Ask any parent who has gone through the process of choosing a preschool for their children – chances are, most of them will tell you that it is a long journey filled with decisions to make on various factors that will determine your final choice of preschool. Apart from the location and facilities available at...
Ask any parent who has gone through the process of choosing a preschool for their children – chances are, most of them will tell you that it is a long journey filled with decisions to make on various factors that will determine your final choice of preschool.
Apart from the location and facilities available at the centre, one key thing that many mums and dads do during the preschool selection stage is to assess the curriculum offered by the preschool.
From programmes that encourage hands-on learning to education models that are based on years of research as well as play-based ones, how do you determine which preschool curriculum is best suited to your child’s personality and learning needs?
To help you narrow down your choices, here are some attributes that are often associated with a quality preschool curriculum.
1. Developed by early childhood experts
Typically, a preschool curriculum is designed with the developmental milestones of preschoolers in mind. With the aim of helping them gain new skills that correlate to their age and abilities, the curriculum is often structured based on studies conducted by early childhood experts.
One great example can be seen in MindChamps PreSchool’s unique and proprietary pedagogy and curriculum. Based on its very own 3-Mind education model which is designed to bring out the Champion, Learning and Creative Minds in children, and by synthesising over 20 years of research in the four domains of neuroscience, psychology, education and theatre, the MindChamps PreSchool curriculum is designed to nurture and impart skills in children which are essential in the 21st century.
2. Programmes for an all-rounded development
During the first five years of life, a child’s brain develops rapidly. This is also known as a time of rapid cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional and motor development in children.
To make the most of the crucial preschool years, preschools in Singapore will then include a range of core and enrichment programmes in the curriculum that target the development of preschoolers in these key areas.
At MindChamps PreSchool, the S.M.I.L.E.S.™ curriculum is put in place where the emphasis is placed on providing preschoolers with experiences that engage all of the S.M.I.L.E.S. elements (consisting of the Sensory, Motor (Music and Movement), Intellectual, Linguistic, Emotional and Social aspects of development). This is carried out through programmes that target specific areas of a child’s learning and development, such as Enquiry Teaching and Learning™, Numeracy Strategies™, Creativity & Theatrical Strategies™, NeuroMooves™ and more. Details on these programmes can be found here.
3. A team of qualified teachers
It is often said that “a preschool is only as good as its teachers”. Apart from having a solid curriculum in place, the next thing that matters most is to have the right people to deliver the curriculum.
And that is where the role of preschool teachers come in. Besides the childcare aspect, most parents will determine the quality of a preschool’s teaching staff through the way lessons are delivered to the children. This then boils down to the importance of having a team of qualified preschool teachers – and to ensure that these teachers are given ample opportunities to upgrade their skills to keep up with the latest trends in early childhood education.
In fact, at MindChamps PreSchool, all of its teachers are required to undergo up to 200 hours of on-going professional training and accreditation, regardless of their prior qualifications and experience. This helps to ensure that teachers are empowered with the necessary skills to effectively deliver the unique curriculum.
4. A framework that encourages curiosity and learning
Children are curious by nature – and early education experts have shared that the more curious a child is, the more they learn. Thus, it is important to nurture their curiosity as it is through this that they grow up to be lifelong learners.
To encourage preschoolers to maintain their eagerness to explore, discover and figure out how things work, certain preschools such as MindChamps integrate the Enquiry Teaching and Learning™ approach within its curriculum. This teaching and learning method is one that focuses on exploring a subject or topic that is of interest to the children. They will be guided to find out all there is to know about the topic and use evidence-based reasoning and creative problem-solving to reach a conclusion. Ultimately, this process helps to bring children from the stage of general curiosity and move on to the stage of critical thinking and understanding.
5. Discovering the love of reading
Reading during the early years does wonders to a child’s development. Not only will they learn about sounds, words, language and how the world works, reading also helps to build their early literacy skills – leading to them developing a love of reading for life.
To give preschoolers a good head start in reading, most preschools in Singapore include a reading component in their curriculum. This can either be integrated into the daily English lessons or offered as an enrichment programme during curriculum hours.
For example, at MindChamps PreSchool, the MindChamps Reading & Writing programme, which is one of the core curriculum programmes, is offered to children from N2 to K2. Developed by Brian Caswell, MindChamps’ Dean of Research & Programme Development, the programme is designed to develop a love of reading in children and instil a Champion Mindset for confidence by cultivating essential reading skills such as narrative intelligence, phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary-building, structural awareness and more.
Apart from the in-class literacy activities, one of the key highlights of MindChamps Reading is the collection of e-Books which can be accessed through the Read-Along mobile app. These reading materials feature stories that include elements such as a catchy song, an interactive reading and listening experience, and a collection of integrated phonics activities.
This article was first published on Kiasuparents.