Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Early Childhood Educator?

Here at MindChamps, much of the learning and thinking processes that our champs go through daily is attributed to the passion and dedication of our team of Champion Teachers. Beyond their love of inspiring and nurturing young minds, our preschool teachers also undergo up to 200 hours of training and accreditation to ensure that they are equipped with the latest skills, techniques and methodologies to deliver the cutting-edge curriculum to our champs.

“It takes a special kind of person to be a teacher, but it takes an extraordinary person to become an amazing trainer, for training – in the MindChamps sense – is far more than imparting knowledge. It is about how we communicate – how we get others to ‘own the knowledge’ and make it a part of them. It is about becoming a role-model for a successful life.”

Mr David Chiem (Founder , Chairman and Group CEO, MindChamps)

 

The following video shows a sneak preview of what goes on during MindChamps’ training for preschool teachers. Find out what our MindChamps teachers have to say about the training and how this has helped them take their preschool teacher career to greater heights.

If you know someone who is considering a career in early childhood education, do feel free to share this video with them:

To be a part of the MindChamps family as a preschool teacher, kindly send in your application to hr@mindchamps.org. Only shortlisted applicants will be notified. 

 

How to Raise a Happy Child: 10 Tips Backed by Science

how to raise a happy child

As parents, we want only the best for our children. We do what we can to secure their future by getting first-hand tips on raising them to be smart and successful from the start. But amongst all these, we realise that what matters most is that their lives are filled with happiness and positivity.

But what’s the secret to raising happy children?

Sometimes we may struggle to find a balance between what’s best for our children and what makes them happy – but these two do not need to be mutually exclusive. Tapping on what studies in the areas of psychology, sociology and neuroscience have proven about confidence, gratefulness and optimism, Christine Carter, Ph.D., author and Executive Director of University of California – Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, narrows down the process to 10 happiness-inducing steps in her book, Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents:

1. Make sure you stay happy yourself

Studies have found that parents who are happy are likely to have happy children, although no genetic link has been proven yet.  However, extensive research has established a link between mothers who feel depressed and behavioural problems in their children, such as the tendency to act out. Through these observations, it was deduced that in order to raise a happy child, the first thing to do is to stay happy yourself. Without you realising it, your child might be mimicking your actions and response to situations – which is why it is important that we do our best to set a good example for them.

How to do it: Because laughter and happiness are contagious, do make an effort to hang out with family and friends who never fail to bring joy to your life. Neuroscientists believe that hearing another person laugh triggers mirror neurons in a region of the brain that makes you feel as though you are laughing too.

 

2. Emphasise the importance of building good relationships

We realise the importance of establishing strong ties with the people in our lives, but how do we teach our children how to relate to others? While it goes beyond just saying, “Hey, stop it” when kids do not get along, the starting point for this is actually quite simple.

How to do it: Start by encouraging your child to perform small acts of kindness or to show empathy for those around them. This can involve participating in a charity drive or helping an elderly neighbour with his/her heavy groceries. Research has shown that apart from building the basic essential skills and encouraging your children to be better people, this makes them happier too in the long run.

 

3. Recognise effort without the need to attain perfection

This serves as a reminder for perfectionist parents to ease their efforts in driving their children’s achievements. When mum and dad place heavy emphasis on success and achievement, their kids are more likely to feel stressed and suffer from psycho-emotional issues such as depression and anxiety as they view their failures as evidence of their incompetence.

How to do it: To keep things in perspective, experts recommend that we shift our praises to the effort our children has put in, rather than focusing on their talents and abilities.

In a series of experiments conducted on fifth graders in the United States, researchers Claudia Mueller and Carol Dweck found that children behaved very differently towards their achievements, depending on the type of praises received. Those who were praised for their intelligence tend to avoid difficult tasks and were more interested to know how they measured up against others. On the other hand, children who were praised for their effort showed opposite trends by preferring challenging tasks from which they could learn from.

