Pre-school pupils learn to care for community

This year's Start Small Dream Big initiative, where pre-schoolers will work with their centres and parents on community projects, was launched at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park yesterday.
This year's Start Small Dream Big initiative, where pre-schoolers will work with their centres and parents on community projects, was launched at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park yesterday. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Over 20,000 kids will work on projects like visiting the elderly, raising funds for charity

More than 20,000 children from 300 pre-schools will do their part for the community this year, from visiting the elderly to taking part in fund-raising walks and spreading the message on saving wildlife.

This is the second edition of the Start Small Dream Big initiative by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).

Last year, 150 pre-schools and 8,000 children participated.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who launched this year's initiative at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park yesterday, said it is never too early to start caring for the community.

He said: "The whole idea is to start our young children on our journey towards caring for the community and helping others."

RAISING AWARENESS

By giving our students and teachers the opportunity to learn about endangered animals, we are also showing care for the environment.

MS SUSAN TAN, branch principal of Kinderland @ Ministry of Manpower.

The pre-schoolers, aged five and six, will work with their centres and parents on a range of community projects.

Pat's Schoolhouse Tanglin, for example, is organising a charity walk to raise funds for the Children's Cancer Foundation.

At Kinderland, 800 pupils across its 18 branches will learn about endangered animals, especially the pangolin.

The learning journey will culminate in a carnival at the Singapore Zoo for Kinderland pupils, teachers and parents.

Ms Susan Tan, branch principal of Kinderland @ Ministry of Manpower, said pupils can also remind their parents to look out for animals crossing the roads while driving.

For instance, an average of two pangolins a year have been found dead on major roads around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve from 1994 to 2014.

Said Ms Tan: "By giving our students and teachers the opportunity to learn about endangered animals, we are also showing care for the environment."

Six-year-old Katelyn Ng said she was excited about visiting the zoo with her parents and classmates.

"We are going to save the endangered animals," she said.

A 2014 ECDA survey of parents showed that nine out of 10 wished for their children to be gracious and caring.

Pointing to the survey results, Mr Tan said: "We sometimes think that parents are very kiasu, worried about academic results.

"But they actually place individual development, in terms of values development, higher than academic (results).

"I think it's really about starting the habit early and starting young."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2016, with the headline 'Pre-school pupils learn to care for community'. Print Edition | Subscribe