Thursday, July 5, 2007

Kindergarten choice just as important - extracted from New Paper

This article came just in time, just as I was thinking to myself about the choice of kindergartens.

It all started earlier on before Athena's music lesson when Elizabeth took out the homework she's supposed to do :农民, few lessons ago she did 老师. Mind you, she's 1 yr younger than Athena (technically only 2 months) but she's in K1 - coz' she's quite advanced for her age (prob due to Shichida). And I'm shocked that's what MMI give their children. Not that I'm complaining, I'm a crazy mother, remember? I'm a sucker for assessment books, writing etc..for my children. Eliz's school has done far more what I & Athena's school has done.
I checked with her what are the English words she'e learning now, she mentioned that "I, am, a, is, me" is done long long time ago "now they're doing words like "fling, bling.." OMG! Athena's school too slow or MMI too fast.

To some they feel that there's no need to choose a good kindergarten. Personally I'd prefer to go for a good one but it also boils down to how receptive my child is. Perhaps we can try MMI for Aricia since one just opened nearby? Or go to PCF. But ultimately I guess it's the costs that we have to bear in mind.

MANY parents will be going all out to get the best schools for their 6-year-olds in the Primary 1 registration process which begins today.

But when it came to picking kindergartens, some of these same parents may not have been so choosy.

Does it make a difference to a child entering Primary 1?

Yes, say the experts.

The New Paper spoke to childcare experts from the Regional Training and Resource Centre in Early Childhood Care and Education for Asia (RTRC Asia). It trains early childhood professionals at its centre at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Its diplomas are given in conjunction with the polytechnic.

It also runs The Caterpillar's Cove Child Development and Study Centre, set up at a cost of $1 million. The centre, located in the polytechnic, started operations earlier this year, taking care of 64 children aged 18 months to 6 years.

One crucial aspect of early childhood education, the experts say, is building character rather than academics.

A child should be learning how to relate to both adults and peers, develop skills of cooperation and negotiation, nurture a sense of curiosity and the confidence to voice it, and build a disposition that will help him through his school years.

Mrs Koh-Kok Siat Yeow, assistant director for professional development and continuing education, calls it 'emotional preparedness'.

'This is where a child feels secure and confident, is a risk-taker, and knows how to make friends and negotiate with those friends,' she said.

Examples of negotiation include deciding how to share toys or taking turns to use a swing.

Children should also learn how to deal with a crisis, which in their case might be a missing sock.

She added: 'Some schools over-prepare children for primary school. This results in them being disruptive and inattentive. A child must learn how to focus.

'Academics is important but it is not the most important thing. Do they have the confidence to speak up? Can they ask their teacher to explain something again?'

Mrs Geraldine Zuzarte, centre director for Caterpillar's Cove and a training specialist with 15 years' experience in the industry, makes sure that her 60 charges spend as much time outside as possible, armed with sun hats and sunblock.

She said: 'Children need to be immersed in nature. It's amazing how they can just quietly watch a butterfly in flight, then ask, 'Why does a butterfly flap its wings?' They'll then find out the answer together with their teachers.'


When parents shop for childcare centres or kindergartens, they should also observe the environment created by the staff.

Said Mrs Zuzarte: 'When they walk in, they should see different spaces where a child can read, play, draw or enquire. It shouldn't be just a classroom setting with tables and chairs... children should have choices.'

Added Ms Lynn Heng, a senior training specialist: 'Parents should see a child-oriented place with the children's work displayed prominently. It should feel comfortable, not stressful.'

Parents should not be shy to ask about the teachers' qualifications, and a good school should invite parents to observe its teachers interacting with children, the experts said.

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