Interview with Priya (Nurturing Young Minds)
1. Hi Priya, what inspired you to start enrichment classes at the comfort of a child’s home?
It was something I learnt out of my own experience actually. I used to hunt day and nite for enrichment classes for my gals when they were little. I must have enquired with at least 50 centres if they allowed parents to sit in for their playgroup program. They said no. And those that did, had their fees too steep. So I decided to take my gals on myself by teaching them with flashcards at home. Not forgetting, rhymes and other activities which were involved too.
And I felt completely at ease doing this cos I know my gals’ preschool education part is being covered although they are not going to any conventional centres. And as they grew older, I slowly had to let them move on to nurseries and kindergartens! But then I missed teaching them. I did have my fair share of experience teaching kids in preschool enrichment centres but I started to think if any parent out there will be going through what I went through to get an adult accompanied playgroup for their child. Testing waters, I just placed an ad on the internet casually one day and whoa!! The response was amazing!
2. What are the profile of your teachers?
All my teachers are either early childhood trained or experienced for many years in preschool teaching. The plus point is that they are mothers too, which gives them the responsibility to care for the child they are teaching, as their own.
3. How big is your team?
Right now, there are 8 of us! We are looking at expanding depending on how many classes we get! The global crunch does have a wee bit of effect on us so lets see how it goes!
4. What are the classes that you are currently coaching?
Although I started off with just toddler programs only in the initial stage, I then started to ponder about the slightly older group too. Cos this will give me a chance to be in touch with the child’s whole set of preschool years and apart from that, still drill the “learn the play way” method into the child’s activities. Once a child goes to primary school, education may start getting a bit tedious and monotonous.
The preschool education years are the best years to prove to the child that learning is nothing but fun, and I would like to strive as much as I can to do that. Currently, we conduct Toddler Developments, Speechworks & Drama, Creative reading, Phonics & reading and our newly launched creative art programs.
5. Can you elaborate each in a little detail?
Toddler Development is just like a playgroup which allows parents to sit in. We focus on the development of the child’s academic side as well as his gross/fine motorskills. Since its being conducted at home, the separation anxiety in the child is under control and this is a great eye opener for him or her before they attend playschools Phonics Reading/Creative Reading are reading programs complementing one another in their own ways.
This program is a great helper for students to get exposed to various genres of words step by step before they go primary schools. Speechworks and Drama is a confident building program. It’s a class very much sought after by many parents for their kids. In this class, we focus on articulation, creativity, imagination and everything fun but with an objective.
Creative art classes are for the creative hands who love to get their hands into colours. We do not restrict them to just paints,brushes and paper. Instead we go more deeper and get them to explore on how other items such as utensils, leaves and etc can be used for art! For more details on my programs, parents can log on to my website www.nurturingyoungminds.webs.com. All details about my programs are very elaborate there! They can even book a trial class online.
6. Describe a typical class?
Each class is different just as how special each child is. I have equal fun in all the classes I conduct and I make sure the kids learn something at the end of the day.
7. As most local parents are more incline to sending children to enrichment centers, how open are they to this concept?
I have thought about that too. But some parents blankly proved me wrong. We have a lot of busy parents here in Singapore who want to send their children to enrichment classes but can’t afford the time. At most, they will enroll their kids for weekend classes but when that happens, time to be spent as a family during weekends is minimized. So that’s when, my team comes in handy!
8. What are the advantages of learning from home?
The child is more at ease because of the atmostphere and there is no need to travel up and down to attend various classes. The child does not get tired easily. There are more possibilities now for parents to keep an eye on the kids development and if they are not around, the helpers will.
9. Does learning from home deprive the child a chance to mould their social skills? Not exactly. For the toddler programs, I will only be around to educate the child till the parents feel that he or she is ready to mingle with fellow buddies and its time for her to go to school. I am just helping the child loosen up on his or her separation anxiety and prepare him or her mentally and physically for the “real’ school. This is much better than a child going to a class and starts wailing, distracting the other kids and parents.
Bringing the child in forcefully can work miracles in most cases, if done correctly but in some cases, the child starts loathing classrooms, books and school. As for the older group, they are going to conventional nurseries and kindergartens with enough peers to socialize with.
Enrichment is conducted just to further enhance their mental agility and after rough and tiring day at school, a child might not want to attend any enrichment which may wear him or her out even further. We do not want enrichment to become a nightmare for the kids!
10. Have you met with circumstances that the house you visited is not beneficial for class? If so, how do you handle the situation?
I have come across a couple of houses in where there are too many people around watching the lesson going on which makes the kids really shy to participate and even I feel kind of funny with all the stares around me. So I nicely tell the parent that too much of attention might make the child nervous and its better if other members of the family can take a backseat while the classes are going on.
And a stuffy room is a definite no-no for me to conduct classes. If there are no spare study rooms or playrooms, I would prefer conducting my programs in the living room. If they have a pet dog and the dog tends to get pretty active sometimes, he should be taken care of by someone. There was once I went to this house with a big Golden Retreiver and while I was teaching, that cute guy decided to play rough with me and I could not stop him. I love dogs but if they tend to hinder with the class time, it may be a bit difficult. Some obedient dogs are ok. I even have some dogs as my students as in, they sit quietly with their master and their child throughout the lesson! Haha!
11. Share with us some obstacles you have met in this freelancing career.
Well since I am running this freelance team, I can’t endorse any agreement with my teachers as in not to boycott from classes at short notices. So during situations where I have teachers who are unable to conduct a class on that day due to personal reasons or illnesses, I have got to juggle with the remaining few of us to see what can be done to replace that class. Some classes may be for students of special needs. So for that, I have to rain check on my own classes and re schedule them to a different day and time.
Sometimes it does annoy the parents a bit although most of the time, they understand the occupational ups and downs. I recently had to let a tots program student go cos I could not accommodate to the time they were requesting due to my teachers who were ill. Although this situation is pretty much in control now, things just swing unpredictable at times and I really hope parents will understand!
12. As a professional in the early childhood, please share some tips with our readers on helping their children learn from home.
Well, I prefer to answer this question in a mother’s point of view. I used to sing the alphabets songs to my gals when they were little, when we are at the shower, before bedtime or in between whenever time permits. I also taught them numbers via the buttons in the lift and also the numbers on the buses. Learn from home doesn’t mean that you must have a specific time table to stick to in where you can teach your child.
Just a simple alphabet macaroni soul can help a child learn his or her alphabets and picking up peas which he or she has accidentally toppled over can teach them how to count. Just remember to make your child realize that learning is fun, and you are safe!