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 seen from starting them young
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’s 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!
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’s 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.
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 in life. I wasn’t exposed to these sorts of activities when I was young. 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?
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.
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. They 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.
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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’.
I hope my children will go as far as they can with Shichida as long as they enjoy it. It’s been amazing for our family and that’s why I’m willing to sacrifice my Saturday morning to get there. The round trip takes me three hours to drive to Melbourne from Geelong and then I’m at the centre for nearly two hours with the children. We also miss a lot of birthday parties and other things, but we’re picking our priorities.
In the future, I certainly hope my kids will be confident to try out new things. It’s really important that they understand that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. There are many different ways to solve a problem and I hope they will apply those principals that they learned as babies.
Would you enrol your child in a school system this young?