Spraying water out from holes in a bottle for the infants to experience the sound of water on plastic. Each infant is given a tool with differing absorbency levels to experiment with water.
It is a mini graduation of sorts – your little one is now ready to be promoted from infant care to playgroup. Although playgroup is held at the same childcare centre in Singapore, the environment and structure will be significantly different from what your child is used to.
Children typically go through a period of transition as they try to get used to the playgroup setting, but fret not – their teachers are adept in preparing them for the move from infant care to playgroup.
Here are some things that your little one may go through during this period:
1. Encourage self-help skills
According to Ms Belinda Yeo, the centre director of MindChamps Buona Vista, educarers in infant care will encourage infants to hone their self-help skills (e.g. self-feeding and wearing clothes) in their daily routine so that they can help themselves easily when they are promoted to playgroup.
Self-help skills come into handy as the teacher-child ratio for playgroup in MindChamps PreSchool (1:6) is slightly larger than infant care (1:3). However, MindChamps Infant Care and MindChamps PreSchool have smaller ratios than the stipulated standard set for childcare centres in Singapore by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), which is 1:8 for playgroup and 1:5 for infant care.
2. Let Infants explore Playgroup class
In infant care, apart from free play and circle time for socialisation, there are small group activities such as storytelling, painting and block stacking due to the limited attention span of infants. The focus is on enhancing the gross and fine motor skills of infants to achieve their developmental milestones from 2 to 18 months old, with activities that are planned weekly or monthly. As infant care is a social setting, infants will be introduced to social concepts such as sharing toys and basic classroom rules.
For playgroup, the activities conducted are according to semester themes and lesson plans. The activities are focused on developing the intellect and cognitive areas of children.
As such, infants who are transiting to playgroup will attend playgroup for half a day to adapt and be introduced to their new classmates and teachers, as well as to get used to their new lesson plan and timetable.
3. Transit infants to one nap per day
In infant care, each infant has their own customised schedules for mealtimes, naptime and diaper changes whereas in playgroup, children follow a routine timetable set by the school. For example, mealtimes are at 8:30am, 11:30am and 3pm, naptime is from 12:30pm until 3pm and bathtime will be at 12pm daily.
As such, educarers will gradually let infants adapt to having only one nap to prevent them from dozing off during lessons in playgroup.
4. Use positive reinforcement to build up confidence
“Challenging cases involve children being very attached to a particular educarer, having stranger anxiety and having insecurities”, says Ms. Belinda. “As educarers, we handle these challenging cases by praising Champs when they do something praiseworthy as positive reinforcement”, she adds. This builds up their confidence.
She points out consistency in handling infants, communication with parents, as well as love and patience for all infants as the key to letting them learn and grow in a safe and secure environment.
How parents can help their infants adapt to the change in routine
Parents can play a part in easing the transition by maintaining constant communication with the educarers. By taking note of the changes in diet and routine, parents can adjust their infant’s feeding and nap schedule to match that at the childcare centre. This paves the way for a smooth transition.
Positive scripting and encouragement prepare the infants emotionally to understand that the transition is a positive one. When parents are satisfied with the new environment and changes, the infant will also feel safe and happy.
Written by Jamie Koh