SINGAPORE - School programmes to better support their pupils before and after lessons are back, from mass dance sessions before assembly to after-school programmes where pupils learn new skills and games.
Several schools have been expanding such offerings, with the end of Covid-19 restrictions on group sizes from April 26 enabling them to run programmes involving large groups across cohorts.
At Chongzheng Primary in Tampines, pupils gather once a week for a 15-minute session with their year heads. It helps the school create a sense of community and camaraderie, said principal James Lim.
The optional programme runs from 7.15am on Mondays for lower primary, Wednesdays for middle primary and Fridays for upper primary pupils before assembly at 7.30am.
The programme is an expansion of one the school ran last year where teachers would check in on their form classes over Zoom when schools here were forced to do home-based learning due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
When physical lessons returned last year, the school expanded these short check-ins to this programme, now called Year Head Connect.
When The Straits Times visited the school on May 18, nearly all of the 390 Primary 3 and 4 pupils were present for the programme.
Primary 4 pupil Stuti Menon, 10, said: "It is very nice to see everyone. We get the chance to talk to those in different classes."
The school has received positive feedback on the programme from pupils and parents and now plans to double the number of sessions a week from next semester.
Schools have the autonomy to implement such programmes or activities, said the Education Ministry.
Schools take into consideration factors such as their start and end time and educational objectives as well as their pupils' learning and development needs to determine programmes or activities that would be suitable and beneficial for their pupils, the ministry added.
It said: "Our schools may offer a diverse range of before-school programmes or activities to support and engage pupils who arrive in school early.
"There are also various after-school programmes to enrich pupils' learning experience."
Varsha, 10, says no to pollution at morning assembly programme by Farrer Park Primary
Saddened by the rubbish she has seen in Singapore's waters, Saravana Prakash Saivarsha, 10, decided to tell all her schoolmates about the dangers of pollution.
Varsha, a Primary 5 pupil at Farrer Park Primary, was given the opportunity to present her case to her peers to reduce waste at her school's before-school programme.
Known as Tick Talk, the programme allows pupils of any age to present an idea or any fact which interests them to their entire school.
Bedok Green Primary starts Friday mornings with a hop, skip and a Jump Jam
Every Friday, pupils at Bedok Green Primary gather from 7.15am to hop, skip and jump.
Teachers and even principal Benjamin Yong also join in and some pupils lead the rest of the school from the stage in a dance-style activity which gets the whole school moving.
Dancing along to two or three songs screened by a projector in the school hall, the pupils mimic movements which combine elements of aerobics and taichi for a morning workout in the school's weekly programme known as Jump Jam.
Friday afternoon programme at Chua Chu Kang Primary helps pupils find their feet
He changed schools at the start of the year but the after-school programme at Chua Chu Kang Primary, his new school, has helped Darren Tan find new friends.
For the past five Fridays, Darren, 10, has spent about two hours after school studying and playing games with his new friends - Primary 5 pupil Nur Amelia Mohamad Noor and Prakatishwaran Letchuman, who is in Primary 6.
The Primary 4 pupil told The Straits Times: "I really like it (the programme) and I have learnt many new things about good habits and friendship here."
Kranji Primary teachers go the extra mile to provide daily after-school programme
Two years ago, Kranji Primary year head Nur Fazalina Hussin and senior school counsellor Roy Tan started a weekly programme teaching "circus skills" to pupils who needed more help coming out of their shells.
When they saw the positive impact the after-school programme was having on their pupils, they and their team took it upon themselves to go the extra mile and make it a daily programme from January.
Now every day after school, seven teachers take turns to run the Out-Of-The-Box programme, where pupils take part in activities such as origami and balloon sculpting as well as sports.