What does "education" mean for our children? The first years of school are as important for these young learners as any other period, perhaps more. In fact, studies have shown that the first six years of a child's life play a major role in a child's development so not only do parents play an important role, care-givers and teachers too can have leave a long-lasting and significant impact in the child's early years.
I was invited by Learning Vision - Singapore’s leading provider of high quality preschool services - to visit its preschool at Raffles Place to learn more about its practices.
Located in the heart of the Central Business District (CBD) area, Learning Vision @ Raffles Place (formerly Learning Vision @ Cecil) cannot get more convenient than this for parents who are working around the area. Besides its strategic location minutes away from both Raffles Place and Tanjong Pagar MRT stations, the one thing that struck me when I first stepped inside was the bright and spacious setting the centre boasts.
Learning Vision @ Raffles Place offers a full range of services and programmes for infants aged 2 months to children aged 6 years. And as Ms. Audrey Tan - the centre's principal who has 11 years of experience in early childhood education and a BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Education - tells me, all of her 20 staffs have a Diploma in Early Childhood care-teaching and attained the Certificate in Infant and Toddler care and development or higher .
As I shuttled between the nursery and kindergarten classrooms, Audrey shared with me Learning Vision's Early Years Curriculum. The curriculum is designed to ensure that children in the Nursery Levels experience a seamless and smooth transition to the more structured and skills-driven learning expectations of the preschool years.
Sounds all well and good, but what exactly does it mean for the kids? Essentially, it all comes down to four core activities that the kids are put through every week.
Circle Time: A group activity that uses songs, rhymes and finger plays, stories and familiar objects or items of interest as the platform for engaging children in verbal communication, self-expressions and exploring feelings and social interactions and relationships.
Hands@Work: A hands-on learning, child-centred and exploratory curriculum that actively engages children in exploring with different art media, tactile and sensory materials. These hands-on, interactions effectively develop children's motor abilities and eye-hand coordination while allowing children to explore their world and make sense of things around them.
SkillWorks: Offers skills learning to equip children with some fundamental skills needed for supporting the early years transition to preschool learning. Emergent skills are introduced through hands-on, exploratory and interactive experiences.
Enhancement: Complementing the early years curriculum includes Rhythm 'N' Moves, GymWorks, PlayWorks and EQ Literacy which provide essential experiences in promoting a total curriculum and serves as the foundation for later intellectual development.
As the children progress to Kindergarten Levels, the Preschool Curriculum kicks in with emphasis on active child-centred learning experiences. The curriculum is planned around children's interests, curiosity and their natural quest for knowledge; leading to inquiry, investigations, discovery and active hands-on explorations through innovative integrated curriculum and project work.
The Chinese Language Curriculum is designed to cultivate a love and interest in Mandarin through the integration of many learning experiences aimed at developing children's expressive and communicative language, listening, reading and writing skills. And judging from the kids' response while I was there, I have to say the teachers make the lessons so fun and interactive!
A key component in Learning Vision @ Raffles Place's holistic learning approach is the involvement of parents in their kids' school lives. And the centre places a huge emphasis on collaborative home-centre partnerships, be it field trips involving parents, parenting workshops and home-based art projects where parents will be tasked to create something together with their children.
Even the simple act of reading together with one's child is highly encouraged, as can be seen by the setting up of a Parent's Book Club in a corner of the centre.
I also had the chance to sit in while a Rhythm 'N' Moves session was in progress. Designed to encourage creative thinking and develop children’s confidence, the lessons allow them to express their imagination and emotions through body movements with rhythm.
All infants above the age of 11 months are allowed to move about in a free and safe area as they build up their gross motor skills, under teachers' supervisions of course.
Caregiving: this provides the context through which much of the infants’ learning takes place. Careful attention given to promoting infant well-being and comfort through caregiving tasks and routines.
Attachment: Infant attachment with a familiar caregiver who is sensitive and responsive forms the basis for developing trust, emotional security and well-being.
Play: This is central to the daily routine of the infant program. Play creates opportunities and the context for infants to observe and learn about the world, promotes important skills in cognition, language, physical, social and emotional learning.
For infants younger than 11 months, they too have their own private space, where they will be cooed to sleep.
The basic amenities like diaper-changing facilities and feeding areas are clean and functional, with each infant's items clearly labelled and kept apart.
I think it is common knowledge that all children go through critical stages of development during their early years, and a consistent, high-quality early childhood education can have long-lasting, beneficial effects on the overall development of children. Choosing a preschool in which your child will be loved and cared for is of utmost importance, of course.
More importantly though, selecting a preschool that will partner with your family to ensure your child's healthy development throughout his/her early childhood education years is something that can not be neglected.
Interested to find out more about what Learning Vision has to offer: Visit www.learningvision.com to keep updated on its Open House dates!
Learning Vision @ Raffles Place
101 Cecil Street Tong Eng Building
#01-02 Singapore 069533
For general enquiries, please call 6781 0888
Monthly Service Fee (Before MSF subsidy and prevailing GST)
Full Day Care: $1,800 (Infant Care); $1,300 (Toddler-Kindergarten 2)
Half Day Care: $1,400 (Infant Care); $1,050 (Toddler-Kindergarten 2)
*Fees are correct as at published time