For the last three years, we have been collaborating with LKY fund for Bilingualism Office for our Bulan Bahasa program that happens between September and October. In Ilham Child Care, we understand the importance of promoting our culture and language as well as instilling greater confidence and understanding of the Malay traditions. This is to preserve our roots and be proud to be a Malay, giving the kids the understanding of how it feels to be proud of their race and religion.
For those students that were chosen to participate in our Bulan Bahasa, they are called Rakan Bahasa Cilik, as they have put the effort to actually get involved in doing this with the teachers!
In 2019, the Rakan Bahasa Cilik from Ilham Child Care did a fun dikir barat performance for the children, guided by our Malay teachers and external vendors. Usually meant for cultural events, it is to give a sense of fun and interest to the kids as to why we do this, giving them the meaning of why dikir barat is a very important aspect at cultural events.
Due to Covid-19 happening, we had to switch up what we did for 2020. Instead of the children coming down to an event, we decided to do a live streaming of the performance at the safety of their homes, where our Rakan Cilik Bahasa chose to make traditional kuehs, silat and syair performances, showing them more traditional things that even they can get involved in!
Finally, for this year, we continued our live streaming performance to ensure the safety of everyone, choosing to relive the tradition during a Malay wedding and performing a couple of different types of Malay dance. We even involved the kids in this, as they began practicing for the live performance three months before the actual stream which happened on October 2nd!
All these events are chosen as it would expose the children to diverse Malay culture. It also pushes their understanding why we do this as per our traditions, and these activities like dikir barat and syair will help strengthen their Malay language as we would communicate through it.
Another programme we have decided to establish is the Malay Immersions lessons. Our Malay Immersion program is part of our 9 fully subsidised enrichments in our centre, hence parents do not need to pay additional fees for this.
This program will give the children the opportunity to learn more about Malay culture and games, such as batu seremban, congkak and chapteh. They get to try out how different the game is as compared to the modern games . Some musical instruments are also introduced, like kompang, gamelan, angklung and canang!
Our teachers also take the effort to involve food like rendang, ketupat and kueh mueh so as to have the children taste the traditional food of our culture and we also chose to show them how some food is being made! This way, it would make them understand how interesting it is to create such food for them and make them more appreciative of it.
What we normally do for these Malay Immersion lessons are simple: We start as children gather at the Malay cultural corner in a circle. Giving them the materials of the day, they would have to guess what the name is.
As the material is passed around for them to touch, the children can tell the properties of it. By doing this, they can then guess where they have seen it before, and the teacher would note all the answers on a whiteboard! Once everyone have had their turn, the teacher will share the correct answer, following up by teaching them how to play and the children can then have a chance to try it out themselves!
Apart from that, the children will also act like a host or how to welcome their guests at home by serving food and drinks. By doing all of this, we believe it would teach them not only the tradition of our culture at a young age, but it would help to assist love and appreciation for the culture and even be able to start and spread the love of Malay culture to their friends and family! Even their parents can help us to encourage the students to enjoy Malay food and even promote games from our culture instead of the modern games!
This is with the hopes that our culture and tradition would not get forgotten as they grow older, as we must always remember our roots and where we come from! Through these activities, we also hope it would improve Malay literacy skills in our young ones, as they grow in a modern world!
As our world is ever-changing, we must hope that our children are able to continue living our tradition! How do you feel about our actions in promoting this, seeing as Ilham Child Care is currently the only child care that is being invited to be involved in the Bulan Bahasa program annually?