A Garden Preschool Where Both Students and Educators Learn

Preschools nowadays are a nexus of learning opportunities, not just for preschoolers, but staff too.

At a learning journey to Skool4Kidz’ flagship centre at Sengkang Riverside Park with e2i (Employment & Employability Institute), I learnt about the exciting partnerships both parties have embarked on to improve the quality of early childhood education.

Skool4Kidz’s flagship centre, Campus @ Sengkang Riverside Park

The flagship centre, Campus @ Sengkang Riverside Park, looks more like a botanical museum than a typical preschool. This campus is also the first-ever large preschool centre in a park, developed via a partnership with NParks.

In 2014, Kinderland Consortium’s Skool4Kidz was appointed by Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) as a Preschool Anchor Operator to provide quality and affordable preschool services.

Indoor garden at the atrium.

There are gardens outside of and within the preschool, and these play a part of the Nature Curriculum that provides children with opportunities to experience Mother Nature first-hand i.e. children harvest their own produce which is later used to prepare meals.

The interior of Campus @ Sengkang Riverside Park is warm and welcoming (Location: Atelier Loft & Reading Space)

The play corridor on the 2nd level of the campus encompasses sand pits, tricycles (trikes), and a sound wall which builds auditory awareness through exploration of everyday objects (soundscape). These facilities encourage growth in the children’s gross motor skills in a safe and fun environment.

Dr Jane Ching-Kwan, a leader in the early childhood sector, founded a unique programme which focuses on integrated learning.

Supported by meaningful use of technology, Skool4Kidz aims to nurture preschoolers’ creative mindset and savviness in technology in a rich learning environment, preparing them with 21st-century life-skills.

An early childhood educator demonstrates how she uses an interactive whiteboard to tell a story of “My Big Family”, using her stylus to drag and drop characters one by one from the door to the table.

Running an integrated learning programme also means that their early childhood educators need to be prepared and equipped to use new tools for their classes and have more hands-on learning experiences themselves to be familiarised with new technologies and techniques.

Skool4Kidz early childhood educators currently learn skills conveniently using different modes such as video-conferencing so they can remain in their respective centres, which reduces time spent travelling to one single centre for training. Training is broken into bite-sized, regular sessions where educators share their projects and insights with each other remotely.

To keep up with Industry 4.0 trends, Skool4Kids and e2i have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support early childhood educators to be Worker 4.0 where these educators will have access to more adaptive, technological and technical skills.

Hence, Skool4Kidz has embarked on multiple partnerships to improve the quality of early childhood education:

  • Partnership with e2i, career fairs
  • Partnership with Apple Education Group
  • Partnership with AWWA to support community initiatives
  • Partnership with Children’s Cancer Foundation
  • Partnership with Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) – Playmaker Programme
Staff from Skool4Kidz and e2i (in red) having a virtual conversation with several early childhood educators based in different Skool4Kidz centres islandwide.

e2i (set up by NTUC to help workers into employment and improve their employability) discussed with Skool4Kidz on identifying training gaps and needs for Industry 4.0. Jointly, they aim to support employees to become Worker 4.0 by upskilling, reskilling and/or retraining in adaptive, technological and technical skills.

By helping employees increase their employability and contribute to productivity growth, this allows them to enjoy better rewards through career development, progression and salary remuneration sustainably.

Among several Worker 4.0 initiatives discussed between e2i and Skool4Kidz, the two parties aim to identify and implement automation and technology initiatives to heighten productivity and enhance capabilities of the educators.

For employment, e2i and Skool4Kidz are also working on innovating and organising dedicated job matching programmes such as dedicated career fairs, career exploration journeys to attract local workforce to join the Skool4Kidz. With more new centres coming up, Skool4Kidz will need to find suitable candidates to join the centres.

In addition, Skool4Kidz aims to be an attractive employer to work for by providing a nurturing environment with specially tailored talent programmes and staff benefits such as attractive baby and childcare privileges.

With the early childhood industry pivoting towards Industry 4.0 with partners like e2i, hopefully there will be more good jobs with better pay in this sector for Singaporeans.

To learn more about e2i’s support for Early Childhood Industry, click here.

To attract and retain more Early Childhood professionals to the sector, e2i and the Early Childhood Development Agency have an ongoing Virtual Career Fair from 26 October 2020 to 27 Nov 2020. There will also be ongoing webinars by key anchor operators such as Skool4Kidz for jobseekers to learn more about the Early Childhood sector.

If you are new to the sector or if you are considering a mid-career switch, the National Institute of Early Childhood Development will also be coming in to share more about the training programmes available for you to do a career switch.

Special thanks to e2i and Skool4Kidz for the learning journey and information. All photos were taken before Circuit Breaker.

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