Brain Training When Still Babies

This article was originally featured in Mamamia
By Michelle Leong
Shichida Mum, Michelle Leong, writes about her children’s experiences at Shichida and the benefits she has witnessed from starting them young.

A whole-brain training program

When my oldest child was 16 months old, I was looking for activities to do with him. A friend told me about this early education program called Shichida for young kids, where the activities are mind-blowing. I was interested in finding out what it was all about.

This program isn’t like your standard music class or kinder gymnastics. It is a whole-brain training program, developed in Japan 40 years ago, that uses puzzles, games, flashcards and songs to develop young children’s memory and problem-solving skills to give them the best start in life.

To be honest, initially, I found it really difficult to keep Alric still through the 50-minute class. I didn’t know if I should persist – now I’m so glad I did!

Improved concentration

By the time Alric turned two I started to notice that kids around his age weren’t doing the same things as him. His concentration improved so much and he was more attentive. Now he’s eight-years old and his Maths and English is well above most of his peers his age.

My middle son Jensen, who is now five, has also been sitting in at the Shichida classes since day one, and I enrolled him in his age group class when he was six or seven months. It’s funny I remember as a toddler he didn’t talk much, then one day I heard him reading a book – he was only two at the time.

He’s been reading his older brother’s books since he was three, of course he doesn’t have all the comprehension, but his learning capacity is serving him well. He has been accelerated a year at school and his reading level is like a seven- or eight-year-old.

His thing is numbers. He can confidently remember Pi to 250 digits, in order. I tried to do the same but can only recall 50 digits. There’s no way we can keep up with him.

Giving kids the best chance to succeed in life

Some people ask me if I’m trying to raise geniuses – I’m not. Ensuring my kids have the best chance to succeed in life is my primary goal. When I was young I wasn’t exposed to these sorts of activities. I was always a really keen learner, but never knew anything like this. I wondered if I had been exposed to these activities, would I be doing something different now?

Three young kids playing a variety of musical instruments

“Some people ask me if I’m trying to raise geniuses – I’m not. I just want to give my kids the best chance to succeed.” Image: Supplied.

I personally think education at school is really important and I’m re-enforcing that at home. I attend the weekly Shichida lesson and it gives me ideas of what I can be doing at home. I like to give my kids a head start. Some kids struggle at high school and I don’t want to see that in my family.

A real sense of achievement

The main thing for us is that my kids think it’s really fun. They love learning and what I love about the program is that they don’t see it as a chore. My kids get a real sense of achievement from all of this.

Each of my children is different but they all love numbers! The boys also love their sport and do tennis, judo and swimming. My youngest Elise loves music and dancing. She also loves learning through songs and singing. She’s just turned three and she can read and write basic words, has good comprehension of stories and can easily memorise 15 objects.

The thing I’m realising is it’s not about age. Sometimes I look at kids and think there is no way a two or three-year can do this really amazing activity – but they can.

Jensen, my middle son, has perfect pitch – when I first discovered it, I was pretty shocked, I didn’t even know what it was until I spoke with Shiaoling Lim, the Director at Shichida.

His older brother would be playing the piano and even though he didn’t know the music at the time (he was only three years old) he could re-play the notes on the piano. I remember just before he turned four years old and I was looking around for a piano teacher, a lot of them said he’s too young and didn’t want to teach him because they thought I was pushing him.

If my kids ever said, ‘I don’t want this’, I would never push them. There’s never a day that they would say, ‘I don’t want to do it mum, it’s too hard’.

Amazing for our family

I hope my children will maximize their potential with Shichida as long as they derive enjoyment from it. It has been an incredible experience for our family, which is why I willingly sacrifice my Saturday mornings to make it happen. The round trip from Geelong to Melbourne takes me three hours by car, and then I spend nearly two hours at the center with the children. Although we miss out on many birthday parties and other engagements, we are deliberately choosing our priorities.

In the future, I certainly hope that my kids will have the confidence to try out new things. It is of utmost importance that they comprehend the notion that nothing is impossible when one applies their mind to it. We anticipate them applying the principles they learned as babies, recognizing that there are multiple ways to solve a problem.

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