Pre-school scheme leads to big gains

Pre-school scheme leads to big gains
Educational therapist Sharon Yeoh using a multi-sensory etching approach to teach children words. The children use playdough to form words such as "love".

SINGAPORE - The six-year-old boy used to be hyperactive and aggressive and lagged behind his peers in English and maths. But he became more focused and did better in his studies after an educational therapist taught him to focus better.

"Now in Primary 1, my son's behaviour has improved, he is able to focus on his studies," said his security guard mother, who took on a new job with more stable hours to spend more time with him.

The mother and son are participants in a scheme that ropes in educational therapists, social workers and pre-school teachers to help disadvantaged children and their families, and has already seen results.

The Straits Times was asked not to reveal identifying details of the children to avoid stigmatising them.

Called Circle of Care and piloted by welfare organisation Care Corner and philanthropic group the Lien Foundation, the scheme has led to big gains in learning for children after just one year.

Under the scheme, which started in February last year, 159 pre-school children from two childcare centres at Leng Kee and Admiralty received a high-quality pre-school education, which included music and movement classes, field trips and literacy and numeracy programmes.

The Leng Kee centre charges $560 a month for full-day childcare, but needy families pay just $3 to $6 a month.

Children who need help in areas from learning to health and finance were identified early by social workers. They and their families were given appropriate help, often at the centre itself.

For instance, the six-year-old boy was taught how to focus better and given help to develop his reading and maths skills; his mother learnt effective parenting techniques, including how to coach her son.

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