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What I learned from the Japanese about early education

One article caught my attention, and leave me curious. The title is ”Why Japanese children can walk to school alone”. In my country, and in many other countries too, letting a child walking alone to school, especially in big cities, is risky. Without the company of an adult, anybody can kidnap him. It used to be safe during my school days, but not today, where people are so greedy that they can sell anything including human organs and children.

Watching the videos (Kid task1 & Kid task2) of a Japanese brother and his kid sister buying groceries for the first time all by themselves, touches my heart. These children as young as three to five are taught valuable lessons by experiencing it themselves. Watching how satisfied they were when eating the dinner cooked by their mother from the groceries they bought, confirms that they learned something. Hard work and perseverance are rewarding.

In the videos, they took more than three hours to complete the mission set by their mother. Along the way, they showed good human qualities that we adult should adapt more in our everyday life. Out of fear the older brother was crying at first, but was comforted by the younger sister. Holding hands firmly they continue their journey to the grocery store. They were helping each other throughout the journey.

Although he was very young, the brother showed a good responsibility attitude. He took good care of his little sister. He tried to minimize her burden by letting her carry only one goods at a time, while he carries the rest of the goods they bought. Similarly, his sister showed good personality by being helpful when she voluntarily carry the goods dropped unpurposely by her brother.

Letting these children experience a little hardship in life at a very young age is effective in building their personalities. What was being showed in this videos is a normal custom in Japan. A custom that has been practiced for decades. Japanese people are being taught to be responsible at a very young age, no wonder their cities are safe for young children to walk alone. Everybody play their role to ensure their communities are safe for anybody including small kids. Something rare in today's world, and should be respected.

These children spontaneous actions, show us that good human qualities are our default qualities. We were born into this world with good human qualities. As we grow up, somehow along the way we lose touch on them. Certain qualities faded away and are replaced with egoic, self-centered qualities. Who were to blame? Our parents? Or our communities?

Probably the answer is both. Parents are responsible for the early education, while the communities we grow in, is responsible to support and nurture the good qualities in us. According to Michael Phelps, UCLA biophysicist, if we teach our children early enough, it will affect the organization or ‘wiring’ of their brains. For example, if you teach a young children to speak a foreign language, they can speak like natives. They can think in the language without having to translate first, which teenagers and adult cannot. Similarly, once a child has learned a musical instrument, he can stop, then pick up the instrument 20 years later and play much better than an adult who just starting out.

Young children’s brains are like sponges that can soak up information effectively. Our brain are most active at our early age. Unfortunately, most of us didn’t take the full advantage of this fact. Back to the Japanese custom, their children are taught to be responsible at a very young age. They learn to be independent, hard work, cooperative, helpful and polite early in their life, making these good qualities ingrained in them, and become their strong personality throughout their life. Further, the custom builds their self-confidence.

As a conclusion, who your children become when they grow up, partly depend on how you raise them when they were very young. Perhaps, we have to change the way we look at them. These little bodies with cute faces can do and learn more than what we think they could. By default, they already have the good qualities. You just have to nurture them. Make them practice and experience them by themselves. Being a little tougher to them will never hurts, instead it helps to make them tougher as they grow older.

About the author: Nur Nuha is a freelance writer who loves to observe life and nature. Feel free to contact her at nurnuha@learn-wisely.com.