October 3, 2008

Preschool review No 2 : Bukit Panjang Methodist Church Kindergarten

BPMC kindergarten, the second kindy that I reviewed for K. My first impression of the place was that the premises were big, rather dark and dreary for a church (most churches that I have been to are usually bright and airy, regardless of the size). I can really fault the environment, considering the church building was built in the 70s.

The classes are located in different areas within the building, all contained in air-conditioned rooms. I observed that there were fairly big classes for K1 and K2, an average of 1:20-26 in terms of teacher:student ratio. The ratio of the pre-nursery and nursery classes were much smaller, average about 2:8-12, dependent on the enrolment for each session. According to the principal, 15 teachers in the kindy are all diploma-trained.

The pre-nursery programme is largely play centred. Mrs Yang, the principal commented that children at this age learn through play experiences. The introduction of language sounds are shared through rhymes, music and group activities and learning of alphabets are taught through art and crafts. Words and phoenomic activities promote movement, recall and good listening skills. The math concepts taught like counting, categorisation, comparisons and colours are also taught through a hands-on approach.

The school offers music as part of the curriculum where the children are taught simple music concepts. As children progress to K1 and 2, they are given a keyboard to learn music notation and play simple tunes.

BPMC kindy also has the John Langrehr Thinking Programme as an optional after-school enrichment for the K1 and K2 children. This is an interesting programme that claims to help children develop creative and critical thinking skills. According to the JLTP website http://www.jltp.net/, the philosphy is as such;

"JLTP teaches young children HOW to think as well as WHAT to think about. Most early childhood programs teach content or new knowledge. JLTP teaches children to look beyond this knowledge and generate their own thoughts and ideas.

Thinking skills can be taught to every young children who are good learners by nature. Formal schooling may squash creative and critical thinking. However, if the attitude and skills are firmly embedded at early childhood, these vital forms of thinking would persist throughout their lives."

This preschool has got its strengths, however not the kind of preschool I will choose for K. I believe in learning through play and this school does not seem to advocate that for all levels. There are too few child-initiated activities seen through their lack of toys, manipulatives, dramatic and independent learning corners. The school focus on teacher initiated activities through their instructional white boards and plenty of work sheets for the children to complete.

Overall, it is still a very sound preschool programme with key fundamentals in place to cognitively develop a preschooler and good value-added programmes offered. If any parent is looking for a 'writing' school that ease their child's transition into Primary 1, I think this school is a good option.

My overall review of the preschool programme : 5.5/10

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