Our little girl Sandra is a sensitive and warm three-year-old who has a burgeoning interest in the world around her but can be occasionally withdrawn and quiet. When it was time to put her in a preschool, we were filled with trepidation. Would she be comfortable? Would she feel secure?
We decided to go around to get a feel of the preschools in our vicinity. I have to say, we were most impressed with My First Skool.
Most preschools we visited showed us the credentials of their teachers and curriculum but made no mention of how their centres are structured. While My First Skool certainly had these components covered, I was especially heartened that they have taken great pains in structuring their centre such that all stakeholders – the children, teachers and parents – feel comfortable.
The physical environment was an especially important consideration for me because I knew it would determine how well Sandra would take to learning.
Every room is warm, well-lit and inviting.
Elements of a quality learning environment
Safety and cleanliness should be the cornerstone of every preschool’s design. We observed rounded corners for all furniture, better padded vinyl flooring and sturdy shelves, amongst other features. I felt that I would have peace of mind because I knew Sandra would learn with minimal risks to her health and safety in this school.
Comfort is not compromised on either. My First Skool uses only a palette of neutral colours accessorised by the colours of toys and children’s work to create a welcoming and cozy environment. Different materials such as cloth drapes, mobiles and picture frames softened the look of the school.
We really loved that they even had semi-open kitchens from which food aromas wafted out when we were there, lending the place a home-like ambience that I knew would immediately put Sandra at ease.
We observed that different domains had been segregated to facilitate learning in the different programmes that the centre offers – language arts, library, Chinese language arts, block play, math and science discovery.
Art creations made by the children were given pride of place, mounted on wall-boards. We know that if Sandra’s art works were similarly mounted when she starts school, she would feel happy and proud. Her sense of confidence would certainly grow!
We love the open spaces
Click on next to find out what other aspects of My First Skool convinced us that it was the right choice for our daughter.
Practical considerations aside, the aesthetic appeal of the centre is not neglected either. No matter how small the space was, we observed that there was always room for something natural to brighten up the area – sunlight, good ventilation, potted plants, little pets, paintings, 3D sculptures or artworks. Every room had a great vibe!
A real concern we had was that Sandra can be introverted, and I knew she would feel lost if she didn’t have a place she could retreat to and have a quiet moment by herself. Which was why I was over the moon to observe comfortable nooks and corners are set up for children just to rest or read a book! Sofas, window ledge seats are scattered around in these corners.
I knew Sandra would really enjoy these little quiet spaces.
An open courtyard provides a comfortable space for parents to observe their children at play
In the centre that I visited, there was a courtyard space where I sat to observe the children enrolled in the preschool. This area has been specifically designed so that parents like me can watch our kids in comfort during their outdoor play sessions.
Another key distinguishing feature of My First Skool’s design is its open classroom concept. This means that boundaries are largely fluid, allowing children to move unhindered from one learning area to another.
This promotes active learning that is children-initiated rather than passive teacher-directed learning. This flexibility enables teachers to work collaboratively, using movable dividers to reconfigure open space to suit their needs at any point in time. I thought that such flexibility was a great plus point!
The brain and heart behind the design
One cannot talk about the stellar design of My First Skool’s centres without mentioning Mdm Norwaty Bte Mamsie and her team of qualified educators. Mdm Norwaty has worn many hats in her 23-year-long career in the early childhood field – she has been a Teacher, a Centre Principal, a Senior Education Development Specialist in My First Skool and Associate Trainer in SEED Institute.
She leads a dedicated team in designing a high quality, developmentally and culturally appropriate environment for children through the formulation of a comprehensive set of guidelines on setting up of a new centres.
She not only ensures that the design of every centre meets My First Skool’s curriculum and licensing requirements but also personally mentors and coaches Mentor Teachers in furniture layouts of new centres. The teachers and principals imbibe her zeal and passion to create structures I am confident my little girl would love to learn and grow in.
Holding a Masters of Science in Early Childhood Education as well as Bachelor of Arts in Childhood and Family Education, I felt reassured that Mdm Norwaty is well qualified to lead her team in sparing no efforts in ensuring that every detail of each centre’s design provides a high quality learning environment for the children.
My First Skool has also recently won awards for ECDA Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Development 2015. The awards recognise centres that have excelled in teaching and learning; as well as the innovative practices of early childhood professionals.
If you are like me and understand that an excellent physical environment is imperative to facilitate your child’s learning, head down to your nearest My First Skool’s centre! See for yourself how your little one could learn that much better in this well-designed excellent learning environment. Book an appointment by visiting www.myfirstskool.com or calling 6509 7887 today!