I’ve been using Twinkl’s resources with Kate and now is the best time to get their membership! It’s the first time ever that they are offering a hefty 50% off to support parents and teachers during this pandemic times.
They are the largest online educational resource provider in the world with over 700,000 activities, games, worksheets and powerpoint slides being created daily by a team of 500 educators. They cater to ages 0-16, but are most suitable for preschoolers, lower primary students, homeschooling children and teachers.
There are 1000+ interactive games which children can play and learn by themselves.
Important to develop their fine motor skills which is needed for neat handwriting.
Fun games to improve their visual processing and fine motor dexterity, all of which will prepare them for formal schooling.
Math addition and subtraction games.
For Primary school kids, there are multiplication and division games to help them practice the drills in a fun way.
Kate loves playing these fraction pizza games over and over again.
Interactive games have this icon, and can be searched under “Twinkl Go”. They can be played via the website using desktops, laptops or on tablets. They can also be downloaded as Apps.
There are countless worksheets on any topic you want to teach your children. You can place the worksheets in a plastic sleeve and use a marker so that it can be erased and practiced on again, or filed away for the next child! If you have an ipad, you can save paper by downloading it and using the Apple pencil to write straight on it.
This is just a tiny sample of what they have on their website. To help you navigate the website, here are instructions to get the most out of your membership. Their basic plan is very affordable at $9.80 per month, while their ultimate plan costs $19.80 per month.
[NOT TO BE MISSED DISCOUNT] 50% off annual Ultimate Subscription! To support parents and teachers in the coming year, they are offering a huge discount for this period only. For just $112.80, you get full access to over 700,000 resources on their website. Usual price is $225.60. Don’t miss this chance to get quality educational resources for your kids!
[GIVEAWAY] Would you like to win a month of full access? I have 3 Ultimate Subscription for 3 lucky winners (worth $19.80 each). All you have to do is to hop over to our Facebook page to enter. Giveaway ends 31 Dec 2021. Good luck!
Every time I give a talk on education and what it takes for children to be successful in this new era, parents will raise the issue of our stressful education system. It seems to be an “us” against “the MOE” divide, and it’s easy to put the blame on this faceless system called THE MOE. I go on to ask parents… Do you think there are these people going to work every morning, sitting behind their desks thinking, hmm, what new policies should we come up with to make the lives of parents and kids miserable? It never fails to break the ice and they laugh at this rather absurd imagery. Those were my sentiments too, a long time ago. My eldest is already 21 and back then, I was afraid that our education system had not evolved with the times. I wondered if what was being taught in school would be able to prepare them adequately for their future when they left school approximately 15 years later. Then we experienced the PSLE, and I thought… something is very wrong. I wrote in to The Straits Times Forum page about why I had no choice but to give my daughter tuition for all subjects at her P6 year because she had failed everything. This was published in 2010.
Why parents are forced to spend on tuition My three older children are in Primary 6, Primary 4 and Primary 2 in a Special Assistance Plan (SAP) school. Having put them in such a well sought-after school, I thought they would be in good hands. All three of them were getting average grades. However, to my utter shock and dismay, my eldest came home with red marks in all her subjects for her Primary 5 year-end exams, and she was the last in class. Her concerned form teacher called me to find out what happened. She told me that my daughter was attentive in class and was, in fact, chosen as the role model student for that year. After speaking to me, the teacher was surprised that she had no tuition and that I did not coach her myself. She was even more surprised that I had not bought any 10-year series or guidebooks for her. (As she was my eldest, I didn’t know that just sending her to school and buying all the requisite textbooks were not enough to get by). I, in turn, asked her what was happening. She was the one teaching my daughter 3 out of the 4 subjects in school, so I should be querying her about her poor grades, not the other way around! She then explained to me that due to time constraints, teachers could only cover the basics, so the child needed to do a lot more extra work at home or to get tuition. That seems to be the reality, as I have found out from parents of children in other schools as well. She was put into a different class in her P6 year. Subsequently, I enrolled her for tuition for all four subjects and for her mid-year exam, she achieved the first position in her class. In the end, thanks to tuition, she managed to get 4As for her PSLE. (I shudder to think what her grades would be like if I had not sent her for tuition in her P6 year). I can now understand why the majority of parents are willing to spend so much money on tuition. The system is just not delivering. The sad truth is that parents are focusing all their energies on academic achievement, thereby neglecting more important matters like character building and family bonding, which are so crucial in today’s fast-paced and changing world. It may be a good idea to set up a forum with parents, students, teachers, tutors and the Ministry of Education to analyse the situation. Singapore has a world-class education system. Perhaps, that is in part due to a world-class tuition system. This was the situation we found ourselves in 10 years ago when my first child sat for her PSLE. Yes, I was THAT naive. I was barely surviving having to deal with 5 little kids & had no time to go around kay-pohing or comparing what’s going on with other children. We saw neighbours’ kids diligently going for