Kindergarten is Too Late
“Kindergarten is Too Late” by Masaru Ibuka (a co-founder of Sony) is a book that influenced our concept of parenting greatly. He described an interesting theory suggesting that a person’s main abilities and talents develop during the first three years of their life. Information analysis mechanisms, the ability to learn, intellectual curiosity are all moulded in this period. Later, these resources are used for collecting information and learning, for analysis and synthesis.
Of course, the author of the book doesn’t mean that you should only nurture your child till the age of three and then they themselves will be smart enough to take decisions, so you don’t need to make any efforts anymore. You should naturally continue looking after them instilling the desired features of character. However, the ability to perceive information, thirst for knowledge, and passion for learning new things are shaped during the first three years. If you are aware of that and actively develop the child in their infancy and toddlerhood, it will be much easier for them to study and analyse information then.
Here’s a simple example of this approach: it’s better to sit a six-month-old baby so that they would face, for instance, a window. Sitting on a chair, the baby will watch the passing people and cars. This change of images – it doesn’t matter that the baby doesn’t understand them – is more useful than looking at the interior of one and the same room. Different “actors”, life scenes will stimulate the brain to try to perceive and interpret the information.
From a very young age we tried to show the kids as much as possible, to explain what was going on around them – even knowing that they understand little of our explanations.
Having mulled over the above-mentioned things, we eventually came to the following conclusion: even if we put great effort into nurturing our children, devote all our time to educating them and developing their minds, we won’t be able to give them the same amount of diverse information as journeys can.
Different countries, different languages, architecture, images, plants, smells, flavours, different houses and flats, a constant change of scene would be a very effective way of teaching the children to adapt and get used to new experiences.
Another example: it’s common knowledge that most children are extremely picky eaters. They eat only a couple of certain dishes without fussing, while turning their nose up at other food – especially new one – and flatly refusing even to taste it. Travelling around and constantly discovering new food and cuisines of different countries (even macaroni and tomatoes may be completely different in different countries), our boys started to eat everything.
They calmly taste all dishes even such exotic ones as ceviche (raw fish cured in lime juice) or wakame (seaweed salad). They don’t refuse to eat anything and very quickly get used to the taste and appearance of food in the countries that we visit. Of course, we don’t offer them too spicy or potentially harmful food.
All in all, despite the difficulties that are inevitably connected with trips with little children, we decided that it’s time to proceed with our journeys. This time, not only for the sake of our pleasure but more for developing our babies.
Preparations for the First Journey
We realized that we were going to travel across different countries at least for a year or even more. We didn’t plan to come back to Cyprus, because we explored every bit of it during the 18 months of living there. Besides, the level of education on the island is far from being high, so our children will go to school in another country.
First, we needed to solve the insurance issue. We realized that we were going to unknown foreign countries with our babies, so we started to consider different options. We found out that very few companies offer the opportunity to buy the insurance not limited by one trip to a certain country but applicable all over the world without restrictions.
In the end, we settled on the insurance that could be used almost in any country except the USA, Canada, and Japan. We could add these states as well, but altogether it would be very expensive, and we didn’t intend to visit those countries then. We came to a conclusion that in the case of any minor ailments we could just go to a doctor and pay for a consultation. So, we took out insurance in case we had serious injuries or diseases requiring hospitalization and costing a lot to treat.
We planned to visit a couple of European countries while it’s warm and then go to the south for winter. Thus, our travelling plan for the near future included two countries – Portugal and Spain. We were going to stay in Lisbon, then in Porto, and finally in Madrid. After that, we planned to go to another continent – Central America.
In Search of Babysitter
One of the major issues in our preparation for a grand journey was the search of a babysitter for the kids. We knew it was crucial for us to have a person beside us who would help with the babies and who we could trust. It was also very important that a babysitter be ready for a constant change of surroundings and be able to accustom herself to new places as she was going to travel together with us.
Furthermore, she must understand our concept of parenting (no restrictions as such) and stick to it while interacting with our sons. We wanted the babysitter to become to a large extent a member of our family. Her responsibilities would include helping with the children, mainly at night and in the morning.
During the day, when the boys were sleeping, and in the evening, when we were walking together with them, she would have spare time that she could use however she wanted.
We offered the following conditions: compensation of living costs, free meals and free tickets for all trips made together, and, of course, a salary.
Having interviewed a lot of applicants, we finally found a good one. It was a girl from Russia having excellent references. She hadn’t worked with little children before, but she was fully ready to learn. Since we didn’t need a teacher for the children, but we needed a person who could blend in with our family, we decided to take her on.
First off, we offered her to come and live with us in Cyprus for some time to understand whether we can get along and whether she can hit it off with the boys.
She came and spent three months with us. During that time, we get on well and the babysitter understood perfectly what we wanted from the kids. She started to spend time with them the way we did. She began teaching them to draw, read, play with toys and even staged home plays. Moreover, she learnt to understand them, change their clothes, feed them, etc. at the right time. Lack of experience didn’t become an obstacle. She was ready to learn and we were always ready to help her.
Boys are very artistic and love to participate in home performances.
First, we travelled around the island together making, so to speak, “test trips”. We were together all the time, and our new babysitter was very excited about everything as she visited the island for the first time.
When we realized that our preparation for leaving Cyprus was successful, we started getting ready for the journey itself. We packed up our things – we gave away most of them (toys, kitchenware, clothes, etc.) to our friends and acquaintances and sold some of them leaving only the most important things that we could need during the trip. We also sold the car.
We were certainly very grateful to the island that gave us a lot of pleasant moments and wonderful impressions. Our boys were born there, and Cyprus is generally one of the most favourable and comfortable places in the world to spend the first months of children’s life.
However, it was time for us to move on. So, our close-knit team – that is the four of us and our babysitter – were all ready for our first big journey.