply knowing how to read, but knowing how each letter is part of a syllable, that is part of a word, that is part of a sentence, that is all part of the language that we use to communicate and comprehend. Readiness is not simply knowing how to count, or how to add one number to the other, but knowing that each digit is part of a greater whole, be it thousands or millions or billions. Readiness is not simply knowing, but realizing that one has the capacity to learn anything and everything, no matter how difficult it can become in the future.
This is what we want to develop in our children, before we let them out into the harsh, competitive world outside. We need them to be confident that they will be able to take on anything however tough or insurmountable circumstances may be. In addition to preparing them for learning, we also want to strengthen their values–their understanding of what is right and what is not right. So that when they go out and interact with all sorts of people who may have been raised with a different set of values, they will be firm in what they believe to be true and appropriate.
Finally, after months of searching for a big school for Ari, we found a school whose philosophies are in tune with our objectives for our children. He will be spending preparatory level at GF Tots and Kids Care Center, which espouses a teaching and caring strategy “without pressure” but commits to preparing children for more structured learning. The Center is a few minutes walk from where we live and Turo and I were both surprised and grateful that the kind of institution we have long been searching for was just right under our noses. A casual conversation with the Center’s very passionate Director gave us enough inspiration and assurance that we were on the right track in raising our children.
Searching for Ari’s school was a highly emotional roller-coaster ride. At this point, I do not even want to imagine what it would be like to choose a college or university for my children to attend. I could not be more relieved to know that our preschool search is finally over and that we could shift our focus on making our home environment complement the kind of instruction that is being provided in school. If there is anything I have gained from this experience, it is the strong realization that we, as parents, have an even greater role to play in reinforcing our children’s learning experiences and guiding them in putting their new knowledge to good use, especially now that they are spending time in a growing number of institutions and social circles.