Daily Archives: August 11, 2011

Importance of Unstructured Play

Thanks to Mum in the Making, she had me thinking of a very important aspect of our children’s lives. Unlike Mama J though, I don’t feel guilty about leaving the kids to play on their own. We don’t have a maid, I work part time from home and the children just learn to adapt and amuse themselves.

We have a house rule that Ally is allowed to watch one TV program when she comes home from school each day. Other than that, the TV is usually turned off. After a whole morning at Kindy, I know she needs some down time to just chill out.

After their afternoon naps, the children usually find something to amuse themselves with. As I’m typing this now, they have pulled out all their Legos and are busy building a town.

I know a lot of children Ally’s age that have activities lined up for them every single day. Well meaning parents have forgotten that unstructured play is essential for children. It helps them be creative, it gives them the opportunity to be spontaneous, to just be kids.

If you schedule a child from day to night, they learn to EXPECT you to fill their lives with things to do. I honestly believe children need down time as much as adults do. They need to have time to just be, I notice Ally likes to lie in her bed and day dream. At times she sings songs to herself or makes up stories with her stuffed penguins.

When the children are playing on their own, I love to sit and watch. It gives me a great insight into their characters and the innocent banter always makes me laugh. At times I’m invited to join them and I usually let them lead the game while I just play along.

Growing up our parents never structured out time, they just left us to our own devices. I remember pulling out a bucket of water one day and pouring it all over the living room floor. I then took a mop and pretended to be Cinderella. I have to give credit to my mom for not even batting an eyelid and letting me carry on my game of make believe.

Max dressed up in his riding "helmet" playing horses with Ally

Ally with her riding "helmet"

Here is a short and sweet article on why we should allow our kids to just play.  Oops, a fight over Lego has just broken out, time for me to restore peace!

 

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Branded Schools

Ally turned 4 this year and already the topic of which Primary school that she’ll be attending has cropped up more than once. Despite the distance that she’ll have to travel, we have decided that she’ll attend my former primary school. Not because it’s one of the “branded ” schools in Singapore, but because it saves me the hassle of deciding which school to put her in.

Many of my friends are envious that she’s guaranteed a place in a prestigious school. Many people argue that branded schools provide your child a better education and a better learning environment. With Max, we don’t have a specific school in mind for him. Since Matt didn’t go through the Singapore education system, Max is left to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

In the end, we might have one child in a ” branded ” school and the other in a regular school. Both children will be a good experiment to see if a branded school is indeed better.  Of course it’s not a fair comparison, Ally and Max are two very different children with different learning styles.

From first hand experience, I can honestly say that branded schools are not all that they are made out to be. I have met far too many principals who have this mindset ” if you can’t keep up to the standards that I set, you shouldn’t be here” These principals stress on maintaining their top 10 ranking which puts a lot of stress on the teachers which therefore create a pressure cooker environment for the children.

I was lucky enough to have a principal who cared about nurturing an all round student. Yes she wanted us to get good grades but her emphasis was on values and etiquette. She has sadly retired and I hope the new principal has kept some of the core values of the school.

 

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