This was a paper presented the FamilyPlace Education Forum held on July 29, 2000 by Dr Latif Kamaluddin (Reported by Lydia Teh)
*We hope you find this useful and insightful coming from a parent and educationist. KVWL
I don’t have any solutions or recipes for you. But what might help is to look at two things. In a society like ours which is patronising, parochial even and managed top down, the whole idea of creating an alternative won’t get us very far. However, there are parts of society that’s rather accommodating, overly “tidak apa” but very tolerating.
This leads to a simple question, what can we do in our daily lives to make things better? Every morning we wake up our kids and take them away from their dream world. What can we do? Let the child go to school a little late. Maybe twice a week. I’m not saying he should be two hours late, just ten minutes.
I tell my kid, if he has to wake up at 5.30, then Aunty Mary (the bus driver) would have to wake up at 4.30. Don’t you think she wants to sleep too? This is a lesson in tolerance, that Aunty Mary has to earn a living by waking up early, that he doesn’t live alone in this world and he has to share it with others.
There’s imposition on the kid from the moment he wakes up. Give him a little space. The kid has enough of imposition at school. Give him that little bit of freedom. Let him spend a little more time in the bathroom if he wants to. The bathroom is an interesting place. Kids love to play with water and water is a therapeutic media. We get so uptight because we ourselves have been conditioned.
Some psychologists say that when a child reaches a certain age, he cannot sleep with his parents. My kid is 11 and he still sleeps with us. He feels safe with us, so why not?
My kid has this ritual every night. He lines up his toys and talks to every single one of them. I figure that that is his way of creating his own space that’s not controlled by anyone.
I go to bed at nine-thirty but some kids are still at the tuition centre at ten. What are we doing to our kids? We have a choice. Don’t send them for tuition, do their homework. I do homework for my kids. It’s not a big deal.
That little time you spend talking, it helps in the bonding experience. The cikgu found out I was doing my son’s homework and wrote me a very stern note.
Why do I do homework for my kid? If he can’t understand, and I can’t understand, then something is wrong. The teacher is not a monster. We just have to reach out to the teacher. It’s not what you say but how you say it.
It is so stressful at school, don’t make it so at home. If you need to talk to the teacher, go talk to the teacher. The kid may say, “But teacher said such and such.” So what? The teacher’s not always right. We all have different ways of looking at things.
My son used to have a ponytail. The school complained about his hairstyle. This thing is self-regulatory. He makes friends and he sees that his friends have no ponytail, so he decides to lop it off.
Make homework a game for the kids. My secret weapon is Pokemon. Use whatever is familiar with the child to get the message across. Make it as friendly as possible, relate it to something he can relate to. This doesn’t mean the system is done away with. We still work within the system but it’s the little things you can do.
Take school report cards. They write very nice things in report cards, especially in private schools but not always. I tell my kid, “So what if you fail Maths? Papa failed Maths, mama failed Maths. What you can do with your head, you do with your head, what you can do with your heart, you do with your heart.” There are Form 5 students going home crying because they only got 8As when they wanted 10. I tell my kids that 3 or 4As are enough.
Dispel tension through animals, especially with young children. Humans have agendas, animals don’t. They’re pure and spontaneous.
Why are we creating strictures for ourselves? Why aren’t we brave enough to stand up? It is only through bravery, honesty and sincerity that you get somewhere. Don’t worry about the system, it’ll take care of itself. You create your own counter-system, within the limitations of your home and give the child somewhere to come back to where he can breathe.
Live and let live.
Let go, just let go.