About MindChamps PreSchool
The last time I stepped into a pre-school was three years ago - I was trying out as a teaching assistant during my school holidays then, having always liked children. My interest in pre-school education led me to take a closer look at the industry, to gain a better understanding of its inner workings.
It was then that I came across MindChamps, one of Singapore’s premium pre-schools. MindChamps PreSchool has established its reputation since its launch 6 years ago, recently bagging the top award in the 2014 Influential Brands study in the Pre-school Education category.
I was given the privilege to shadow a MindChamps PreSchool teacher for a day, giving me an insight into the depth of the research and thinking that goes behind their unique curriculum that distinguishes MindChamps PreSchool from the rest.
I was attached to Ms Deanna (pictured below) and her K1 Champs to find out what a typical day is like for a MindChamps PreSchool teacher.
My Day As Ms Cheryl
0850: School Bell Rings!
... except that there is no school bell!
As the Champs start streaming into school, the teachers supervise the daily procedures of temperature-taking and sanitising of hands and feet. The school boasts an automated temperature-taking machine that senses and records the temperatures of both Champs and teachers, recording them electronically.
0915: English Class
The day commences proper with an English lesson. Ms Deanna takes the class on a make-believe adventure as they prepare a pretend “alphabet soup”. The kids get to choose four letters, each of them representing a word that will serve as soup "ingredients" - the letters chosen must correspond with the first letters of ingredients they use to make the soup.
Champs explore their creativity as Ms Deanna leaves the choice of ingredients up to them. Going round-robin style, Ms Deanna addresses every child individually and has them translate their ingredients into drawings. It was great to see the personal attention given to the Champs and also how they are encouraged to come up with their own creative solutions. I followed suit and assisted these budding little chefs on their ‘5-star' recipes!
1045: Water/Toilet Break + Fruit Snack
Before their snack time, the Champs go on their toilet and water breaks so they are kept happy and hydrated. Today, the Champs get a banana each.
In an orderly fashion, the Champs move towards the Gym for a hearty game of Hunter, Fire, and Earthquake. You can learn the rules of the game here, but suffice to say it’s an activity that involves plenty of running, laughter, and fun.
I loved this game when I was in kindergarten, running around the entire place, only to make it back to my position at the final count. These kids are no different. They exude giggles and laughter as they scramble around, finding new “homes” after every new scenario.
At the end of the session, the children lie down in a circle and unwind to dim lights and soothing music.
After a good sweat at the gym, the first thing on my mind is to have a good shower, and that's what the Champs do. Ms Deanna and Ting Xin Lao Shi (Teacher Ting Xin) took care of half the class each and the job is done in a jiffy.
1135: Chinese Class
The Champs learn about opposites in today's class conducted by Ting Xin Lao Shi. They even know what the collective term for opposites (反义词) is in Mandarin, and these kids are only 5! Despite my years of Chinese and Higher Chinese lessons, I couldn’t figure out the correct response until a Champ exclaimed the answer.
K1 Champs: 1 Cheryl: 0
As the Chinese lesson is being conducted, Ms Deanna stays in the classroom to help Ting Xin Lao Shi ensure that the children write the new words they learn in the correct stroke order.
My favourite part of the day! But only the kids get to eat.
The menus are pre-fixed by the week. Today's menu for the Champs include ikan bilis and spinach soup with cabbage and steamed fish. The Champs make it a point to show their gratitude with a song before tucking in.
1250: Preparing for their afternoon nap
As soon as they are done with lunch, the Champs put their utensils and crockery away. Cots are then laid out for them in the classrooms as they prepare for their 2-hour nap. The lights in the classroom and along the corridors start to switch off as the Champs enter their slumber.
1300: Children’s nap time
Also known as my lunch time! I join the teachers for a simple meal in the classroom, so they can keep an eye on the children while they sleep.
Ms Deanna tells me this is the time teachers catch up on any other administrative work, or simply take a breather. I leave Ms Deanna to have her break while I take a quick tour around the premises.
1500: Rise and shine
The kids wake from their naps. Of course, not all of them get up the instant the lights are turned on. Ms Deanna wakes the sleepier ones up gently as the other Champs put away their own bedtime gear.
