Vera Goes to Sparkanauts!

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Just a few days shy of turning 25 months young, little Vera attended her first formal lesson catered to young children.

It does seem kinda “late”, considering that children these days attend classes from as young as 6 months, but between K and myself, we aren’t ready to turn into over-anxious and tired parents who spend their weekends shuffling the kids to endless classes.

So why are we starting lessons now?

Little Vera has since started childcare for a couple of months now, and we discovered that while she usually has no issues interacting with older kids and adults, she takes time to warm up to babies and her peers.

At our recent parent-teacher meeting with her school teacher (oh gosh, our very first one!), we’re happy to hear that she is interacting better with her classmates now, and even going around the class getting her friends to “drink water” while handing them their water bottles!

Another observation we have: little Vera is really cautious and tends to observe before participating. Not that it’s a bad thing; as her school teacher echoes the same observation about her, we feel that as parents, we could try to help her build confidence during her early years, and nurture her development in this aspect.

And truth be told, I’m no hardworking mama who spends time pouring over the Internet searching for activity ideas to do with her. Most weekends, we are usually out and about running errands, visiting the in law’s or grocery-shopping. Doesn’t sound helpful in value-adding to a young child, eh?

So when Sparkanauts reached out to us, it was a timely wake-up call, especially for me.

The parent-child bonding approach got me sold on the idea of spending an hour of the weekend, driving to Safra Toa Payoh, and enjoy singing, movements and more with little V. To be honest, I’ve been feeling pretty guilty about the lack of time spent with her due to work and my pursuit of personal interest. So with the classes, it sort of “forces” me to park time to be more involved with her, and I get some exercise too! Plus, with B2 arriving soon, I really should treasure spending more time with my first born, and not miss out on quality time with her.

*PSST! We’re giving away a trial class (worth $58) to a lucky child – keep reading to find out how to WIN it!*

First Impressions

Previously, we had attended a trial class, thanks to the giveaway extended by mummy Jolin. And boy, did Vera have a blast at the trapeze – no one could tell it was her very first time! *proud mama*

When we arrived for our first official lesson, we made the effort to reach about 10mins earlier so little V could get herself warmed up in the new environment. Personally feel that this is important especially if your child may get taken aback when put in new places.

The teachers were preparing the place for class, and we like the generous space for kids to roam around and explore. There were colourful mats on the floor to keep the area cushioned. Each activity was also portable, so the different activity stations were set up just before the previous one ends, so there’s no overcrowding by unused props.

I really appreciate the fact that both parents are allowed to attend the class with their bubs, as most enrichment classes usually allow one parent only. It can get quite tiring from sitting, standing, moving, dancing etc. (or maybe it’s just me and my belly) so it helps that dual parent-child bonding is encouraged by involving both parents.

When we arrived, teacher Elizabeth came up to us, and asked for Vera’s name. She also recognised us from the trial class, which was a pleasant surprise since it was several months ago. Although Vera has recently turned two, she’s still in the Junior Pilot class because she had attended this level previously.

According to Steven who has been kindly sharing advice and clearing my doubts before we started lessons, it is better for her to continue at the same level, and once she is ready, the teachers will share their assessment and advise accordingly when she’s due to move up. I’ve no qualms about it, especially since she is very new to this, and it’s essential to build a strong foundation and her confidence without trying to hurry up to the next level.

When the other students arrived (small class size of just three kids, which meant better teacher-child ratio and attention for each child), the class started with parents and children sitting facing teacher Elizabeth and assistant teacher, Jayna, and they started greeting each child, who got to choose and play with a musical instrument. Thereafter, teacher Elizabeth presented the children with words on large strips of flashcards and “greeted” each child using words such as “Hello”, “How are you?”, “I’m fine” and “Thank you”.

Sparkanauts children enrichment class Singapore

Saying “HELLO!” to everyone during our first Sparkanauts class!

