“Quantitative Time given for Qualitative Education”
Founder & Curriculum Director of LEAP SchoolHouse
Newly furbished and located at City Square Mall, LEAP SchoolHouse started in March 2010. It is an enrichment centre which offers a total of 22 various programmes. The programmes offered in this school works on the premise of placing a strong emphasis on literacy development in young children. The New Age Parents had a chance to have a chat with Esther, about her centre as well as gain insight into the half-day programme that is conducted at LEAP SchoolHouse. Here are some features of LEAP SchoolHouse’s half-day programme.
The half-day programme is popular with parents who are keen on immersing their children in an integrated curriculum that will see language development in both English and Chinese whilst developing independent skills of self-care. “To ensure that our children learn, there must be dedication and time spent on developing their areas of learning. There is no short cut to acquiring quality education. Investing enough time to work with the children on the skills necessary is essential,” says Esther.
Building Discipline through Routines
Another highlight of the half-day programme is the consistency of routine. Esther reiterates the need and importance of having a structured routine, as this helps prepare children for later school life. She shared on how children who attended the programme were slowly able to develop and sustain a longer attention span, and listen to the teacher throughout the entire storytelling session.
Besides language and literacy, mathematics, environmental awareness (science) and art activities are also held in the half-day programme. The curriculum runs on 5 terms, each term lasting for 10 weeks. The first 8 weeks will be focused on academic themes, while the last 2 weeks, will be focused on the aesthetics and creative development aspects. A mini-performance, show and tell or gallery walk will be held for the children to showcase their works to parents. Perhaps a strong testament to LEAP SchoolHouse’s all-encompassing curriculum would be receiving the Best of the Best in Holistic Learning Environment title, from Parents World in late 2010.
Equal Opportunities for all
Another philosophy LEAP SchoolHouse adopts is the idea of inclusivity. “All children should be given equal chances to learn and interact.” Esther shared how they once took in a boy diagnosed with ADHD and another boy with Autism. One of the boys even graduated from one of the programmes offered at the centre, and Esther is very proud and glad that she was able to see to the boy’s progress at her centre, with the assistance and full support from her teachers. ‘We are definitely not a trained facility to support children with special learning needs but I can understand the anxiety of these parents who do not want their children to grow up being excluded from social norms. It is on this understanding that my teachers try to work with the parents and their child.’
Dominant Language Approach
To enhance opportunities for language acquisition, the curriculum in the half-day programme on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, are held entirely in English, while Tuesdays and Thursdays, are dedicated to Mandarin. Esther believes this is beneficial, as children are given strong opportunities and are encouraged to use both languages with minimal code-switching. She recounts how a child was initially very adverse to Mandarin and refused to speak the language. However, after several sessions, she began to use the language comfortably, at her own will.
Besides holding a diploma or a degree in Early Childhood or areas of expertise, all the language teachers share something else in common; many of them are born and bred in Singapore. Although the Mandarin teachers are not from Singapore, all of them have been living in Singapore for many years and have assimilated to the Singaporean culture and are ‘localized’. Esther’s reason behind hiring local teachers is very simple, she states, “Because they are in the best position to know and understand the culture of Singapore and the education system.”
Although LEAP SchoolHouse is an enrichment center, each child has his or her own portfolio, where the child’s progress and work are documented throughout the term. Esther states, “Having portfolios is a way of showing parents what their child has learnt, at the same time celebrating their child’s achievements.” The developmental areas in the portfolios are also aligned with MOE’s pre-school learning outcomes. After every term, teachers will review the portfolios with parents.
Giving Back to Society
Giving back to society is a value Esther upholds, and this is embodied in her work ethics at LEAP SchoolHouse. During Christmas in 2010, they worked with METRO and held storytelling sessions and performances at City Square Mall. They then donated the proceeds they received to a school in Indonesia. “Every child deserves a chance,” she equips.
Esther ends off our meeting with the following “My philosophy is to build a strong foundation in language learning for children before entering primary school, and LEAP SchoolHouse is my small effort to bridge the gap between what is needed in terms of skills and knowledge between preschool and formalised schooling.”
Besides their various enrichment programmes, LEAP SchoolHouse also offers holiday programmes. For more information, view their website at www.leapschoolhouse.com.sg
About the CEO and Founder of LEAP SchoolHouse
Esther Lim is the CEO and Founder of LEAP SchoolHouse. Born and bred in Singapore, she holds a Masters degree in Education (NTU/NIE). Esther has more than 10 years of teaching experience and has taught widely in both Secondary and Primary schools. She was also involved in curriculum planning and development work for the primary unit at MOE for several years. Esther has also conducted workshops and talks for educators, locally and overseas. Besides all the above credentials, Esther is also a mother of three children.
You may contact Esther at email@example.com
Written by Michelle Ang
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