Pat's Schoolhouse Whitley Review
Pat’s Schoolhouse is a family in its own right, with teachers and principals who have been with the organisation for many years, working passionately to provide children with a strong foundation that will serve them well throughout their growing years.
“Come June, we’ll have many rambutans!” exclaims Melina Quek, the jovial Principal at Pat’s Schoolhouse Whitley, as we follow her into the school garden. Impeccably furnished and air-conditioned, this preschool is complemented with a lovely outdoor play area where the children are able to run around plucking mangoes and jackfruit in the mornings.
A converted bungalow like many other Pat’s Schoolhouse centres, this brand new centre opened on 4 January this year, and is already running at close to full capacity. This month, 12 more places will be added for toddlers. The fee structure at Whitley is the same as that of other Pat’s Schoolhouse centres. Incidentally, this location is exactly where the Founder, Mrs Patricia Koh started her first centre in 1988 and was in operation till the year 1999. “This re-opening at Whitley Road is like a homecoming,” said Mrs Patricia Koh.
An Eclectic Bunch
“Our children at Pat’s Schoolhouse are not expected to wear uniforms,” says Principal Melina. In line with their philosophy to celebrate curiosity and creativity so as to build confidence, children are not required to dress alike in uniforms. Another remarkable feature at Pat’s Schoolhouse is the highly multicultural environment the children are immersed in. 30% of the children at Whitley are expat and international, thus providing the setting for the children to accept and adapt to cultural and language differences at a very young age.
Ms Melina recollects that her interest in the school began when she went to pick her nephew from one of Pat’s Schoolhouse centres and heard him speaking a few words of Japanese to his friend’s mother. The friendly principal and teachers at that centre caught her attention too, eventually creating in her, the desire to be a part of this positive and nurturing environment.
Going the Extra Mile
“I make it a point to know every child’s name,” Ms Melina adds, as she walks us through the thematically-decorated centre, with every section proudly adorned with the art and craft works of the children. Along the way, we spot a notice displaying the food allergies and special dietary requirements of the children. Ms Melina shares that the centre goes the extra mile to accommodate the unique needs of each child, for instance, if the child has a strict vegetarian diet.
If children join a class mid-way, teachers will guide them on a one-on-one basis to ensure they are on par with their peers in terms of learning. For example, a child who had attended a Korean school before joining the centre was able to pick up both English and Mandarin in just 2 months.
Pat’s Schoolhouse also integrates children with special needs. They take in children with autism, Down’s syndrome, and other learning disabilities and attempt to give them equal opportunity through stimulating childhood experiences. Ms Melina remembers the time when a child diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) joined the K1 class at the Pat’s Schoolhouse centre she was teaching at. There were many challenges to overcome in the beginning but her condition improved and she went on to perform spectacularly the next year at her K2 Graduation Concert. By the time the child continued on to primary school, she had learnt to manage so well that no one could tell she was different. She was even made class monitor. “When parents work with us and help us help their children, we produce great results together”, asserts Ms Melina.
If you have sat through long, droning lessons in Economics and the likes, you will be thrilled to hear that Pat’s Schoolhouse introduces young minds to the very same knowledge with lots more fun, and no one sleeps in these classes; for seashells and coins are used to teach barter trade, and stories and videos to teach Astronomy. Complicated and advanced subjects are broken down into digestible bits for children through audiovisual learning aids, hands-on lessons and class discussions.
At Pat’s Schoolhouse, class spelling games are preferred over spelling tests, where children are encouraged to expand their vocabulary in creative, fun-filled ways rather than having to memorise long word lists. Children are also exposed to considerable tactile learning through velcro charts and models with movable parts that are abundantly available in the centres.
Pat’s Schoolhouse is the pioneer of pre-school Bilingual Immersion in Singapore, featuring an English language teacher and a Mandarin language teacher as co-partners in the classroom all the time, who not only teach but also interact with the children in their respective languages throughout the day. Equal emphasis is placed on Mandarin and English, and because these are introduced in context and not taught by rote, children become effectively conversant in both quickly and with ease. This often allays parents’ concerns over any lack of Mandarin exposure at home.
Through an introduction to classes such as cookery, art and music, children are given opportunity to hone their skills at a young age. In addition, the year-end K2 graduation concert also helps foster confidence as the children practise hard to perform in front of a live audience at the young age of six.
Children are also taken on excursions once-a-term to places such as bakeries, hairdressers, the Science Centre, Zoo and etc, as according to the thematic study schedule of the given term. This certainly adds a whole new dimension to their holistic learning experience.
“A parent just wrote to us last week sharing the wonderful news that one of our kids had a new baby sister,” Ms Melina beams, when we ask about the centre’s relationship with parents. Ms Melina makes it a point to get to know her parents so they can better partner the school in helping their children develop holistically in their preschool years.
Pat’s Schoolhouse is a family in its own right, with teachers and principals who have been with the organisation for many years, working passionately to provide children with a strong foundation that will serve them well throughout their growing years. A well-monitored yet flexible system characterises this one-of-a-kind preschool which aims to ‘make the difference’ so children will feel at home away from home.
Visit the Pat’s Schoolhouse website at www.patschoolhouse.com to learn more!