Friday, December 3, 2010

Thinking Course for kids? Course Review:Two semesters at Thinking Loft.-Part 1

It was a free trial that first attracted me to sign up my then 3 and a half year old two years ago.Thinking skills was not exactly high in my priority list as far as enrichment was concern then. Sure, learning about thinking is beneficial for me at university level but thinking course for kids? hmmm I don't know about that.

First Impression
The first trial is a nice surprise. After experiencing the classroom environment at Shichida, the Thinking Loft classroom strikes me as inviting and cosy. There are no chairs and tables. Instead, there are cushions and a canopy and a leaf deco and just a white board. DS immediately decide he like the place and seems to enjoyed all the activities. Parents are allow to sit in during class for 4 years old. The course looks interesting and the curriculum seems well thought out. It also seems to be music appreciation , art, thinking and storytelling roll into one. After the trial class I was sold on letting DS try it out for a semester.

The classes
Each class consist of a series of activities which is aim at developing different aspects of thinking. For the first semester, the teacher will play a piece of classical music and ask the children to draw and describe what they think the music is about and why. This helps in encouraging them to talk about what they think. Other activities include story told in a way to encourage reflection and logical deduction, pattern recognition, reflex exercises and activities that encourage children to question and learn. Each week will have a different theme and so far, the themes that were covered include learning about volume via experiment, colours, and animals. There are lots of hands on in the class. For example, when the theme is on colours, the kids were given paints of primary colours and experimented with what and how combining different colours will give them a different colours. When the topic is on volume, the children get to try out and compare whether different materials and shapes and containers will float on water and what happens when they add the marbles in a floating containers. The teachers will keep asking questions and encourage children to respond and articulate why there think a certain object will float or sink faster than the others.

Communication by the Teacher
After each session, the teacher will talk to the parents about the activities, the intention of the activity and each of the child's respond and progress in the class. One of the objective of the thinking class is also to identify the child's strength and further develop his strength in the area and also identify areas which the child needs further practise in. Some children might be good at creative thinking but needs more work in analytical deduction while some children are strong in analytical skills but are too shy or not yet able to articulate their thoughts.

Progress after a semester
After a semester, DS certainly seems to be more talkative and ask more questions especially when it comes to story telling time. His ability to recognise patterns have improve. As for me, I have pick up new ways to prompt DS to think about the things around us and in our daily activities and when story telling. DS enjoys the classes a lot and keep asking me when he is going back to class during the three week long term break. It is his current favourite and he seems to make friends quickly in this school compared to in Shichida where we were for 2 years.

The little things
Some times, the little things make a big difference. One thing that impress me is that the centre listen to feedback from parents and seems to continually aim to improve their service offerings. In the first semester, many parents have questions about the activities and how it will help the children. In the new semester, in addition to the verbal communication after class, parents are given notes on the activities so that we can reinforce those activities during the week.

After the 1st semester is too early to come to a conclusion on the effectiveness of a course. The important thing is that DS had enjoyed the class and the activities seems to reinforce his curiosity and interest in learning.

coming up soon... Part 2, a second semester at Thinking Loft

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