HomeSchool: Arts and Drama Education Programmes for Early Learners
An October baby, Lauren entered Kindergarten (Nursery 2) last year when she was just three years and 3 months old (the year she turns four). By Singapore standard, she is late by one year because most children start Nursery 1 the year they turn three. You could say I submitted to social pressure – everywhere we went, people asked me why wasn’t she in school.
This year, Georgia is at the “right” age to enter Nursery 1 and I struggle with what to do about her schooling arrangement. Selfishly, I wanted to send her off to school along with Lauren so I could have the morning to myself (and Will). But deep down, I know she isn’t ready.
“When is the right age to send my child to school?” is the question on every parents’ mind. There are many differing opinions on what is right, but this new study seems to confirm my nagging suspicion that perhaps we are sending our kids to school way too young here in Singapore. It revealed that there are mental health benefits associated with delaying school until the age of seven.
The study has compelling evidence that shows children who started school later were able to sit still, pay attention and stay focussed for longer, which eventually resulted in higher scores at school.
The study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, was conducted in Denmark, where the children don’t start school until the year they turn six. So for them, it would mean holding back for one year. For us in Singapore, it would mean holding back for 4 years. Given the social pressure, it’s impossible, but perhaps there is something in it.
Luckily for us, we found a solution that meets us half way.
HomeSchool is started by a team of dedicated teachers who are also parents themselves. They aren’t ready for their own children to be in formalised school environment. They did not want to miss out those finite and precious moments of their children’ childhood and feel that the 3 hours could be put to better use.
What is HomeSchool?
HomeSchool modules are arts based. They engage the children through innovative and interactive drama activities. The activities are sensorial and include music and movement to promote various skills. Numeracy, language and motor skills are developed through experiential learning.
The teachers assigned to a HomeSchool programme are those who are endorsed to deliver arts and drama education programmes to early learners.
Sounds good so far? Allow me to share with you what a typical HomeSchool class entails.
There are one teacher and an assistant teacher in a classroom, and I use the term classroom loosely here. It is really just an open and inviting space, free from tables and chairs. There’s a theme of the day and the theme for our first 2-hour long parent-accompanied class was pig. Every single activity is tied to the theme of the day and we covered:
- song and dance
- story telling and farm animals
- alphabets and phonics
- colouring with paint
- story telling with handmade puppets
- sensory activity – playing with mud
What is different about HomeSchool
Parent Involved Education’ (PIE)
I like that their Parent Involved Education’ (PIE) system encourages parent-child bonding. Parents are encouraged to join in with the dancing and playing. At one point, I found myself rolling on the floor and growling like a pig, much to Georgia’s amusement. This puts the children at ease immediately. Although they don’t attend class every day, I can see the children opened up and joined in the activities pretty quickly.
At the end of the class, we were given a parent’s journal to fill in. It allows parents to view the progress of their child by documenting through resources which are provided. It allows us to view our children’s educational growth and understand their style of learning so we can render our support to them when necessary.
Pay as you attend
Instead of a monthly/termly fee, you pay for the class each time you choose to attend. Your money doesn’t go to waste if your child is ill or if you are travelling. With my irregular working hours and three kids at home, I love the flexibility to drop in with Georgia whenever we want.
Passionate and experienced teachers
The classes are run by experienced teachers and the founder, Lovleen is a theatre practitioner for the past 11 years and has been teaching for the past four years. They are all MOE certified and NAC approved instructors, which is a requirement in order to teach in MOE schools. Lovleen is animated, a joy to watch and has perfect enunciation of every word which I think is so important (if not rare), especially in Singapore. I have never seen a group of toddlers so engrossed during story telling.
Simple lessons and teaching resources
No fancy teaching methods or aids are used here. The puppets that were used during story telling was made with coloured papers and toilet rolls. Mud for sensory play was made with corn flour, water and food colouring. I like that the teachers generously shared how the teaching materials can be easily made at home and how we, as parents, have lots of play/learning ideas to take away and apply them at home. Learning doesn’t stop when you leave the classroom.
Trial classes are available at ongoing classes at these 3 locations:
AlphaGym @ Chai Chee (Monday / Wednesday)
Centre42 @ Waterloo Street (Monday / Wednesday / Friday)
AlphaGym @ Loewen (Tuesday / Thursday)
If you’re interested to find out more, I’d say go to a trial class and see if it’s right for you and your child. For a limited time only, it costs only $19.90 and you can register* here.
*Due to the ad-hoc attendance basis, pre-payment is required during registration. The team at HomeSchool will get back to you withclasses availability and confirmation promptly.
Photo credit to HomeSchool
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