Why did i enrol my 7 year old in Preschool Heguru?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Big K turns 7 this year! Gulp! Did i say 7? Yes, another milestone has been achieved as she blazed into primary school. Currently, she is coping pretty fine at this level but i know that she has much more potential and that she is always taking her own sweet time when it comes to completing a task. No more spoonfeeding and nurturing like in a preschool. She has to face reality where things are fast paced, like it or not.

Since she was about 20 months old, she had been enrolled in an established right brain school. She was there for probably 2 terms but i got pregnant again and had to stop. It was way too tiring for me to carry her for lessons with a big tummy of mine. It was parent accompanied and sitting in class with her, trying to pin her down onto a chair, behind a small table, was quite a feat. My extremely patient dad tried once and he came out telling me never to ask him do such a thing again! It was not that she is a terribly active child. In fact, under normal circumstances, she isn’t. She is reserved. But somehow, during lessons, she would wander from one end of the classroom to the other, distracting other kids. There wasn’t any physical segment to expanse the kid’s energy hence making sitting down throughout a little challenging. As such, she holds the title of an Indian chief and all other toddlers would follow suit. If i could, i would dig a hole and bury myself there and then. The teacher assured me that it wasn’t that she wasn’t paying attention but she was and that probably already knows her stuff! Wow! Are you serious? Do you mean I’ve got a genius here?

Fast forward several years later, after seeing how right brain training at Heguru is doing Small K good, I decided to let Big K have a go. Due to her long hiatus from such training, i decided to start slow and after speaking to Principal J, we decided that Big K should start at a Preschool 2 level. According to her academic age, she should be at the Primary level, but at Heguru, it really is about the process which they are trying to mould.

Details on Preschool 2 program

Duration: 90 minutes
Child's age: 5 to 6 years old
Number of classes: 42 per year

Highlights of this programme:
  • Enlarging the brain capacity and achieving connection between the left brain and the right brain.
  • Nurturing high-speed processing skills.
  • Nurturing the power of expression and ability of comprehension.
  • Promoting cooperation through group interaction activities.
  • Further development of the left brain and enhancement of right brain power through the use of prepared worksheets
This programme is designed to effect a superb balance between the right brain and the left brain. With lesson lasting 90minutes, it helps their concentration powers to flourish. Moreover, cultivation of the left brain will be at a higher level than in previous classes, so a foundation is built for the children to utilise when they become primary school pupils. This foundation is absolutely necessary to let their right brain bloom at primary school. 

Big K’s thoughts
The initial start was tough. It wasn't about the brain training but she hated the idea that she had to wake up early for a weekend class while her little brother got to spend time with me. Small K still had the luxury of going for a weekday class back then you see. In addition, she wasn’t used to the fast pace and the due to the small enclosure, she was a little disturbed by the voice of the trainer reverberating. It was thunderous as she put it. Coming from a very nurturing preschool, she was always pampered and wasn’t used to such settings. Welcome to the real world, baby! It is cruel and education in Singapore is rigorous.

A month into the lesson, she wasn’t complaining as much and would hurry me for class as the early birds got to sit on chairs and according to her, that cushioned the voice a little. I’m glad she figured a way out. Today, 4 months into the programme, she is looking forward to her lessons every week and would in fact ask incessantly if there was going to be lessons that week. It does help that now the little brother is also going for a weekend class at approximately the same time.

Right from Preschool 1, the children will be assigned homework. Yes, you heard me right. Homework! Students are given three booklets during lessons. One (Booklet C) to be used during class, another Booklet R, where the questions are more or less similar to those done in class to be used as revision, and lastly Booklet H which is the homework booklet to be handed in during the next lesson. At the beginning, Big K needed quite a bit of handholding. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy doing it. On the contrary, she looks forward to it and would badger me to let her do them over my ‘activities’. Ok Heguru, you win! However, there were a few visualising questions which were rather challenging and I had to make use of manipulatives to assist her.

Due to her prior training plus the games we play at home, she caught on rather quickly and right now, i simply assign her a few pages and she will do them all after school each day. Most of the time, she goes beyond and attempts more than required! This is such a motivation as it clearly shows that the child is enjoying every bit of it. It is with much regret that every week, we are only able to complete booklet H and not able to attempt booklet R which we should, for reinforcement. Should we still be in Preschool where time wasn’t so tight and there were minimal homework, we would probably do them all. 

