Tuesday, May 26th

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 15 November 2015 17:31

Children Nurtured to Realize Their Fullest Potential in Life

Written by  Lee Lay Sim & Hong Mei Rong, KL & Selangor / Translated by Chew Chiau Ping

Teoh Boon Chuan (left) commended that at Da Ai kindergarten, education takes place everywhere beyond the classrooms. [Photograph by Lim Choon Huat]

A wise choice has great significance over a child’s future. Hence, choosing a kindergarten that nurtures children with love could transform them into polite and sensible children to realize their fullest potential in life.

On November 15, 2015, Da Ai kindergartens in Kepong and Pandan Indah co-organized a graduation ceremony for the first time at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. Parents from different areas, who have sent their children to Da Ai kindergartens for pre-school education, were moved by the transformation of their children over the past few years.
Importance of character development over academic knowledge
Prior to joining Tzu Chi, parent Chew Siew Leng felt that a good pre-school should focus on preparing the children for primary education. However, through her involvement with Tzu Chi, she realized the importance of character development over academic knowledge. Therefore, she did not hesitate to send her daughter, Yhana Jee, to Da Ai kindergarten even though it is quite a distance from her house. She strongly believes that a child, who is equipped with life skills, will do better than those who excel academically.
As her daughter becomes more sensible overtime, Siew Leng was glad that she had sent her to learn in a loving environment that is integrated with Master Cheng Yen’s teachings. The teachers’ love has a great influence on Yhana, as she enjoyed going to school and even missed her teacher during weekends. She said, “Teacher Yong Hui Ling is like my mother in school.”
Yhana is a positive influence at home. Her utter innocence often soothes her mother’s worries. Once, her sister had been sick for a week, and despite several visits to the doctor, her condition did not improve. When Siew Leng cried out of helplessness, Yhana gave her a comforting pat on the shoulder and said, “Don’t cry mum. Sister is sick and we need to wish her well so that she can recover.” Her innocent words immediately lifted Siew Leng out of despair.
Yhana has also been adhering to the teachings on respect for life. One day, when Siew Leng was about to bathe her, she shouted, “Wait mum, don’t turn on the water. There is an ant. Let it cross first.” On another occasion at a restaurant, she insisted on freeing the tied up crabs as she could feel their pain. To comfort her, her father then bought a few crabs and asked the restaurant workers to free them. Siew Leng was deeply moved by her daughter’s thoughtfulness, as many have understood the teachings but failed to put them into practice.
Yhana hopes to be Master Cheng Yen’s disciple, as well as a healthcare professional to help the sick and needy, when she grows up. She said, “I want to provide free medical care for the poor.” Her dream was simple yet substantial.
Give the best with a kind heart
Aside from academic knowledge, Da Ai kindergarten places greater emphasis on character development and learning of life skills. Therefore, Cheong Yoke Hwa initially refused to send her son, Ng Yan Zhen, to the kindergarten, for fear that he could not keep up with the schoolwork later in primary school.
After much reassurance by her husband, Ng Say Chong, and other “Loving Fathers”*, she changed her mind as she believed a well-behaved child would not fall behind academically.
Initially, Yan Zhen felt awkward and would take another path to avoid greeting his teachers with a bow. After much encouragement from the teachers and his peers, he managed to overcome the awkwardness. Now, he has transformed into a proactive child. 
Yoke Hwa, who often volunteered at the kindergarten said, “I would have sent my children here earlier if I knew what the kindergarten is like.” Her husband, Say Chong, has devoted much of his time and efforts to volunteer in Tzu Chi. When commended by Principal Lee Cai Yan for being a highly cooperative and dedicated “Loving Father”, he said, “How much money we own is not important as long as we have sufficient to spend. Most important is to have a kind heart and help others.” He keeps an open mind on his son’s future. In fact, he hopes to be the guiding light for his son, leading him to live a more rewarding life. 
Another father, Teoh Boon Chuan, had a different view from Yoke Hwa. He said, “One might not lead all the way even if he/she seemed to make a better progress at the initial stage. Those who trailed behind might emerge as winners in the end.” Therefore, Tzu Chi’s focus on moral conduct and life skills were the main reasons for him to enrol his twin daughters in Da Ai kindergarten.
“A child can always learn harder if he/she does not do well academically. However, it is very difficult to correct a poor conduct once it is formed.” Boon Chuan firmly believes that one’s character is more important than his/her ability as one’s success is not determined by one’s knowledge, but rather by his/her character and relationships with others.
“Education should not be confined to the classroom; it is boundless in Da Ai kindergarten. Teachers here teach the children various life skills and nurture wholesome habits in them so that they can manage their lives and live out the values of life.” Boon Chuan felt all graduates were blessed to receive such a precious gift from the teachers, as this will enable them to embrace their future more steadily.
While his daughters received education at the kindergarten, Boon Chuan had gained his first experience volunteering as a “Loving Father”, providing relief aid to flood victims in Temerloh, presenting sign language performance on stage, and so on. Through his involvement in Tzu Chi, he realized that everyone has unlimited potential. We have no control over the length of our lives, but we can do something to expand its width and depth. There are plenty to learn in Tzu Chi as long as we are willing to take the first step.
Education on one child benefits the whole family
Having spent three years in Da Ai kindergarten, Ng Zhi Ling has greatly inspired her mother, Kor Mooi Hwa, through her actions. Zhi Ling had bathed her mother’s feet, served her tea and presented her an appreciation card. In reflection, Mooi Hwa felt embarrassed to receive such treatment from her daughter as she had never done the same for her own mother with whom she had sometimes been rude to. Her daughter’s conduct was a reminder to Mooi Hwa not to wait to be filial.
Zhi Ling consoled her mother, “Mum, it’s okay. I can help you do what you didn’t do. I can bathe grandma’s feet and offer her tea.” On Zhi Ling’s birthday, she even presented an appreciation card to her mother, thanking the latter for going through labour to bring her to this world. Mooi Hwa was deeply touched by her daughter’s thoughtfulness.
Zhi Ling also shared about table manners with her family. She often reminded them not to be picky on food, to sing offering song before meals, and not to have any leftovers on their plates. She reasoned that one should get others to help finish the food because in wasting food, we are consuming our blessings.
Mooi Hwa volunteered as a “Loving Mother” for the first time this year. When her daughter saw her helping out in the kindergarten, she told her friend excitedly, “I am really happy! My mum is here as a ‘Loving Mother’!” Her daughter’s yearning for her companionship was evident, and she felt guilty to be a “Loving Mother” only in the final year. She promised to volunteer when her son enrols in Da Ai kindergarten next year.
* “Loving Fathers” and “Loving Mothers” refer to parents who volunteer at Da Ai kindergarten while their children are attending classes.

Chew Siew Leng was glad that her daughter, Yhana Jee, became more sensible overtime. [Photograph by Lim Choon Huat]   After much reassurance by her husband, Ng Say Chong, Cheong Yoke Hwa finally changed her mind and enrolled their son, Yan Zhen, in Da Ai kindergarten. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]

Chew Siew Leng was glad that her daughter, Yhana Jee, became more sensible overtime. [Photograph by Lim Choon Huat]
After much reassurance by her husband, Ng Say Chong, Cheong Yoke Hwa finally changed her mind and enrolled their son, Yan Zhen, in Da Ai kindergarten. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]
Kor Mooi Hwa promised to volunteer as a “Loving Mother” when her son enrols in Da Ai kindergarten next year. [Photograph by Lim Choon Huat]    

Kor Mooi Hwa promised to volunteer as a “Loving Mother” when her son enrols in Da Ai kindergarten next year. [Photograph by Lim Choon Huat]