tuition on weekends but assumed it was them being too kiasu. My kids were averaging above 75 for their exams and I didn’t see a need to panic. I kept the faith that their teachers would be able to teach them well enough. Until the shock at the end of P5. (Years later, I heard that some schools deliberately set very tough P5 exam papers to “scare” the students.) Oh, I’d better clarify that it was my husband’s very dedicated cousin who tutored #1 in Math, Science and Chinese and she helped her pull up her failing grades to straight As (if not I’ll be inundated with emails asking me which tuition centre was that!). I started investigating, speaking to every parent I came across and it seemed like the system (aka MOE) was the problem. Of course, now I know better and understand why the PSLE papers have risen to such a high standard. It’s a vicious cycle and parents have a big part in it. I’ve been on a mission to piece the puzzle together and hopefully be able to do something about it. I must have spoken to hundreds of teachers, parents, students, researchers and a handful of principals in a bid to get a clear picture. Complaining, blaming or thinking that I have no choice is futile. I’d rather find a solution or at least know that I have done my part, no matter how small. What I didn’t expect was the magnitude of the problem and the deep-seated mindsets of parents. 5 of my children have completed their PSLE and it is only now in Kate’s time that the speed of change is picking up. I managed to speak with Mr Heng Swee Keat before he relinquished his post as Education Minister about sentiments on the ground and I was extremely surprised that he did get someone to follow up. I was sad to see him move on as his tenure signaled the start towards a more balanced education with the emphasis on maximising the potential of every child.
In 2013, I was humbled to be invited to MOE HQ for a dialogue session chaired by Ms Sim Ann, then Minister of State for Ministry of Education and Ministry of Communications and Information. Since then, I have met with several key personnel from the Communications and Engagement group and I can assure you, there are REAL PEOPLE behind MOE. It was through these sessions that I started to understand the bigger picture and what a mammoth task it is to steer this gigantic ship in a new direction.
One of the earliest lunches I was invited to was with Diana Ser, hosted by Ms Genevieve Chye, ex-principal of Montfort Junior School, currently Divisional Director of Engagement and Research Division. What struck me was that they were not there to interrogate us nor to get us to propagate anything (I accepted the invite without thinking too much like “why would someone from MOE be asking me for lunch?!”) She was sincere in having a chat with us to find out our concerns and to hear our personal stories about our kids’ educational journey. They shared with us links to the MOE microsites about the changes. It is important for parents to get access to accurate information instead of fueling unwarranted concerns with hearsay.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ms Tan Wai Lan, ex-principal of St Nicholas Girls’ school. I was struck by how approachable she was. Over lunch, she even shared an anecdote that when she was first appointed, one of the things she had to learn was to hug the girls! She is currently Coordinating Divisional Director of Communications and Engagement group. Despite holding such high posts, they are willing to hear from ordinary parents. Last year, I was trying to navigate the options for university courses for my daughter and when I met her at a parent engagement session, she was kind enough to share her wisdom and advice as she has 3 daughters who are slightly older than mine. The gentleman on the right is Saravenan Tanapal, Director of Engagement branch and he has been a familiar face through the years of dialogue sessions. He has twin boys who are currently in primary school. Besides these small group “no holds barred” chats, their team has also been organising larger seminars to engage parents and ignite ground-up initiatives. I can assure you, they are not cooking up anything sinister behind their walls to spring onto parents. At every encounter, I have found them to be transparent and forthcoming with answers to our questions.
It was indeed a treat when we were invited to tea with ex-Education Minister Ng Chee Meng. We had an animated conversation over bingsu and toast, with Tjin Lee (Life Beyond Grades), Jane Ng (Straits Times) and June Yong (Channel News Asia). My concern then was whether with a change in Minister, would it derail plans? I remember one teacher who has taught for 30 years lamenting, “Every time a new minister takes over the education portfolio, it’s back to the drawing board.”
Ms Genevieve Chye reassured us that they would continue with the blueprint and go in-depth with execution. We had a fruitful discussion and I love Minister’s style. He went straight to the point and encouraged us to voice our concerns which we did! He walked us through the issues from a macro point of view and I came to understand that it was a lot about trying to strike a balance. Take for example the bugbear of Mother Tongue exams which I raised. The majority of children come from English-speaking families and it is unfair to expect them to score well, given the limited number of hours to learn chinese in school. As such, chinese tuition has become an expected household expenditure, not to mention the disdain of most of our children in learning this “very difficult” language. Mr Ng gave us numbers: around 70% of children come from English-speaking backgrounds. However, MOE’s worry is that once Chinese is removed as a compulsory subject, the standard will slide. We concurred that it was important that our children had a good grasp of the language, but wished there were ways to make the learning more fun and the reliance on tuition less. These open discussions helped us see things not just from our own point of view but to understand the bigger picture as well as the constraints. I began to appreciate the bits and pieces in the cogwheel and how everything had an impact on another and it wasn’t just a simple matter of abolishing something.
