What draws you to an enrichment class? Is it the teachers? The curriculum? Or the environment?
For Ms Alice Ow, it was seeing her child’s progress that sealed the deal.
Alice enrolled her eldest son Ian, in Happy Train’s programme when he was 2 and half years old. She was first drawn to the energetic, loving and experienced teachers she saw at the whole brain enrichment centre.
She recalls, “I believe the programme has helped to improve his memory and attention skills as a growing toddler,” Ian is now a motivated Primary 5 boy who welcomes challenges and enjoys learning.
Seeing the direct and positive results in her eldest son, it’s no surprise that Alice also enrolled her second child Faith, in the same programme.
“Having been exposed to numeracy in Happy Train, both Ian and Faith are very comfortable with numbers. They have topped Math in their respective levels at their school,” shares the mum.
Besides academics, Happy Train’s holistic and robust curriculum also exposes students to creative elements such as music.
“Through Happy Train’s perfect pitch curriculum, both Ian and Faith have gone on to pursue music with passion. Ian is doing piano while Faith is doing violin. Music teachers have commented that they have perfect and relative pitches with good hearing,” Alice adds.
To find out more about why parents are raving about Happy Train’s whole-brain programme, we speak to Happy Train’s Principal and sat in for their bilingual class for 3 and 4 year olds.
Happy Train Whole-Brain Bilingual Class
In Happy Train’s bilingual programme, parents and children get the best of both worlds. It’s a unique blend of brain-activation activities conducted in English and Mandarin. The language used for each class alternates every week, so kids are exposed to the sounds and words of both languages on a regular basis.
“This provides a fresh and exciting experience for our students every time they come for class,” Ms Jacqueline Neo, Principal of Happy Train, reveals.
The school recognises the value of introducing language in an interactive manner at a very young age. They have whole-brain bilingual programmes catered for babies as young as 3 months old.
“Many of our parents see the importance of language exposure at a very young age. We have parents telling us that when a new language is introduced to their child at a slightly later age, the child is usually more resistant to learning and using it. This is why it is crucial to start from the age of zero.”
In each class, words and vocabulary are introduced through a variety of activities, which occurs at a quick and steady pace.
In this particular activity, the teacher was talking about barbequing food. Each child was given a grill and a fan.
Let’s barbeque! A student engaged in one of Happy Train’s many activities. All the activity materials are hand-made by the teachers. Photo: TNAP
After demonstrating how to barbeque food by fanning her grill, Teacher Serene passes her food around so that each child gets to a turn to ‘barbeque’ on their grill. Her high energy keeps the children and parents excited during and after each activity.
“1..2..3..fan, fan, fan!” a mum exclaims to her child.
One of the benefits of accompanying your child to class is that you would be able to pick up communication skills from the teachers on how to guide, encourage and praise your child.
Memory Game: Teacher Serene encouraging a student as his dad checks his answer. Photo: TNAP
Whenever the memory game pops up, you don’t only see the children putting their alert hats on, parents do the same too!
Relating back to the barbeque theme, Teacher Serene pulls out a picture card that shows food items that can be barbequed (pictured above).
Each picture card has two foods placed together, side by side. After a few seconds, she puts the picture card down and asks each child if they can arrange the food in the same order.
Happy Train’s small teacher-child ratio for each class allows teachers to have pockets of one-to-one time for each child. The teacher interacts with every parent-child duo, guiding the child and cheering them on when they attempt each activity.
If there’s one consistent thing in both the English and Chinese class, it’s the level of energy and passion from both teachers. It’s as though the class was conducted by the same teacher, but in a different language!
It was fascinating to hear parents and children conversing in English during the English class, and then switching to speak in Mandarin as soon as the Chinese class starts.
The group of 4-year-olds were immersed once the class begun. They watched and listened to Aiwei Lao Shi’s instructions, whether it was singing along, counting with her or playing memory games.
Happy Train’s Chinese teacher, Aiwei Lao Shi singing a hello song to welcome the children for class, accompanies her singing with pictures cards. Photo: TNAP
It was heart-warming to see parents being involved throughout the entire time, participating in the activities and bonding with their child.
First Bilingual Brain-Training Programme In Singapore
Happy Train is the only brain-training programme in Singapore that promotes bilingual education.
“We didn’t want the programme to be purely right brain or purely high speed. We wanted to create something fun and meaningful. From our experience, a child’s emotion matters a lot when they are learning or picking up skills,” explains Jacqueline.
The curriculum is designed by a diverse team of teachers with experience in early childhood education, right-brain training, speech training, linguistics and music education.
“Chinese is not an easy subject for children to pick up. We want them to learn language in an enjoyable way from a young age, and slowly nurture their love for the language as they grow older,”
Besides a focus on bilingualism, the centre’s solid repertoire of hands-on activities is one of its core strengths. It’s also why many children, such as Evangelyn Choon’s daughter, are engaged from start to end.
“From the first lesson, Hannah was engaged throughout the 60 minutes lesson, with songs and flash cards, together with memory, motor skills, letters and number games. As she progressed through the years, the learning activities were more challenging but age-appropriate,” says the mum.
Hannah joined the programme when she was 2 years old, and has since graduated from Happy Train. Evangelyn attests that the activities at Happy Train such as memory, spatial visualisation, reasoning, language, writing and arithmetic skills, and many others, gave her daughter a head start before Primary school.
Jacqueline adds, “Our curriculum is also designed to cater to Singapore’s education syllabus. When students are 5 and 6 years old, we start to prepare them for formal Primary school education.”
Want your child to love English and Chinese and be effectively bilingual in the future? Consider Happy Train’s Whole Brain Bilingual Progamme for your child today!
Happy Train centre – Bugis (Headquarters)
87 Beach Road, Chye Sing Building, #06-02, Singapore 189695
Tel: 6336 5080
Happy Train centre – Tampines, CPF Tampines Building,
1 Tampines Central 5, #03-14, Singapore 529508
Tel: 6781 6788
Operating hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 9:30 am to 6:30 pm. Closed on Monday, Tuesday and Public Holidays.
By Dinah Shahab
This post is brought to you by Happy Train.
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