Progressing to Pilot Class at Sparkanauts
We’ve been blessed to attend classes at Sparkanauts for some time, and the joy it brings to Vera speaks for itself. Even if she may “stone” or prefer to stay close to me instead of playing with the kids (shyness!), I know she’s quietly observing in her own way. How do I tell? Well, she “lets it out” at the most unexpected times!
She talks to me about Teacher Liz, and tells me what she learned during class when we speak about it days later. On a random weekday, she would ask, “Tomorrow going Sparkanauts?”, or “Where’s Teacher Liz today?”, and tells Mamak about her jumping in class, or playing the piano. It says alot when your child tells you these things in her own way.
Though our conversations, we know she’s learning and progressing. With her promotion from Junior Pilot class (you can read our first impressions here, a mid term review and our overall experience at Junior Pilot class) to Pilot, she has been exposed to new activities while acquiring new knowledge and skills.
Here’s sharing our experience with Pilot classes at Sparkanauts, and what these two to three years old are exposed to:
Broad Themes vs. Specific Topics
Children who are attending the Pilot program are introduced a curriculum to help them gain independence, and be able to complete tasks on their own. Sparkanauts believe that at this age, “the child’s synapses are at 200% that of an adult”, and hence each activity incorporates various learning outcomes for them.
The program runs on a different theme every month, which breaks down into smaller sub-themes and specific topics each week. After the session, parents receive the Parent-child Bonding Package for the lesson, and they can revisit the songs, words or pictures at home.
Visual Discrimination and Maths
At around this stage, toddlers are able to differentiate between shapes, colours and sizes. Building on the Monthly and Weekly themes that are part of the Sparkanauts program, children learn about our environment, our community, Singapore as well as other countries.
More often than not, each activity incorporates more than one learning objective. In this case, maths, visual discrimination and learning to listen to instructions are part of the game. After all, listening is an important skill, and being able to put it into actions is part of learning for the young ones too.
All the kids love the Mystery Box, and we learned about Singapore during our class at @sparkanauts since it was nearly National Day🇸🇬! . Yes, it's a map you see here! But don't feel overwhelmed because these 2.5-3yo were learning about shapes and landmarks in Singapore. What a clever way to incorporate visual discrimination and Maths! The kids had fun identifying the shapes and matching them too! ⚪️🔷🔻⬛️♦️
Locomotor skills are part of the Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) which toddlers develop. The FMS skills includes locomotor skills, balance skills and ball skills. Locomotor skills includes jumping, galloping, hopping, running and help to train independence, bodily balance, coordination and postural control.
While locomotor skills don’t seem very fancy, but imagine this: Does your toddler jump and land on one foot or both feet? Is he/she able to run in a straight line and back again without running into someone else?
These movements may seem insignificant to an adult, but in view of a child’s development, it relates to his bodily coordination. It takes some practice and time for a child to land on both feet during jumps. Balancing on one foot is another skill too. Children learn to do so via a variety of activities which includes sticks and cones, singing and dancing with actions and during gymnastics time! It’s never mundane during class, and kids are discovering about themselves too.
It was daddy 👦🏻and daughter👧🏻 bonding time last week at @sparkanauts and they both had a blast! . Classes are always packed with a variety of fun ways to learn so the kids are playing and learning at the same time! . At the Pilot class, the little ones are learning the Alphabet, and last week was the letter "J". While they may not yet know how to write, dexterity 📝takes time to build up and that helps the young bubs sharpen their fine motor skills. . And the theme continues with transportation, and this time it was learning about the airport. Glad to hear from daddy that little V managed to identify the pictures accordingly! 😄 Maybe we should follow up with a trip to the airport, don't you think? ✈️🛫 . The kids are also learning about time🕙, with the use of music and singing. Concepts are taught through rhythm and rhymes 🎶- who knew learning about time could be done that way! All I remember about my childhood was a toy clock with hands that could move😂 . And no session would go without some energy-busting gym time! Jumping and landing on both feet, crawling through a tunnel, climbing up stairs, going down slopes, forward rolls – these are just some of the activities the toddlers get up to, so they get to work on their body control, muscular coordination and more!🏃🏻 . Looking forward to our weekly classes at @safrasg Toa Payoh! They've got classes for 6months onwards, so do check them out! 😉
And, if the kids are unable to perform a certain activity or prefer to run to other end of the classroom instead, the teachers take time to encourage and nudge, but never forcing them to do it. Instead, the teachers at Sparkanauts would bend down beside them to maintain eye contact them at the child’s level, and speak to them in a patient and calm tone. I think it says alot by how the teachers interact with the kids when things don’t go as planned.
Letters, Sounds and Words
At the Pilot class, the little ones learn the Alphabet, and each week presents a new letter. With the help of parents, the kids get to write on a whiteboard, learn to construct the shape of the Letter of the Day, and learn the phonetic pronunciation too.
While they may not yet know how to write, familiarity and dexterity takes time to build and these activities help the children sharpen their fine motor skills, improve their letter recognition, linguistic and oral skills.
