Arise Kindergarten @ Church of S'pore
The Philosophy of Arise Kindergarten (from website http://www.arisekgn.org/)
"...every child is a unique individual who has the potential to become a confident and independent person, enthusiastic about life, when given a caring and conducive learning environment to grow in. We are therefore committed to provide developmentally appropriate learning experiences that are meaningful, interesting and enriching to all children, to enhance their disposition to learn..."
The website further lists the teacher and student ratio as; 1:8 for Pre-Nursery (as per MOE guidelines). The ratio of the older preschoolers seemed very encouraging at 1:13. Furthermore, all teachers have a Diploma in Early Childhood Education.
My first impression :
The kindergarten is located in the basement. This was initially my concern as there is no windows in the rooms that allowed any natural light. The pre-nursery and nursery areas were partitioned by shelves, kindergarten 1 and 2 in were in separate rooms. The environment is bright and cheerful, conducive for learning and most importantly, the children all seemed quite happy and contented being there. I also notice that there is an assistant teacher for the pre-nursery class, so that makes the ratio 2:8.
Did a quick browse at the schedule - I like it that the kids have a substantial time spent in outdoor play, and on certain days water and sand play is incorporated. Music and movement is another daily activity. The menu also seemed rather appetising with, beehoon, fishball noodles, chicken porridge and claypot rice listed as some of their selections.
Some of the queries answered by Mrs Hong, the principal during my 20 minutes visit of the pre-school :
1) Does the child need to be toilet trained when he enters pre-nursery?
- There isn't a need, as long as they are in training pants. The teachers will assist them during toileting. Besides when the child starts seeing his friends without their diapers and can independently go to the toilet themselves, he will usually start to learn to do the same as well.
2) How much time does the children spend in free-play?
For pre-nursery, about 50% of the time. During pre-school age, children learn the best through play. There are different learning corners where the children can help themselves to the manipulatives, books and toys.
(She was pleasantly surprised when I asked this question, as she told me most parents are more interested to find out if this is a 'writing' school).
3) What discipline methods do you use for the children? Any time-out used?
Positive reinforcement, we will catch and praise them when they are doing good. Time-out may be used when the child bites or hits his classmate. However, very rarely teachers here use time out.
4) Do you have dramatic play corners in your school?
Yes, as you can see (points to the area), this few weeks' theme is fairy tales, so we set up costumes for them in the dramatic corner. (Plus points for this, most other pre-schools do away with the dramatic corner)
I subsequently found out that the pre-nursery class is for children 3, going on to 4. But she pointed 2 children in particular that were 2+ years old.
5) Any issues that you have encountered for the younger ones to join the pre-nursery class?
Usually we will see if the separation anxiety is still there after 3 or 4 days. If the child still cries none stop after a few days, we will determine that the 2+ year old child is not ready to join the programme. These two kids were alright after 2 days or so (refers to the 2+ year olds), as long as the parent does not mind that the child repeats pre-nursery the next year.
6) Is chinese language fully integrated into the programme?
Most of the children who join the kindergarten have little knowledge of the chinese language, some don't even speak the language. But we fully integrate chinese into the programme, through songs, rhyme as well as during music and movement.
Mrs Hong then asked, "Are you a teacher or in this industry ?" Guess my questions probably gave away that I seem to have a little more knowledge than the average parent. I had to admit that I was in the early childhood industry as well (sheesh...cannot keep it under wraps). I was interested to find out more about their language and literacy programme, but was a little shy to probe further. Maybe next time.
Overall review of the pre-nursery programme : 7/10