After Education Minister Ong Ye Kung took over the full portfolio, a session was organised by Life Beyond Grades, with Steven Chia (Talking Point) as host. It was a very respectful dialogue session, and Minister was all ears as the vocal crowd was forthcoming with their concerns and opinions. It is not easy to please parents as there will always be differing camps no matter what policies are being rolled out. And sometimes, unhappiness about the system could be a case of “broken telephone” via our children and by the time it reaches parents’ ears, everything gets lumped together and it’s the MOE’s fault!
Early this year, I had the privilege to meet Ms Liew Wei Li, Deputy Director-General of Education (Schools) and Director of Schools, with fellow mums Esther Foong and Elizabeth Wu. Ms Liew is the ex-principal of Xinmin Secondary and mother of 2 children. While I am excited about the move from a results-focused, product-centric model to a more holistic, process-based model, I was curious about implementation. There would have to be re-training and shifting of mindsets across the board. I hear from teachers at my children’s PTM that some teachers themselves are resisting the changes, (change is hard, isn’t it!), directives are not clear, while some feel they are inadequately trained to guide and assess in this more broad-based manner. Ms Liew explained that with a teaching force of more than 30,000 educators, it would take time to move the whole system to align with the new direction. All this is to be expected and parents need to be patient as we are moving from our cushy old ways of traditional education to something more dynamic and relevant. Let’s not contribute to rumours going around, but equip ourselves with accurate information. And if you have valuable feedback and legitimate concerns, I am certain they are more than willing to hear from you.
Most recently, we were invited to lunch hosted by Ms Melissa Khoo, Deputy Secretary (Policy wing). She herself has a child in primary school. Joining us this round was Sher-Li Torrey (Mums@Work). I look forward to these sessions as I hear from different sides on the ground; parents, teachers, counsellors, employers and it is a great platform to clarify our doubts and queries. Almost everyone I’ve met from the MOE are parents themselves, with children currently in our education system. WHY WOULDN’T they be invested?
We need everyone to be on the SAME PAGE. While the Education Minister rotates, there is a whole team working tirelessly behind the scenes. To each and everyone of them, I wish to say… Thank you for pushing on despite the negative comments and never-ending complaints from parents, the courage to implement change, even the unpopular ones for the long term benefit of our children, and for making the effort to keep the conversation going with all stakeholders. I have waited almost 2 decades to see change and am delighted that the tide is starting to turn. We cannot rely on our old model of education while the world transforms around us. The truth is, we can’t afford to do nothing about it. The stress levels of our children are getting unhealthy and by doing nothing, we are shortchanging our children as a generation. Our ship has been sailing strong in the high seas to bring us to where we are today. A world-class education system. But now the horizon has shifted and the seas are choppy with change. MOE has cast its sights on a new horizon, fully aware that the definition of success and education has been redefined. I was on the “us” side of the fence once upon a time. But now I realise THERE ARE NO SIDES. We are in this big ship together.
Let us forge ahead with one mind to craft a more meaningful and applicable education for our children and grandchildren. Education is a key cornerstone of Singapore’s future. Let them get on with it, and I’m sure an occasional word of encouragement would be nice, wouldn’t it?
Michelle is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 6-turning-16 tween, she is also Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in their 4Qs to survive today’s volatile world. She also makes time to volunteer with children and the elderly in her community.
As an occupational therapist, I am passionate about the development of the whole child.
To prepare our children for formal education, they need to have a good base for teachers to work with. This includes executive function skills such as being able to focus well, being organised, being an independent learner, being meticulous, being able to manage or regulate themselves (which is known as self-regulation), and having a growth mindset.
When I discovered Twinkl 2 years ago, I was blown away with what they had to offer. They are like the fairy godmother of educational resources! I could find just about anything I could think of, including all of the above aspects to develop a school-ready child.
This company grew out of a teacher’s dream to create good quality resources that teachers could pick up and teach with. A decade later, the couple has more than 1,000 employees worldwide, with 500+ ex-teachers constantly creating new resources.
Trust me when I say they have a ton of stuff and you may get lost in their website. From the usual like phonics, comprehension and the solar system to things like calm corner resources, bullying, olympics / para-olympics and even charlie and the chocolate factory worksheets, they have everything covered for ages 0 to 16.
They have a full range of both academicandnon–academicsubjects, and I’m going to walk you through how to best navigate your way around. While their resources are mostly used to teach preschoolers, there are also very good quality resources to help upper primary students working on projects.
There is a dedicated Twinkl Singapore website. Click on the word “Singapore” at the top bar to access this page. These are just some of the categories they have and is a good place to start.
At the website, you’ll be prompted to enter your email. With this, you are able to download resources that are labeled “FREE”. This allows you to try out some of Twinkl’s resources. Simply type into the Search bar “Free” and the free resources will pop up!
