How to register your toddler to preschool in Belgium: RTFM ;-)

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One of the things I have learned about Belgium is that almost every child starts his or her preschool education at the age of 2.5, which means that our 1.5 year old kid has only 1 year left before he starts his preschool education. I was curious about the process and asked a lot of questions to my wife. She said that the ministry of education would send all the required documents and information for the process, so we started to wait for it enthusiastically. Finally the big day came and we have received our mail recently.

Booklets and letter for preschool registration

Booklets and letter for preschool registration

I must say that I’m impressed by the contents of the mail. The booklets sent to us are not only very well designed graphically, but also contain all the necessary information, describing all the steps required to start and complete the registration for our son. It gave me yet another opportunity to exercise my Dutch reading skills, and thanks to the authors’ use of plain language, I was able to understand almost all the instructions. All in all, the process seems to be simple and straightforward: We’re going to log into a web site, pick up the first few school names that we prefer (they have sent us a detailed list of all the schools via mail), submit our choice and then wait for a few weeks, at the end of which we will be informed about the school, and go there to physically register our son by signing the relevant documents, thereby completing the process.

My heartfelt thanks go to everyone involved in designing those informative booklets, so far I’m very much satisfied by the way the government institutions handled the communication for the first steps of our son’s education. I’m excited and eagerly looking forward to the day of starting the first step of registration.

An example of Chinese parenting style: what to do when your son is addicted to online games?

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My son is only 1.5 years old, so I believe there is still some time for me to get concerned about the games he plays, but a recent news made me consider the relationship of children and online computer games: “Father Hires In-Game “Hitmen” To Deter Son From Playing“:

Sick and tired of his son playing video games and not listening to him, a father in China decided to take matters into his own hands… well, sort of. Instead of sending his son off to addiction camp or stripping him of internet and gaming rights, Mr. Feng (冯先生) chose to hire an online “hitman” to school his son.

Father Hires In-Game “Hitmen” To Deter Son From Playing

Father Hires In-Game “Hitmen” To Deter Son From Playing

This may be an extreme or exaggerated example but it did not keep me from remembering my relationships with computer games in the past. The contrast is obvious: 20-25 years ago, back when I and my friends busy playing with computers such as Sinclair Spectrum 48K, Commodore 64, Amstrad or Amiga 500, the only social aspect of those games were close friends we already knew from school or the neighbourhood. There was no Internet, thus no online games. The other players were either the computer or your friends sitting next to you. Playing a realistic 3D combat game with someone who is a total stranger to you was unimaginable at all. And when we were bored with the games, we either sat down to create our own computer programs and games, or we read articles about programming, or how to hack the games.

It is very difficult for me to imagine what kind of technologies my son will be using in 2033, let alone the sort of games he will be playing. I can only hope that he grows to be not only a consumer of an alternate universe overloaded with not so original graphics, animations and sounds, but at least, also someone who can have a wider imagination to go beyond those, build his own universe and discover the complexity and beauty in wiser simplicities. I’ll try my best to make this happen; I really wouldn’t prefer to hire an online, digital ‘hitman’ character for a game 😉

Libraries to visit: Cotsen Children’s Library

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I have to admit that I’m a library geek, in the sense that a healthy dose of my future plans include visiting the most beautiful libraries in the world. In a book that I have started to read recently, Darwin Among The Machines: The Evolution Of Global Intelligence, I’ve learned about the Firestone Library of Princeton University, and this led me to discover a very special place: The Cotsen Children’s Library.

The Cotsen Children's Library

The Cotsen Children’s Library

The Cotsen Children’s Library is a very special library within the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton University Library.

Our international research collection of illustrated children’s books, manuscripts, original artwork, prints, and educational toys from the 15th century to the present day is the benefaction of Lloyd E. Cotsen ’50.

The Cotsen Children’s Library also has a public face, serving as a resource for children, families, and educators in the greater Princeton area. Cotsen offers a variety of children’s programs that are open to the public and free of charge. Visitors are also invited to explore Bookscape, our whimsical children’s gallery. Like Cotsen’s programs, the gallery is open to the public and free of charge. Please bring your family to relax and read!

I really want to take our son there when he grows a little more. I don’t know if he’s going to like libraries as much as I do, but maybe we can get lost in one, just to find ourselves again, refreshed with new perspectives, questions and answers, just in time to start another journey in space-time.

A new year, a new calendar

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It is time to put a new calendar on my desk featuring some recent shots of Arman from last year.

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Now that Arman is 1.5 years old, it is unbelievable how time has passed so quickly. Never before had I such personal calendars on my desk, and now I started to think about having a nice collection of them. Thanks to my beloved ones who are the initiator and subject of those items, I think I will be able to achieve this objective 😉

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