April 12, 2008

Growing Up Gifted review

Got a call yesterday from the Growing Up Gifted (GUG) preschool at United Square and was informed that there was a slot today for a trial class at 11.30 a.m. Brought Kyle this morning to attend a trial class and to evaluate if this preschool was indeed according to claims their leaftlet, '...premium preschool developed by curriculum specialists in both Gifted Education and Early Childhood Education.'

Was slightly late when we arrived at the school and was told to go to Room 1. Glanced around and noticed that there were about 8 to 10 rooms in total. First impression : Environment did not seem very condusive as classes were confined in each room.

Was greeted by a strong unpleasant odor of bleach when I entered the room about equivalent to the size of an average bedroom in a HDB flat. A teacher came over to check Kyle's hands and feet and got him to clean his hands with an anti-bacterial. I slotted in the baby bag in a 'pigeon hole' which was allocated for parents to keep their bags and various belongings.

The 1.5 hour class for tots 8 months to 1.5 years was as such :

11.30 - 11.40 : Play or with kids in the room with toys
11.40 - 11:50 : Random Songs
11.50 - 12:00 : Rolling the Ball
12:00 - 12:10 : Story Time
12:10 - 12:20 : Project Time
12:20 - 12:30 : Tea Break
12.30 - 12. 45 : Zoo-Phonics
12.45 - 1.00 : Random Songs

At about 12.30, Kyle started pointing at the door and he wanted out. I walked out and entertained him with the artwork done by the other tots which was put up on the boards lining the corridors outside the classes. Tried bringing him back in again but to no avail, the little fella started bawling again. I did not want to insist that he continued in case he became an annoyance for the rest of the kids in the room. So that's how it ended, and I did not think that it was a pleasant experience for tot or mom.

My conclusion : Growing up Gifted is overrated. Read good reviews about it from the Singapore Motherhood Forum, but somehow it's standards are below my expectations. The reasons :

1. The smell of bleach really turned me off from the start. The owner probably took pains to ensure that the environment is kept clean and hygenic, but I think the room has to at least be odourless or smell pleasant.

2. The random songs sounded like songs that were badly composed. The lyrics did not even rhyme, sounded like one of those songs that Keith randomly sings at times :P

3. Rolling the ball activity was lame. I really did not need to pay $45.00 for my tot to roll a beachball to another child in class

4. Tea Break. I was surprised that the preschool did not provide a snack for the kids. Nevermind about the drinks but how much does some kiddy biscuits or pandan cake cost anyhow?

5. Storytime - it was the classic Goldilocks and the three bears. Rather boring.

Probably the only thing that I felt was of value was Zoo-Phonics which I think that they are schools out there that have this program in their curriculum. The class tried to incorporate song, some form of music and movement, phonics and language, art and puppetry. But it just all felt rather dis-organized and couldn't seem to hold Kyle's attention.

There needs to be further improvements to the way the classes are structured, as well as better interaction from the teachers. I don't plan to sign Kyle up for the classes, with this sort of standard in pre-nursery, I think Kyle is probably better off home schooled till he is 3 years old.

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