Stuart Brown, Carmee Lim among the lineup of speakers at 2015 Straits Times Education Forum

SPEAKERS AND PANELLISTS

Dr Dana SuskindProfessor of Surgery and Pediatrics, University of Chicago Medicine Corner Children's HospitalFounder and Director, Thirty Million Words Initiative

Based on scientific research that shows the critical importance of early language exposure on the developing child, Thirty Million Words helps parents enhance their home language environment in order to optimize their child's brain development and, therefore, his ability to learn. Thirty Million Words is an extension of Dr Suskind's Project ASPIRE, which she created to help her patients from disadvantaged backgrounds reach their full listening and spoken language potentials. She is also author of an upcoming book Thirty Million Words: Building A Child's Brain (Dutton, Sept 2015).

She will tell the story of how her work as a cochlear implant surgeon led to her setting up a programme to close the language skills gap for these children. She will delve into the research on early childhood development to show what parents say and how much they say to their children can be critical to their healthy development.

Dr Stuart BrownPlay researcher, psychiatristFounder, National Institute for Play, California, USA

Trained in general and internal medicine, psychiatry and clinical research, Dr Brown first recognised the importance of play by discovering its absence in the life stories of murderers and felony drunken drivers. His years of clinical practice affirmed the importance and need for healthy play throughout life. His exploration of the evolution of human and animal play has led to the establishment of the National Institute for Play and the founding of what is now known as "Play Science". The mission of this institute is to share the knowledge, practices and benefits of play with the public. He co-teaches "From Play to Innovation" at the Hasso Plattner School of Design at Stanford University. He is also author of a book, Play: How it Shapes The Brain, Opens The Imagination, And Invigorates The Soul.

He will speak on how play is essential to the development of our social skills, adaptability, intelligence, creativity and the ability to problem solve.

Mrs Carmee LimMentor principal of MindChamps Holdings

Mrs Carmee Lim is most well-known as a former Principal of Raffles Girls' School. She also served as Senior Inspector of Schools, and as the first Executive Director of the Academy of Principals, was instrumental in setting up the Principals Academy Inc, a joint venture with EDB.

She has more recently become an ardent advocate of music and movement in childhood education. She is also the founder of two enterprises: Jumpstart Kidsports and Aoede Music Enterprise.

In her free time, she composes and arranges music, and plays the piano and drums. She also enjoys tennis, golf, oil painting, dance, pilates, is a practising gymnast and certified aerobics instructor. She has a B Sc. M Ed (Early Childhood Education), and is a grandmother of eight.

We all know that playing music and moving to a beat builds motor skills, co-ordination and a good sense of balance in children. She will go into the science of how children learn to show how it is related to brain growth as well as maths, language and speech development.


PANELLIST

Ms Leong Pik SanSenior Specialist, Pre-school Education Branch, Ministry of Education

Ms Leong's work involves curriculum development, research and evaluation, aimed at raising the quality of pre-school education in Singapore. She had previously taught in a primary school and worked in the pre-school sector. She obtained a Master of Arts with specialisation in Early Childhood Education from the University of Michigan in USA.

She will participate in the panel discussion on early childhood development.


MODERATOR

Ms Sandra DavieSenior Education Correspondent , The Straits Times

Sandra joined the newspaper after teaching English Literature and General Paper at a junior college for a few years. As a reporter, she covered a range of topics from health to religious cults and education. She honed her investigative journalism skills further at The Philadelphia Inquirer on a Knight Ridder fellowship. She became an education correspondent in 1998 and has since written extensively on education issues from pre-school to higher education. She has won several in-house awards including Feature of the year and Story of the Year. She fields parents' queries through the regular Ask Sandra columns, produces video clips to explain schemes and help parents make informed decisions, and writes opinion pieces on education. She has a BA from the National University of Singapore and an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

She will moderate the panel discussion on what is critical for the healthy development of children in their early years.