Heguru: A unique way to develop children’s potential

Ma Khaing Mon Oo, owner of Heguru Yangon, has always been aware of the great need for education in Myanmar. About three years ago, after a conversation with a friend whose daughter was attending Heguru Singapore, she was inspired to start providing children’s supplementary classes in Yangon.

Developed and refined over the past 30 years in Japan by Hirotada and Ruiko Henmi, Heguru is an early childhood teaching method that focuses on right brain development. It aims to help children to realise and enhance their talents and capabilities as well as to foster compassionate hearts and responsive dispositions from a young age.

“When I visited Heguru in Japan for myself, I was amazed by their teaching methods, which are totally different from the education system in Myanmar. I found that the children at Heguru were more intelligent, responsive and active than adults. The education method is very effective,” Ma Khaing Mon Oo said.

“Also, Japan is one of the world’s most developed countries, so I founded this school in the hope of helping our children to be outstanding people who can support the country’s development in 20 years,” she said.

In January 2018, after comparing Heguru and education providers in other countries, Ma Khaing Mon Oo opened Heguru Yangon in Myanmar Plaza. The school has registered over 200 students and plans to extend the curriculum to include children up to 11 years of age as well as start courses for pregnant mothers. By year end, Heguru will open a branch in Mandalay.

In a recent interview, Ma Khaing Mon Oo shared her views on Heguru’s progress and the prospects for improving early childhood education in Myanmar:

What are the distinctive features of Heguru Yangon?

Its difference is teaching children to apply their brain fully. There are three standards in Heguru teaching: It’s really fast, teaches a lot of things, and with a loud voice. There is only one class a week, the junior class is 50 minutes, and the senior class is 70 minutes. We have to teach activities as much as possible during this time. Teaching like this may help their right brain develop fully. We teach children to develop their right brain to enhance their abilities from infancy.

When Heguru was first introduced here, what challenges did you face?

First, I had to be very careful what I said when I educated the public about this school. It is very important that we explained this method well because people had never heard of it before.

When we said we taught six-month-old babies here, we were asked what we taught them. We had to explain that mothers should read books out loud to six-month-old babies for their brain development, which would make babies more familiar with their moms and develop their language learning skills.

Grandparents disapprove of teaching six-month-old babies more than parents. They wrongly think that children should be taught only when they reach age 5 or 6, as they are worried about putting too much pressure on children. We have to change this concept gradually. A child’s brain has been developed 70 percent by age 3. We have to teach them that if a child is taught while their brains are developing quickly, they can use it well when they grow up.

How did you select teachers for the school?

As about 50 activities are done in 50 minutes, it is not enough for teachers to be good at English. They must also be strong and healthy to teach children well. All teachers at Heguru have to first pass exams at headquarters in Japan, and they must be kind and teach children to have good thoughts.

How has your business developed since it started?

We have three classes – infant and toddler, preschool, and primary. Toddler class is for kids aged six months to three and a half years, preschool is for kids 3 to 6 and a half years, and primary is for kids aged 6 and a half to 11 and a half. Preschool opened in January and is 70 minutes a week.

What kind of support is needed for children’s education? What are the trends?

Parents in Myanmar want their children to learn quickly and without pressure. Some want their children to learn well without feeling stressed. Now we can see that the parents are supporting what their children want to be. They understand that if they support their children’s hobbies, those hobbies can become careers when the children grow up. The current trend is a positive one.

The important thing for better education is that parents change their opinions. Most parents don’t want to take risks with their children. They think it is unnecessary to teach children when they are young. They don’t spend time with the children, so the children are unfamiliar with their surroundings. I want parents not to worry so much. They should give their children a chance to learn more rather than keeping them at home because they worry something may happen to them.

Parents are responsible to teach kids that they can succeed from childhood. The government should support a better education system as well.

Most parents think that children don’t need education in their early stages. They shouldn’t think that education depends on a child’s age. Development of the brain should be the only determinant of receiving education. Children should be properly trained at a young age, as their brains develop very fast. Only then will they be able to cope with life’s problems.

How can Myanmar’s children catch up to those in neighbouring countries?

A country’s development depends on education, so it is very important. We should provide a better education so these children can support the country’s development in about 20 years. Private schools can only support a limited number of people, and I would like to support the education of the masses.

Does Heguru face competition from other private schools?

There are many private schools now. Some have foreign owners and others have a combined local and foreign syllabus. Our school focuses mainly on the development of the right brain and whole brain, which is quite different from the education system used in this country. No school is in competition with Heguru yet.

But the competition is increasing, with more and more private schools opening. Parents have to choose the most suitable school for their children depending on their budget, support, time and level of education they need. But the teaching method of our school is different from others, and so are its graduates.

Source: Myanmar Times

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