“Settling the heart, defining your child” – this very unique slogan caught The New Age Parents’ attention when we were surfing the websites of the preschools across Singapore. The New Age Parents’ editorial team immediately called up the school to understand more about this slogan. Subsequently, I made an appointment to speak to the founder, Mrs Rachel Ding. Upon acceptance of the invitation, I visited the various Red SchoolHouse Centres in Singapore over a period of 2 weeks.
Stimulating Learning Environment
Stepping into Red SchoolHouse centres, I was totally captivated by the vibrant energy in the environments. Looking around the classrooms, the warm smiles, the aesthetic emotions and the child-sized furniture made the environments just pleasing and comfortable. I felt right at home! If I were a child, I would enjoy coming to school every day!
As Greenman (1988) states, space does speak to all of us. A thoughtfully-designed environment for children will have fewer management issues and less wasted time for teachers if the following two fundamental goals are met:
i) the environment is congruent with the philosophy
ii) the environment is inviting
Beautiful art works and varieties of learning materials adorned corners of the classrooms. I could imagine the children’s happy daily learning in school. The teachers at Red SchoolHouse Woodlands shared with me that they introduced a variety of art mediums to spur the children’s creativity in creating unique art creations.
Walking around the classrooms of Red SchoolHouse Upper Thomson, I spotted a group of K2 children observing a little butterfly in the jar. They overwhelmed me with descriptions on how they found this little caterpillar at the rooftop garden. They had been tracking the daily growth of the caterpillar too. Apparently, that very morning, the transformation had been completed and the butterfly would be released later on. The children were that excited!
While waiting at the gate for someone to let me in at Red SchoolHouse Katong, it was love at first sight for me as I take in the sight of the quaint little red and white bungalow. Stepping into the cosy classrooms, I went straight for the areas with soft rugs and comfy cushions. Indeed a home away from home.
Over at Red SchoolHouse Bartley, I sat with a group of Nursery 1 children as they waited with great anticipations for a story telling session to begin. There was this little alcove in the wall that was set to look like a tiny stage and the teacher sat there. ‘Handa’s Surprise’ by Eileen Browne was introduced to the children by the teacher along with a basket of real fruits and animal props. At the end of the story, the children had a fruit tasting session. The teacher made the whole session interesting and as I can see it, the children were very happy.
Interactive Customized Playgrounds by Playground Specialists
Red SchoolHouse Katong has plentiful space for outdoor activities like water play, painting, chalk drawing, ball games and Little Tikes Cozy Trucks to ride around. I was intrigued by the organic herb garden. I spotted little watering cans and had this vision of little children watering the plants. True to my vision, the little ones came out to the playground soon and watered the plants before playing. It was a captivating moment for me.
The children at Red SchoolHouse Bartley were having their weekly water play session. There was an inflatable pool filled with water. The teachers added learning materials to the pool of water. As I walked closer, I saw two children pouring water from one cup to another. While pouring, they realized that the bigger cup could hold more water. The teacher was quick to take the opportunity to introduce the concept of size and the attributes of it; big and little, height. I give the thumbs up for incidental learning at its best.
I was amazed by this gigantic indoor playground at Red SchoolHouse Woodlands. Wow!!! I would love to attend this school right away! One would not need to pay extra for those commercial indoor playgrounds that parents bring their children to on weekends. You have it exclusively right here in school! I watched the priceless smiles on the faces of the children as they climbed the padded obstacles and slid straight into a pit full of coloured balls. Peals of laughter could be heard and I smiled as I stood there watching them.
Red SchoolHouse Upper Thomson has a rooftop outdoor playground. I followed the Nursery 2s during an outdoor activity. The children were given free choices in deciding what they want to play with. Some of the children played with the specially developed obstacles, others could be seen doodling with coloured chalk on the walls. As an ex preschool teacher myself, it was lovely to see the excitement and enjoyment on the faces of the children!
The Spice Curriculum
Red SchoolHouse offers a holistic SPICE curriculum for children between 18 months and 6 years old. Spearheaded by Rachel, the curriculum is a collaboration between a pool of local curriculum specialists from Red SchoolHouse and seasoned lecturers from various education institutes in Singapore.
As shared by Rachel, the curriculum focuses on developing the Social, Physical, Intellectual, Creative and Emotional aspects of each child using a local approach. The main goal is to nurture Happy, Successful children and prepare them for their transition to the local mainstream primary programme in Singapore. By adopting holistic and innovative approaches, emphasis is given on hands-on experiential learning through a collection of specially designed teaching materials. Children are encouraged to be independent and creative thinkers.
Red SchoolHouse recently won an award; Best of the Best Preschool Awards – Best in Character Building. As part of the curriculum, children build character traits every month like; sincerity, diligence and responsibility and by embarking on missionary and charity projects.
Red SchoolHouse strongly encourages parents to be actively involved in their children’s daily learning in school. Parents are given simple ‘mini projects’ to complete together with their children at home. This gives parents a chance to bond with their children. I feel this is a great idea for busy parents who need not source for ideas on what to do with their children.
Monthly Field Trips
I must say I was pretty impressed when I heard that Red SchoolHouse brings their children out on monthly field trips, considering that logistics alone is not easy to handle. The little learners go to various places in Singapore such as goat / mushroom / tortoise farms, Health Promotion Board, Yakult factory, butterfly park and even an otah factory. They will also go for age appropriate theatre plays at least once a year at places like the Esplanade and Act 3 International at Cairnhill Road. No wonder, the little kiddos at Red SchoolHouse seem very confident, exposure is important.
Passionate and Nurturing Educators
What makes a great teacher? Someone who is a role model? In every aspect, a teacher has to be responsible for her words and actions to the children. A teacher thinks for the children and helps them reach their fullest potential.
At Red SchoolHouse, I observed that the teachers are observant and attentive to the children. I could hear words of encouragement given to help the children overcome the obstacles.
One incident left a deep impression on me, at one of the schools; the activity was about balloon printing. During the craft activity, a young child was having difficulty with the printing. The teacher was very patient and kept encouraging the child, eventually the child overcame his fear of getting dirty and succeeded in creating his own masterpiece. Now, in the process of encouragement, the teacher’s pants was accidentally dirtied by the child who was holding the balloon with paint. She did not show any signs of displeasure and continued to guide the child. That touched my heart.
Are you looking for a school for your child? Come on down and visit Red SchoolHouse today!
p/s: A little bird told me the schools offer free trials…
Red SchoolHouse @ Upper Thomson
34 Sin Ming Lane Midview City Singapore 573955
Tel: 6353 3200
Red SchoolHouse @ Woodlands
11 Woodlands Close #01-29/30 Woodlands 11 Singapore 737853
Tel: 6334 7680
Red SchoolHouse @ Bartley
67 Lorong Penchalak Singapore 536290
Tel: 6288 2387
By Crystal Tan
This article was first published in The New Age Parents Dec 14 / Jan 2015 e-magazine