Embarking on our journey at The Learning Lab

“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.

Lil boy checking out how to paint the Chinese fan

Both engrossed in painting

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:

The (Chinese) Library for students of The Chinese Lab

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.

A secret passageway to more classrooms!

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:

The Learning Lab, United Square

The Learning Lab, Rochester Mall

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.

Class in progress when we were visiting that day

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.

Trying to tap in with his card – the screen will display his name and his classroom for the day

The exterior of Lil boy’s classroom

All excited to start class!

Lil girl was counting down to the day to start lessons at The Learning Lab. See her beaming face!

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.

The Learning Lab, Mountbatten Square

The Learning Lab, United Square

The Learning Lab, Westgate

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.

My girl’s TLL class (P1) has started on multiplication

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.

Even my N2 boy’s tutorials are kept current, featuring the new addition to our Singapore Zoo.

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:

Website: http://www.thelearninglab.com.sg

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheLearningLabSingapore

 

Disclosure: This is an advertorial and is part of my ongoing conversations with The Learning Lab. All opinions expressed are 100% mine.

Posted in Advertorials, Places & Events, Reviews | Leave a comment

Chinese Readers for Nursery and Kindergarten {Review & Giveaway}

Here’s a really overdue post. I intended to post this in March but due to my boy’s resistance towards learning Mandarin earlier this year, I found it impossible to do so. And because I only recommend items/ services that we’ve found useful, I had no choice but to wait to see if he would grow receptive to the new Chinese readers for Nursery/ Kindergarten level which the kind people from Penpal Whizz sent over in January. If you aren’t familiar with what the PenPal Whizz is, read my review here.

After a (long) wait of a few months, I’m glad to say that my boy is finally opening up to learning the Chinese language! *mad happy dance*

There’s an obvious window of opportunity, and I wasn’t about to let it slip by me. Actually this was about a month ago but I’ve been busy with my girl’s schedule (it was test season in Primary schools) so I’ve finally only managed to sit down to blog proper.

Back to the readers – I was gifted with two sets of Chinese readers:

chinese readers for nursery and kindergarten

There are actually 8 readers in this set but I’ve misplaced 1 for the moment.

Each set of readers comes with flashcards to go along with the books. Each sheet of cardstock consists of 8 words (词汇) and all you have to do when you get your set is to cut these up and store them properly so they aren’t mixed up.

Like just so-

There is a small number on the back of the cards so even if you mixed up the cards you’d be able to tell which book it belongs to. I like to label mine with the title as well on the small bag for my easy reference.

These books are PenPal Whizz compatible – you would need to download the sound files after you purchase them. But even if you don’t have the PenPal Whizz, you can still get these books for your kids as I find that having the cards to go along with the books pretty useful. And now that he’s into flashcards it’s clearly a bonus for us.

The pictures are vibrant and the text is big enough for reading and word recognition. Most of the time I have a big problem with getting suitable books with large enough font for the kids to read and recognise the words.

There are some discussion questions/games at the back of the book and if you have trouble reading the Chinese text, there’s hanyu pinyin on the last page. I think some might find this useful, especially if you aren’t proficient in the language.

Anyway, I personally don’t really like books with hanyu pinyin together with the text for the kids’ reading as there might be an over reliance on hanyu pinyin and hence less focus on the Chinese text.

So how do we use the books?

We read the book first a couple of times. As my boy is not very strong in Chinese, I do have to translate parts of it to him. After that I pick out a  maximum of 3 cards each session for him to identify in the story and we read the cards a few times through.

Now the best part for my readers – the generous people from JLB Educational Technology are giving away the two sets of readers to two lucky blog readers (one set for each winner)!

You can win by simply leaving a comment on this blog post and remembering to click ‘I Commented’ in the Rafflecopter widget to qualify. The rest of the options are optional, but would render you more chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Note: One set of readers per winning household only.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lovely and constructive comments are welcomed. Do hop over to my Facebook page where I connect with my readers and I would love to have you following me on Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram too :)

Posted in Books, Giveaways, Homeschooling, Reviews, Teaching Mandarin | 55 Comments