How to Search
You can search by typing in a keyword, either via a broad subject e.g. reading or math or you can narrow down to something very specific e.g. multiplication, life cycle of a plant, letter e.
You will also get suggested keyword prompts right under the search bar to help you expand your search on a particular topic. If Kate comes home from school and tells me she doesn’t understand a particular Math concept e.g. fractions, I search it up and print it for her to practice until she masters it. She knows she is a slow learning compared to her peers and she gets anxious in class when she sees that everyone else seems to be able to do it, hence the extra practice at home helps.
You can click on the age filter box to narrow down to the specific age group you are looking for. This is found on the left side of the page. For example, I searched “Reading Comprehension” and added the age filter “5-6 years”.
EYS is suitable for preschoolers (Early years)
KS1 is suitable for 5-7 years old
KS2 is suitable for 7-11 years old
Once you click on an age filter, the box will remain ticked. You need to click “clear” if you have other kids and don’t want it to remain at 5-6 years automatically.
If you can’t find certain resources even after typing in the exact resource name, you need to un-click country filter – Singapore because the default setting for us is set to Singapore.
If the subscription price is reflected in pounds, you need to select Singapore in the “country” field.
Raising a School-Ready child
Whether you have a preschooler or a Primary school child, it is never too late to develop them in these important areas, so don’t fret! I’ll show you some examples of the worksheets that can help with each area, and you can start exploring more of the same.
Increase their Attention Span
This is one of the biggest issues teachers face these days. With social media and a fast paced, instant gratification world, our children find it hard to focus in class. Instead of forcing your kids to do more “boring” mummy homework, try using these fun worksheets to help them build their attention span. It also helps them to be more careful and meticulous in doing their work. Print a whole stack of them on hand, and this keeps them quiet when you need to WFH! (this was one of my secrets in being able to manage 5 kids under the age of 10 when we WFH for more than 10 years!)
Spot the difference
Dot to dot
Mindfulness colouring pages
Learn to be organised
The key to being organised is to start them young with consistent routines and to give them autonomy to take charge of their day, little by little, and to allow them lots of opportunities to practice, make mistakes and learn from their mistakes.
Kate was able to independently carry out her daily routines from 2 years old and by 5 she was writing her own daily to-do lists and holiday schedules. You’ll be surprised what your kids can do if you allow them to! Guide them gently, manage your expectations and don’t nag them when they make mistakes. That’s how they learn and improve 🙂
Develop a Growth Mindset
Parents and teachers are now aware of how important developing a growth mindset and building resilience is for our children. I have been working on it with my own children for the past 20 years and that was how The Little Executive was born 6 years ago. Together with my partner who has worked with 6000+ children, it was our mission to help other parents develop these crucial dispositions in their children.
As parents, you can start to introduce these concepts to your children from the time they are young, and it starts with us having a growth mindset ourselves. Search “growth mindset” and there are powerpoint slides, resource packs and posters to help you along.
What I’ve shown is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to explore as they have more than 700,000 resources available on their website!
So how much does it cost to access all of this? The Ultimate Subscription plan is $19.80 per month, and this plan allows you to download everything on the website. Click on the Membership Guide for their 3 tier pricing plan. The cheapest plan is Core which costs $11.80 a month.
What’s in Ultimate Subscription?
The top tier subscription allows you to access all of the above ad hoc worksheets and powerpoint slides, as well as the following resource categories. These categories have been packaged all ready for parents and teachers to access easily.
Twinkl Phonics – Week by week lessons to teach phonics. Simply choose from Level 1 to Level 6 and you can filter by the weeks as needed.
Twinkl Handwriting – Lots of worksheets for students or children at home to practice forming their letters properly.
Twinkl Originals – Quality e-books with great learning opportunities as well as accompanying worksheets based on the story.
Twinkl Go!– Interactive games such as multiplication tables, pizza fractions, phonics galaxy, jungle maths and what’s the time Mr Wolf. (note: you do not need a pin for your child to play. it is for teachers to pre-choose the games for the class)
Twinkl Inclusion – Specialist resources exclusively created to help teachers and parents support children with special needs including ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism. SEND stands for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
Twinkl Create – Go crazy with the templates and personalise your own teaching resources including class certificates, colouring sheets, class decorations, bookmarks, handwriting sheets, labels, posters, storyboards and writing frames.
Twinkl Life – Mental health resources to support teachers, students and school staff.
Twinkl Move – PE lessons for the class, socially distanced PE, home PE, Sports day, Fitness activities and assessment packs to build an engaging PE curriculum.
Twinkl Party – Need help with party planning? Here, you can find party decorations, banners, bunting, invitation cards and cards for seasonal holidays such as Christmas, Mother’s/ Father’s Day and more!
Twinkl PlanIt– Award winning UK curriculum for English, Math, Science, History, Geography, Art, Design and Technology, Computing, Spanish and French.