“When we praise children for the effort and hard work that leads to achievement, they want to keep engaging in that process. They are not diverted from the task of learning by a concern with how smart they might – or might not – look,” Dweck explains.

 

4. Teach them to be optimistic

Take heed if you would like to know how to skip dealing with sulky teens later on in life. Studies have found that 10-year-olds who are taught how to think and interpret the world in an optimistic manner are half as prone to depression in their teenage years.

In her book, Carter affirms this by stating how optimism is “so closely related to happiness that the two can practically be equated.” Upon comparing pessimists and optimists, she finds that the latter:

  • Are more successful at school, work and athletics
  • Tend to be healthier and live longer
  • End up more satisfied with their marriages
  • Are less likely to deal with depression and anxiety

How to do it: To teach your children to look on the bright side of life, encourage them to count their blessings daily by making a list of three things that went well that day. The three things listed do not need to be life-changing, but they can be things and events that are important to your child (e.g. I made a new friend who loves ice cream as much as I do). Next to each statement, write down the answer to the question, “Why did this happen?”

This technique has been proven to help people – both young and old – feel happier simply because this physical list reminds them of the good things that happened in life and shifts their attention away from the bad ones.

 

5. Raise them to be emotionally intelligent

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to recognise our own feelings and that of others, and to know how to regulate and express them appropriately, and use them effectively to guide our thoughts and behaviour in all situations.

Contrary to popular belief, emotional intelligence is a skill, and not a trait that we possess naturally from birth. With this, it is important to teach our children to understand their own emotions and that of others in order to help them relate and get along well with the people in their lives.

How to do it: You can help your child as he/she struggles with anger or frustration by applying these points – Empathise, Label, and Validate.

Start by acknowledging your child’s emotions when he/she is upset, as this shows that you empathise with him/her. Empathising doesn’t mean you agree with what he/she is doing (your child may have to do what you say), but it brings the message across that he/she is entitled to his/her own perspective.

Throughout the process, do ensure that you label your child’s feelings (e.g. “You are angry at me right now, are you disappointed too?). This helps him/her to understand the various types of emotions and the factors that led to them.

Once you have identified your child’s feelings, let him/her know that it is alright to feel that way. Upon validating their feelings, you can lead the way by teaching them to manage and tolerate the situation without the need to act on them and cause distress to others.

 

Dedicating more time for play and quality family time might just be what you need to see your child’s happiness level soar. More on this and other scientifically-validated tips for raising happy kids on the next page.

5 Things You Can Do to Help Your P5 Child Prepare for PSLE

psle preparation in p5

We all want our children to do well in their studies and exams, especially the all-important PSLE in Primary 6. While current P6 students are feeling the stress and are frantically doing what they can to prepare for PSLE which is just months away, this does not make things any easier for your child in Primary 5 who will be in the exact situation next year.

Education experts often recommend early preparation as the secret to PSLE success. But what can you and your child do to kick start the PSLE preparations now without letting stress get to the both of you?

Here are some areas to focus on to help you and your child stay ahead of the PSLE preparations in P5:

1. Start a study timetable and set realistic targets

Start preparing for the big exam early by drawing up a practical and realistic study timetable to help your child get the most out of the time he/she has available. From the timetable, both of you can zoom in further to establish realistic and measurable goals which he/she is confident about achieving.

If your child is not one who has been scoring straight A’s throughout his/her primary school life, it may not be realistic to expect him/her to work towards that for PSLE. Instead, since your child has the advantage of time on his/her side, you could encourage him/her to focus on perfecting one module at a time before moving on to the next. By conquering the task in bite-sized pieces, your child’s confidence level will increase and his/her performance might just surpass both your expectations.

2. Reinforce the relevance of studying

Discuss with your child on his/her aspirations in terms of the secondary school, junior college or university that he/she hopes to attend. However, be mindful and nurturing about the way you approach the subject and do refrain from making judgemental remarks which may make your child feel discouraged. This discussion will help to reinforce the reasons why he/she should put in the effort to study hard and get good results for PSLE, because at the end of the day all these will help him/her reach his/her goals.

