Preschool Insider's Story

Hi! I am Ms. Veronn, an early childhood educator who is passionate about young children and their lives. Read my blog and you will be in awe. I'll update you with the current trend in Singapore preschool that every parent and teacher is dying to know! You will love me.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Play = Child's Work?

It's not cheap to send our children to childcare centres nowadays. Depending on the location, rental and teachers' qualification, we can pay as low as about $400 to $1600 per month.*(For working mums, MCYS subsidizes $300; for non working mums, the subsidy will be $150.) No matter how much we are paying, ultimately we send our children to school to hope that they learn something in return.

Typical Daily Conversation
Mum: Boy, tell mummy what did you learn in school today.
Boy: I don't know... nothing.
Mum: You mean you learn nothing in school at all??? (Getting really concern!) Did not do any work???(Usually it means worksheets or any writings done on papers.)
Boy: I don't know... just play... everyday in school I'll just play... 

Sounds all too familiar?? I can hear many loud yeses to that!

Many parents highlight to me about their concerns regarding child's play... Is it too much play for the day in school? The child could be jolly well playing at home without costing a single cent! Where are all the worksheets? We want to see proven work!

In this post, I will state explicitly how play plays a major role in your child's development and PLAY IS YOUR CHILD'S WORK. 

1. Play helps to develop your child socially. 
Children are not born to know how to share, take turns, be gentle with others and possessing a set of great manners like saying "please" and "thank you". All these social skills are acquired when they play with one another. Most importantly, children learn to make friends and keep them. I believe that there are people whom we know lead lonely lives without an entourage of close friends for support. How sad, isn't it?

Have you recently succeeded in a negotiation in your boardroom? This 3 year old boy did! In this picture, he made a deal by exchanging individual pots of paint colour with his friend through his child-like negotiation - "I want white. You take red ok? I give you white later." Play enhances your child's social intelligence for success when he grows up. 

2. Play helps to develop your child emotionally.
Ever had a bad day? What do you do when you are stressed out at work? Head to the gym? Treat yourself to a shopping therapy at MiuMiu, Gucci, Coach or Prada? Young children have their bad days too. Once I was just watching a group of kids playing at the playground... and they looked so carefree. Ahhh... how I wish I was a child... no worries that an adult would face... But as a child, I remember I have many worries too!

Play helps to ease my worries. When I was young, I am worried that I can never do well in studies. So I pretended to be a teacher, teach my imaginary group of children and gave them lots of stars. I am worried that I will never be pretty enough. So I played with make up toys, hair accessories and wear my youngest auntie's high heels. Now that I am an adult, my play becomes different... in the form of shopping, KTV, watching korean drama serials, foot massage and eating chocolates!

Play is children's emotional outlet to express their joy, frustration, excitement and many other feelings.

3. Play helps to develop your child physically. 
Well, you and I know that we need to exercise in order to keep ourselves healthy. Nonetheless, obese children are everywhere on the streets. According to Ministry of Defense Singapore website, 12% of children are obese! Call me a health freak, but I can't imagine my child growing up carrying excess fats on his/her body, which ultimately, they will develop low self esteem in their teens and having serious illnesses like heart disease when they grow old! Yet, through play, children learn to develop their muscles and body coordination skills. They learn the importance of keeping oneself fit while having fun!

The child did a forward roll on the wedge! His body awareness is enhanced as well as his self-confidence! 

Just by chasing after the toy, this baby develops her gross motor skill; problem solving - to get the toy, I need to crawl; Language development - Mama says "Toy!" (Word of the day); Spatial awareness - crawling without bumping into furniture; Visual discrimination - the toy is different from other toys; and Size and Shape Discrimination. 

By the way,
this little cute baby is me! 
My mama says that that was my favourite toy when I was young! 

4. Play helps to develop your child academically. 
Yes, you read it right and your eyes did not play any tricks on you. Play enhances your child's cognitive development. Below the age of 6, it is crucial that children thrive in their symbolic thinking. A piece of toy block can become a telephone. Some bits and pieces of collage materials pasted become snowflakes. Legos when built, it becomes a ship. Why?

Because in primary school, your child is going to learn some of these math symbols -

+   -  /  X   =  [     ]  {    }  %  $ 
Aren't you glad that the foundation of symbolic thinking is laid since young through play?

Another example... What about matching skill?

This child engages in real life, hands-on matching experience. Decide for yourself which is more beneficial!

What about writing? Before a child can hold the pencil to write, he needs to develop in his fine motor skill. Writing can be made fun when we think out of the box to plan for activities for our young ones. They need not be expensive at all!

