I just got back from Mentari. Today I spent 2 1/2 hours trying to teach a 10 year old boy, his 7 year old brother and his 9 year old sister to read! Do you know how difficult that is! What with my short attention span, I was almost asleep in the middle of the class! Good thing the kids were sort of enthusiastic. I started with trying to teach them how each letter sounded in English. When I got to Z they already forgot how B sounded like! Arrggghhh!!! This was really hard ehem... correction - "challenging" ;). Whoever says maths is hard, please try and teach autistic children to read. You'll be grateful for maths! =P Then I tried getting out the good old flash cards and tried doing the syllable method. Works for like 2 minutes... after 2 words, I go back to the first word and they've forgotten how to pronounce it! I'm not too worried about the 7 year old boy - it's not so alarming to not be able to read by 7 in Malaysia though he is at a great disadvantage at school. Most kids should know how to read by 7 - I was reading the news paper much earlier than that but I had a head start in life. Preschool in the UK is excellent. Back to the story, the 10 and 9 year old kids is who I'm really worried for. The other kids were already doing nouns, verbs etc... these kids were unsure of how D sounded like, cannot differentiate the sound of T and S... It's easy for me to start blaming the parents but sometimes the parents themselves do not have the capacity to provide the necessary early learning for their children. Sometimes the parents are too busy trying to earn a living for the family to be able to tend to the kids. In this case the kids were a little "slow" at learning and had quite lagging memory. What ever it is I still believe it's the responsibility for the parents to ensure that the children get the necessary education.

Which brings me to the support system of families. This is where urbanites lack a bit as compared to the kampung folk. My grandad was a teacher. He started off opening new schools in the rural areas on Kelantan. Sometimes he's be away for weeks in the most secluded areas in rural Kelantan. At that time according to him, Machang was just an "outpost" before Kuala Kerai. During his absence, my dad was left in the care of obviously my grandma and her family. He was really close to his grand grand aunt, my great grand aunt who is still alive today. Sometimes I do not understand why my mother cannot understand why my dad loves his grand aunt so much. Obviously my dad owes alot of his childhood under the care of her.

Relating this to the current situation. The urban poor, or underprivileged are stuck in the predicament whereby most do not have any family nearby whereby they can entrust their children to during their absence. They cannot afford to send their kids to nursery or day care so these kids end up spending their time playing at home with little to no supervision. A little play is good but if they do not know how to read at 10 years old then "Houston, we have a problem!".

So, guys... if you have kids please do them right by ensuring that they can read before they start school! Investing in them at an early stage will pay dividends in the long run. Plus it'll make people like me not having to teach these kids syllables and how each letter sounds! Hehehe... not that I mind but if thier 10 or 11 and still can't read then imagine how left out they are in school and in life!

My sister has gone to the pasar malam. I hope she gets the apam balik I erm... begged her to buy for me! hehehe...Have a great rest of the weekend! =)