Learning and bonding through new Play scheme

Kids in the Play programme with pre-school training institute Wheelock College undergrads.
Kids in the Play programme with pre-school training institute Wheelock College undergrads.ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

While almost half of all five- and six-year-olds here go for tuition to prepare for primary school, pre-schoolers can also get ready for the next stage of their education simply by playing.

For instance, interactive storytelling, where children act out parts of the story, can teach them to focus, be patient and listen to instructions, said Ms Low Siew Hong of the Seed Institute, the largest pre-school training provider here.

Role-playing in turn prepares children to take on responsibilities.

"Becoming waiters serving food, for example, gives them a chance to act as someone older," said Ms Low, who heads the centre for professional qualification at the institute.

Such skills help them gear up for the move to primary school, she said at the launch yesterday of the Partnership Leisure Activities for Young Families (Play) programme.

The programme, organised by the People's Association Family Life Champions, aims to get parents to bond with their children through play and to get families from different races to interact.

A survey commissioned by The Straits Times last year found that 40 per cent of kindergarten-age children go for tuition.

Ms Low stressed, however, that parents can impart skills such as problem-solving through games with building blocks and develop vocabulary by describing what the children are doing as they play.

During the event held at the Grassroots Club in Ang Mo Kio, Ms Low and undergraduates from pre-school training institute Wheelock College put on a performance based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a popular children's book.

Parents also got the chance to complete tasks, such as designing chef's hats, with their children.

Mr Adimoolam Arasakumar, 39, who was there with his wife and two sons, said such programmes give him a chance to spend more time with his children. The director of a construction firm said family time can be limited as he sometimes has to work on Saturdays.

Future activities include frisbee playing and cupcake making - children and parents will team up to shop for the ingredients and bake and decorate the cupcakes.

Whampoa family life champion Pamela Tan, a former early childhood educator, said: "By spending quality playtime with their children, parents can foster a strong relationship and help the children develop essential skills that will be beneficial in their growing years."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2016, with the headline 'Learning and bonding through new Play scheme'. Print Edition | Subscribe