Playing dough helps to strengthen child's hands muscle, which ultimately enhances good handwriting skill during schooling years.

Writing a letter to MacDonald

"Dear Macdonald I want a big toys. Ice cram." Child uses phonological sounds to create invented spelling "ice cram", which means "ice cream'!

After reading my post, I hope that parents and teachers realize how important play is to a child's development. Stop giving endless and pointless worksheets so that children can sit still and do their work quietly while we can have some peace to our ears.

In addition, your child will not be able to come back home and tell you, "Mama, I learn to share and be gentle with others. Today, I also used letter sounds to spell the word när'ku-lep"sē... it goes n-a-r-c-o-l-e-p-s-y, which means falling into deep sleep when teachers and you kept asking me to do worksheets." 

All children deserve the rights to play. Play neither is their rewards, nor is it taken away as punishment. May all the so called kindergarten worksheets be burn into ashes and all the little children say, "HOORAY!"

*All photos of children are used with permission. 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sowing Seeds

A few days ago, I received a SMS from a parent whose child I taught when I first started teaching.

"Dear teacher Veronn, I am please to inform you that Yong Yi did quite well in his PSLE exam, 265. I would like to thank you for your love and care extended to him during his formative years. Thank you. Hong Chiew." 

The SMS came as a surprise to me...  we had not been in touch since the child graduated from my K2 class in 2003. Honestly, I was extremely moved when I read the message. To my delight, Yong Yi  still remembers me!

This is Yong Yi when he was 6 years old.

Yong Yi getting all ready to go Secondary One this year, 2010! He is attending Hwa Chong Institution right now.

There were thousands of times I thought it is a natural process that my class children will forget me when they grow up. Their brains are constantly developing and due to this reason, they will not remember much about what happened in their early years. Hong Chiew's SMS came timely for me. I am glad that those children and I were best friends in a part of our journey together. I am proud to be a teacher because I am sowing seeds into our future generation.

I believe in every child's potential!

*All photos of children are posted with permission. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mama, I Don't Want To Go To School!

It's gonna be a brand new year, 2010! Guess it is also the time parents are anxious about sending their precious darling to preschool, especially those who are first timers. As a class teacher, I often hear parents saying, "My child always cry whenever we mention the word 'school'. What can we do to ease the tension?"

First of all, congratulation in finding a great school. It must have been a lot of hard work on your part looking for one that suits your child and your needs. Before sending your child to school, here are some extra tips that you can rely on to ensure smooth transition.

1. Request for an orientation with the class teacher. 
Arrange to meet the class teacher for about 15 minutes a few days before your little one starts school. During this short period of time, get familiarized with her (remember my 4 Golden Rules of being the ideal parent. Read my previous post if you have not done so.) Check out the daily routine, menu and bring along your child so that he can have a general feel of the class atmosphere. Highlight some of the issues that your child might face such as hating greens, toilet-training or any peculiar habits. 

2. Be firm emotionally. 

Yes, this is the MOST difficult part, especially for mothers. I used to babysit a pair of twins  in the past. I felt SO GUILTY when I saw tears welling in their eyes as I left them in Sunday school. But being in educational line myself, I know that I can trust them in the hands of the teachers. Indeed, at the end of the day, the boys had so much fun that they did not want to leave! 

My lovely pair of twins - KKDD

They are big boys now... This year, KKDD are officially in P1!

Many mums often make the request to stay in class for the first few days so that they can  accompany the child in routine care (showering, meal time or even nap). Honestly, this is not advisable because your child will 'stick' to you and EXPECT YOU to be around in the classroom. This will cause greater anxiety in him/her when eventually, you have to leave to go work.

My advise? Send your child to school, say 'bye' (don't hide and run away because you will cause greater insecurity in her) and GO (stop saying endless goodbyes). Pick her earlier from school during the first week so that she will be able to adapt to the new environment gradually. Most importantly, GO TO SCHOOL EVERYDAY so that he can make friends and learn interesting concepts. 

3. Ask for regular updates. 
Class newsletters are common in preschool nowadays... unless the childcare is super outdated in their curriculum. Through newsletters, you will usually read about learning activities, announcement and events. In my case, my class parents receive daily updates  through reading my tweets. You can also check out the most convenient time that you can ring the teacher if you need to ask any questions (avoid long phone calls during her lunch hour to score points in being the ideal parent). Alternatively, write notes in the communication book to state any concerns you have. Allow 1-2 days for reply. 

Finally, how much time should you give for your child to settle in the new school? Anytime between 1 to 3 weeks. Some children might take even a month, if they are very young (18 months to 24 months).