To access these resources, click on the pink boxes at the homepage. Alternatively, you can type in the search bar e.g. Twinkl phonics.
To get more ideas on what to download for your kids, check out Twinkl Singapore’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Their blog page also offers wonderful tips like how to help your child manage their emotions during the constant pandemic changes.
I never stop being surprised by what I can find on Twinkl. Check out these Mud kitchen ideas! Wonderful stuff to develop creativity, find motor skills, imagination, cooperation and so much more if you don’t mind the mess. Happy exploring!
Michelle Choy is an Occupational Therapist and mum of 6. She is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre developing resilience and executive function in children. She is a Parent coach and Award-winning blogger and is regularly featured on national TV, radio and print media. She is proud yet humbled to be awarded Singapore’s 40-over-40 inspiring women 2021.
When I started working longer hours, I moved Kate to a full-day childcare for peace of mind and flexibility to pick her up late. It was a tough decision as we were happy with her (then) current preschool. We checked out several childcare centres and initially, my priority was to put her in a reputable school to get her ready academically for primary 1 as the K2 was a crucial year. However, the more we looked around, the more I felt sad seeing little kids sitting at desks doing lots of worksheets. Witnessing my 5 older kids stuck in this system where they have to keep running and have no way to get off the ‘hamster wheel’, it dawned on me that the K2 year was the last window of opportunity for her to play, explore and have a happy childhood with her friends in a safe environment.
I finally chose an international preschool where the emphasis was on learning through play. My sis-in-law with a child the same age as Kate started worrying for her. “More play? What’s going to happen to her when she enters P1?”
It was a difficult decision to make as I watched mums around me sign their kids up for more and more enrichment classes to prepare them for P1. But when I saw how happy Kate was, interacting with friends of different ages and diverse nationalities, I know this will give her a good lens to view the world. The children spend a lot of time outdoors, having water play, sand play, free play and games in the garden. They bake bread for tea and grow their own vegetables for lunch. The older kids who have dropped their naps are given the responsibility of patting the toddlers to sleep. Such smart teachers haha. Kate came home and was proud to share that the little girl under her charge slept very fast! I do love the chill ‘kampung’ vibe of the school and how they are taught to respect one another. I almost regretted my decision of putting her through another transition in her last year of kindergarten as she sobbed so pitifully every morning for almost 2 months. Thank goodness she has settled in well and strides confidently into school now, eager to see her friends.
At pick up time
Next year, she will have to wake up at 5.30am, carry an oversized schoolbag, sit behind a big desk and get into the routine of homework and tests. No more luxury of waking up naturally at 7am, taking a quick ride to the market with daddy and coming back to watch him cook a simple breakfast for us before heading off to school. It’s happening all too fast! Soon it will be time to register her for P1 and the baby of our family will enter formal schooling like the rest of her siblings. For now, I’m going to let her enjoy every last bit of her carefree childhood.
~ www.mumyweeblog.com – A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~
I used to send my 5 older kids to drama classes and like any typical parent, the highlight was watching my little tikes perform on stage. However, they did not seem to be progressing much from one performance to the next. Having evolved into an educator myself, I realised that it was superficial to focus on simply memorising the script and adding in suitable expressions and actions. Thus for Kate, I was searching for something more. When I chanced upon Centre Stage School of the Arts from an enrichment app colloquially named Today Got Class, what caught my attention was the calibre of the teachers. “The strength of the school is in its staff. All of the full-time teachers trained primarily as performers and completed courses in UK or Australian drama schools and universities, many have worked and continue to work in the theatre and on television.” Interest piqued, I checked out their website and was surprised that they have been around since 1999. They have developed into a full creative and performing arts centre offering regular drama, musical theatre, performance acting and dance (ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary) programmes for children – from toddlers to teenagers and even adults. As well as early years play programmes parents can attend along with their tots.
“Creative Drama is the heart and soul of the Centre Stage ethos. It is process driven, rather than performance based drama – the emphasis and the value is in the journey rather than the outcome.” I was sold. This is the same philosophy we uphold at my enrichment centre, with the focus being the process rather than the product. Skills become internalised and benefits, far-reaching. I could tell that Kate would be in good hands and given a solid foundation in the dramatic arts. I had a chance to sit in on a session for the purpose of this review and boy, was I impressed. I don’t know how Ms Sophie does this day in day out, but her energy was infectious. I felt like jumping in and being part of the fun! The kids were engaged from the get go, and in that hour, not once did she miss a beat as she moved through the different activities seamlessly. She was firm and had full control of her class, managing to corral even the distracted ones, all while keeping it exciting.
Kate is in Creative Drama Stage 1, and the session opened with the segment News. Ms Sophie asked one by one in a sing-song voice, “Do you have any news for me today?” It sure sounded very grown up. Each of them had something to share, and some brought along an item to show. They waited patiently for their turn, respecting others while they were speaking. This was quickly followed by Warm up, where they ran through a series of exercises warming up different parts of their bodies. They launched into an Action song with lots of movement. Clapping of hands, jumping, turning around and Stop! In super speed, no less. This kept the kids on their toes, attentive and listening carefully to the changing instructions.