3. Explore proven study methods and exam strategies

Instead of letting your child get caught up in a marathon of assessment books and past exam papers, take some time to look up on study methods that can help him/her prepare for the exams better. Try them out and see if they are suitable for your child and make necessary tweaks according to your child’s strengths. Talking to his/her teachers and other parents whose children have gone through PSLE on strategies for tackling exam questions helps to make the study preparation more effective.

4. Instil a positive mindset towards learning

Oftentimes, the one thing that is holding back your child in reaching his/her fullest potential lies in his/her lack of interest in learning. You can help to turn this around by zooming in on what is expected of your child for each subject to ease his/her confusion and frustrations towards the study preparation.  With the right mindset and learning strategies in place, your child will be able to handle the PSLE preparations with confidence and ease.

5. Practice balance and don’t leave fun out of the picture

Although you are helping your child stay on track of his/her PSLE preparations, it is equally important to create a balance in his/her life. Make sure your child gets enough rest and has enough time to destress by doing other things that interest him/her such as watching TV, spending time with friends or playing his/her favourite sports. This teaches your child about goal-setting and achievement while taking care of his/her emotional and physical growth and well-being to avoid getting a burnout.

 

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Kick Start Your Child’s PSLE Preparation with MindChamps Enrichment Programmes

Apart from helping your child start his/her study plans for PSLE early with the suggested actions discussed above, you can take this a step further by enrolling him/her for the following MindChamps Enrichment programmes:

Professor Snyder’s Thinking Cap Learning System (For P1 & P2)

psle preparation in p5

Let your child benefit from MindChamps’ proprietary Professor Snyder’s Thinking Cap Learning System that meets and goes beyond the latest requirements in the MOE curriculum. This programme empowers your children with effective learning and thinking skills to help them excel in school, and fosters emotional resilience and effective communication skills in them. The combination of all these skills will greatly benefit him/her during the learning journey in primary and secondary school, as well as upon moving on to tertiary studies and beyond.

Primary 5 Success™/PSLE Success™

psle preparation in p5

MindChamps’ Primary 5 Success™ and PSLE Success™ programme is developed with the specific purpose of equipping your child with proven strategies to excel in his/her PSLE English, Maths, Science and Chinese exams with confidence. In line with MOE’s syllabus, the programme features the proprietary OPTIMAL FLOW METHOD™, a special ‘brain-friendly’ approach to learning the curriculum where students learn to actively understand and recall concepts effectively. This method has been found to be more effective compared to when subjects are taught separately and students struggle with joining the pieces into a coherent whole.

Ask us about our “100% Money Back Guarantee” terms when you enrol your child in the Primary 5 Success/PSLE Success by August 2016!

 

Find out more about the programmes and enjoy great savings when you enrol your child by 30 June 2016!

(Be sure to indicate “MC BLOG” under Other Sources upon filling out your details)

What Exactly Is A Chinese Pre-school & Why You Should Enrol Your Child Into One?

reasons to send children to a chinese preschool

Numerous studies conducted in recent years have shown how being bilingual gives children an advantage in skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking, as well as the ability to stay focused on a given task longer.

Locally in Singapore, there has been increased emphasis on the learning and use of Chinese among children. This has stemmed as an effort to balance the use of English as the primary language of communication in most households today, coupled with the increased use of Chinese in business environments wherein having an advantage in the language could lead to better career opportunities. The combination of all these factors has led to greater emphasis placed on getting children to start learning the Chinese language from a tender age and giving them a good head start by going through a specialised Chinese curriculum in preschool.

