Shichida Home Practice Guidance Session

We went to the Shichida Home Practice Guidance Session today. It was held at the Shichida teaching premises at Toa Payoh HDB Hub. This session was free (well, we already coughed out quite a lot of money for the actual lessons..).

As usual, we were late. This time, it had already started, and the place was packed! The room was very small and could only hold about 80 people (gross estimate). It was conducted by the Shichida teachers, who described examples on how to carry out the various components of Home Practice. For those unfamiliar with the Shichida Method, here’s a brief run-down:

1. Setting the atmosphere (an environment with no distractions, soft peaceful music in the background, aromatic oils-really? a bit too over the top don’t you think?)

2. Preparation activities (relaxation activities – Energy ball, blowing (for young kids)/deep breath (for older kids), Positive statement, Hug

3. Image play (pretend play, try to involve all 5 senses during the pretend play)

4. Senses play (ESP exercises in telepathy, clairvoyance, hand reading (using the hand to sense the card beneath), and prediction (guessing what card will come up next))

5. Speed play (basically, just flashcards)

6. 63 Dots program (now this is another strange and interesting thing, which I hope to blog about in the future)

7. Eye training (making the child ‘exercise’ the extra-ocular muscles – the muscles the move the eyes, by looking at toys moving left to right and up and down)

8. Memory play (games that test the child’s memory – like photo memory)

9. Linking memory (this is a system that helps people remember things – read about it in Wikipedia here)

10. Reading (this is one thing that I strongly believe in..no doubts here)

11. Music play (not much elaboration here – I suppose it’s similar to developing music intelligence in Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences)

Wow, and you are supposed to be doing this daily? It is probably possible if you are a stay at home parent. It’s not impossible for a working parent, but I think some discipline and sleep sacrificing will have to be done…

At the end of the session they got two parents to come down and share their experiences doing Home Practice. I must say, they sound extremely committed (and also convinced that Shichida works). Unfortunately, the critic in me had to surface again – they did not have a disclaimer/disclosure, so I don’t know if they received any benefits from the company, and secondly, they did not bring along their children as proof – how am I to know they are not just actors employed by the company? I’m sorry that it had to sound so bad, but it’s gonna have to take more than two aunties to con me..

I’m not saying this Shichida Method doesn’t work (I don’t have direct proof of that so I cannot make that claim) or I don’t believe in it (I’m keeping an open mind for now), so don’t get me wrong. Some components are definitely good for the child, for example engaging in pretend play, reading, eye training, and exposing the child to music. Training the child’s ‘linking memory’, is also scientifically sound, although I’m not sure that 6 month old babies will be able to learn that. There are, however, some really dubious components, like telepathy training, showing flashcards for 0.5 seconds each, and the 65 day dots program.

For now I shall still immerse myself fully into this..nothing ventured, nothing gained. Off to make flashcards!

Samantha’s Third Shichida Lession

By this session I was getting used to how things were run in class. You come into lesson, sing the welcome song, energy ball, hug, positive statement, then launch into a furious 30-odd activities, each only lasting a minute or so (some even less because the teacher has to describe the activity).

Samantha was also looking forward to the lesson too, I suspect..because she could get the chance to mouth more than 30 items in a short span of an hour! I know it’s inconsiderate to let her mouth the toys, since a poor unsuspecting baby will be touching these toys in the next session..but there is really nothing much I can do. Prying the toy away from her mouth prematurely will almost indefinitely elicit a sharp cry of protest, and possibly a tantrum that involves violent back-arching.  The toy was probably also mouthed by many other babies in the sessions before her. Hopefully, they are cleaned (very meticulously) in between lessons. But who am I kidding?

Today the games were again from the various categories (previously described). And the repeated items (the flashcards, Sawako, described previously too) were again repeated. I think the babies were bored of seeing the same flashcards (do they even remember?) because by the time the third or fourth set of flashcards came out, there were audible cries of protest.

Interestingly, during the photo memory segment of class today (this part where the teacher shows a picture for 8 seconds then gets the child to choose the correct picture from two relatively similar pictures), all the children chose the correct image. Could this be a coincidence or do 6 month old babies really have the ability of short-term image retention, and are able to comprehend the question ‘choose the picture from just now’? I think this is something worth working up on…

Samantha’s Second Shichida Lesson

Today we had our second Shichida Lesson.

We started with the Welcome song, Energy ball, Hug and Positive statement, similar to the week before.

Then we had the same repertoire of

1. Telepathy, Clairvoyance games

2. Pretend play games – this time, we pretended to do some baking with an oven!

3. Memory games

4. Flashcards

5. Eye training (looking at a toy move around)

6. Songs

Out of about 30 activities, most were different from the ones used last week except for a few-

1. (on TV screen) Animal flashcards

2. Flashcards

3. The book used for speed reading (it was a ‘story’ with about 40 words)

4. A cartoon video on Sawako (played twice, once in English and another time in Korean)

5. The ABC song

6. The flashcard song (they called it the ‘Shichida Musical’)

7. ‘Sentences for daily life’ – A set of flashcards on the TV screen showing some pictures depicting things we do daily (for example, ‘I comb my hair’, ‘I take a shower’)

Today there were lots of screaming children and Samantha couldn’t really pay attention..she ended up screaming with everyone else. The teacher remained calm throughout the session and I didn’t once notice any hint of frustration that her class was being disrupted so often..Surprisingly, one of her classmates managed to fall asleep in class, which is quite amazing considering how noisy the class was. The kid must have been really tired.

