“The coolest enrichment centre ever” would probably be one of the many ways to describe The Learning Lab (TLL). Prior to checking out The Learning Lab at United Square a few weekends ago, I must ‘fess up that I haven’t actually heard of it before (where have I been, right?). They have 14 years of history in Singapore as a leading provider of academic enrichment and tutorial services for N1 – JC2. Yeah, so I had to pick up my jaw from the floor numerous times that day when I was there to view the main branch of The Learning Lab (there are 8 centres located conveniently across the island) and truly, I haven’t been so impressed with any enrichment centre I’ve visited thus far in my motherhood journey.
It was Open House for Chinese Lab that day when we popped by and there were plentiful activities for the kids to engage in while parents learnt more about what Chinese Lab offered. I thought the activities were very apt and well-thought out: story-telling, getting the kids to paint Chinese fans, write calligraphy while exposing them to the most famous Chinese poem 静夜思 (Jing Ye Si by Li Bai) and so on.
It was the first time my girl tried out calligraphy and she was intrigued to say the least and both fans are now well treasured at home.
Oh, there’s even a library of Chinese books at The Learning Lab at United Square where students attending Chinese Lab are encouraged to borrow books each week:
After that we took a tour of The Learning Lab at United Square and from the photos you’d understand why I say that TLL is the coolest enrichment centre ever.
The environment is made to be conducive for learning and discovery and we witnessed for ourselves how much the children (who were there for their lessons) enjoyed themselves.
Secret passageways which open up to more classrooms was definitely a winner with kids (oh, I think that includes me too!).
All classrooms are named after major cities:
More intriguing photos of The Learning Lab:
Some of you might have seen the miniature boardroom-styled classrooms earlier on my social media platforms:
Most classrooms are fashioned in this manner though there are other variations.
The reason why this layout was chosen – they wanted an invigorating learning environment, where the kids feel that learning takes place together and knowledge is constructed together as they huddle around the table, ideas are challenged and stronger ones help the weaker ones.
Where there seems to be an absence of whiteboards for writing in some classrooms, you’d be astounded to know that actually it was planned that the glass surfaces around the classrooms are all for writing on. Why settle for only one white board in the classroom, right?
Well, unfortunately for us, although The Learning Lab at United Square is so astoundingly impressive, it’s just too far for us to travel down to on weekdays and weekend classes there didn’t manage to fit our schedules so we took up classes at The Learning Lab’s Westgate facility which is much more convenient for us (and hey, the building is next to the MRT station!). The facility at Westgate is smaller compared to the vast campus at United Square, so there were no secret passageways but the style and feel of the place remained similar.
The classroom for my girl that day was the auditorium-style one but it’s a miniature version so it’s not intimidating and it still felt cosy and she enjoyed her lesson so much she’s counting down to the next lesson already!
Another feature of The Learning Lab that stands out from other enrichment centres is its dedication to providing children with an environment that encourages them to grow as learners and constantly nourish their minds with books. As mentioned earlier, students of Chinese Lab have a library of Chinese books to borrow from and of course, there’s a library of English books too! Libraries at The Learning Lab carry up to 20,000 titles for students to borrow.
Even though the facility at Westgate is markedly smaller, there is still a library for the kids and while I was waiting for the kids, I’ve seen how popular the library is with the students there.
The last feature of The Learning Lab that really stood out for my husband and me is their dedication to curating a curriculum that’s both up-to-date and tailored for each level.
The curriculum at The Learning Lab is designed to follow MOE requirements closely, yet purposefully pitched 20 – 30% higher to give students a head start.
But what is most impressive is that The Learning Lab has a 30-people strong curriculum team who refreshes the learning materials weekly so that the children will be learning from the latest and the greatest. For the older children, world affairs is worked into their curriculum so they’d, for instance, look at case studies of successful personalities to illustrate the importance of aspiration, zeal and resolution.
I really like that even at the N2 level, the subject matter is kept current yet accessible for his age – leveraging on the topic of koalas at our zoo, they managed to work in simple comprehension, provide information about the new animal (way of life, diet, country of origin, reason for their visit in Singapore), and introduce the children to other Australian animals while working in the writing practice of selected sight words of the week.
There’s also a Reading Logbook for the N2 students doing English to encourage parents to be partners with the teachers in ensuring the kids’ optimal learning at TLL – 3 graded readers are given each week and there is a different task per week for the reading log (e.g. list 3 new words you’ve learnt).
Our first impression of our children’s teachers at TLL – very professional, nurturing and sharp in observing their strengths and weaknesses. In fact, we were informed that 200 hours of training is given to all teachers before they are permitted to start teaching classes. TLL teachers are trained to identify and tailor the curriculum for students of varying capabilities and just after one lesson, I’m pleased that the teachers have been very honest (and spot-on) in assessing our kids’ current strengths and weaknesses in not just academic performance but also their communication skills (i.e. soft skills).
Honestly I can’t wait to see how my children will improve over the term at The Learning Lab, especially for my girl!
For more information about the locations and programmes offered at The Learning Lab:
Disclosure: This is an advertorial and is part of my ongoing conversations with The Learning Lab. All opinions expressed are 100% mine.