The degree of necessity of early childhood enrichment has been widely and often discussed in Singapore. This term broadly refers to activities or classes that amplify learning. Despite being often used together, it is not to be confused with tuition, which focuses on boosting academic performance, rather than a passion and enthusiasm for lifelong learning.
Enriching Young Minds
Such enrichment classes typically widen learning scopes beyond the traditional subjects taught at schools. They can include art, sports, etiquette, speech and drama, music, foreign languages, ballet and more. The ever-growing demand of enrichment classes has been evident. In fact, there has been a rising trend of parents sending young children who have yet learnt how to walk to these classes.
Because parents, educators and the children themselves see and understand the benefits they offer.
It is recommended that the children are sent with the mindset of wanting to be given the best, for their young minds to explore their early interests, instead of being afraid to lose out in the rat race. Of course, there are parents who wish to develop their children at home as well, but do not have the time to do so because of work commitments. This also contributes to the growing demand.
It is true to say that early childhood is a special period for children. Indeed, in the first two years of a child’s life, his or her brain develops at lighting speed. When the child reaches three years of age, intelligence and emotional growth come into play. They experience a continuous learning curve that sets the foundation on which they shape the rest of their lives.
And how do children learn?
They learn and widen their world through social interaction, play, creativity and other stimuli. Therefore, it is imperative that kids must be appropriately and sufficiently stimulated during that time. This will place them in desirable positions for future development as they grow.
Instead of only building academic excellence, enrichment classes fulfil the need to shift to enhancing a different set of skills and abilities: those that make us unique and improve our personal qualities.
Think leadership, manners, teamwork, confidence,language, social skills, creativity and the all-important critical thinking; because we want to develop thinkers, not blind followers. Research has suggested that such enrichment activities are connected to a child’s improvement in assertiveness – and yes, even academics.
Let us use robotics as an example to further exemplify our points.
The Rise of Robotics
Today, we have robots that can speak, dance and interact. Tomorrow, who knows what will be invented, and how that will change our world?
Robotics has remained timeless throughout the years with skills that are future-forward and suitable for the ever-growing world of science, technology and innovation. It is a wondrous process learning how to build robots from scratch and discovering what it takes to make them move. This is exactly what young and inquisitive minds look for and what opens their world to more.
Melding robotics into the curriculum does not limit the learning to only understanding how to build robots from bottom-up. It can trigger lifelong passion in the respective areas that it involves, with skills including coding, programming, engineering and more. It has proven its effectiveness and consistency in coaching children the concepts of STEM - an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Robotics also forges solid team work. To make that robot raise its hand, it needs to be injected with a variety of skills and applications, from programming to coding and more.
A child who excels in a particular area works together with others who have their own capabilities. It also encourages the children to communicate with each other in order to convey necessary information.
By working together and communicating their ideas, children develop social and communication skills - skills which follow them throughout life. They enjoy the lessons and have an exciting time with their peers, building development skills in the process.
These are all valuable takeaways children can get from a robotics class. So, think deeply and ask yourself – are enrichment classes necessary?