It's a question on all well-meaning parent's mind. Simply sending our children to school and hoping that they would turn out well is not good enough. I've had the "privilege" to experience that because my parents did not know any better. Maybe you were in the same boat once? Neither do I think starting them too early with vigorous academic lessons is the answer. It would probably stress the child too much. Their brain is not prepared for such academic expectation because it is not myelinated. Worse, it might even arouse a negative feeling towards learning, thus losing motivation for it in the long haul.
My formal education began with MOE's KBSR syllabus in primary school, onto SRP, SPM and STPM in secondary school, finally with a bachelor degree from a local university. Everything started quite well, but my grades and performance quickly went south without clear understanding, focus and motivation. Though my academic achievement was below average, yet my biggest regret would be the underdeveloped human potential. I realised that most schools only focus on two things - making sure students toe the line and their grades.
To answer the question above, one of the most crucial questions I would ask myself is - how resilient is my daughter? Fact is, the world is ever-changing and the rate of change will only accelerate more as time pass. Everything would be faster; the pressure and stress would be more intense as evident in many of the megacities around the world today. We might have a glimpse of what the future would look like, but we are essentially dealing with an unknown beast! Our best response is to cultivate this ability to "bounce back", regulate emotion and cope with the stress in our children. Incidentally, depression among young children is on the rise and we've all read news of teen suicides which are so worrying. I've heard of how a mother in my neighbourhood had resorted to getting a pet for her primary schooling son in the hope it would help him in coping with depression. Where have we got it wrong and how can we put a stop to this alarming trend? If there is one lesson this pandemic has taught us, it's this - those who lack resilience would find it very challenging.
So, how do we cultivate resilience in our little ones? Play. Free, unstructured and undisturbed playtime. The type of play where the children are the initiators while adults the facilitators or observers. It's not a time to teach or instruct a child how to play. Doing so would be an oxymoron. For a child, play is an adventure where they immerse fully. A highly complex yet engaging activity where they are in control and free from anxiety. A time when they learn and test the boundary of their capability; a time when they fall and get up again. It teaches them to navigate and negotiate through different obstacles and roadblocks of any kind, be it emotionally, mentally or physically.
Are you the type of parents who shouts "don't run" out of fear that your child might get hurt? Or stop them from playing for fear they might get dirt on them? Doing so will only project your fear unto your child and might cause them to be fearful too. So, try to relax. Few bruises, bumps or dirt on them will do them a world of good in the future. Let's be resilient together and happy parenting.