What's with the brag -fest?
I must admit that the thought crossed my head too. My son was 3 and people all around me where teaching their kid new tricks while I was struggling to let my neighbor understand why I did not care if he did not color between the lines! Then it occured to me, that my son would probably be behind in the "rat race" as Sumana put it. Noon also talked about this in her blog post and brought back memories of this time. So I picked up the phone one day and called the Kumon center and almost went to look it up! Meanwhile I spoke to a few people and they told me Kumon was about repetitive learning.. now I have no clue if this is true or not or what they really teach at Kumon. But while I was researching all this, I got thinking. If my son's brain is developing so fast in these years then so is his personality right? Would I rather he be academically strong or be a more rounded individual? I never got around to the Kumon classes.
A friend asked me a year back when she was choosing a school for her kid what I would reccomend? I said "I would look for a place that has the most toys, that gives the kids the freedom to explore and have fun and that is very secure"! "But what about the curriculum" she asked! "Your kid is 3 for heaven's sake, let her learn to love school before worrying about academics and grades" I advised. Well I was probably the only one who told her that, later she said she actually gave it a lot of thought and followed my advice. My son started full time school only this year.. till last year he would go only 3 days a week.
This year he started Kindergarten and I was really finding the homeworks he lugged home rather strange and amusing, but learning to live with it! Till one day he brought back a paper home with a grade on it. It said A+. I smiled and put the paper away, soon this became a routine thing. They had graded tests in school and I was starting to get mildly annoyed. Still I assumed that they probably just gave all the kids an A+. Then one afternoon my son came home very upset and worried. He was worried that he had not drawn a zebra right and would not get an A+ in his paper. I was so incredulous.. what now they are grading zebras? After assuring him I did not care what his grades where as long as he was having fun I had a talk with the teacher. Turns out they never did grade the zebra. After a lot of thought I gave my feedback to the teacher and then the director that they should stop grading these children and guess what they agreed with me! Some kids had got B- and D's and had been so upset over that! Like I said "This is a pressure they can live without.. atleast not at 5!".
So back to the Kumon classes. Recently a friend asked me why I was not sending my son to Kumon and lectured me about how the brain develops at lightning pace these years! I asked her, "So tell me if that is true then by sending him to school and Kumon and focussing so much energy for academics you are letting only one part of that brain develop arent you?" Cheeky is a sports fan and goes to a sport camp once a week. We are waiting for the dawn of the new year to start him on Taekwondo (that earned me a snigger from some parents too.. you want to teach your son to fight?)! And in summer I want him to join a music class and swimming lessons. Maybe some tennis too if he can fit it in.. however, I take the cue from my son and these are all the activities he has chosen for himself! At this age I want him to have maximum exposure to all aspects of personality and physical development. There are somethings you can't leave till too late and personality is one such thing!
Meanwhile I must say that Cheeky does work on some workbooks at home. He is also encouraged to do puzzles and mazes, word search, and word puzzles. He has learnt to handle money and tell time, read fluently and do advanced math problems for his age. However he does all this because he enjoys it and has fun while doing it.. it is not another exercise to do, it is a fun activity to do! We miss our afternoon soujourns to the park (what with more long school hours) but we love to get out on weekends and give our legs a stretch!
This post is to all those parents out there who have to ask "So why is your son not in Kumon?" I am sure they have their reasons too.. and I am sure their kids have enough fun too.. atleast I hope they do! Mine is having a blast! What say?