Theme of the Term/Week

Sparkanauts has a concise lesson plan for the class and themes different month-on-month, making it easy for parents to follow and understand the rationale of each activity that their children are exposed to. Parents are also encouraged to refresh what’s been taught at home – more on that to come!

The theme for this term is Sports, and this week’s topic is “At the Games”, so we expect to learn all things related to them.

The children are introduced to action words and their corresponding pictures when seated. Thereafter, each child is assigned a word to match to the right pictures laid on the mats. That’s when all parents and kids start moving!

The objective of this activity is to aid in children’s visual development and association of words and pictures accordingly.

Sparkanauts children enrichment class Singapore

Let’s go hunt for our picture to match the word “ride”!

Next, we started singing the theme song – which involves the ABC’s and some memory work with pictures.

Sparkanauts children enrichment class Singapore

Time to sing some songs with words related to sports!

Get Your Body Moving!

And because the attention spans of tots are relatively short, so it’s time to get them moving and their energy going at different intervals of the session!

All the kids get excited, even Vera, as she couldn’t wait to crawl through that tunnel!

Sparkanauts children enrichment class Singapore

“PEEKABOO!!”

According to Sparkanauts, “Scientific based physical activities to strengthen the vestibular system. A strong vestibular system will help a child to focus and pay attention. Proven activities (help) to strengthen (a) child’s muscle tone and postural control abilities. A good control over posture and muscles frees the brain’s capacity to comprehend higher-order thinking activities.”

The other children were definitely more comfortable during the class as they’ve been attending lessons for some time. And some of them were confidently climbing up slopes, balancing with ease, or excitedly jumping up and down on the trampoline.

Sparkanauts children enrichment class Singapore

Vera wasn’t too keen to go up the little slope but seeing other kids have a go on the trampoline made her give it a shot too!

Words for the Week

The next activity was new words introduction to the toddlers, which are related to the theme – Sports.

Words were shown via the strips of large flashcards, along with their corresponding pictures. Teacher Elizabeth also described each picture or asked the children questions. For example, when she presented the picture of a yellow jersey, she went on to ask “Is there anyone in the class wearing a yellow top today?”

As the 8th ASEAN Para Games was to start that coming week from 3-9 Dec 2015, Sparkanauts makes it a point to share with students about this sporting game that Singapore will be hosting. Although the kids may not understand now, but as parents, it gave us additional knowledge that such news can also go to feeding a child’s learning bank.

And we went on to do a little doodling for the kids when we learned about the word “fire” from the Olympic torch.

Sparkanauts children enrichment class Singapore

Learning about the 8th ASEAN PARA GAMES and it’s time to light the fire on the torch with orange crayon! She went on to doodle more “fire” around the poor man and his shirt… LOL!

The objective of colouring the circle is to aid in tactile development as exploration with their fingers helps to improve their hand-eye coordination.

Gymnastics activity

This activity was short and quick, as it involved the children doing the forward roll.

First, a demonstration was done with “Marvin” the doll, on how the action looked like, so parents were prepared on what their children were to follow. Then, both teachers assisted each child with the actions, sending encouragement and praises along the way.

Sparkanauts children enrichment class Singapore

Gym time with Mervin demonstrating to the children.

As this was very new to Vera, she wasn’t keen to give it a shot. Hopefully the next time she would be brave enough! :)

Passing the Toys

This was akin to shuttle run back in school, but it offers a workout to the kids and get them to move across the room to each person – take an item from the teacher (or parent) and drop it in the basket which daddy was holding.

From my conversation with teacher Elizabeth during the trial session, she explained that this game allows the kids to train their focus and concentration during the task (i.e. running in a straight line/running into another basket/crashing into another child) and following through with instructions (i.e. running back and forth to do the necessary). Each week, the number of toys collected are recorded, so week-on-week, parents should expect to see improvements in the number of toys collected.

Sparkanauts children enrichment class Singapore

Run, run, as fast as you can, little one!

Also, to calculate the distance ran, simply take: (the number of toys collected) X 3 X 2, and parents will know the amount of “running” done by their children.

