SINGAPORE: More experience-based activities will be rolled out to about 6,000 PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Sparkletots children during the upcoming school holidays.
The field trips are part of efforts to ramp up learning beyond the classroom – a key focus in PCF’s curriculum.
The programmes will include visits to KidZania, where children can try different jobs and gain financial literacy, and the SEA Aquarium, where they can learn about sea life and marine ecosystems.
In subsequent years, the initiative will expand to all 360 PCF pre-schools, which about 43,000 pupils attend.
Minister of Manpower and PCF Executive Committee Chairperson Josephine Teo announced the initiative on Monday (Nov 5) at Bee Amazed Garden where 60 pre-school children learned about the behaviour of bees through games and role play.
"Most of the PCF Sparkletot centres are located within Housing & Development Board (HDB) estates, a vast majority of them have access to playgrounds, and community gardens are also very much a part of their learning curriculum.
"But we think that there is scope to extend beyond that. We particularly want to let the children have greater exposure to the outdoors," said Mrs Teo.
The initiative is also part of efforts to ensure that more children will have access to equal learning opportunities.
PCF Sparkletots is currently the largest pre-school operator in Singapore. It recently announced that it has set aside S$20 million for the development of its teachers over the next three years.
"It is always about uplifting every single child, and making sure that whatever starting lines they're at, they have the opportunity to have the richest and (broadest) learning experience," added Mrs Teo.
"The world is a big place. As early as we can, we want to expose our children to the wider world, develop their sense of curiosity, encourage them to ask questions, read, and have diverse interests."
Mrs Teo said, however, that efforts cannot be one-off and have to be consistent.
STRUCTURED LEARNING PROGRAMMES
Beyond outdoor activities, there will also be more structured learning programmes offered to PCF Sparkletots children at subsidised prices, in areas such as speech and drama, sports, IT literacy and social etiquette.
PCF CEO Victor Bay said these 21st-century skills need to be developed at a young age, and the programme will be offered at a price of about S$3 to S$6 to defray costs such as transport.
"This programme is very important and we want to ensure that it will be available to as many children who need this as possible, therefore, we are keeping the costs low," said Mr Bay.
Parents Channel NewsAsia spoke to said it was no longer necessary to send their children for enrichment programmes beyond those at PCF Sparkletots.
Ms Janelle Kok, 31, who is a mother of two said: “Such a programme is good and sufficient, but it will be good if there are more programmes that teach children to be more environmentally friendly.”
Ms Norhafiza Jamil, 38, said she has seen positive changes in her five-year-old after attending the outdoor activities planned by the kindergarten and wants her other two younger children to follow in their sister's footsteps.
“My child is now much more engaged. And because she wants to know more beyond the classroom, she asks me to go to the library with her to learn more."