How do you say “octopus” in Chinese? 章鱼 (zhāng yú)!“Sea star”? 海星 (hǎi xīng)!“Jellyfish”? 水母 (shuǐ mǔ)!

Three-year-old Asher learned these phrases at a marine life-themed enrichment class designed for pre-schoolers at LA Madison, a new establishment dedicated to headstart programmes for kids aged 18 months to six years old. He and other bloggers’ kids, from ages 19 months to six years old, had a whale of a time at the two-hour session, which included sand and water play, music and dance, teatime, storytime, games and an art and craft session.

Asher and his older

Asher and his older “classmates”

LA Madison prides itself in providing quality early childhood education in a happy, safe, caring and stimulating environment where each child can reach his or her full potential before embarking on compulsory education. The three teachers on its staff come from diverse backgrounds but all have experience in coaching young children.

LA Madison's contemporary facade

LA Madison’s contemporary facade

The children were first led to a room where there was one table filled with sand and the other with water. They were allowed to freely touch the sand and scoop the water as the teachers went around mingling with each one and getting to know their names. Interesting way to break the ice. Parents who value bilingualism will be pleased to know that there is a native Chinese language teacher, Ms Xu, who will speak to students only in one tongue. When children attempt to speak to her in English, she will reply in Mandarin and teach the child the correct words to use.

Sensory play at LA Madison

Asher introducing himself to Ms Xu

Space constraints are no obstacle for sand and water play

Space constraints are no obstacle for sand and water play

Parents were invited to hang around on the perimeter of the classroom to observe the trial class (parents are usually expected to drop off their kids and go), which was conducted by Ms Xu and assisted by Mr Andrej, the English teacher from Slovenia. Colourful pictures of marine creatures and their corresponding Chinese names were put up on one of the walls at the kids’ eye level, and the teacher went through each one and later verbally tested the students to see if they remembered the names.

Make-believe: we are octopuses

Make-believe: we are octopuses

The class was rather fast-paced and most of the kids (save the really little ones at 19 months old) appeared to be engaged and attentive; “lectures” were interspersed in a timely manner with song and dance sequences with the popular educational character, Qiao Hu, on YouTube. In conjunction with the theme of the day, they sang and danced to the Chinese nursery rhyme 《鱼儿鱼儿水中游》before breaking for tea.

Learning how to be in sync with the fishies in the sea

Learning how to be in sync with the fishies in the sea

After tea, it was English storytime with Marcus Pfister’s The Rainbow Fish. Ms Ifwah, the teacher who told the story was very animated and even though Asher knows this story well, he did not tire of listening to it again and participated when the teacher asked the audience questions.

Storytime was followed by another stimulating song and dance with Qiao Hu, before a simple games and puzzles session. The kids were paired up and given a small puzzle to solve. Then, their dexterity was put to the test with a fishing game, where each of them was given a pretend fishing rod with a magnet at the end of a line. The aim was to reel in as many cards as possible, on which were printed alphabets and numbers. The teacher supervising the game would ask each one, what number/alphabet is that? After answering, the child then had to match the alphabets and numbers to those on a chart on a wall – reinforcing the child’s number and character recognition ability.

Fishing for alphabets and numbers

Fishing for alphabets and numbers

Asher tryin his hand at getting an

Asher trying his hand at getting an “A”

By now I was feeling quite pooped myself but it was still not the end of the class. It was art and craft time! The children were split into groups and assigned different crafts like colouring, peeling and pasting, drawing, folding, pasting and using the stapler. Of course, the grown-ups helped. When I asked Asher at the end of the two hours whether he had enjoyed himself, the answer was a resounding “yes”! Most of the kids were loathe to go home and lingered in the play area in front of the receptionist’s desk.

Mr Andrej assisting Asher with art & craft

Mr Andrej assisting Asher with art & craft

Making crabs out of paper plates

Making crabs out of paper plates

Nobody wants to go home even after two hours!

Nobody wants to go home even after two hours!

Here are the programmes which are available at LA Madison:

Happy Feet – 18 months to 3 years old

  • Happy Feet focuses on the development of functional independency and important sensorial and cognitive skills through fun and carefully prepared learning opportunities and themes that connect to one another in a structured and meaningful way. Children will learn about the body and its function while developing sensory areas. Children will be able to develop relationships with other children and be part of an environment with different play areas designed for learning opportunities, where a child will get to explore, learn and express freely.

Explorer – 3 to 4 years old

  • Explorer will be focusing on the learning of phonics and language through activities such as dramatisation and role playing, concept of math through logical reasoning, and planning and implementation of simple scientific investigations.

Thinker – 4 to 5 years old

  • Thinkers have greater thirst for knowledge, children will be exposed to differentiated and fun learning possibilities to challenge their logical and critical thinking skill and their understanding of math and science concepts.

Enlighter – 5 to 6 years old

  • The Enlightenment phase is where children learn how to use all that he knows for his future learning. Focus will be on the development of greater independence and self-control in the children.

Prices upon application. Alvinology.com readers get a special class package: Quote our blog when you register your child at LA Madison during the Open House (Dec 20) and get extra classes for the first month. Sign-up for their daily programme (five days/week) and get additional four Saturday classes free or sign up for their three days/week programme and get additional two Saturday classes free. 

LA Madison Open House

Date: 20 December 2014, Saturday
Time: 9.30am to 12.00pm

Programme talks and programme preview with the teachers

  1. 0930 to 1030
  2. 1030 to 1130
  3. 1130 to 1230

RSVP for the programme talks with [email protected]madison.com or via Facebook Event
Talks and trial class during open house available for sign-up at Eventbrite

Address: 1 Marine Parade Central #04–07 Parkway Centre
Opening hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm from Monday to Saturday
E-mail address: [email protected]
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lamadisonschool
Website: http://la-madison.com