Learning beyond the book makes it fun for kids

Learning beyond the book makes it fun for kids
Once Upon a Monday founders (seated from left) Wee Xin Yan and Leslie Ho with volunteers (standing from left) Eliza Ho, 27, Lu Xiaohui, 28, Olivia Phillips, 18, Gerald Yeo, 30, Edward Kang, 28, Liao Liwen, 30, and Jacquelyn Chen, 23. They are holding thank-you cards made by pupils in the programme. The group organises activities to get the children interested in the world around them and teach them skills like literacy, science and numbers.

SINGAPORE - Once Upon A Monday's quirky name pays homage to its roots when its founders would read to children in family service centres on Monday afternoons.

They soon found, however, that reading was not enough.

"It was quite dry, and the children were restless and bored," said Ms Wee Xin Yan, 28. "Some would even cry when we asked them to do worksheets based on the stories because they were so tired from school."

That was the impetus for her and a friend, lawyer Leslie Ho, 54, to design a more interactive learning programme.

Once Upon A Monday's volunteers work with upper primary pupils from student care centres. Many are from lower-income backgrounds and some are struggling at school.

"A lot of the pupils have vast potential. But they may not have so many opportunities as those from higher-resource families," said Ms Wee, who is waiting to enrol in a PhD programme in systems science.

Ms Wee and Madam Ho set up Once Upon A Monday, a non- profit organisation, in March.

It has three core members and about 15 other volunteers who work with the group on a project basis. Operating expenses are shared among the members.

Ms Wee got the idea to engage children via hands-on activities while she was studying at an Australian university.

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