And somewhere in between these activities, it was time for water break for all. Little V promptly drank up, and guess what? After the class ended, she spotted teacher Elizabeth’s water bottle and that of another girl’s and said “Jie jie (referring to teacher Elizabeth) drink water” and “Mei mei drink water” and instantaneously brought the respective bottles to their owners! LOL! Well, seems like our little one is pretty observant and caring, if I may say so!

Parachute Time

Everyone loves parachute time – I guess the kids enjoy seeing the upward and downward movement of the colourful fabric which makes it so fascinating for them!

All the kids and parents held onto the handles and walked in circles to songs. And then we raised our arms to bring the parachute up… and down, and finally sitting on it for the next activity.

Sparkanauts children enrichment class Singapore

The parachute goes UPPPPPP, and it comes downnnnnnnnn…!

Story for the Week

In line with this week’s theme, the story for the week was: To the Games!

The children were exposed to single sentences on large flashcards, along with an accompanying picture.

Sparkanauts children enrichment class Singapore

Story time with words and pictures revolving around the sports theme that we are following.

The objectives are pretty similar to the Theme Songs and Words for the Week – develop language through words and visuals to create association and recognition.

Mystery Box

Sparkanauts children enrichment class Singapore

Ohhhh, what’s in there, Vera??

Every week, the mystery box unveils a different surprise. For this lesson, it involves a simple craft activity for parents and children to do together.

Sparkanauts children enrichment class Singapore

We’re gonna make a trophy together! The little one watches intently as daddy helps… and she decided that the pipe cleaner and cup goes great together like a straw! haha!

And…. TA-DAH! Presenting our handmade trophy! Which little Vera thinks is a cup to drink from… well, she ain’t wrong there! HA!

Math & Music

Towards the end of the session, we had a simple introduction to numbers through songs, and we sang a super familiar song for our music appreciation activity – ‘I Love You’, a song that Vera loves from Barney!

Sparkanauts children enrichment class Singapore

We sang her favourite “I Love You” and even played a verse on the chime bars! Wee! And then we learn to count to 5 with the running men!

Each child had a go at on the xylophone too, with teacher Elizabeth guiding them on the notes to hit and encouraging them along the way.

Happy to say that Vera hit all the right notes accurately and this activity was probably the one she did best in! *beaming mama*

The session ended with us singing the “Goodbye” song, but we were allowed to “roam” around the classroom although the teachers were preparing for the next class. At the end of each activity or session, the teachers would usually share any feedback or comments that would help the child improve.

We spoke to teacher Elizabeth and learnt that she has been teaching at Sparkanauts the last three years! This bubbly lady graduated with a certification in Early Childhood Studies, and from our interactions, I could feel her genuine passion to teach young children. It certainly isn’t easy handling a class of tots, and that definitely requires plenty of patience. Sparkanauts values the attitude, character and skillsets of the teachers on their team, and it’s wonderful to see the younger generation support local business, hoping to make a positive difference in our next generation.

Since this was Vera first lesson, it’s a little too early to tell how things will pan out, but we are certainly looking forward to the lessons ahead!

After the Lesson

Sparkanauts believes in parent-child bonding and hence, after the class, all parents will receive an e-version of the Parent Child Bonding Package. This is to enhance and encourage parents reinforce the learning from home. It is of our firm believe that parents are the best teachers for each child, we are but facilitators.

These being said, children will only do something when they truly enjoy it. Should a child not be able to keep up, Sparkanauts suggest for the child to continue to do what they are confident in first, associate learning to be a happy and “easy” process before we slowly introduce areas that they require help me. Sparkanauts will advise parents on small, achievable tasks that a child can complete to reach the eventual “goal”. It is their first and foremost goal for the child to enjoy the learning process, the learning itself is but a by-product.  