But how exactly do your children benefit from attending a Chinese preschool versus a regular preschool where they get scheduled Chinese lessons every day?  The following are some ways in which a specialised Chinese curriculum in a Chinese preschool shapes your children’s learning and development:

1. It enables them to think, understand and communicate in two languages

In a Chinese preschool, a majority of the daily lessons are conducted in Chinese while a selected few focus on English. Chinese is also used as the main language of instruction between teachers and children. This creates an integrated bilingual environment which exposes children to both languages and enables them to think, understand and communicate effectively in two languages. As a result, the learning of both languages takes place in a natural environment, making the process meaningful and relevant.

2. Your child will master the rules of each language faster

Contrary to popular belief, exposing children to two or more languages during the first years does not confuse them – nor does it delay the development of your child in any of the languages.

In a study conducted on 72 infants at the National University of Singapore (NUS), it was revealed that one-year-olds who are exposed to both English and Chinese are able to detect tone changes in Mandarin. At the same time, the subjects ignored tone changes in English, which demonstrates their ability to differentiate the two languages and understand the different rules of each language.

The results of the NUS study affirms the fact that being adept in two or more languages helps your child filter the differences and similarities between them. Additionally, this also benefits their analytical skills as they exercise their ability to transfer skills across the different languages.

3. The curriculum lets them experience the language on a deeper level

In a Chinese preschool, the curriculum offers opportunities for children to take their learning of the Chinese language beyond books and worksheets by exploring elements of Chinese through culture, music and art. Their learning discoveries help to build a genuine interest in Chinese from young and allow children to appreciate and understand the language better.

A great example of this can be seen through the Chinese Culture Appreciation programme conducted during in-between terms at MindChamps Chinese PreSchool. During the programme, children from all levels will gain an insight into China’s rich history and culture through hands-on activities such as clay modelling, Chinese painting, calligraphy and more.

4. It prepares them for the mother tongue requirements in primary school

Upon entering primary school in Singapore, children of Chinese descent are required to take Chinese as their mother tongue language. Building a solid foundation in Chinese during the preschool years helps them pick up the language more effectively while the Chinese preschool’s learning environment encourages them to respond positively to the language. All these factors work together to help them cope with the Chinese language lessons and assessments during the primary school years, even if their parents do not have that foundation in the language themselves.

5. The learning experience helps to build your child’s character and confidence

Learning a new language such as Chinese takes time as knowledge and skills are gradually built up until they become proficient. The more time your child spends learning and using Chinese to communicate, the better he/she will be at it. Along the way, your child will also be taught on the importance of positive values such as self-reflection, compassion and integrity, which shapes his/her character in the years ahead.

All these and more embodies the MindChamps Chinese PreSchool curriculum, which focuses on nurturing your child’s mind in a positive Chinese speaking learning environment and inspiring them with the Champion Mindset. Here, character-building for preschoolers is carried out by emphasising a set of 10 positive values, each of which relates to a Chinese idiom and a story behind it.

reasons to send children to a chinese preschool

Find out how MindChamps Chinese PreSchool can provide your child with a strong foundation in Chinese in the early years, and book a visit to our Tampines Central centre. 

reasons to send children to a chinese preschool

 

Say Something Other Than “Good Job!” – 4 Tips for Praising Kids

tips for praising kids

As parents, we often struggle to find the right balance when it comes to praising our kids. While there is no “one size fits all” guideline for praising, child psychologists say that understanding the intent and effects of praise on kids serve as a good start in boosting their self-esteem and confidence, as well as to encourage good behaviour.

Why Is Praise Important for Kids?

Oftentimes, we tend to focus on the things our kids are doing wrong that we overlook their efforts to do well in other areas. This can bring negative consequences to their self-image and may hinder them from putting in the effort to be on their best behaviour and accomplish their goals.

No matter how old your kids are, your praise and encouragement will help them feel good about themselves. By praising your kids, you set them off on the right path towards positive behaviour. In the long run, this will also strengthen the bond that you share with your kids.

Praising Kids: 4 Practical Tips to Get It Right

tips for praising kids

When it comes to getting the right balance when praising, it is the quality of praise that is more important than the quantity.