Music and Rhythm
Songs, singing and music are backbone of the Sparkanauts curriculum. There’s always a new song to sing and dance to, or a concept hidden behind those lyrics. Not forgetting the chance to play a musical instrument (or two!) during class too!
With patient guidance, the teachers at Sparkanauts would first sing along with huge flash cards with music notes and lyrics. The kids readily sing and bounce to the songs, even if they’re hearing it for the first time! Then, the teacher would share that they would get to play a certain part of the song they’ve just sung, and we welcome the Schoenhut piano all the kids love!
Each child gets his/her turn to tickle those ivories: teacher would call them by name, child bows at his/her audience before taking the seat and is guided by the teacher to play the respective notes. Through this, children watch their peers perform this act of respect, and learn to wait for their turn too. That is a lesson on manners and social conduct in itself!
At the Junior Pilot class, little V loved playing on the chime bars. And now we're in the Pilot class, she's hitting the right notes too and absolutely loves it! . Whenever teacher Liz brings the musical instrument out, this eager beaver would dash forward, ready to play. This shy pie ran towards mama as soon as she was done😛 . It's great that the @sparkanauts program encompasses a range of activities to expose the kids to. It's not just about gaining worldly knowledge or building the academics bit, but piquing a child's interest and getting them engaged is really the crux of a learning journey. . Play to learn, my little cupcake❤️
While Vera has not had formal music lessons other than exposure at Sparkanauts, in school and a couple of trial classes elsewhere, I’m always intrigued that she is able to follow the instructions and play the right notes nearly all the time! Seems like my little girl is not so little anymore!
And no session would go without some energy-busting gym time! Jumping and landing on both feet, crawling through a tunnel, walking on the balance beams, climbing up stairs, going down steep slopes, hanging on the trapeze, forward rolls – these are just some of the activities the toddlers get up to, so they get to work on their body control, muscular coordination and more!
Since the day she attempted her first forward roll, she's been trying to do it again at home! . So glad she's had first dips of such seemingly "dangerous" stunt under the watchful eyes of her experienced teachers who are always patient in guiding and supporting the kids. If a child is not in the mood to do a certain activity, they don't force her or put on a black impatient-looking face either. And that makes a difference in a child's learning journey. . Roll on, my little cupcake! 😘😍
So one fine day, I was taken on a parenting lesson by surprise. This was what I posted on Instagram after one of our classes:
Watching this vid reminded me how fast Vera has grown. If there's one thing we've discovered about parenthood, that would be learning to put down our own adult fears. . As parents, we are always the first to also decide what our kids are exposed to. But many times, we become discerning about things: "Don't touch that, it's dirty! That's so dangerous! Do this, don't do that!" . We build walls in our kid's faces and we wonder why. Safety concerns are regular parental concerns (and absolutely normal too!), but sometimes we learn that we should hold our tongues. . So what did I learn? The very day, teacher Liz demonstrated a new stunt during class and asked for a volunteer, a hand shot up along with a loud "ME!!". Little did I expect Little Ms Cautious to do that AT ALL. And she gamely went forward and did as she was guided, in front of many eyes. I still couldn't believe mine. . Thank you, V, for sending mummy on a silent lesson… A lesson to reflect and learn to embrace; a lesson to keep windows of exposures opened like how they should. My limits should not be yours, for your potential is far greater than mine. 😘
So it seems that Little Miss Cautious is slowly stepping out, and growing her confidence bank when it comes to exploration. That moment caught me off-guard, and I had to hold back my tears watching her flip. My heart must have flipped like a zillion times within those few seconds.
I’m immensely thankful for the opportunity that Sparkanauts has blessed us with. It’s never a chore taking her all the way to SAFRA Toa Payoh (we don’t stay anywhere near there) for our hourly classes. Yes, not even when I was heavily pregnant with Leroy and had difficulties getting up when I was seated. LOL. Even with a wriggly newborn, we attended classes week after week, because we knew it was time well-spent with a team of dedicated and committed educators. Nothing beats experiencing it for oneself, and we are glad to have a wonderful journey with Sparkanauts. Thank you for helping to nurture little Vera in so many ways! :)
Parents who are looking to nurture bilingualism in young children, you would be happy to know that Sparkanauts runs Mandarin programs too! They were previously known as 乐云 Le Yun, and are recently rebranded as 智慧桥 Zhi Hui Qiao. Classes welcome kids from 18 months to 5 years old, and run in the same format as the English program. Expect holistic learning to engage the little one’s in multiple ways!
SHOUTOUT: Registration for Playgroup has started! Parents who prefer to let their kids play independently for a longer session, Sparkanauts offers the Playgroup Program which lets young bubs from 18 – 36 months immerse in day-to-day bilingual learning. Children get to play and learn with their peers, while stimulating their brain development and nurturing life skills through various activities! More information can be found here.
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 are 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.
SAFRA Toa Payoh
293 Toa Payoh Lorong 6, #02-01
Operating hours: 9am – 5pm (Daily)
Are your children attending enrichment programs in Singapore too? Do share with us what some of these classes are all about!