On the subject of Education

90% of Moms in Malaysia and now surprisingly, I’ve recently learnt, even a large percentage of Moms in more developed cities such as London and New York, are so frigging kiasu. Can you believe it? Even Moms in top private London schools (whom I personally know) are all grooming their kids to be the next scholarship winner or to ensure their kids get a place at the top 2 Universities in the UK or some Ivy League at minimum. Wow. What’s up with that?

I think they’ve got it completely wrong and the more you rob your children of their childhood, the more they will suffer in adulthood. If they’re 15, sure, they are old enough by then to realise that if they wanted something, they’d have to work hard for it; but before that, please……just let them be. It’s OK if your kids come home with 60% for Math. Don’t force them into tuition or some extra-curriculur class that they don’t enjoy. If they want it, by all means.

Moms today provide tuition for every subject under the sun, kids go for extra-curriculur activities leaving them very little or no time to just chill. Learn how to do nothing. They’re completely over-stimulated. But they will get you that 100% for every subject, OK most subjects…..They’re always asking for the iPad. My poor kids, they don’t even have TV as we cancelled Astro months a year ago.

Yes, they may end up to be that top investment banker on Wall Street earning oodles of cash, ridiculous sums, but there would be that seed of unhappiness within them. In some way or other, they will suffer. An internalised depression, the inability to preserve loving relationships, the inability to keep valuable friendships, you name it. It will all come out – the resentment from the past. The past they’ve suddenly realised they’ve missed. I know SO MANY adults to this day, who still suffer from insecurities, inferiority complexes, chips on their shoulders, attitude problems etc. They just do not know how to be happy. It’s so SAD!!!

And what for? Because they were somehow conditioned as a child into this route, not given the quality parental attention, and to break out of all this requires a lot of work. So do you really want this for your kids?

Kids should be encouraged positively and never forced in education. Allow your child to be free. Allow him or her to find his niche. Every child is a gift and every child is gifted. If it isn’t Math, it could be kite flying. Yes, unrealistic. How’s he going to make any money from kite flying? Well, if you didn’t impose all your pressures on him, perhaps he could be the world’s best kite flyer? Every child is gifted.

There was this little boy in Taiwan once upon a time who loved dolls. Everyone used to tease him, PONDAN! (in the Taiwanese version, of course). Even his own family were ashamed and used to ridicule him. What kind of a future would you have, boy, if you don’t study hard and do really well in your exams??? Well, that boy today is the fashion designer for Barbie dolls all around the world because his Mom chose to believe in him and loved him unconditionally.

Allow your children to pursue their passions and the gift will arise.

People always ask me, where do your children go to school? I tell them they are international schooled. When probed further, they ask about why I send my kids to such a demanding high pressured school?

There are many reasons why I send my kid(s) to this particular school and that is a personal choice. I have made the decision (jointly with my husband) that whilst it may not be perfect (no school is), it was the absolute best fit for my child.

I already eliminated the ‘matsalleh’ schools because I hung out there as a kid, had a few boyfriends there too, and know what the kids get up to. I also know Moms who have kids there now and the issues that they face so we decided that we did not want our kids to be exposed to such advanced methods of thinking so early on at this impressionable age. Sex should only come after 15 (after 30 according to their father) and they are to learn the traditional ways of respecting their elders. We can disagree but talking back is not allowed. Rude tones will immediately be reprimanded.

People also have certain perceptions of what a ‘matsalleh’ international school is versus a local international school and they should really just do their own research before shooting off and listening to others. A ‘matsalleh’ teacher does not mean he or she is a good teacher although statistically, I would agree that many ‘matsalleh’ teachers have proven their worth at T1’s school. They’re generally more creative and more fun. Some of the ‘matsalleh’ teachers here though are just here for a working holiday and do not possess any drop of teaching blood at all. Having said that, there are also very good local teachers and I’ve also

So what does that leave us with? Govt Schools (out of the question), Chinese Schools (the Hubs refused as he felt that at an impressionable age again, the kids spirit will be pressed) and ‘local’ International Schools. We picked what happened to be the most expensive local International School. Why? They have a 30 year track record. You just CANNOT beat experience. The schools also has so much going for it. Just speak to the graduates or their alumni and you would be impressed with their impeccable manners and helpfulness.

