Pre-schools to test new learning approach aimed to help those from low-income families

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, visits the PCF Sparkletots preschool@Kebun Baru. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - A new teaching method will be tested in pre-schools islandwide with the aim of supporting the development of infants and toddlers from low-income families.

The Abecedarian Approach is a learning approach that emphasises language development and quality one-to-one adult-child interactions to stimulate child development and growth.

The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) and Temasek Foundation Cares, which announced this pilot initiative on Wednesday (July 11), explained that the programme will be for newborns till those aged three.

ECDA will work with pre-school operators to train 60 teachers and identify about 100 children across 16 NTUC My First Skool, PCF Sparkletots, Persatuan Pemudi Islam Singapura (PPIS) and Presbyterian Community Services preschools to participate in the pilot.

The programme will be rolled out to more schools if the results of the pilot are positive.

The Abecedarian Approach is an evidence-based programme developed by American Professor Joseph Sparling and Professor Craig Ramey, which is being used around the world including countries like the United States, Denmark and China.

It focuses on language priority, conversational reading, and enriched caregiving and learning games.

At the launch on Wednesday, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development associate professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, said the programme supports the government's efforts to invest in quality, accessible and affordable preschool education.

Speaking at PCF Sparkletots @ Kebun Baru, he said: "In particular, AA provides pre-school teachers additional evidence-based tools to enhance their classroom practices, and further support the development of children from lower-income backgrounds."

Chairman of Temasek Foundation Cares, Mr Richard Magnus, added: "Children have a natural curiosity to explore, discover and learn. Through intentional and meaningful interactions with adults, this programme will help children to expand their cognitive, language and emotional abilities. Their parents will learn to reinforce the lessons and learning. This is a critical developmental pilot which we hope will be scaled up."

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