Let me preface this post by saying that I have never been a fan of enrichment classes. I’m not a tiger mum and I think that the “education” my preschooler receives at his daycare is enough for his needs currently. I’d much rather take him outdoors during the weekends and set him loose, than to seat him in a classroom and make him learn his ABCs.
Having said that, when Ros Schoolhouse approached me for a review, I was intrigued. I’ve never joined a class before and I was interested to know what went on behind those shiny, cheery doors. So I said yes to a trial of three classes and here’s what I found out.
The instructional approach of Ros Schoolhouse is the whole-brain programme, which allows learners to make connections that tap on both the left and right hemispheres, enabling active learning. Aidan was invited to participate in the Enrich 1 Programme, which was catered to three-year-old preschoolers.
The lesson begins with a Hello Song and then the kids are shown some videos, which tie in with the theme of the day. For example, she screened a short clip of the ballet Sylvia one week, as that was the new flash card to be added during a later memory activity. After that, the teacher, known affectionately to the kids as “Aunty Sonia”, then invites the kids for a sharing session – they are asked to talk about anything that they wanted to share with the others. Once that is done, she introduces the day’s date to them.
Memory games is a large component of the lesson. For starters, there is an extensive use of flash cards to create a memory train, whereby Aunty Sonia strings pictures together really fast to form stories. Throughout the term, cards are added on periodically to the train and parents are encouraged to practise the flash cards with the children during the week.
The children are also taught shapes and colours using a memory game: she would flash four images in a picture and the children have to place the items in the correct order. To my surprise, Aidan would usually get at least three, if not all, of the items in the right order! The other children were really good at this, most of them got it right all the time.
Every week, the children learn a new alphabet, shape and number. During the session, they are taught to trace the letters and numbers using worksheets. Quantitative mathematics is also dealt with in the lesson: Aidan had to string a set of large beads in various shapes and colours according to the model shown by Aunty Sonia. Other mathematics concepts like addition and counting are also included. Every week, she would sing the addition song with the aid of flash cards and it’s obvious that the kids love it – they could sing along. The children are also given worksheets to count the number of birds or aeroplanes, and then taught to write the numbers.
There is also a Chinese component in the lesson, with Aunty Sonia telling them a story in Mandarin and then singing a song with lyrics from a Li Bai poem.
Last but not least, there is also a craft element. One week, the children were given coloured paper cut in various shapes and asked to create a picture using that. In another, they were given two round digestive biscuits to decorate using icing.
For starters, the lesson is certainly jam packed with activities! There were loads to complete within an hour and I am most impressed by Aunty Sonia’s energy and enthusiasm. The downside is, the kids sometimes deflate towards the 45-minute mark. For the first lesson, Aidan was asking to go home at that point in time. During the last lesson, he and another child were looking visibly sleepy towards the end.
I thought the small class size – no more than six children plus one parent each – was perfect. It allowed the facilitator to give dedicated attention to each child and it was a comfortable group. Aunty Sonia was also encouraging and warm, and the environment was conducive for learning. The little sharing session at the beginning was wonderful as it gave the children an opportunity to talk and present.
Some of the phonics and mathematics activities were also well-structured. I could certainly see Aidan’s improvement in just three sessions. I also loved that the children were asked to clean up after every activity. Great way of fostering independence and teaching them responsibility.
What I was a little perturbed by was the use of the flash cards. Or rather, the content of the flash cards. Some of the images used/terms taught include the kebaya, selfie, Pie Face, Fast & Furious 7, Spotify etc. I’m not sure I want my kid to learn all about a movie on car racing, hmm
When I voiced out my concerns, the school was quick to explain that part of the objective of the programme is to allow the children to be aware of the environment, to be shown things that they may see or hear daily. This was why the content of the flash cards contain current and visible signs, logos etc. Which I understand – I guess I am a little more conservative than the other parents.
For readers out there who are interested in trying out the enrichment class, Ros Schoolhouse has kindly put together a promotion for you!
Exclusive Promotion to bubsicles readers
1 x Free trial class (worth $38 – $42) will be made available for those who are interested in the programme. You will also be given a free set of Memory Train Card (worth $30) for the initial term if you sign up for the programme after the trial.
Simply mention my name “Yann” when calling to book for an appointment. Promotions are available till December 2015. Here is where Ros Schoolhouse is located.