KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) — It is not easy to go against the current and tell parents to not focus on academic learning while their children are young, but Dr Putri Afzan Maria Zulkifli had strong faith in what she was doing.
Many Malaysian parents subscribe to the conventional education model, although numerous studies and proven education modules long practiced overseas have shown that child-led learning had longer lasting and more positive outcomes on children’s cognitive development.
Putri Afzan, who is the founder and managing director of child enrichment centre KinderKaizen, believed strongly in providing early education that allows children to learn in the most natural and enjoyable way – through playing.
“There is no need to force children to quickly learn to read or excel academically. The first six years of life is when a child’s emotions are developing, and the best way to nurture it is through play,” said Putri Afzan.
Many were initially cynical about her prospects in the field of early education, even claiming that there was no market for it.
The early childhood education expert took it all in stride and proved to the naysayers otherwise when KinderKaizen became so successful that it now has 22 branches in nine states.
LEARNING THROUGH PLAY
Putri Afzan went to Britain with her family to do Masters in Education and Childhood Studies at the Leeds Metropolitan Development and PhD in Cognitive Science at the Sussex University in Brighton.
Seven years in Britain had given her the chance to observe the positive effects of the British play-based education on her own children.
On her return, Putri Afzan became a lecturer at several institutions of higher learning such as UPSI and OUM.
It was not long before she and her husband, Mohd Faizul Iqmal Mohd Kamil, decided to open the first KinderKaizen centre.
She soon left her career and post as the Deputy Dean at the Faculty of Early Childhood Studies of UNITAR International University to focus fully on helping parents and children at her centre.
With her husband as the centre’s CEO, Putri Afzan operated the centre based on Britain’s learning module.
There was no syllabus to adhere to in class. Instead, children are free to explore and discover based on their interests, inclinations and social and emotional development.
“We only assist them when they ask for help. Otherwise, KinderKaizen kids are free to become as creative as their imagination and abilities will allow them to be. Trained teachers will always be nearby to supervise them during every activity,” said Putri Afzan.
The British learning module employed at the centre has already been presented to the Education Ministry and was approved.
There are no desks, chairs or books as typically found at regular kindergartens at the centre.
The children are allowed to run around and play without realising that actual learning was taking place from the activities held.
“Happy children develop high EQ (emotional quotient) and this stimulates their IQ as well,” said Putri Afzan, a mother of five.
“The concept used in KinderKaizen is children’s mind enrichment with a focus on holistic learning and cognitive balance,” she said.
LEARNING WITHOUT BOOKS
Parents who have grown up within a conventional learning environment would understandably become nervous at the thought of a learning centre that focuses on learning without books.
Many would ask: “When would my child learn how to read? Would they ever be ready for primary school?”
Putri Afzan said that the period from birth to six years old was when children’s EQ experience the most development. Children who receive proper stimulation will have a stable EQ, and this in turn would lead to good IQ development.
“If a child’s EQ is stable by the time he is seven years old, he would be easily receptive learning inputs at school,” said Putri Afzan.
Despite passing over workbooks, children at KinderKaizen are able to learn the proper way of holding pens and pencils by developing their cognitive skills through play.
She cited a unique case at KinderKaizen Wangsa Maju where a child was totally incapable of holding a pencil on the first day of enrolment. However, within two months, the child was able to write on the blackboard as well as draw and write using both left and right hands.
The centre did not force the child to write. Instead, the skill came to him naturally through the process of playing and learning with his peers.
by Nurul Halawati Mohamad Azhari.
Read more @ http://education.bernama.com/index.php?sid=news_content&id=1276613