Are kindergartens for education or entertainment? [Archives:2004/802/Culture]

December 27 2004

Yemen Times
Taiz Bureau

In recent past parents, especially those who have to work outside the house were used to be bewildered about where to keep their children and how to protect them. They used to keep them with relatives or neighbors until they would return from work. Nevertheless, they were not quite assured about their children safety. When they hear about accidents that happen usually to children, they became extremely worried over their children's safety.

Today, there are kindergartens where children, before attending primary school, are taken care of. They are considered a suitable solution to lighten the burden from upon parents' shoulders, which have other work to do outside. It is a good strategy to let children spend safe and healthy times especially when directors of a kindergarten should be educationalist and specialized in children psychology; they should be able to know, properly how to direct children's behavior and desires. They should try to discover and improve their talents.

Nevertheless, those kindergartens are private; they belong to some rich people. This state makes kindergartens only confined to a limited number of people because of the high fees charged for children. It is not possible for the family with limited income to have their children join any of these establishments. The poor families consider joining a kindergarten a sort of luxury that they cannot afford required expenses so they regard it unnecessary. The reason is that the government does not establish nurseries in each public school though they are available in all schools in other countries. The role of the kindergarten is seen in preparing children mentally, skillfully and emotionally. This does not exempt us from asking the concerned people about the role of the kindergarten and nurseries whether it is a sort of entertainment or education, of which this reportage is the result.

A child like a blank page:

Asia Ali Abdullah, teacher in kindergarten of Geel Al-Ghad School, said that, “entertainment should be blended with education; entertainment is a crucial thing for children; it is an activity that helps in acquiring knowledge. Children are like blank pages; they have the ability to comprehend and pay attention to things. The kindergarten is a great chance to discover and improve their talents. We surely know that we deal with little children who are in need of love, kindness and continuous encouragement by teachers. This kind of treatment convinces children to stay with teachers and they love and respect them accordingly too much.”

“Teaching becomes a kind of entertainment when I, for example, present the letter 'A' in a song related to it and then I make competitions showing some drawings and flashcards, children enjoy such activities so much. If I do otherwise they will get bored,” she added.

A child learns good values:

Safiyah Ahmed al-Hemiari, basic level teacher, explained that 'the kindergarten has a vital role in both education and entertainment. The things that a child acquires in education are very significant topics such as morals. The child is taught honesty, faithfulness etc. The funny aspect including playing, memorizing songs and developing skills are also involved. That's because the child at this age practices the two things together that qualify it to gain more knowledge.'

Preparing for adaptation with community:

Fathia Luqman, teacher in a kindergarten, thinks that 'kindergartens are much more for entertainment than being for education. They are for preparing the child to adapt with its surroundings in order to enable it to integrate in the community which is different from the atmosphere of the family.'

She added that, 'the child learns the right value and morals such as honesty, cleanliness, loving others, regulations and other principles that it acquires when dealing with friends and family members providing it with special mental and physical abilities.'

Dr. Ghassan Hatahet, social worker in children education, said that “the aim of kindergartens in the past was keeping children during the day hours: they play together and spend their time regardless of how they spend it. The entire goal was only to keep them away from their houses in order the allow parents to be free for their works. As the role of the kindergarten is being developed, the kindergarten shares the parents the aim of bringing children up and training them. They also learn to sing, dance, and manners of drinking, eating, speech, and good behaviors. We see nowadays some kindergartens give children homework and do some tests for the children's knowledge. The daily lessons become a normal situation in kindergartens.

“Parents insist to make their children learn foreign languages from their early age. When a child becomes in the fourth year, they send it to preparatory schools where it learns reading, writing, basics of mathematics, and perhaps a foreign language. Parents ask these schools to offer evidence that the child has learned something. They get extremely happy when the child comes back home carrying the unbearable stress as well as so many books. The child suffers from the homework. They start helping it while it is crying.”

Early preparation is necessary:

While discussing the parents' insistence on the early education, Dr Ghassan said, “It's believed that learning in the first year in schools is the grounds in the next levels of education. The early preparation is a necessity.

“A lot of researchers did a future study in the 1960s in USA on 123 of poor children who were brought from a poor community. The study proved that the children who got a basic education in a kindergarten or a preparatory school were more able to complete their university studies and to get better jobs. Those who had not gotten any preparatory education were more likely to deviate. The early education helped the team to avoid deviation and going against laws. They recommended that a child of four should receive a basic education.”

What should be there?

Dr. Hatahet finally said that, “what any kindergarten should do is plainly that they should respect the child's abilities and motivations and deal with it accordingly. This is the human instinct known by every mother: when her child starts walking- trying to walk and stumble- a mother remove the harmful things that may hinder the child's attempts. This is the way she respects her child's abilities and desires and helps it to develop them.

The child's abilities are developing from time to time, it may start early or late. So, taking for granted that growth takes place at a specific time for all children is a great mistake. A child to learn needs to pay attention and concentration. We should teach a child different shapes and how to recognize the difference between them. It needs also to remember all that in order to learn. These capabilities may need some time to be ready for education.

“The early education is better but it should be in proportion to each child's abilities: this can happen with the use of a toy, song, story, or dance. The child should be given the opportunity to energize its ability of imagination. If you want a child to draw something, let it draw whatever it wants. We do not want the kindergartens to conclude spoiling our children that the TV has started. However, we want them to improve the child's abilities preparing it to go to school to receive the basic knowledge.