Consider the Filipino tradition of “pagmamano.” From an outsider’s perspective, it may seem a little odd that Pinoy moms and dads teach their children to bend down and touch their forehead to the hand of an elderly. But there's a deeper meaning to the gesture: respectfulness, love and consideration towards others.
There's something to learn from “pagmamano” just like how there are quite a few parenting tips to take away from the way other parents from different parts of the world raise their children. Here are a few: 1. Japan: Where parents let their children ride the train alone It’s not an unusual sight in Tokyo to see kids as young as 4 years old riding the train alone to get to school. Not neglecting Japan’s low crime rate and efficient transport system, it’s all a part of Japan’s idea of group reliance,” according to cultural anthropologist Dwayne Dixon where every member of society can be relied upon to help the community.
It’s why from an early age, Japanese children are already taught to be independent and responsible. In school, the students serve their meals on their own during lunch and they have allotted time in the day to clean and sweep their classroom and the hallways. Read more about it here.
Takeaway: Pinoy parents may be skeptical about letting their preschoolers ride a jeep or tricycle alone (baka mahagip pa!), but there’s something to learn from expecting children to do their share of chores even from a young age.
2. Germany: Where the start of first grade requires multiple celebrations “Einschulung is something children look forward to for years,” according to Time. And what is Einschulung? It’s a huge party to celebrate a kiddo starting first grade. First, the school throws a party for the kids complete with giant bags of school supplies and candies as giveaways. Then afterward, the parents throw another party at home to celebrate with family and friends. That’s a lot of partying! “It signals a major life change, and hopefully, an enthusiasm for learning,” said Time.
Takeaway: Throwing a party for your child’s first day of school may be a little too much for Pinoy parents but it just shows how supportive German parents can get when it comes to their child’s education. Maybe we do need to make a bigger deal out of starting school. What do you think?
3. Vietnam: Where 9-month-old babies are already potty trained How do they do it? They start potty training from birth! When a mom notices her baby is relieving himself or showing signs that he needs to poo or pee, she starts to whistle. Slowly but surely the children then begin to associate the sound with going to the bathroom.
By the time the babies are 9 months old, Vietnamese moms will sit them down on the potty, whistle, and the toddlers will do their thing -- no peeing in underpants. And by the time they become 2 years old, they no longer need Mom, and they will be able to take care of their toilet needs on their own.
Takeaway: It’s amazing that Vietnamese moms are so in tune with their babies that they can sense when their little ones are relieving themselves. Many aspects of parenting, not just potty training, rely on a strong parent-child bond.
4. Russia: Where kids go out into the snow and dump ice cold water on themselves There's a rather odd tradition in one particular Russian preschool. On one winter's day, children age 3 to 6 in just their underpants run outside into the snow and throw ice cold water on themselves. It's not compulsory and every child is checked by a pediatrician beforehand. But still, quite a number of students participate in the activity -- with smiles on their faces too!
But why do they do this? The idea is to raise the body’s resistance and resilience against the cold and sickness through exposure. We may not have snow in the Philippines but we can imagine the guts it would take to brave such a feat!
Takeaway: Cultivating resilience in our kids should start young. And we don’t just mean against the cold. Letting your child try and fail builds resilience he will need to overcome the very real challenges he will face later in life. Because success -- whether in getting good a grade in school or being given a job promotion -- doesn’t come without failure. And your child will need resilience to keep trying.
5. Finland: Where school children aren’t given homework Finland’s education system sits at the top of global rankings, clustered with the likes of Singapore, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Apart from producing some of the world’s best students, Finland also boasts of having the happiest school children in the world. How? No homework, for one.
“[Finnish students] do not have homework,” said Krista Kiuru, Finland's Minister of Education. “They should have more time to be kids, to be youngsters, to enjoy their life.” Not only that, younger school children spend just 20 hours of school a week, around three or four hours a day. “Your brain has to relax every now and then. If you just constantly work, then you stop learning. And there's no use in doing that for a longer period of time,” said school principal Leena Liusvaara.
Takeaway: Our school systems may not change anytime soon and zero homework can make any Pinoy parent a little nervous. But, we can see how Finland's brand of “learn and play” philosophy can be applied in simple ways at home. Deliberately have time in your child’s day for play and encourage him to find activities he will enjoy on his own.