Need to prioritise skills learning in preschools

It is heartening to learn that many preschools in Singapore have made an effort to offer broad-based educational experiences (Of Bugs And Angry Birds, The Sunday Times, March 20).

Most children thrive on novelty. They have little difficulty embracing new, different and interesting experiences, in addition to regular classroom activities. 

But we need to be careful in using children's time and energy because the early years are short and valuable, lasting at most four to six years.

There are limited sensitive periods when certain developmental areas, such as language, motor skills, learning dispositions, critical thinking skills, moral values and social and emotional aspects, have to take precedence over "good-to- have" niche experiences.

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Another concern is, will these "niche" activities overburden, distract and take away the energy and focus of our preschool teachers from spending time to interact, observe and build trusting relationships with young children?

Sometimes, less is more.

Dr Rebecca Chan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2016, with the headline 'Need to prioritise skills learning in preschools'. Print Edition | Subscribe