Of course, in every school, there are also bad hats but generally, they are not tolerated and will be put in place sooner or later, or they just leave eventually (or get expelled). As for the fees, although I hate it, I will be the first to admit that it is true value for money. The kids get so much exposure to so many things. It is truly an all round education that they get and it is criminal that this is not available to all children. No doubt, it is also a high pressured environment where kids have to do their homework, and still go for sports day rehearsals and still do projects on the side. But don’t you think this prepares them for the real world? I must say dynamic kids thrive better but quiet kids get advanced too. Win-Win. The only kids who do not thrive here are the ones who come from homes that are not peaceful and happy. I think it is the same everywhere. If the home front is not stable, the kid suffers anywhere he goes.

So T1’s school. What is it like right now?

She gets one page of homework every day for Maths which involves 5-8 questions. Every other week, she will get sporadic homework from the other subjects. But it is SO MINIMAL. She whizzes through it in 15 minutes. Sometimes, it gets a little more challenging if homework is to finish up the book review that you started at school at home. But all in all, she has no issues with her homework except for managing her schedule of due dates. She’s in a habit of doing her homework and delivering it the next day which is not necessarily the day it is due.

School food sucks (by T1’s standards anyway until she saw how the Children of Myanmar don’t even have a choice). OK, it may be decent but generally, school food in most schools suck. Even in schools that mean well, they eventually start going downhill and unless parents keep up with the complaints of the school food, they will deteriorate. Trust me, we’ve been there.

Academically, the school does push you either directly or indirectly to be the best and they do this for obvious reasons. They want recognition. This doesn’t mean that you need to allow yourself to be pushed. So if this is an issue for you, then teach your child to hold a strong wall so that he cannot be pushed under any circumstance. He will do well for himself, not for the school, and he decides how well he wants to do. For example, during the World Math Games, if your child was doing well at school in the midst of the competition, the teachers might ask for him to stay back later so they finish up the competition and can win for the school (and for himself too). But what if the Mom wanted her child home now, at usual dismissal time? In a case like this, it is the onus on the Mom to stand her ground and bring the child home. Sorry, Mr School, your International Math Competition is not important to me so I would like to have my child back, please. Of course, if the Mom wanted to child to shine and win, then by all means let him stay on. Little things like that are happening all the time at school.

Sometimes, things don’t work, and again this up to the parents to be on the ball to make that complaint and follow it through. Many Moms I know only know how to complaint but they do not do a damn thing about it. If your daughter says the school toilet seat is broken, it is not difficult to call the school to get it fixed, is it? Or, is it? Why can’t we all take responsibility for ourselves instead of always pushing the blame onto others? Can we all be less selfish and help one another? Mothers have no idea what the schools bend over backwards to do for the students and only know how to complain, complain, complain…….bitch, bitch, bitch…….but do nothing about it. If only they ran the school. They would then realise how they cannot meet every parents expectation and for that, I commend T1’s school for doing what they think is best FOR THE CHILD.

Right now, T1 is exposed to Chess class (plays for the school), athletics, swimming, movie-making classes, gymnastics, dance classes as her non-academic subjects. She also gets an interesting assembly every week where a lesson will be shared, whether it be stories from the Principal or invited distinguished guests or a video presentation (this week it is to celebrate the French art & film festival). From time to time, the school invites professionals in their fields to stay with the school for a period of time to impart their expertise to the kids, such as bringing down a world renown opera singer to tutor the kids, or bringing an expert gourmet pastry baker, or dancer or whatever. These international successes visit the school to share their skills. The kids get to participate in many, many events (sometimes too many!) whether it be the performing arts (they have loads of performances throughout the year, a very rigorous programme indeed), sports, charity or otherwise, such as visits to the local book store or visits to the ruins of Rome. They think of everything. And to think they only take 2 weeks to practise for Sports Day and yet come out with an outstanding show…….the kids are conditioned to take the pressure. Burn out? For some, quite possibly, but that is exactly why you need to keep your kids grounded. Don’t let them participate in every single thing that is on offer. Keep a healthy balance. For T1, because she considers all this fun, she wants to go for everything. We don’t allow it though because we don’t have the man power to bring her to every single activity and besides, she needs to chill.

So imagine piling all that extra stuff to a kid’s schedule and then you have the academics still to manage, it’s tough going. But only if you want to score 100% for all your subjects.

Last week for Geography, the kids had to fill a pail of water and carry it outdoors to the guard house and back to experience what life was like for some children at other parts of the world who had to wake up early in the morning to go fetch water for their families usage. The kids had plenty fun and whenever someone spilled some water, they’d be teased that their family would get less water that day. Experiential learning.

