Boomer? Are you like the oldest Mothership writer? I’m 26 years old.
26? Boomer? Yeah, I did feel like one when I met four six-year-old preschoolers from NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool at 51 Fernvale Link. At such a tender age, they were able to tell me confidently the concept of space travel and their dream occupations.
Introducing the four students that made me feel this way (from left to right):
Chloe (who wants to be a teacher), Kayden (astronaut), Lucas (engineer) and Natania (vet).
Well, we had such dreams. But life happened. Don’t be such a cynic. You will be surprised at what they are being taught in school and what they know these days. Not only can they elaborate on what those occupations are, they can hold conversations pretty well.
I tried to ‘grill’ them more on what they know about these jobs. On the subject of planetary system, they were able to differentiate between Jupiter and Venus and educated me on the existence of volcanoes on Venus.
They were also able to see through my trick engineering question when we spoke about cranes, not the bird, but the non-flying ones in a construction site.
The conversation was full of laughter and imagination as they took my questions confidently.
How do they know all these? I know right? I only read about the planetary system in primary school. Having said that, it should not be that surprising as the preschool I attended was a far cry from this My First Skool centre.
So what’s the difference? My First Skool is quite an eye-opener.
The one at 51 Fernvale Link focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM in short).
Well, you have probably heard that primary school students these days are learning how to code?
STEM-based learning will be the first step to prepare the children for coding or at least nurture their interest in these subjects.
How so? For example, the children grasp the concept of sequencing, estimation, and problem-solving through the use of a small robot bee called the Bee-bot.
The children will direct the Bee-bot to reach its destination on a map by deciding the number of times to press on the respective directional buttons on the Bee-bot.
Besides the usual tables and chairs, the centre also has a Light Table that teaches children about opacity and shadows, as well as a Wind Table that teaches them the concept of weight.
Here I tried holding a dried leaf against the wind coming out from the Wind Table.
It’s not rocket science, of course. But these children are already learning basic concepts of science at merely five or six years old. More importantly, they are learning such concepts in a fun and interesting way.
At K2, they also get to make their own stop-motion videos in small teams.
They sequence a storyboard, record their voices, and add songs to create a stop-motion video with a tablet.
What sets My First Skool apart from other preschools is their niche programmes, on top of their usual curriculum, which give the children a headstart in their areas of interest.
Which brings to mind the four little science experts I met. You can see sparks in their eyes when they tell you about stuff that would otherwise be boring coming from me.
OK boomer. Hey that’s rude, I’m not done yet.
Besides STEM, other centres have niche programmes in Nature Learning, Malay heritage and Arts.
Uniquely located at Zhenghua Nature Park, the centre at 6 Segar Road partners with Nature Society of Singapore to incorporate outdoor learning where children are taught to appreciate nature.
This allows the centre to take learning beyond textbooks where they see nature come to life through activities such as birdwatching.
As such, these activities help to mould the children into independent and observant individuals as well.
It’s no longer just memorising yeah? You bet.
Likewise, to learn about heritage and culture, teachers include Wayang Kulit storytelling in their lessons to teach young Singaporeans about Malay heritage in an interactive manner.
The centre at Wisma Geylang Serai partners with National Heritage Board to develop an exclusive programme that helps seed interest in Malay heritage in an engaging manner.
They probably feel like they have entered a museum rather than a classroom as learning corners in the centre are decorated with features of Malay tradition.
Of course, the children get to visit real museums to be truly immersed in the culture and tradition.
Real museums? Reminds me of art too.
My First Skool at Blk 119 Edgefield Plains partners with National Arts Council, where the teachers actually design a holistic arts education programme with teaching artists.
This allows children (infants to six years old) to learn and appreciate different form of arts.
Here’s a teacher engaging the toddlers through song with a ukulele, allowing them to be exposed to different music pieces from different cultures and languages.
Totally what I’d need for my children next time, as someone who’s not musically inclined at all.
For children who are visual learners, learning through arts and crafts would allow them to absorb new knowledge better.
It also helps to build their self-esteem as they learn to express themselves in their artworks.
For example, the children are encouraged to exercise their five senses to experience their natural environment, using crayons to draw what they see and express how they feel.
Whoa, much effort. You bet, and the innovative teaching also incorporates technology. For someone who belongs to the generation that witnessed the extinction of floppy disks, I can’t help but feel that children these days are so fortunate.
All parents want to give their children the best they can, but there are probably moments and areas where they feel they are lacking.
That’s why it’s great to have teachers like those I’ve met in My First Skool who can be really talented in creating educational materials and cultivating appreciation for different niches in our children.
Hey, that sounds like a boomer. Yeah, inspired by my boomer parents. I’m just passing it on.
Find out more about My First Skool here.
This sponsored article brought the writer to NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool which feels more like a huge educational playground than a preschool that she attended 20 years ago.