Next up was the classic childhood game What’s the time Mr Wolf. Ms Sophie reminded the kids to make a scary wolf face and they took turns being the Wolf. In the Magic segment, the kids used their imagination to act out different scenarios as Ms Sophie magically turned them into various animals. They were pigs rolling around in the mud, cows heading to the water trough, birds flying around and jumping off branches. And BINK! Just as quickly, they were turned back into children in the blink of an eye. After all that movement, the kids settled down for Story time. Today’s book was Spot goes to the farm. Ms Sophie elaborated on the storyline and asked them open-ended questions such as “What do you think he found?”
She dimmed the lights and they had to imagine what it was like being in a farm. The lesson culminated in Creative Drama, where they acted out what they had read. “The children learn through improvised drama, music, mime and movement drawn from favourite books, poems and stories. They start within the safety net of the group and as self-confidence develops, begin to take on individual roles. The students start to acquire the basic skills of drama, the need for clear speech and an expressive voice and body.” It was a whirlwind of movements as Ms Sophie talked them through their farm adventure. From getting dressed and hopping into the car to finally reaching the farm. The kids had a chance to meet Farmer Sophie (aka Ms Sophie) and busied themselves with chores around the farm. Collecting eggs from the hen house, cleaning the smelly pigsty, feeding the horses and stroking baby chicks.
Before I knew it, the helpful farm hands were back home, changed into their PJs and nicely tucked in bed. Phew. I was exhausted just moving around taking pictures of the action. I can see why Kate loves Ms Sophie’s lessons and look forward to them every week. She has been attending this class since the beginning of the year and feedback from Ms Sophie is that Kate is very participative and contributes good ideas to the group. She is expressive and creative and notices the finer details. For example, when they pretend to get into a car, the rest might just go “zoom zoom!” but she will turn on the engine and put on the seat belt before moving off. Great to hear that she is meticulous in that way.
Indeed, Centre Stage is a top-notch performing arts centre delivering quality programmes for babies right through to adults. Here’s how you can join in the fun!
Today Got Class Exclusive Deals A package of 5 trial classes from $210 onwards (for new students) – only available when you book with TGC! Classes cover Drama, Dance, Singing and Play groups. I had a go at using the app to book Kate’s Creative Drama class and it was a breeze. Best of all, you can access it anytime, anywhere. Centre Stage Portsdown Road: 5 trial classes Centre Stage marine Parade: 5 trial classes
Out of the Box If you have a 2 or 3 year old toddler, why not check out Out of the Box, a 90-minute drop-off play based learning environment that aims to bridge the gap between home and full-time school. Sessions include Drama, Dance and Music. Contact them directly for a trial class. OOTB @ Portsdown: Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays 9am-12pm OOTB @ Marine Parade: Tuesdays & Thursdays 9am-12pm Trial Classes There are still 2 slots left in Kate’s Wednesday Creative Drama class, do contact them at 67327211 or drop Renee an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Other Creative Drama classes will be open for trials in June. Centre Stage School of the Arts – Portsdown Road Block 15 Woking Road Singapore 138694 Tel: 67327211 Email: email@example.com Centre Stage School of the Arts – East 5000G Marine Parade Road #01-32 Laguna Park Singapore 449290 Tel: 64496211 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: We were sponsored Kate’s drama lessons. All opinions are my own.
~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~
Right from my eldest child, I’ve always believed in real learning, not just drilling them with content or making them good test-takers. I’ve come a long way in envisioning something beyond what our schools can offer and am now able to give kids that headstart at my enrichment centre. Having Kate go through our programme, my insight into kids and learning has risen a notch! It is amazing how every child has different strengths and giftedness yet even the bright ones have their own unique learning issues. In Janaury, Kate had The Executive Assessment (TEA) done and I expected her to score well as she speaks fluently and seems smart enough. However, I was surprised that her TEA score was 10 out of 21, and it was an eye-opener to discover her weak areas.
The Executive Assessment
I have sat through countless parent-teacher meetings with my 5 older kids but have never received a holistic assessment of their learning. In pre-school, feedback was usually about whether they were well-behaved (my 4 girls) or mischevious but creative (my son), and I would be updated about their reading and writing progress. In primary school, the focus would shift to their grades, on matters such as if homework was handed in on time and about their general behaviour. On several occassions, teachers tell me, “Your child is smart, but if he can focus better/be more motivated, he will be able to reach his potential.” But nobody tells us exactly how to do that! With her assessment done, Teacher Jim was able to zoom in on her gaps and guide Kate to bridge them so that she can get the most out of whatever she is learning, both in school and in her other enrichment classes. I found out that despite her chattiness and street smarts, she is not a strong learner and these are the foundational skills she needs to develop to prepare her well to cope with the demanding curriculum in primary school. Increase her attention span: The most basic requirement to learn well is to have a good attention span to stay on task. She did not manage to complete some of the activities as she gets easily distracted by others or her mind will wander. The demands of K1 is increasing and she needs to concentrate well to absorb what is being taught in class. By disguising our activities as play, Kate happily undertakes them and manages to stay focused longer each time.
