We started looking for preschools in the event that we would need to send Baobao for some morning activities to use up her energy. At the same time we were looking out for schools that were close by and relatively affordable.
Currently we are under lockdown due to the COVID-19 situation and have halted our search. Before it happened, we managed to get the prospectus and prices from a few places and even arranged a school visit with the newly opened gifted kindergarten here.
I honestly had high hopes for the school based on their website and social media posts. Even the discussion topics for their planned open house seemed to address the questions and issues we were having.
On the day of our visit, we were brought around to see the small play area, a few classrooms and sat down to discuss the curriculum and other details. Husband remarked later that the classroom was not up to standard and it was a pity that we did not manage to see lessons in action.
During the discussion with the representative who never introduced herself (teacher? centre manager? principal?), we were briefed on the curriculum which they had sent me before, along with the price of SGD$2.4k/term.
We had no issues with the learning curriculum but we left knowing that we would not choose to send Baobao there for the following reasons.
No holistic curriculum
Their focus was only on brain building. Worksheets, creative thinking, logic puzzles, projects. That’s it. No art, no music, no mealtime, no outdoor play, no formal preschool structure. Geniuses need to play too don’t they? Also, we could tell that the main focus of the school was basically the same system that we have been avoiding our whole lives.
GEP > DSA > IB/IP > Scholarship to Ivy/Oxbridge > Public servant scholar > politician
Not saying it is a bad route. It’s a good education route that you can veer off at any point in time but the importance of being balanced should be there.
Reduced exposure to Mother Tongue/second language/Mandarin
The exposure and curriculum for Mandarin is greatly reduced as the Ministry of Education has lowered the requirements for Primary School level language ability for second language. This means that the preschool’s focus on it is also diminished to a basic level.
Honestly I feel this provides an imbalance of knowledge and capability within a child and within generations. By pursuing that path, my Higher Mother Tongue husband would be miles apart from Baobao due to the reduction of expectations. Also, there are other preschool’s providing Higher Mother Tongue for children. Why should this be in reverse?
Extremely Gifted or Profoundly Gifted Ability Support
This is barely existent in the country as it is, and most parents with such children have to double enroll, move countries, use alternative education or just tough it out. When asked about the preschool’s support for it, I was told that there is basically none. Just go to school as normal and have extra enrichment. Which I think yet again fails to address the imbalances of a gifted child.
Reaction to child
Okay. This one got to us really much. Baobao was 2.5 years old when we visited and based on any stranger’s observation with her, would be able to tell her difference.
The school representative basically talked to her and responded to her as a typical average child and was very instrucive driven in her instructions and interactions. It irks me when things are being dumbed down for intelligent children (pet peeve/trigger). For a place that is supposed to see the potential and ability of a gifted child, we were taken aback at the approach.
Also, she said something was mint in colour but was corrected to green. Husband says the representative probably misheard. But still.
To be continued
Clearly this school has been now struck off our list. To be fair, given the Central-West location and the learning, we could have given it a shot as a side activity but given the numerous negatives, we feel the money would be better spent on dance and music.
Our preschool search will be continued after lockdown – I have some in mind that use the Montessori or Reggio Emilia approach. Until then, we are battling the boredom with new ways of learning, along with ideas I picked up from the school visit.