This is because Heavenly Sword believes that most primary schools offer approximately the same quality of education to the student. With some tentativeness, he suggests that the same probably applies to secondary schools and with even more tentativeness, he suggests that the same may possibly also apply to junior college.
I don't necessarily agree with all of Heavenly Sword's comments. But the purpose of my present post is not to analyse his views, but rather to extend the scope of the discussion. In other words, Mr Wang intends to talk about (1) kindergartens, (2) preschools and also (3) the home as a learning environment for kids below the age of three.
- Mr Wang's baby girl
If Heavenly Sword does not regard the choice of primary school as being particularly crucial, then I suspect that he is even less likely to regard the choice of preschool/kindergarten as being crucial. As for babies and toddlers below age 3 or 4, Heavenly Sword would probably say, "Oh please, leave them alone! They are too young to learn anything."
However, there are reasons why parents these days become concerned with their children's development at increasingly early ages (to the extent that some pregnant ladies even read to the baby in the womb - although Mr Wang personally thinks that that is rather ridiculous). The main thing is that in the past two or three decades, there have been monumental leaps in scientists' understanding of how the human brain develops, and while the science is still relatively young, the general conclusion so far is that the ages from 0-6 years are the most crucial stages in the brain's development.
I oversimplify, but the gist of it is that both nature and nurture contribute to the overall brainpower of each human being, and the crucial stage for "nurture" to play its role is when the child is not yet six years old (some scientists say, three years old). A dysfunctional early environment increases the risk that the child will eventually become an adolescent or adult with cognitive, behavioural and physical difficulties. Conversely, the benefits of adequate mental stimulation during the early years will lead to gains that carry over permanently into adulthood.
To put it another way, whether a person is "bright", "intelligent" or "clever" depends much more on what happens in his earliest years, than on what happens in his primary or secondary years. Or at any later age, for that matter.
- Neuron in the brain.
In view of these scientific discoveries, finding a good preschool or kindergarten may be far more important for finding a good primary school (or for that matter, a good secondary school or JC). Having visited more than a few playschools, kindergartens etc, Mr Wang regrets to say that in his opinion, the general standards of early childhood education in Singapore are somewhat lacking. There are some good places, run by teachers who really know what they are doing. But by and large, the average kindergarten in Singapore has yet to really take advantage of current scientific knowledge about the development of the young human brain.
The good thing is that for young children, it is not that difficult to design a home environment and family lifestyle that brings out the best in the child. The most basic prerequisite is that the parents must take the time to educate themselves and find out how. Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation and hype is floating out there in the market, mainly perpetuated by companies selling baby and children's products. It's important for parents to get their basic facts right, and strip out the fiction. From the perspective of the child's mental development, some traditional Asian methods of child-raising, and some typically Singaporean ideas about learning, are also rather unwise. More on this, another time, perhaps.
Here are some of his books about babies and toddlers.