Fact: Primary 1 preparation classes are growing in popularity
Extra academic classes for students in the form of tuition is not a new thing. However, in recent years, parents have been going a step further, forking out decent amounts of money to send their children who are attending preschools in Singapore for extra academic classes in order to prepare them for Primary 1.
Enrichment centres have opened up more classes while others are oversubscribed and have waiting lists. There are preparation classes which cover English, Math and Science topics such as reading and literacy, numeracy and writing.
Such classes mostly involve rote learning in order to lay out the foundation for preschoolers to enter a more structured environment compared to preschool. These parents believe that it is necessary to build a strong foundation to prevent their child from facing stress during the transition.
Cost and effectiveness of preparation classes
The duration of preparation classes can last from a few weeks to a whole year and the fees range from S$350 for a 10-week course to a whopping S$2,500 for a year-long programme depending on the course provider.
While such courses may indeed let children breeze through Primary 1, they may end up feeling bored and eventually tune out in school.
Worse, it may cause them to become disinterested in learning and lose their innate inquisitiveness that spurs them to find out the answers to their questions.
Do Preschools in Singapore prepare children sufficiently for Primary 1?
The education system in Singapore is gradually evolving to move away from one that is grades-focused to one which emphasises on the child’s holistic development. In this excerpt of a speech by the Minister of Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, there is a need to nurture two qualities in children – the joy of learning and entrepreneurial dare.
Schools from primary to tertiary levels now emphasise on applying textbook knowledge in real life scenarios, cultivating a love for learning and mastery of skills. Teachers in primary schools create activities for pupils to develop problem-solving and entrepreneurial skills which are useful in the future.
Despite the fact that preschools in Singapore each have their own curriculum, most, if not all, teach children enough to keep up with their peers in primary school. Established preschools in Singapore such as MindChamps, have their curriculum and framework developed by trained curriculum specialists.
The MindChamps PreSchool difference
MindChamps PreSchool focuses on building a S.M.I.L.E.S.™ environment, one that nurtures and engages children, encouraging them to learn through exploration. This helps stimulate the brain for optimal growth and leads to the development of the 3 Minds (Champion, Learning and Creative Minds).
S.M.I.L.E.S. is an acronym for Sensory, Motor (Music and Movement), Intellectual, Linguistic, Emotional and Social. It is a principle which acknowledges that brains, in their formative stages, need all aspects of the mind to be stimulated simultaneously. Thus, all activities that a child does during the first years have the potential to provide experiences that engage all of the S.M.I.L.E.S. elements.
MindChamps PreSchool structures its curriculum and activities around 10 Key Roots, including intelligence strategies, nature and environment strategies, numeracy strategies and communication strategies. These activities in the S.M.I.L.E.S. environment encourages preschoolers to become all rounded, confident young individuals who will be ready to take on challenges, such as that of the transition to primary school.
Keeping a good balance
Regardless of whether you choose to send your preschooler for primary 1 preparation classes, it is important that there is sufficient time for rest and relaxation. This helps them to avoid feeling burned out and stressed, which may cause an overall detrimental effect on their young minds and spirits.
Written by Jamie Koh