Another snacking session and this time around, it's a mini pau and half a mug of milk! The kids take a quick chow down as they gear up for their next activity.
1545: Enrichment - NeuroMooves™
I got to watch the children participate in NeuroMooves™, one of MindChamps PreSchool's signature enrichment programmes that helps with brain development, coordination and balance.
Ms Deanna is animated, simulating actions that the Champs relate to and identify with. The children then participate in an obstacle course where they are encouraged to be confident by volunteering to show how certain steps are done. For those Champs who are reticent, Ms Deanna patiently gets them to step forward – all their efforts, even with unsuccessful outcomes, are applauded.
1630: Free Expression
The Champs take another water break as they wind down from the NeuroMooves™ activity. During this time, known as Free Expression time, Champs get to spend time on their favourite in-class activity or finish up their uncompleted work from the morning's classes.
I sit by a table and help the Champs with their work.
1715: School Bell Rings!
Again there's no school bell, but this time, the classroom's telephone intercom system starts to ring, alerting the teachers whenever parents have arrived to fetch their children.
As the children take their leave, I, too, start to wind down at the end of the day, watching the rest of the Champs finish their drawings or colourings for the day.
1815: Now it’s time to say goodbye…
As I leave the school compound, I find myself aching from all of the day's activities with the children. Ms Deanna stays behind with the other Champs, until the very last Champ leaves the school grounds in his parents' embrace.
What I learnt from MindChamps
After just one day of shadowing Ms Deanna in her daily routine at MindChamps PreSchool, I'm already feeling the sores and aches from interacting with the children - by lunchtime, my kneecaps were already starting to hurt from kneeling around the entire morning.
I cannot imagine how Ms Deanna and other pre-school teachers cope with this, in addition to the stress they face from other aspects of their job including interacting with parents and drawing up various lesson plans. It really takes more than just passion and perseverance to thrive in this profession.
I’ve noticed that Ms Deanna never resorts to scoldings or punishments whenever the Champs misbehave. Instead, she speaks to them nicely but firmly to inculcate the MindChamps Education and Life Philosophy of ‘100% Respect and Zero Fear’. The Champs are taught to respect everything; from the rules to the teachers and each other, and because of the encouragement they get from their teachers to ask questions, initiate things and to express themselves, there is never any fear in their actions. I’ve also observed that through the daily interactions with the children, the MindChamps teachers make it a point to constantly nurture and develop the 10 characteristics of MindChamps pre-schoolers that sets them and the school apart from others.
This experience has highlighted to me how pivotal the role of a pre-school teacher is in a child's life. I’ve also seen how appreciation from both the school and parents help keep the teachers at MindChamps PreSchool inspired amidst the stress of the profession. Ms Deanna's passion, patience and determination in this field leaves me in awe and admiration of MindChamps PreSchool teachers for their dedication to the children.
About MindChamps PreSchool
MindChamps PreSchool is the only pre-school internationally to nurture every child with the Champion Mindset concept of world-renowned neuroscientist Professor Emeritus Allan Snyder (Fellow of the Royal Society like Newton and Einstein). Its bilingual curriculum nurtures all aspects of a child with world proprietary academic and enrichment programmes. To find out more about MindChamps PreSchool and which of its 24 centres islandwide is nearest to your home/office, visit www.mindchampspreschool.org.
About Influential Brands™
Influential Brands is a consumer insight driven awards programme which provides a platform for brands to celebrate their achievement; for consumers, businesses and stakeholders to recognise the brands’ efforts in arriving where they are today. The study conducted by Influential Brands is purely consumer driven and the Top Brands are selected by consumers through their perception and preference, demonstrating the level of impact and influence of the brands in each consumer’s life.
Influential Brands seeks to identify consumer preferences, their behaviours, values and to understand how the ever-changing environment affects consumer experience in the purchase journey. The programme is tailored to enrich the brands’ relationships with their consumers through ongoing meaningful conversations and engagement.
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Read More Influential Brand Stories by TSL
This post is part of Influential Brands 2014, where we highlight the most influential brands in Singapore.