According to experts, praise can be conveyed in various forms apart from expressing it verbally. Hugs and high-fives can be just as effective in telling your kids that you are proud of them and the efforts that they’ve made.

Paul Donahue, author of Parenting Without Fear: Letting Go of Worry and Focussing on What Really Matters; and Jenn Berman, a marriage and family therapist and author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy and Confident Kids, offer the following tips for parents to help them set off on the right path to praising their kids:

1. Be Specific

When you praise your kids, make sure to be as specific and descriptive as possible when pointing out the things that they did right.

According to Berman, being specific helps to make things clear to your kids and they’d be able to identify the areas that they are good at based on your comments.

So, instead of just saying, “Good job!” when complimenting your child for a nicely written essay, you can say something like, “I like the way you begin your essay by describing the problem and explaining why it’s important.”

2. Be Sincere

When we offer praise, it should always be genuine, using words that come from our hearts.

“Kids will have a way of knowing when your praise is insincere, and when it is, you lose trust. Worse yet, they become insecure because they don’t believe your positive words, and they find difficulty in telling the difference between when you really mean it and when you don’t,” Berman says.

On the other hand, Donahue emphasises that when parents offer words of encouragement to their children – and mean the words they say – this will give kids the assurance that their parents recognise the value of their hard work and are aware that they’d gone to great lengths to accomplish those goals.

3. Encourage Them to Try Something New

As parents, we want our kids to be brave when it comes to trying new things and not be held back by their fears of making mistakes or dealing with setbacks. According to Donahue, the key to embed this behaviour in our kids’ minds is to praise them for trying new things while encouraging them to keep up with their efforts.

4. It’s the Process that Counts

When praising and encouraging kids, it is important for parents to recognise their kids’ efforts to push themselves and work hard to achieve a goal. After all, don’t we feel motivated to push ourselves further knowing that there are people around us who appreciate our efforts?

Donahue, who widely believes in this stance, emphasises that it is the process, not the end product that matters.

“Not all kids will be fantastic athletes or brilliant students or accomplished musicians. But children who learn to work hard and persevere have a special talent,” he said.

 

Suggested Reading: 5 Values to Teach Your Kids Before They Turn 5

 

8 Benefits of Teaching Your Child to Read and Write Early

teach your child to read and write early

Children start learning about language from the moment they are born. As they grow up, their speech and language skills become more complex as they learn to understand and use language to bring across their ideas, thoughts, and feelings, as well as to communicate their needs to others.

During this stage of early speech and language development, children pick up skills that set the stage for literacy development. Giving your child an early head start in reading and writing comes with a host of benefits, and studies have found that working on one area (reading) leads the development of the other (writing).

Here are 8 ways your child will benefit from learning to read and write during the early years:

1. Reading helps your child’s brain to keep growing

During the first six years, the speed of your child’s learning development is at its fastest compared to at any other time in their lives. Vital connections in the brain are formed very early in life and a healthy baby is born with approximately 200 billion active brain cells (also known as neurons). With the right kind of stimulation, each of these brain cells is capable of developing up to 20,000 connections – a direct result of stimulation your child receives through early experiences. All these connections eventually form the basis of all future learning.

As you read to your child, existing links among brain cells are strengthened and new links are formed. When your child learns to read independently, the process of learning is greatly influenced by the functioning and development of the brain as a whole. You can help him/her along in this journey by encouraging the efforts put in and instilling a lifelong love of learning and reading.

2. Early reading leads the way to academic success

Reading has the power to inspire a love of learning in your child which will eventually lead him/her towards early academic success.

Studies have shown that strong oral language skills form a strong foundation for literacy development. When children learn to read at a young age, they have greater knowledge of things around them and their vocabulary keeps growing which helps them to become more fluent readers.

