SINGAPORE - Children enrolled in five new kindergartens run by the Ministry of Education (MOE) will learn through stories, songs and dances with a distinct Singapore flavour.
They will spend about an hour a day on their mother tongue languages. There will be no spelling tests, and those learning Chinese will not learn hanyu pinyin.
Learning through play figures strongly in the curriculum, revealed on Saturday to about 150 parents at an information session held at Punggol View Primary, where one kindergarten will be located. The five centres open in January.
Education Ministry officers explained the concept of learning through play, where activities are planned to achieve certain learning outcomes and teachers make sure the children take part.
For example, the classroom may be turned into a restaurant, for the children to practise their language skills as they design the menu or role-play being in a restaurant.
Teaching resources include big picture books in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil, with stories referring to Singapore culture and local neighbourhood settings.
Dr Elizabeth Pang, programme director for literacy development at the ministry, said the distinct Singapore flavour of the curriculum - which will be unique to the ministry-run kindergartens - will allow children to learn through things and places familiar to them.
"When they see the familiar context in the books that they read, they can identify with it and be emotionally engaged," she said.
"Emotional engagement is very important when learning in the early years. When they see a book that is set in a neighbourhood playground, and they've been there before, they can talk about it. The connection is there."
The ministry will set up a total of 15 kindergartens in the next three years, to develop the best approaches to pre-school education and share them with others to spur improvement all round.
Among the mothers at Saturday's session was housewife Teo Choon Yin, who said: "I like that their teaching style seems less academic, and more focused on letting children explore. Pre-school should be like that."
The 37-year-old mother of three also liked the distinct local flavour of the curriculum. "Some of the rhymes that kids learn now are very international, so it is good that MOE is incorporating Singapore culture into its curriculum."
Information Technology consultant Isabel Pang, 33, was pleased to hear that the kindergartens will do away with spelling tests.
"I don't think I want to make my child learn 10 words for a spelling test... It creates stress for the child and for the parent," she said.
Teacher Mardiana Abdul Rahim, 31, liked the focus on mother tongue languages. Her older daughter had to learn Chinese at her previous childcare centre, as it was the only mother tongue taught there.
"I want my daughter to learn her mother tongue, Malay, and have a strong foundation," said the mother of two.
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