Temasek poly students learn from kids at experimental kindergarten

President Tony Tan visiting Play@TP, the polytechnic's experimental kindergarten, where poly students taking an early childhood studies course get a chance to teach pre-schoolers under the guidance of a mentor-teacher, while the kids are encouraged t
President Tony Tan visiting Play@TP, the polytechnic's experimental kindergarten, where poly students taking an early childhood studies course get a chance to teach pre-schoolers under the guidance of a mentor-teacher, while the kids are encouraged to solve problems creatively using technology-enabled toys.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

To a class of about 20 pre-school charges, Mr Danial Ayub Mansul is one of two teachers who guide their learning through play and problem-solving.

But the 19-year-old is also a student himself.

He is among 600 or so students enrolled in an early childhood studies course at Temasek Polytechnic, and one of four interns now teaching at the institution's experimental kindergarten.

"I am learning a lot here. It's very beneficial for us to apply our knowledge with children in real life," said Mr Ayub, whose first-hand experience with the pre-schoolers will help him with his final-year project.

The Preschool Learning Academy, or Play@TP, is a highlight for students at the polytechnic who are taking the early childhood course.

Those who get to be interns are paired with a teacher-mentor to teach classes at the kindergarten for six months, while the other students spend 30 hours per semester there engaged in small-group teaching and observation.

Play@TP, located on the polytechnic's campus, functions as a typical kindergarten with toys and learning materials, and is open from 7am to 7pm, Mondays to Fridays.

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Among the learning materials, what stands out are the kindergarten's technology-enabled toys, such as blocks with barcodes on them that the children can scan as part of their learning.

Play@TP principal Fiona Yow, 31, said: "These toys inspire pre-schoolers to solve problems using technology. It enhances their creativity and curiosity, and helps in their social and emotional development."

The children learn basic programming, and build simple circuits with LED lights and copper tape.

 

President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who visited the polytechnic yesterday, said he was glad to see developments at polytechnics that help broaden students' education.

"Because of the changing nature of the workforce, education for students needs to be more industry-specific and relevant to the workplace," he said.

Another important initiative for the polytechnic is the Temasek Advanced Learning, Nurturing and Testing Lab. Senior students in cyber security and digital forensics courses started using it in April.

The lab, set up in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, offers training in cyber-crime investigation, and gives students a safe and controlled environment where they can hone their skills.

Dr Tan pointed out: "There is a growing need in Singapore in the field of cyber security. It has been estimated that there will be 4,000 to 5,000 new jobs in the field in the coming years.

"We have seen or read about various types of attacks on companies, software and computers. The field keeps on advancing. We have to develop our own professionals who are capable."

Mr Ayub said his experience has helped him overcome his initial doubts about working in the early childhood sector.

"Watching my mentor-teacher has been really beneficial for me. I'm able to see how to take care of the kids," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2017, with the headline 'Temasek poly students learn from kids at experimental kindergarten'. Print Edition | Subscribe