Early readers have the ability to recognise a larger collection of words by sight, and this enables them to learn more from and about their environment. As they grow up, early readers also become competent researchers who are able to study effectively and extract relevant information from various sources of information such as books and websites. Longitudinal studies have shown that early readers continue to get better results than their peers in school, which leads to a love for learning within them, for life.

3. Early reading sparks your child’s curiosity and imagination

When your child reads from a young age, it ignites his/her curiosity and imagination. You can use interesting illustrations and word patterns to get your child talking about what he/she is seeing and thinking, and help him/her understand the patterns of language. Reading also sparks your children’s curiosity about people, places and things around them, and gives them the answers through explanations of how things work.

Reading promotes maturity and higher order thinking skills in your child. When you explore stories together with your child, he/she learns the difference between what’s “real” and “make-believe”. Over time, this will help him/her develop his/her own ideas which inspire creativity – a tool which could come in handy in the future for problem-solving.

4. Early reading boosts your child’s confidence

When your child starts reading as a baby or toddler, he/she is unlikely to succumb to peer and psychological pressures than if he/she were to pick up this skill later on.

As your child has yet to start school, you will have the flexibility to teach him/her to read a few pages each day in a relaxed mode. Because there is no rush, you can stop before he/she gets tired. Through this, you are building the love of reading in your child from the start, and the both of you can treat reading time as an exciting adventure, rather than a drilling process. Over time, your child will gain confidence in reading, especially when he/she is able to catch up and participate in reading activities in school.

 

How does your child’s early reading efforts pave the way towards writing success? Find out more on the next page.

MindChamps Read-Along App

The MindChamps Read-Along mobile app is a story time app specially developed for children from 3 to 9 years old.
With this app, you can
• Customise your child’s library of online books based on his/her literacy level
• Test your child’s level of comprehension after each story with simple guided questions
• Improve your child’s memory with simple memory games
• Entertain your child with the built-in colouring activities
• Choose to listen to the narrator or record your own narration so that your child can listen to it even when you are not around
• And much more…

app-store google-play

 

 

The Importance of Role Play in Early Childhood Development

importance of role playing

Role-play is one of the most natural activities a preschooler can participate in, and is an important way for them to learn about the world.

As a parent, you may have observed your child pretending to make dinner, have an argument with a friend, work in an office or look after a baby.

Role-play enables children to develop many important life skills, by giving them an opportunity to rehearse real-life situations in a safe, low threat environment.

Children often encounter confusing or difficult situations at home or in school. Role-play enables children to recreate in their own way the things they’ve experienced in order to understand them better.

If they have an opportunity to role-play a situation before it happens, they may be better prepared to respond when they face the real-life situation. If children have already faced such a problem, role-playing may give them ideas for alternative ways to handle it if it happens again.

Young children act out real or imagined situations not just as themselves, but also as other people or characters.

When preschoolers pretend to be another person or character – such as friends, family members, characters in story books or super-heroes – they are experimenting with alternative viewpoints on the world which help them develop key emotional and social skills.

As parents, we can encourage and help our children participate in role-play in two important ways:

  • Firstly, we can allow children the time, space and resources – such as old clothes for costumes – to facilitate play.
  • Secondly, we can participate in role-plays with our children and help guide them towards positive solutions to social and emotional problems. By sharing the role-play, we are allowing the child to discover and own insights, which they may not absorb from a lecture or a list of dos and don’ts.

importance of role playing

Some Benefits of Parents Role-Playing with Children

When parents role-play with their children they have the opportunity to model positive behaviours.  Through the character or other person, children can observe how their parent might deal with a particular problem.

This also provides parents with an opportunity to demonstrate their values, such as kindness, sharing and respect, which can be expressed through each character they play.

Any time a parent is ‘playing’ with a child, it is a bonding experience that increases the attachment between them.

This in turn increases a child’s sense of Safety, Belonging and Self Esteem – the key foundations of healthy emotional growth according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

 

Not sure on how to get started with role-playing with children? Check out some tips on the next page…