SINGAPORE: Parent engagement will be a cornerstone of kindergartens run by the Ministry of Education (MOE).
Its new kindergarten programme will have opportunities for parents to be directly involved in school activities, and also features take-home learning kits.
Chloe Tan is one of 31 children enrolled in a newly-opened MOE kindergarten in Tampines St 45.
It is one of five MOE kindergartens that opened in January this year.
Chloe had switched from a private pre-school, and a welcome change for her mother is the new kindergarten's parent involvement efforts.
This includes letting parents sit in on the first two days of school.
Karen Heng, Chloe’s mother, said: "I had never stepped into a kindergarten with my child sitting there and being taught. I'd never had the opportunity to view this. So for me it was a very refreshing experience."
For learning to continue at home, there will also be take-home kits for activities such as reading and artwork, which children can complete with their parents.
Doris Ong, Centre Head of MOE Kindergarten@Tampines, said: "We always believe that parents are the children's lifetime teachers. We, being teachers, need to tap on all these resources - parents have a better understanding of the profile of the children.
"The end objective is looking at how we can work together to enhance the children's learning."
Ten more MOE-run kindergartens will be set up in the next two years.
MOE said locations for five of them, which will open in 2015, are almost finalised, and details are expected in March.
The new kindergartens are part of the government’s plans announced in March 2013 to build 15 ministry-run kindergartens in a span of three years.
All the kindergartens will use and help sharpen a specially-designed curriculum, aimed at raising pre-school standards across the country.
A key feature of the MOE curriculum is its Singapore flavour, with local stories, songs, and local food incorporated in the learning experience.
For example, with rice dumplings as its central theme, one book aims to teach reading in an authentic way that is recognisable to Singapore children.
MOE is also considering offering childcare services at the new kindergartens, following feedback from working parents.
Of the five existing MOE kindergartens, two - Punggol View and Blangah Rise - offer childcare services.
Touring the new kindergarten in Tampines, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat addressed some parents' concerns that the curriculum may have too much ‘play’ and too little study.
Mr Heng said: "At this age, play is a very important way to learn. As adults, we may not realise it. But a number of very important studies on child development, on brain development have shown play to be a very integral part of learning at this age."
He added that playing can help children develop in different ways. - CNA/fa/nd
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