“Minister of State for Education Lawrence Wong said the MOE hopes to boost the number of preschools that are certified under the Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework (Spark)” (Steps To Boost Preschool Standards, Mr. Lin Zhaowei).
The importance of preschool education cannot be understated, and the constructive resolution by the Ministry of Education (MOE) – in the news report “Steps To Boost Preschool Standards” (March 21, 2012) by Mr. Lin Zhaowei – is definitely a positive step forward. The new initiatives to incentivise and empower preschool educators, as well as plans to boost nurseries and kindergartens with accreditation or consultancy services, are signs that the administration has recognised the need to boost preschool standards in Singapore. It is an acknowledgement that our country can continue to seek inspiration from the Nordic countries (Finland in particular) and steadily enhance the status quo.
Bureaucrats, however, should be cognisant that the engagement of preschool teachers and education institutions is but the beginning; while these providers are given professional resources and development, it is equally imperative to bring parents into the equation. Parents must develop a necessary appreciation for preschool instruction, be aware of the teaching-learning pedagogies adopted in the schools, and – hopefully – be able to complement school-based strategies with other relevant methodologies in the household.
Bringing Parents Into The Equation
Besides constant encouragement by the MOE for parents to have young children receive a holistic preschool education, it is important for parents to be proactive in doing so. Key messages must be communicated to the parents: that learning alphabets and numbers early on is fundamental; that kids can be exposed to a social environment from a young age; and that other cognitive abilities or thinking skills can be imparted et cetera.
In addition, beyond the mastering of fundamental academic-scholastic skills – especially in terms of linguistics and basic mathematics – strategic partnerships between teachers and parents can generate discussion on the child’s ambitions or aspirations. As parents become more informed and enthused, they would be in a more advantageous position to comprehend their children’s interests, and overall growth before entering a primary school. The educators can definitely highlight – during meetings – special areas that the kid might be talented in, so that the parent could follow-up with enrichment in sports or the performing arts. If possible, these additional features could be explored within the institutions as well.
Most significantly, it would be a good initiative to progressively create a community of parents, for productive discourse or discussion on preschool education. The MOE has the Community and Parents in Support of Schools (COMPASS), but its establishment can certainly be revitalised, and expanded to include this aforementioned group of parents. The possibilities are endless: contributors can share reading lists of library resources for reading at home, tips and tricks on how individuals incorporate different languages at home (with emphasis on making it fun and meaningful), or even interesting expositions on personal discourses or anecdotes.
If these energies are harnessed – whether these it is through virtual platforms, physical conferences or focus group discussions – parents can certainly evolve from passive bystanders to be active stakeholders in their child’s education processes.
A version of this article was published in The Straits Times.