It seems like only yesterday that I brought the then four month old Aaron back to Ipoh for the first time. He's now nearly four years old and we decided to enroll him in a kindergarten while we are here in Ipoh. He's going to the same one that I went to when I was four years old! He was bouncing off the walls at home and there aren't as many kids activities to go out to here in Ipoh as there is in Brisbane so a few hours of kindy felt like the ideal solution.
Things have changed a lot in thirty years. He's been at school two days and they haven't set foot in the playground yet. I think the swings and slides are there for decoration. They have their morning tea at their desks and stay indoors the whole time from 8am-12noon. Supposedly they will get some time out there but its up to the teacher to decide when. Thankfully he's only four years old. I heard that the five and six year olds already have daily homework.
This is a completely different kindergarten environment than I observed in Brisbane. In fact, its the complete opposite. In Brisbane, four year olds spend all the indoor time with "structured" play and then have breaks to go outside for free play. I thought this was the type of environment that I was enrolling him in here and didn't realize the difference because I registered him while all the students were away on the term break!
It may appear cruel to sit four year olds down for the whole morning, five days a week without outdoor play as part of the day, but, unfortunately, it looks like this has become a a trend (and in face a snowballing necessity) in Malaysia and Asia. I'd like to say that these parents are ruining childhoods but with the way things are now, if the four year olds don't go through this, they'll be "suffering" at the bottom of the class in Grade 1. The competition is C.R.A.Z.Y.
Having said all that, Aaron is really enjoying his time there. He gets plenty of play time at home anyway and he's probably a little too wild for his own good so a little sit-down time in the morning isn't going to hurt.