Mummy’s thoughts
I love it! Anything right brain is fascinating for me right from the start! We all know that the brain is divided into the left and the right. The right brain is able to absorb, at high speed, large amount of information. At a Primary level, students will master Hado reading which works on instantaneous memorising. Sounds unbelievable i know! When I saw the promotional video, my mouth was agaped the whole time. I was in disbelief but it has been tested and proven! In Japan, where their headquarters are, if you read 10000 books a month, you will be able to join their Ichimankai club. With consistent training, students are able to draw out their inner genius and be in special education, top their class and pass entrance exams for Tokyo university which we know is quite a feat.

See below video and be enthralled:

I shan’t deny, I do harbour thoughts that one day, my children will reach this stage. Who doesn't want a bright child right? But i know it takes a lot of consistency and discipline to achieve. And sadly, given the current situation, my hands are pretty full. 

When i first saw the programme outline, i was ecstatic.

There were a lot of visualizing involved which is extremely apparent in today’s test papers. Here are some examples taken off 2017 Primary 6 Singapore Chinese Girls' School Math paper:

Education has evolved in such a way that questions are no longer expressed in a straightforward manner like in 1+1. Rather, it now involves a lot of higher order thinking from the child. Not easy. Not easy at all. Even for an adult, it isn’t easy. Students cannot learn such things through rote learning. You either ‘see’ it or you do not. With such exposure, I believe it will value add when the child is faced with, for example, Math questions on the topic of Circles where students have to use the cut and paste or overlapping method. Something which requires visualisation. Let’s not even go so far. At Primary one level, the Math syllabus includes shapes and patterns. The exposure from the various Heguru puzzles like the pelican puzzle, magic cubes, tangram and plate puzzles would definitely aid visualisation. 

An example of one of the puzzles used during lesson -- Magic Cubes

Another puzzle -- IORITA

The part which i particularly like is the energy in class. Students will participate enthusiastically, shouting out the answers the moment they have completed. The time limit for each activity is typically 60seconds. This is an excellent way to push my little one who, since young, has no sense of urgency and is way too meticulous for my liking. In other words, Slow. Why rush the child you ask? Well, if she keeps up with this nonchalant attitude thinking that she has all the time in the world and that the world will stop just for her, sorry baby, but you wouldn’t survive the vigorous system. This is especially apparent where students need to complete 30 question Math questions in 50 minutes in Paper 1 and 18 gruelling Math problem sums in 1h 40mins for Paper 2 during the Primary 6 examination. It not only tests on speed, but understanding and stamina. Society is cruel.

On average, each Heguru activity has to be completed within 60 seconds while in class. This trains the child on speed. It is not about getting the right answer but rather the process and the willingness to try. Big K has an avoidance issue. Whenever she isn’t confident of something, she will not attempt in front of you. Typical of most kids I think. That said, when you are not looking, she can be often seen practising hard, trying to perfect things. A perfectionist, this little one. Wonder where she gets this trait from. 😅🤔

On stamina. Children in general lose focus easily. I mean an exam paper is on average 2.5hours. Expecting them to sit down throughout and focus is really intense at a young age. They do not have stamina and some may be deemed as being ADHD etc. Society has coined so many new terms that for everything a child can or can’t do, there is a psychological explanation which i am honestly skeptical of. 

Kids are like animals and they can be trained. Likewise, for stamina, at Heguru, they train it through various activities. One of which are featured above.

I have recently attended their parent preview for the Primary Programme and am tremendously inspired and motivated that this is the right course for my children. However, the jump is rather huge for Primary as the class can hold up to 40 students. Imagine a huge class with everyone shouting the answer out in less than 60secs. Big K isn’t ready for that transition so her trainers and I have decided to go at her pace and for her to get accustomed to the preschool system first. To build her confidence and allow her to grow. Child-led — in line with my motto. 

In my next installment, i will share with you in more details, what are the various activities done at a Preschool 2 level. 
So stay tuned!

Do also follow Heguru Citysquare mall on Facebook or check out their website for more details. Do give them a buzz to book your slots or speak to their friendly trainers for further insights!

Disclosure: We were invited by Heguru CitySquare mall to review their courses and attended complimentary lessons in return. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/ services.