Train up her cognitive processes: In the animal stroop activity, they were instructed to say the colour of the animals in time to the metronome beat, but halfway through, she drifted from colour to name. With weekly practice, her processing speed and mental stamina will be enhanced and she can take on higher levels of difficulty. Improve her working memory: Kate has no problems with her memory and can remember places we’ve been to and recall incidences, but I’ve never tested her working memory. Now that I’m aware it is weak, we need to tackle this if not in primary school, by the time she finishes reading the math problem sums, she would have forgotten what the question was asking for.
Develop her ability to self-monitor: After each activity, they are asked to reflect on how they had done and ways they can improve. Kate would gayly declare that she did fine even if she had gotten most of it wrong. I do love her positive and happy attitude though! Hopefully she will inculcate good habits of being able to check her own work and spot mistakes so that she does not need to constantly rely on her teachers (or me).
Develop a Growth Mindset: Sad to say, Kate has a fixed mindset and gives up easily. I assumed that since I have more of a growth mindset, so will my kids! Faced with a difficult activity, she simply said, “I don’t know. I don’t want to do it anymore” and refused to try. When Teacher Jim asked the kids, “Who is ready for a challenging round? Thumbs up if you are!” The other kids enthusiastically raised their hands, except for Kate. Finally she managed a half-hearted thumbs up, seeming to say fine, I will give it a go. Still, baby steps!
Term 1 has just ended and we’re heartened to see good progress in most areas. What’s more interesting is that Teacher Jim has unearthed some of Kate’s deep-seated habits and attitudes and is working on guiding her to un-do them. She doubts her own ability and often cannot resist giving herself an advantage by peeking at others instead of thinking and being confident of her own answers. So much so that she has honed the skill of being able to copy discreetly. At 4?? Gasp. (And yes, I managed to catch a shot of her in action. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes.)
He also noticed that whenever a question is asked, Kate waits for others to answer and immediately follows and shouts out the answer as her own. No wonder we always thought of her as a smart child! Aware of this, he encourages Kate to think carefully and come up with an answer, to build up her confidence in her own ability.
Her strengths and weaknesses are clearer to me now and with awareness, I can work hand in hand with her teachers to guide her to reach her learning potential. At times, I will hear her spontaneously chirp, “Don’t give up! Keep trying!” while sticking with a task and I can see the growth mindset slowly being internalised. It will take time, but I’m glad she’s only 4 and already on the path of closing her learning gaps one by one and building a strong foundation of positive learning habits to excel in school. Trial classes at The Little Executive are conducted every Saturday which includes The Executive Assessment. Trials at $48 Suitable for N2-P2 1.5 hour session Trial classes are parent-accompanied. The Little Executive 144 Bukit Timah Road Singapore 229844 (between Newton circus and KK Hospital) www.thelittlexecutive.asia Tel: 6908 1889 Email: email@example.com
~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~
It has been a busy, busy week at my centre with our holiday camps in full swing. Our mini palaeontologists had so much fun learning about dinosaurs while working alongside their new teammates. We use themes which interest kids to teach a wide range of skills necessary for school such as cognitive flexibility, creating reasonable hypothesis, conditional reasoning, as well as life skills such as problem-solving, being a team player, and having the ability to communicate their ideas well.
Several kids who enjoyed our previous Astronaut Training Camp joined us again and were delighted to see their ex-camp mates. The happiest little kid was Kate, who could jump into the car with me in the mornings instead of hearing me say, “Bye, mummy has to go to work now.”
Delighted to be in mummy’s school
A wide range of sensory activities are carried out in our camps as these naturally encourage children to explore scientific processes, such as making predictions and observations and developing analytical skills. A further benefit is that children retain the most information when they engage their senses in experiential learning.
Squishy squashy mud
In our Dino grid game, the kids were split into 2 teams, and the carnivores had to catch the herbivores. Similar to a chess game, they have to think ahead and strategize so as not to be ‘eaten’. They make decisions as a team, directing their player on the grid. We had several frightened little herbivores, afraid to be ‘eaten’ by the carnivorous dinos!
We go to great lengths to make learning come alive and everything we do in the classroom has a real world example. For example, by examining the size and shape of the footprints, the children were able to deduce which dinosaur it came from.
Our mini palaeontologists learned how fossils were formed over millions of years and had a chance to make fossil imprints in ‘mud’. This enabled them to understand how real life paaleontologists deduce information based on incomplete evidence.
