I am not much of a fan of enrichment classes.

Right now, my kids do not attend any classes except for swimming and (soon) music lessons. That’s all we have signed them up for and that’s all husband and I agreed to sign them up for. Whatever academic stuff that they know, they learn through the daycare.

Sometimes, I wonder if I am not helping them with this mentality. Sometimes, I wonder if they will struggle when they go to primary school and realise that their classmates are miles ahead of them in terms of academic development. But we consciously choose to allow them these few years of playfulness and freedom, so that’s a risk we have to take.

When People Impact asked if I was keen to try Aidan out for their IQEQ programme, I hesitated. But like any good reporter would do, I decided to do my research and checked out their website. What I saw intrigued me.

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Instead of focusing on academic skills like literacy and numeracy, the programme seemed to be emphasising more on “soft” skills such as creativity, problem-solving and communication. As an educator, my students have shown me that it is those with high EQ and people skills who are able to succeed in life. The students who do worst in school can thrive and excel when they are out in the industry because they have the right personality and attitudes.

So yes, I decided to check it out with Aidan. We attended one of the classes that was meant for the older kids in kindergarten and even though parents were usually not allowed to sit in, I was given the opportunity to do so and observe.

When we got into the classroom, I was pleasantly surprised by the intricately designed “maze” on the floor. Judging by their reactions, so were the kids. There were seven of them in total, including Aidan, and I was told that the usual teacher-student ratio is 1:8. There were two teachers that day, CK and Aileen, who got Aidan to introduce himself to the class since he was new. I was rather surprised that A was immediately comfortable in that new environment, given that he can be pretty reserved. He was happy to introduce himself and Teacher CK assigned the other boy in the class to be his mate – the two got along so well!

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The first activity had something to do with the 4×4 maze on the floor. The kids were first divided into two groups. Within the groups, they were to work in pairs, with one child giving instructions to the other on how to “safely” exit the maze without being eaten by the lions.

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I was honestly very impressed by the activity. It not only reinforced spatial skills in the children – they had to instruct their teammate which direction to turn and how many steps to take, for instance – and it also encouraged them to speak up with confidence. The children clearly enjoyed this very much, they were full of relieved smiles when they managed to guide their friends out of the maze!

The next activity was Cloud Nine. This time, the children were split into three groups of different colours. The teachers would show each group a picture and every child had to name an object immediately and physically associated with the item in the picture. For instance, a picture of a table could elicit answers like “chair”, “cup” and “pencil”. Once every group member has given an appropriate answer, their hot air balloon would be allowed to ascend to the next cloud on the wall. The idea was to move up to the ninth cloud.

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This took quite a fair bit of time as the children needed some guidance now and then. But the kids gave it all their attention since the activity played on their innate sense of competition. Everyone wanted to move up to the next level! And it was a clever way of broadening the children’s perspectives, allowing them to draw the relevant associations from difference sources of information.

The third – and last – activity was conducted in a separate classroom, which the teachers had ingeniously turned into a pseudo laser-tag room using raffia strings. Here, the kids were divided into two groups and tasked to retrieve numbered tags from the walls while navigating through the complicated “laser” beams safely. If someone touched a raffia string, the attached bell would chime and the child had to freeze on the spot until a teammate makes his/her way over to tap her shoulder, thus freeing her. It was a game of team work and also built their gross motor skills.

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The kids were alternately IMPRESSED and SCARED of the laser beams! You could see from the anxiety on their faces that they thought it was real, that they really couldn’t move if they touched the string. And when they got out safely, they all broke out in huge smiles. Before his turn, Aidan whispered to me that he was a little scared. But he did great! He not only managed to retrieve his number swiftly, he was able to help save his friends a couple of times.

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Once the session was over, the teachers would invite the parents in and give them a quick debrief on what their children were up to that day. They would also sit down with certain parents to give them one-on-one feedback on their children’s progress.

During their one-on-one session with me, Teacher CK noted three things about Aidan: firstly, he was a very verbal child, and had no problems speaking up and understanding instructions (just goes to show that he has selective listening at home, HAH!). Secondly, he apparently has good focus for someone his age (for instance, he was able to sit and wait while the other kids had their turns). Lastly, he was definitely not the dullest tool in the shed, phew! I was told that they would love to have him in the programme because they felt that he had the potential to be a leader.

Wow, who knew? That little tyrant who drives me nuts on a regular basis could potentially have a high ROI. Although why he cannot focus on simple tasks like putting his toys away at home when he supposedly has strong focus leaves me perplexed.

All in all, I left the centre very impressed. You could tell from the details of the activities that the teachers had spent time and effort in crafting them. Each activity nailed their intended objectives. More importantly, the children kept up their attention and energy levels for the entire two hours that they were there. Aidan had skipped his nap to attend the class and he never wavered. The teachers were able to effectively facilitate the activities and motivated them through positive affirmation.

Would I continue the classes for Aidan? I would definitely love to – costs and logistics notwithstanding. Aidan clearly had fun and we capped off that lovely mummy-firstborn afternoon by going for coffee at one of our favourite cafes, One Man Coffee.

SPECIAL FOR BUBSICLES READERS
If you are keen to try out the IQEQ programme, you can sign up for a single trial class for your child at just $5/child (Usual: $20). Or take up a special one-month regular class package $288 (Usual: $588).

Just email info (at) people-impact (dot) com (dot) sg with your name and contact details as well as your child’s name and age. You’ll have to let them know that Yann from Bubsicles sent you their way to enjoy this deal!

This special offer expires one month from the published date of article. However, you can sign up first with this special offer and arrange for a later date to come for the lesson.

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Disclaimer: We were invited to attend a trial class by People Impact. All opinions are strictly my own and no monetary compensation was received.

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