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My earliest recollections date back to when I was five years old, although they are fuzzy. I could only recollect bits and pieces, which I wrote down for this project and stitched together with the help of my mother. I discovered that my dad and I used to reside in a tiny house someplace in Manila. My father had a job somewhere someplace, and my mother, being the faithful housewife that she is, looked after me and our leased apartment with the same devotion. From what I could piece together, my preschool life proceeded as follows: every day I would wake up, eat breakfast, go to school, where I would play, study, and then go home, eat lunch, nap, play, eat dinner, play some more, and go to sleep. Not as exciting in retrospect, but I recall being content at having a fixed lifestyle. This sentiment is confirmed by the expected cognitive developments during preschool age, where a sense of routine is developed in response to the child’s improving sense of time. In fact, more family routines among families with preschool-aged children have been found as indicative of better social-emotional health and school readiness for these children.
I remember certain routines I practiced as a child, and one of them was that we would always have to say prayers before meals. According to my mother, I would be careful to remind them each time, and certain guests when they come over to visit. Another routine I remember was that I needed to be in-between my mother and father whenever we go to bed, or else I would not be able to sleep. At preschool age I was still sleeping with my parents, and given the smallness of our house, I didn’t have much choice. My mother also told me that I used to love this old cartoon called Akazukin Chacha, which aired every 4 PM, and I watched it religiously after naptime every day. I do recall being frustrated one afternoon when I was 5, waking up from my nap only to find that I had slept too much and missed the show. The fact that this is one of my most vivid memories of my childhood must mean that routine was really important to me.
Preschool is also the time when children begin to explore other social relationships besides those in their immediate families. At this point, children begin to want to become like their friends or please them, and while they may sometimes be demanding, moments of extreme cooperativeness emerge and grow in frequency as a matter of course. This might explain, in part, why nearly all of my memories in preschool are always with other people, such as the friends I played with, my parents, and my teachers. For example, I have a memory of knocking on my neighbor’s door first thing in the morning, calling my friend to come out and play while holding a bag of toys. I also remember my two closest playmates in preschool, Angelo and Krista, and how we would always be inseparable during activities and meet up to play after naptime.
Understanding aspects of the cognitive and social development of preschool-aged children has helped shed new light on my own experiences as a child. Looking back, my childhood was pretty normal after all.
American Academy of Pediatrics. “Developmental Milestones: 4 to 5 Year Olds.” HealthyChildren.org. Last modified July 9, 2013. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/preschool/Pages/Developmental-Milestones-4-to-5-Year-Olds.aspx
Muniz, Elisa, Ellen Silver and Ruth Stein. “Family Routines and Social-Emotional School Readiness among Preschool-Age Children.” Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 35, no. 2 (2014): 93-99.
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