Making it fun to learn

In the old days, when families were large, the older sibling or cousin would help babysit the younger ones.

Desiree Ng used to do it too. Unlike most others who find babysitting a chore, even as a teenager, she looked forward to looking after her younger cousins.

“Whenever I had free time, I would take the kids on excursions to the beach or the zoo,” says the 35-year-old, who now runs a preschool for children from six months to six years of age called Bibinogs Preschool in Singapore.

Ng feels she has a special affinity for children. When she became a mother, she followed her maternal instincts closely and constantly researched ways to nurture her daughter from a young age.

Subsequently, she became so interested in Early Childhood Education that she decided to pursue a master’s degree focusing on finding effective methods of nurturing her children.

Teaching skills

The turning point came when her daughter spelt her name during a game played at a party. “My friends were very surprised that at two, Ashley could spell,” she says.

Intrigued by the way she taught her children, her friends later requested that she teach their kids too in an informal playgroup setting.

Soon, by word of mouth, she was getting requests from friends of friends.

She started institutionalising her value sets and teaching methods and after three years of teaching on a private level, she set up Bibinogs in 2008.

Inspired by Dr Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory, she created a unique curriculum based on Intelligences@play™ programme for Bibinogs.

This programme recognises that each child has a unique set of talents and abilities and embraces their different “intelligences” to enhance their learning.

Promoting bilingualism and teaching Mandarin to young children is another aspect that is close to her heart. At home, she speaks to her children only in Mandarin.

Ng believes that each child learns through different ways. “My daughter is musically inclined. I find that when I teach her through sing-spelling, it is much more effective than when I teach her by rote,” says the mother of two.

She adopts multiple approaches to teaching so that each child can learn from the different activities during each interaction.

Once a parent even requested for her 18-month-old daughter to be given “phonic tuition” so that she could speak faster.

Although she empathises with the parent, she believes that children learn at different paces and level up after a certain time.

“I constantly remind my teachers that they are to expose the children to a variety of things, but not expect them to know everything they are taught,” she explains.

She maintains small intimate class sizes and a low student to teacher ratio so that teachers are not as stretched.

Her personal conviction is that children should be treated with love and respect.

“We need to guide a child appropriately and not crush the spirit of the child by yelling or imposing pressure on him,” she says.

“This also enables the school to provide accurate feedback on each child’s development and for us to fine-tune our curriculum where necessary.”

Growing presence

Bibinogs has two schools in Singapore and it started kindergarten classes within its expanded premises at Serene Centre.

She hopes to expand to more locations to make the programme more accessible.

These days, she is more hands-on in managing the school. Other than catching up with the teachers on the needs of the students, she works independently to develop the school curriculum.

“Occasionally I visit schools in the United States and China to acquire best practices of early childhood education,” she adds.

To her, it is important “to remain steadfast in what one believes in and produce consistently good work”.

“People will then recognise you for how good you are at what you do,” she says. - Source: ST/ANN