Play-based learning, priority admission at MOE Kindergartens
MOE Kindergartens smoothen transition into co-located primary schools by providing familiarity
When a boy went to his kindergarten class wearing spectacles, his friends were curious and asked what it was for.
Instead of giving them the answer right away, their teacher took the class to optical shops in the neighbourhood.
The children tried on spectacles, learnt the different ways to check their eyesight and eventually made their own alphabet charts and spectacles using recycled materials.
This is an example of how children at MOE Kindergartens are learning through play.
When The New Paper visited MOE Kindergarten @ Northoaks earlier this month, the pre-schoolers were in a music and movement class learning about rhythm by listening to each other's heartbeats using stethoscopes.
Some of them ran on the spot or did jumping jacks to increase their heart rates. By comparing the heart rates of those who were standing still with those who were running, the children learnt about different speeds.
In one session, they learnt about sound, speed and how the body works, giving them knowledge of basic biology.
There are about 120 pre-schoolers, aged five to six, at the kindergarten.
One teacher cares for about 20 children. There are morning and afternoon sessions, each lasting for about four hours.
Apart from the play-based curriculum, MOE Kindergartens also grant the pre-schoolers priority admission to the primary school their kindergarten is attached to.
Ms Choy Yuan Chun - centre head of MOE Kindergarten @ Northoaks - said about a third of the previous cohort of Kindergarten 2 children went on to study at Northoaks Primary School.
She explained that a benefit of MOE Kindergartens is pre-schoolers getting a chance to familiarise themselves with the primary school environment, making the transition into Primary 1 easier.
"They get to interact with the primary school pupils through shared assemblies during special occasions," Ms Choy said.
"They also get to sit in and observe lessons at the primary school and try out some modified activities, as well as visit the science and computer labs. It helps them make that transition into Primary 1, which sometimes can make a child anxious."
The pre-school educators also collaborate with their counterparts at the primary school.
"The primary school teachers tell us what problems the pupils face so we know what needs to be taught at the kindergarten level," said senior English kindergarten teacher Surya Tewi Zulkipli.
The 31-year-old has more than eight years of experience in early childhood education.
To get the children's attention, she has to use techniques such as songs and counting in her lessons. The children also role-play in their make-believe shops and clinics, for instance.
"Role-playing is important because it teaches them to take turns, communicate with each other and make friends," she said.
These programmes come together with the priority given to children for the primary schools the kindergartens are located in.
In November, the Ministry of Education announced that to help children better transition to Primary 1, children in MOE Kindergartens will be given priority to enter the primary school that shares a compound with their kindergarten.
Concerns were brought up in Parliament this month about whether MOE Kindergartens will become difficult to get into.
But parent Premlatha Selvaraj, 36, said the current distribution of MOE Kindergartens does seem to factor in the demands of the specific area.
"There are more MOE Kindergartens in new estates or estates with upcoming housing developments, where there are more young families. I think the demand and supply would be managed accordingly," she said.
Her children, aged six and seven, both attended the MOE Kindergarten @ Springdale.
"There is a good mix of play and sit-down learning at MOE Kindergartens," she said.
"The school also sets parent-child activities as 'homework', such as walking the child around the neighbourhood to take photographs. It is a unique parent-child bonding opportunity and helps to emphasise family values beyond school."