Shichida Method Parent Education Conference

In this post I will write about the Shichida Method Parent Education Conference that was conducted for newcomer parents.

The conference was held in the auditorium of the NTUC building, which was almost filled to the brim with eager parents! (my guess is that there were at least 400 parents there).. We arrived a little late but it had not started yet.

The parent education conference was more like a one-sided-lecture by the principal, Mrs Jocelyn Khoo.

She was very enthusiastic about her program (well, she ought to be) and filled up the entire lecture with examples of ‘success stories’ of children who have gone through the method. Some examples were from Japan and there were some local cases. She also described the basis behind the Shichida method. Overall, I felt it was more like a session to sell her idea to the parents.

She didn’t talk much about the components of the Shichida lessons, which we were actually more interested to hear about. I mean, I assume since all of the parents here have already signed up for lessons already they must be more or less convinced right (maybe she was out to convince people like me..)? We don’t need another 1 and a half hours of convincing that there are successful products of the Shichida method.

I didn’t like how she kept going on about her success stories due to this thing called the ‘Confirmation bias’. It is described by Wikipedia (the world’s largest peer-reviewed journal) as ‘Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias or myside bias) is a tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way.’ You can read more about it at Wikipedia here.

There were also some parts of the lecture which I made the scientist in me snigger-she had cleverly inserted information that was not scientifically backed, between commonly known facts-resulting in a false impression that the whole statement was true. For example, she talked about how babies and toddlers like to touch everything (true), and this is how they learn about new things (true). They pick up ‘cellular vibrations’ from these objects (what is this? Not scientific fact).

She also said that Makoto Shichida is knighted. A quick search for ‘Sir Makoto Shichida’ on Google only turned up some local and overseas Shichida Method websites. Ok, maybe everyone is ignorant about his knighthood. Let’s look at these official Shichida method sites and see what they say…Hmm, he received in December 1997 ‘Order of Grand Knight for the Distinguished Service for World Peace from the World Intellectual Treasury Association ‘. There is even a picture of a big plaque (words on it are too small for me to make out). Another search for ‘World Intellectual Treasury Association’ turns up empty…..Oh, the official site says that ‘ The World Intellectual Treasury Association is an organization affiliated with the International Academy of Education University.’ A search for ‘International Academy of Education University’ turns up only the website for ‘International Academy of Education’, not a University..So the knighthood sounds pretty dubious to me.. (with all due respect to the late Professor Makoto Shichida).

Anyway after the course I spoke to my wife ans asked her what she thought about the course – she agreed that it was quite haphazardly presented and served no real purpose – except she did demonstrate how to use the orange card (this card with a blue dot in an orange background) and also had an on-stage demonstration of how to let the child guess what colour ball is in a bag (clairvoyance).

There was a course book provided that is as haphazard as the course – the content page looks pretty organized but the contents were in a mess – and like the course, there were ‘case studies’ of successful children taking up much of the book.

My own verdict? The course is compulsory (at least for one parent) so just have one parent go (probably the more cynical one). Don’t waste your money and have both parents go.

Samantha’s First Shichida Lesson

Despite all that I’ve written about my doubts on the Shichida Method, I still decided to keep an open mind and go for the lessons with Samantha.

We were in a class of 6 children, all aged between 6 months to 9 months old. Tables were arranged in a semi-circular fashion around a central teacher’s area and there were 2 small chairs for each pair of parent and child.

The lesson paces was quite fast, and we had about 30 activities for a short span of 1 hour. Here’s a rough outline of what we did (as far as I can remember)-

1. Welcome song

2. Reading of the Day, Date and What kind of weather today

3. Energy ball, hug and positive statement for the day

4. Breath training – for young children, they are asked to have a short and long blow of breath

5. Senses play (Clairvoyance, telepathy)

6. Image play (Pretend play of doing some daily activity)

7. Memory play (looking at an image for a few seconds then choosing the correct image out of two)

8. Flashcards (Most are physical flashcards but there were a few on the computer screen)

9. Eye training (looking at an attractive toy move to and fro)

10. Song with lyrics represented as pictures on flashcards

11. Some games with shapes – matching shapes

12. Some games with numbers  – counting items

13. Some games with animals – naming them

14. Some games with body parts – naming them

15. Some games with fruits/vegetables – naming them

16. Counting with abacus

17. ABC song

18. Finger training – some games with train fine dexterity

19. Goodbye song

Because there were so many activities, each one lasted for a minute or so. Most of the children were unable to do the activities so the parents had to guide them (I really don’t think any 6 month old babies know how to pretend play blending fruits for a fruit juice drink).

The instructor was a young lady with a very cheerful and patient attitude. The babies got bored and there was some crying and shouting during the session, but the instructor remained calm..I think that is very commendable! Her english was not perfect, but good enough for Singapore standard (I’m not expecting lorna whiston here).

Samantha behaved quite well during the lesson. Apart from mouthing every single toy, she cried a bit but we didn’t have to take her out of class.

Overall, it was quite an eyeopener! I was particulaly impressed by the speed at which the flashcards were flashed (almost 2 per second). I had seen these online on youtube before, but to see it live is still impressive..

Looking forward to the next lesson!