Be calm and steady... Good luck to you and I believe that your child will shine

*All photos of children are posted with permission. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Parents, Are You Well Liked By Your Child's Teachers?

Why would I write about this topic as my first post? Am I not afraid that parents may get offended? Well, it's fine with me if you are... but if you want your child to have a great headstart in his/her preschool as much as I do, don't miss reading this!

Yes, I could hear what you are saying in your heart: "I've paid so much for the childcare service! Why should I bother whether my child's class teacher likes me or not?!"

Up till now, I have been working full pledged in early childhood industry for about 9 years. 3 years as a field practicum student and 6 years as a class teacher. Whether it is at void deck childcare setting, which charges like peanuts or premium preschool, where fees can be used to pay for a degree course, getting your child's teacher to like you is crucial.

Let me tell you why...

Not that she will abuse your child while you are at work, but it will definitely be awesome to build a positive relationship. The child is a reflection of the parent (which is YOU). If you are nice towards the class teacher, it is easier for her to bond with your child. There are certain types of parents that teachers want to avoid and hide...(no matter how friendly she seems in front of you when you talk... in fact she wishes that you'll hurry up and finish speaking)... BECAUSE TEACHERS ARE HUMANS TOO!

So what kind of parents that every preschool teacher wish to work with?

Friendly parents
Do you smile when you send your child to school? Maybe you just had your Botox and you forgot your whitening mask the night before, but showing a 'black face' (especially if it is done consistently) will dampen anyone's mood. Your child's teacher as well. Well, well, well, we know that without your money, the school can't pay our salary. But c'mon, frankly speaking, we don't owe you a single cent. If this school doesn't pay us what we deserved, we can work for another one down the street.

Smile. You will light up the classroom. Apply some PR skills, not just at your workplace, but in your child's school as well.

Pengene (Qi Han's mummy) - She has great smiles on her face everyday!

Constructive Parents
Once, there was a dad who complained about his child being hungry all the time, especially when he returns home. The dad came to school and shouted all sorts of vulgarities at the poor teacher in front of the juniors and other parents. (In case if you are wondering, it's NOT ME. THANKFULLY.)

Shouting at your child's teacher is the WORST THING and you must AVOID at all cost. There's a saying that goes, "When the teacher is happy, the children will be happy". It's true. The upbeat energy transfers from the teacher to the children. How happy will the teacher be if you scream at her in the early morning? If you need to complain, do it constructively. State your case in a civilized manner and we do listen to your constructive feedback. NOTE: CONSTRUCTIVE, not DESTRUCTIVE filled with #$%!#!@$%^.

Eunice and Vincent (Xavier's parents) - They provide constructive feedback which benefit the school and class management!

Good-Natured Parents
Good natured parents quickly gain lots of popularity among teachers. Words get around like the speed of lightning, especially in a female working environment. We know who are the 'nice' parents and who are the 'fussy' ones. When I was a newbie, I paused in my cutting to pick up a child who had a nightmare. I put the pair of scissors in my pocket with the blade poking out unknowingly. The child brushed her leg against it and had a very light but long superficial graze. Honestly, I was pretty scared when I realized it. I spoke to my supervisor and her first response is, "Call the mum... she's OK (the mum)." True enough, the mum said, "It's OK... don't worry. I understand. Just be more careful the next time." *Phew. Thank God that she didn't sue me. Today, the entire family has moved to the States, but Michelle (the mum) and I are still in contact via Facebook! At the same time, I know of parents who will not spare the teachers just because of one mosquito bite.

Yan Hui (Cindy's mum) - Very kind and cooperative with teachers.

Appreciative Parents
My ex-colleague, Aisha received a Kate Spade wallet from one of the parents. We were like WOW! KATE SPADE! Don't get me wrong. It is not about the price tags that accompany the gifts we received, but the thoughts behind it. We can sense if the present is a sincere one, or some post Christmas gifts that you didn't want and reuse it. Once, I received a baby cutlery as Teachers Day present. Why on earth would I need it? Am I still a baby? But yeah, it's still in my kitchen drawer somewhere...

Chwee Lay (Markko's mum) is one of the most appreciate parents I have ever met.

Besides presents, what are some other ways to convey your appreciation to the teacher? A sincere eye to eye contact and warm "thank you". Write a compliment letter to the school management to praise your child's teacher. Jess Lair once said, "Praise is like sunlight to the human spirit: we cannot flower and grow without it." We teachers, need your support and love too.

Take my advice. Be the ideal parent that all teachers wish for.