Wednesday, October 15, 2008

At Play School in Singapore

A chance meeting with a teacher on a travel web site is all that it took me to see, know and understand an early education system in Singapore.

My limited educational domain had always perceived a ‘play school’ as an essential escape route for working parents to ensure that their kids are physically safe, well fed and have their nappies changed on time. For me, a concept of a ‘play school’ as a temple for nurturing everlasting values in small kids was always a utopian model. Add to that was an Indian mindset that was overeager to slot professions based on the number of alphabets present in an educational degree. With that pre-conceived notion of a ‘play school’ and their teachers, my visit to The Moral Childcare Centre

It was past lunch time that I arrived at the school after navigating streets of Alexandra. Curtains were pulled over to create compulsory lullaby siesta time for kids. Most of the kids were already in deep slumber on their kid size foam mattress laid symmetrically on floor. Their crouched bodies under the bed sheet reflected their unsuccessful struggle to avoid going to bed. Few intrepid toddlers were still resisting the dictates of teachers but rhythmic tapping of their tiny backs by dedicated teachers was thwarting their attempts. This school was a combination of two villas with an open courtyard in between. The open space had children play swings and slides but I felt it would have been safer if the floor was to be covered by sand or cushioned floor to prevent any accidental fall. Perhaps there could be a reason of not doing so with a fear of hygiene. Walls both inside and exteriors of the building. were painted with bright yellow, ocher red and parrot green colors. School was loosely segregated among different age groups. Smallest with age of 18 months and eldest one with 6 years and plus. Design of toilet and wash basin was cute with height not more than few feet and size small enough to stand and wash their tiny face and hands. I wonder if there are any toilets with plastic moulds with cartoon characters than bland white ceramic ones.

A cute little library with books neatly arranged on shelf along with a stand to house shoes and well equipped kitchen that provided nutritious food to children. The Moral Childcare school – under watchful eyes of Ms Geetha does strive hard to justify the name that have chosen identify.
and interaction with its Principal Ms Geetha Nambiar – a postgraduate in psychology - was a pleasant revelation.
Akshta was special invitee by Ms Geetha who was doing a project on cognizance behavioral aspects of children under different ambient settings. Akshta tagged around me as we entered the premises but slowly seeing the swings her grip loosened and in no time, she was out of my clutches swayed by the new ambience full of color toys lovable teachers and chirping toddlers. Akshta immediately took fancy for this new yet pleasant setting. I think the best recognition school can get is an acceptance by a child who visits them first time.

All the rooms in the school were wired with CCTV cameras and monitored by Geetha on her desk. Her office had an adjacent isolation room for any baby who may have fallen sick and another training room that housed all the toys. Her office looked like a benevolent command center with a symbol of meticulousness and discipline retaining the friendly appearance. Mundane Information of telephone numbers too pepped up with splash of colors and cartoons. Next to her table was a miniature sofa –that would sure to captivate any child. Akshta took to this sofa as if it was her rightful throne.

I couldn’t capture the names of the teachers but their faces showed how much they enjoyed their work and how much pride they take in their school.

My first experience to Singapore play school may have been made me go little overboard with my admiration. However, Ms Geetha says ‘everything is as per the guidelines of Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports/ Ministry of Education and with systems and procedures in place- most childcare centres would have identical ambience and skills’. Small is beautiful. With small country like Singapore, it is easier to design, manage and maintain the quality education system in Singapore. And this reflects as the children grow up. I am yet to see in Singapore teenagers huddled around street corners, cigarette or teashop something that I had indulged with gay abundance and considered as a fundamental right of Indian college student.

Just few weeks before my interaction with this school. I had finished a book on Education - Towards Inner Transformation – a book part of The Mannam series published by Chinmaya Mission. This book given to us by Anu & Vineet was very enriching. “What’s the right age to teach children about spirituality?” a question often asked by parents to Swami Chinmayanand. His answer was ‘before the child is born ‘.Moral Childcare seems to have taken to his advice earnestly. When you look at children of this, school it is no longer a surprise that they are so well nurtured.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous esaygoing-geetha said...

Disadvantages of putting sand as flooring for the playground
It is not hygienic as young children playing at the playground tend to do the followings:
1) To scoop sand playfully with their bare hands and at times putting their hands automatically into their mouths experimenting into the taste of sand which is not only unhygienic but also dangerous as there might be minute sharp objects in them causing unnecessary concerns/accidents.
2) To scoop sand with their bare hands and playfully throw it at their classmates. In doing so, sand might get into the eyes of the classmates causing potential eye infection.
3) Some children have sensitive skin and they might be allergy to sand.
4) Some harmful insects can also be found in the sand.

4:10 PM  
Blogger wendy said...

My name is Wendy.I came across your blog accidently. The name of the childcare caught my attention.

Having been with the centre since 2002, with two children enrolled there, we are witness to the great changes made by the centre's principal, Ms Geetha.Besides the enormous task of having to renovate the centre, we noticed that the principal and staff were truly committed to their work. we were able to see that Ms Geetha is very involved with the education of the children and the children love her very much.
I would like to thank Ms Geetha for the patience and love shown to my children.

There is this saying 'Teachers come and teachers go, but one among them leaves an ever lasting impression with them' and that one was "You" MS Geetha.

I salute you for being helpful, responsible, caring, considerate and an excellent teacher and principal.

Wendy

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a parent of two children at “The Moral Childcare Centre”. My sister told me about this blog. Mrs. Geetha the principal has been a prominent figure in this centre for the past four years. She has personal touch and soothing words for the children, and provides unconditional love and care for them. She always greets all the parents with a smile, even though she is stressed up. (Sometimes I wonder how she can do it.)She also listens to our problems. She has been a very good role model to all the teachers and children. The best of all this is any feedback or complains pertaining to the centre or teachers (Positive or negative) given by the parents is handled very professionally and diligently by her.
We are all sad that the centre has to move from this location to Bukit Batok. It is so far and difficult for us to send our children there. My kids want to follow Miss Geetha. Most of the parents feel the same like I feel.
We would like to thank Mrs. Geetha for her dedication and professionionalism as the principal of the centre and wish her good luck. Lastly I would like to certify Mrs. Geetha as “An outstanding Educator”. Well done and keep it up.

Note: I am not good at writing so you may change the mistakes I made. Anything please e-mail. Ngj40@yahoo.com.sg. My name is jessica

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a parent of two children at “The Moral Childcare Centre”. My sister told me about this blog. Mrs. Geetha the principal has been a prominent figure in this centre for the past four years. She has personal touch and soothing words for the children, and provides unconditional love and care for them. She always greets all the parents with a smile, even though she is stressed up. (Sometimes I wonder how she can do it.)She also listens to our problems. She has been a very good role model to all the teachers and children. The best of all this is any feedback or complains pertaining to the centre or teachers (Positive or negative) given by the parents is handled very professionally and diligently by her.

We are all sad that the centre has to move from this location to Bukit Batok. It is so far and difficult for us to send our children there. My kids want to follow Miss Geetha. Most of the parents feel the same as I feel.

We would like to thank Mrs. Geetha for her dedication and professionionlism as the principal of the centre and wish her good luck. Lastly, I would like to certify Mrs. Geetha as “An outstanding Educator”.

Well done and keep it up.

Jessica

1:13 PM  

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