In fact, this is good because we shouldn’t expect that children will know everything overnight, and it takes parental effort to nurture a child. And to be honest, I’ve yet to find time to do this with her as of now *guilty mama*

Common FAQs

We’ve included this section because we’ve personally heard fellow parents ask these questions, and we’re happy to have Selene, the co-founder of Sparkanauts to share:

  1. Some of the content looks difficult even for adults! Will it be too advanced for my child?
A child’s mind is like a sponge. This is a statement that many of us parents are familiar with, yet when it comes to application, we lose faith in what we believe. Have you ever heard a child telling you the name of every cartoon character, the story plot and the conversations of the characters after they finish watching a cartoon? This is precisely the capabilities of the brain of our little ones. Since we know for sure they are capable of remembering and understanding cartoons, we should also trust that all the information shared with our children will be digested.
Some parents enjoy coming for classes with their children because they enjoy the information that they are learning. We look forward to having such parents because children will model after their attitude of learning. When a parent takes a genuine interest in learning new things, the child will follow suit.
Children are born to learn. It is only when the learning is made dull (memorising) and irrelevant that they would give up. Children are born curious and the content of our classes are designed to meet that exact need. Children who joined us since they were babies are now in kindergarten, display an obvious love for knowledge. They are constantly asking questions about the world and observing the things around them because of the information that they have been fed with from young.
We believe in giving our children quality input which results in quality output in speech and thoughts.
        2. What are the fees like for the different levels?

The weekday 10 sessions is $658, and weekend 10 sessions package is $698. Safra members are entitled to 1 complimentary sessions for every 10 sessions purchased.Parents will also receive our Parent Child Bonding Package (PCBP) which includes all the materials taught in class to reinforce the learning at home with your child.

Classes are available for 5 months old to 6 years old, and parents would be happy to know that Sparkanauts offers Mandarin classes too, for 18 months old to 5 years old. For classes that take students up to 3 years old, parents are allowed to accompany the children. Subsequent classes are drop-off types. Find out more here.

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EXCLUSIVE READERS’ GIVEAWAY!

The HOOTing Post X Sparkanauts would like to extend a COMPLIMENTARY trial class (worth $58) to 1 lucky child! Follow the steps below to stand a chance to WIN!

How to Participate:
1) LIKE The Hooting Post
2) Share this article on your Facebook timeline with caption “Fun times at Sparkanauts!” and tag at least 3 friends.
Don’t forget to set your account to ‘public’ so we can verify this step.

***BONUS entry: Increase your chances by following us on Instagram and reposting the contest image and hashtag #THPperks!

Terms & Conditions:
1) Contest ends on 23 December 2015, 2359 (Singapore time).
2) This contest is opened to Singapore addressees only.
3) Limited to one winner per household.
4) Winners will be announced on The Hooting Post, and winners will be required to provide their contact details so the Sparkanauts team can get in touch with you on the delivery/collection of your prize.
5) Terms and conditions may change without prior notice.

About Sparkanauts

Sparkanauts is a local business initiated by the founder Mr. Joseph Oh when he personally saw how children’s intelligence can be honed with the right techniques and through this process also enable children to cultivate a genuine love for learning.

Together with Selene, a mother of 2 lovely children who are part of the Sparkanauts programme, they continue to create a programme to help guide developing children to learn to play, play to learn. Selene graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Post Grad Diploma in Education. Her passion for early childhood development encouraged her desire to learn and research on various methodology and science backed practices which is then assimilated into the Sparkanauts curriculum

Through specially designed programmes catered for different age groups, lessons combine fun activities and research-backed teaching methods to incite curiosity in kids and educate parents through involvement.

Address:

SAFRA Toa Payoh
293 Toa Payoh Lorong 6, #02-01
Singapore 319387
Operating hours:
9am – 5pm   Daily

Facebook / Website
+65 62590307 / info@sparkanauts.com

We are definitely looking forward to the lessons ahead with Vera, and hope she gains more confidence too! Want to find out what the children will be learning in the next few classes? Follow our adventures on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and G+!