There were lots of hands-on activities to keep them engaged and it was lovely to see some of the kids move from being fearful of getting their hands dirty with sensory work to enjoying the experience with their friends. Kate does plenty of baking at home with me and she gleefully dugged in with both hands to shape her dino eggs.
Hiding dinos in their eggs
And… viola! Some tails were peeking out!
DIY dino eggs
In our speculation exercise “If I lived with the Dinosaurs…” they were guided on deductive reasoning and encouraged to use their imagination. This is a fun way for a child’s executive functioning skills to be challenged (critical thinking, flexibility, planning) because they need to figure out their priorities to survive.
Scenarios were discussed, and they were prompted to think further – “how would you catch your fish?” or “how would you find food if you are not going to come out of your cave at all?” I loved reading the different answers! Simply adorable, what these kids come up with.
The older kids worked together to consolidate the various activities they have been doing by creating a pre-historic scene. Judging by the laughter coming from the rooms, they seemed to be having a great time with their new friends.
Our N2s created their own dinosaur world which they were all so proud of. Kate was the last to finish her work as she was so meticulous. Look at her serious face.
Their pre-historic world
They were taught the grid system, which is a typical way a fossil grid site is organized. This enables palaeontologists to record the horizontal and vertical positions of the excavated fossils and artifacts.
For children, grid work is important in developing their visual tracking skills, spatial orientation and perspective taking, all of which are important for the classroom and beyond. Most of all, they get all excited when they manage to dig up a bone!
Parents were invited for the last 30 minutes on the last day to see what the kids had been up to, and it was a first for many parents to watch their kids do a show-and-tell. We had a lot of shy kids this round, and it was wonderful to see them have the courage to stand up there in front of so many parents, even though some of the N2s could only manage a whisper. Great effort, kids!
It was extremely heartening to see many dads come in during their lunch hour to be involved in their children’s lives. The mums relegated the job of cracking the hardened eggs to the dads and you could see the glee on the kids’ faces when the eggs finally broke!
Daddies in the house
We had such a great time with these little darlings and everyone was sad that the camp has come to an end.
Our graduating Palaeontologists
It has been an amazing few weeks working alongside my team of passionate teachers, with the common goal of making the camp enjoyable and meaningful for the kids. As exhausting as it was, seeing the kids have fun, open up, and learn so well over the 4 days is the reward in itself. Probably something only educators can relate to!
1 camp down, 2 more to go. Our P1 Prep camp starts tomorrow and I’m certain the kids will have a swell time running their mini ‘tuck shop’ and learning strategies to get them ready for the big transition. Our last camp for the year will be the Astronaut Training Camp and there are a few remaining slots so let your little ones join us for a unique space mission they will not forget!
The Little Executive 144 Bukit Timah Road Singapore 229844 Tel: 69081889 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~
School’s out and things are heating up around here! Our team at The Little Executive is going full steam ahead to prepare for 3 weeks of holiday camps. Join us for an exciting Dino Discovery Camp, where our mini paleontologists will have lots of hands-on opportunities to make their own fossils, do a Dino-dig, crack IQ codes, work together as a team to reconstruct a dinosaur skeleton and create a Dino cave! How cool is that? Dino Discovery Camp – 4 days Date: 29 November – 2 December 2016 Time: 9am – 12pm (N2, K1, K2) 2pm – 5pm (K1 – P2) Fee: $400 per child
Our fun and interactive P1 PrepCamp will get your K2 child ready for a big new school! Entering Primary 1 is a very different experience from our time. The demands are much greater and kids today are less classroom ready. Over the 4 days, we aim to equip them with our 5-Step Learning cycle to excel academically, a Growth Mindset to be unafraid of failure and become resilient students and Executive Functioning Skills which form the foundations of independent learning. The kids will have fun running a mini ‘tuck shop’ and take turns buying and selling snack items while learning to handle money. They will also have ample opportunities to practice speaking up and communicating their needs. More details of P1 Prep curriculum.
P1 Preparatory Camp Date: 6-9 December 2016 Age: K2 only Time: 2-5pm Fee: $400 per child
P1 Prep Camp
Our popular Astronaut Training Camp is back this December holidays! Let us take your child on a unique mission to Outer Space where they will hone their problem-solving skills to complete Space Missions and enhance their teamwork and communication skills as they work together as a crew to build the ultimate space shuttle! Many of our Astro cadets said it was the best holiday camp they have ever attended! Astronaut Training Camp Date: 13 – 16 December 2016 Age: K1 – P2 Time: 9am-12pm or 2-5pm Fee: $400 per child
The Little Executive
10% off camp fees with 2 or more sign ups
Parents are invited for the last 30 minutes on Friday for a presentation by our campers
Location: 144 Bukit Timah Road Singapore 229844 (5 min walk from KK Hospital)
Email: email@example.com to register
Tel: 6908 1889
www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore