I admit, there have been times during lesson brainstorming and churning out effective content that I have asked myself if this particular topic was “too hard” for our children at the Academy to grasp.
Back in time, we grew up learning our basic letters and numbers in kindergarten, aided with lots of crafts and games, an endearing process. We were only properly introduced to the basics of science in upper Primary level and algebra came in during Secondary school. How times have changed !
I remember our Director always encouraging the content that we churn out for classes, rather than dismissing it as tough.
“They can do this. It is going to be an interesting challenge to overcome, especially when we can introduce it in Tamil - now that’s one of a kind.”
Since then, the Academy has always believed in holistic learning approaches that hone vocabulary from a preschool age. Lessons are always inclusive of an integrated learning component that constitutes even science, literature and engineering - and safe to say, the response from parents has been overwhelming and positive.
There is this popular saying - “Children do not listen, they follow”. This, by far, is one of the most realest statements I’ve heard because it’s proven in classrooms and homes. Using this to an advantage, we believe that we can build a child’s vocabulary at an early age, so that they develop literacy.
Children are like sponges, rather large ones. They are able to absorb a lot more than average adults, so we use this precious time of theirs to instill as much vocabulary and independent learning as we can.
Conversation is crucial.
Our lessons aren’t always straightforward, sometimes we teachers go out of the way to ensure that our children are able to bring something valuable back home (apart from the wacky crafts they make). We initiate conversation, quality ones, both in Tamil and English to allow immersion - look, Mommy ! I know how to say this in Tamil too !
A proud moment, this is.
Stories > Vocabulary > More ideas.
With literacy comes deciphering and understanding of ideas, thus encouraging them to form their own. As a book lover, I once found myself reading the Harry Potter series so much that it started to influence my school essays. I used British lingo in one of my exams and had my teacher floored. She simply said that she would have awarded me full marks but she had to remove a few because the lingo used was not of national examination standard.
As much as I was exasperated, I realised that it was because of my widening vocabulary that I was able to fit in British lingo in my ordinary essay - an expansion and development of ideas.
Similarly teaching in the Academy, I make story time as interesting as possible, invoking ideas through que
stions posed at especially the older ones. By introducing new words, they can associate it with an idea. During community helpers month, we introduced astronauts in class - by the end of the month, almost all of them were able to enunciate the word "விண்வெளி வீரன்" (astronaut in Tamil), some even expressed a desire to become one so that they could go and see the "நிலா" (moon).
Stories are extremely potent and powerful, if you ask me.
It is indeed amazing how preschools these days incorporate complex, Secondary level education into their usual curriculum, that defines the education system in Singapore as being one of quality indeed. Do I still have qualms about trying to curate challenging lessons ? Not at all, because that’s what makes us unique ; our love of challenge and of course, tons of stories !