Dec 6, 2012

Learn to Think. Think to Learn.

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(Daddy blogs)

Although Ash came through his first year of Primary School life relatively unscathed, I forsee the real challenge will come to the fore next year when school exams rear their ugly head. 

The wifey and I do make a conscious effort not to focus too much on the test marks and scoring. Rather, we believe that the effort put in should be weighed more heavily. Of course, effort doesn't always equate to success so that is why having the right attitude and mental resilience is critical as well.

So when I received an email from ThinkersBox - a cognitive training centre that prides itself in helping children develop and build their thinking skills for effective learning - my interest was piqued.

To be honest, I had initially dismissed it to be just another enrichment centre where kids are placed in a hotbed environment and constantly pushed to practice worksheet after worksheet.

But after conversing with the people-in-charge via email, I realised I was wrong. Cognitive skills are foundational skills needed in areas such as comprehension, memory, evaluation, processing, logic and reasoning. Hence, the programmes that ThinkersBox offer are knowledge-driven and not product driven. And this will allow each parent to understand their own child’s specific learning strengths and weaknesses as compared to just focusing on a single IQ score.

And so this being the season of holiday programmes, I brought Ash & Ayd down to ThinkersBox so that they can join in one of the Creativity workshops.

The boys got to create a story out of their own imaginations, create props and tools for the story and then present them to the class. Not surprisingly, they enjoyed the workshop very much!

But that wasn't the main motive of our trip to ThinkersBox. The boys were invited down for a Complimentary Learning Assessment, where their skill sets would be assessed in a 15 minute activity. The assessment consists of three learning areas and aims to find out more about a child’s foundational abilities and his learning profile.

The three areas are:

1. Visual Discrimination - the ability to determine similarities or differences in words, shapes, etc.

An example of the questions would be this:

The child would be tasked to pick out all the shapes that make out the diagram on the left. This helps to build keen observations skills and attention to details, helps with carelessness when copying, writing or transferring answers.

2. Visual Memory - the ability to recall and retrieve visual information previously seen or read. This will help those who have trouble with reading comprehension and/or spelling.

3. Auditory Attention - the ability to recall and retrieve verbal information via auditory input. This aids in those who forgets verbal instructions or are inattentive in class.

When I received the reports for Ash & Ayd, it pretty much confirmed what I had long suspected. Ayd scored slightly above average scores for all 3 areas while Ash was outstanding in the first two areas but for a below average score for Auditory Attention.

This is in line with what his school teachers had told us, that he is a fast worker but he can get distracted very easily in class at the same time.

Thinkersbox then offered to extend the Full Learning Assessment for Ash and Ayd, which is more in-depth and assesses up to 27 areas (11 areas for Primary 2 and below, 27 areas for Primary 3 and up).

After a further one hour, the results were out.

Ayd did exceptionally well but his biggest weakness is his speed, or a lack thereof. He had spent too much time on the questions and didn't manage to complete some of them in various sections. As for Ash, it confirmed what the previous assessment had diagnosed - that his attention span is as tall as a hobbit.

With these profiles in mind, ThinkersBox can then customise a tailor-made programme to the learning needs of each of them. After all, each learner is unique in their cognitive profile and with customisation, the instructors will be able to track and monitor each of their progress as well as to allow them to work on their needs at a pace best suited for them.

For Ash, more time would be devoted to him donning earphones while attempting his exercises. The earphones will serve as a distraction by blaring noise so that his attentiveness can be improved upon. As for Ayd, he will be put through exercises at a quicker pace which will definitely stand him in good stead when he progresses to Primary 1 next year.

So yes, ThinkersBox has kindly enrolled both of them in their once-a-week 10-month programme starting from January 2013 onwards. And no, the boys didn't protest one single bit.

In fact, they have been asking me when will their sessions at ThinksBox will start and whether they could start earlier instead! I take it that they are not against it then.

Once the boys have started their sessions proper, I will update on their progress again. Until then, if you are keen to send your child (5-12 years old only) for the Complimentary Learning Assessment at ThinkersBox, you can register via HERE. For more information on the programmes available, please click HERE.

420 North Bridge Road 
North Bridge Centre 
Singapore 188727 
Tel: 6773 4886 

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