This Sunday, we have to attend some charity walk in Publika to get T1 a better grade for Geography. I kid you not. If the child does not do well academically, there is opportunity to make up for a better grade by doing your homework well or by attending this charity walk, for example. T1 already got more than 90% for her Geography. *moan* And of COURSE, T1 MUST attend this walk or we wouldn’t hear the end of it. Ok, all for a good cause. I’m right now trying to get her to skip sports day, haha.

So education. Sorry for being so long winded. It’s holistic. For us, T1 goes to school to get exposure to everything around her that school has to offer. She learns how to deal with difficult students, difficult teachers, she learns about loyalty, responsibility, accountability, helping and sharing, team work, confidence building, competition. She’s learning tons and she’s loving it. She only moans about the homework but heck, one page??? She should try Chinese School.

We have a plan to travel round the world with the kids and that is probably the BEST lesson for the kids. Travel to see the world, see how fortunate they are. See how people come together. To open their eyes and be aware. To care and to respect. To do something brilliant in making a difference and to rise above it all.

That is what I want in my children’s education.

Who is Mamapumpkin?
Mamapumpkin spent 7 years in London committing crimes to gain her Bartlett BSc in Architecture. She spent 7 years as a Stay At Home Mom raising her children as documented in this Mamapumpkin blog since over 10 years ago and thereafter returned to the Corporate World stronger than ever. Her last job as Country Director of a British Railway Signalling organisation saw her getting ill with an aortal and mitral heart valve regurgitation and early stage cancer. Through her journey from working to not working to working again, she sets out to prove to all women that they can do anything and everything that they set out to do; as long as they have that fire of desire burning within and the drive to work hard. Even better with oodles of love, passion and integrity.

Despite being ill, she has grown a network marketing business from very little knowledge and experience in the otherwise infamously known MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) industry, racing from an income of ZERO to RM 100,000 monthly in merely 2 years. She is a firm believer of the MLM business model but realises the pitfalls too and understands how and why the majority of people would shy away (or zoom far away) from any MLM business.

She is now pondering the title of her new book, From Zero to 100,000 RM monthly in 2 years and has a sequel in the pipeline with the aim of helping real professionals succeed in the World of MLM. Always the giver, Mamapumpkin has supported orphans for over 30 years and has now extended her care to the sick, single mothers, and even struggling families. She believes that with the MLM business model, we can all have a life of our own desires to enable real contribution into the world.

A beautiful life without limits.

Mamapumpkin currently manages the Homeschooling Hub Malaysia on Facebook. She also runs Working Women Malaysia (not THAT kind of Working Women!), Mamapumpkin - Creating A Life of Abundance, and Funky Moms on Facebook to offer REAL support to all women who want career and life success. She is a living testimony that women really can have a lot. Being financially free has enabled her to travel the world anytime anywhere doing anything, and she spends most of her day to day with her children, reading and supporting other women.

For enquiries, please contact her at mamapumpkin at gmail dot com or WhatsApp her at +6012-2333840
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  1. not to sound like a bitch, but the reason why most parents send their kids for extra curri activities is to also broaden the kids horizon. Many parents cannot afford to send their kids to YOUR school who offers such great activities so they have to send them to outside activities. Your kids are also being groomed by the SCHOOL to be great in the future. All these stuff like volunteering, sports and math competition are all grooming exercises for the kids. YOU don’t have to do all these kiasu stuff because your school is doing it for you.

    Don’t get angry, ya? You are lucky to be able to afford to send your kids to such a wonderful school that creates all rounders. You then also get to spend after school time with them to do whatever you want because all their “extra curri” stuff has already been taken care of.

  2. i have to be honest here, i send them to school just because i want to get them off my back, else i would be admitted to mental hospital or die sooner, whichever comes first. ;p

  3. Voices are limited by the parents ability to pay! I have a child in a local international school and 2 younger ones in Chinese school because I can,t afford to send all of them to an all round local international school.

    If our Govt do a good job in the education policy and implementation, may thousands kids don’t have to suffer the mindless loads of homework in Chinese school. I also do not like the ‘brain washing” in Chinese school whe creativity is discouraged , no questioning the teachers n just follow instructions. They are mould to be robots!

  4. Sorry I mean choices are limited by the parents ability to pay.

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