Parents and educators can now turn to a new resource kit to help young children learn about Singapore's history and culture.
The Creative Conversations: Shaping Our Future kit was launched on Saturday by Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling.
The fourth edition in a series, the kit is a joint project by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), National Library Board (NLB), National Museum of Singapore, early childhood educators as well as art and drama specialists.
It contains an interactive story in which a young girl, Bernice, and her archaeologist uncle, Professor Alvis, travel back in time to meet the nation's early settlers - rickshaw pullers, street hawkers, rubber tappers and more.
The kit includes activity cards, a map of Singapore, craft materials and an information booklet.
ECDA said: "The kit will enable educators and parents to help children understand the world their parents, grandparents and ancestors lived in, the lives they led, their struggles, their dreams, and the values that held them together."
Parents and early childhood educators can download the kit that will also be distributed to pre-schools. ECDA aims to reach more than 1,900 pre-schools and log at least 5,000 downloads.
Ms Sun said the kit can be used to help children develop a sense of national identity. "In these unprecedented times, it is all the more important to collaborate with our community partners to create more learning opportunities for our young ones," she added.
The kit also features artefacts which can be found in the National Museum, along with book recommendations and activities put together by the NLB and early childhood educators.
Parents can take their children to suggested places of interest as part of the activities. ECDA said: "When parents and educators spend time engaging in fun educational activities with children, it will help foster positive relationships, which are crucial to the social emotional development of children."
During a plenary discussion at the virtual launch, panellists said creating meaningful conversations with children will help them feel acknowledged and important.
Dr Jacqueline Chung, an ECDA fellow and academic director of Anglican Preschool Services, said parents and educators should try their best to give children their full attention during a conversation.
She added: "It is a challenge, but we have to put in effort to listen attentively to what our children are sharing, even though we may not always understand everything they are saying."
Dr Chung also said asking children open-ended questions could extend the quality and depth of engagement.
Ms Cheryl Wee, an entrepreneur and soon-to-be mother of three, said conversations with her three-year-old son are usually simple, but geared towards what he likes and can relate to.
Dr Jared Ng, a senior consultant at the Institute of Mental Health, suggested using phrases such as "tell me more" or "that's an interesting idea" when conversing with children.
He said: "These show children that we are genuinely interested in them as individuals, which is key to nurturing a meaningful relationship."
The resource kit can be downloaded at http://go.gov.sg/ shapingourfuture.