Recently, we went to the newest facility of The Learning Lab (TLL) at Tampines Mall for TLL Experience Day. After reviewing how the lessons went (you can read about it here), viewing the curriculum and speaking with the teachers and curriculum specialists, here are five aspects that I think set TLL apart from other tuition and enrichment centres.
1. Learning Environment
TLL’s learning environment – modern facilities and classrooms – is the best I’ve ever seen, whether it’s a tuition or enrichment centre.
TLL libraries carry over 77,000 titles for their English and Chinese students to borrow from.
TLL library at the Mountbatten Square facility
The language teachers bring the students to the TLL library every week to encourage them to borrow books as reading helps to widen vocabulary, improve writing skills, and foster creativity and imagination. During the curriculum talk during Experience Day, one of the teachers shared how his student went from failing English in school to excelling at PSLE. Apart from the teaching, the student’s mother attributed her daughter’s success to how he had instilled a love for reading as he constantly encouraged her to read every week. She had apparently read all the books in her school library on top of her weekly dose from TLL’s library by the time she did her PSLE.
There are also science labs at TLL United Square and Mountbatten Square. Students enrolled in the Science programme at these centres can have classes in the lab, on a rotating basis.
Having hands-on lessons stimulates interest and passion for the subject and encourages constructive discussions amongst students and the teacher. You can see the lab for yourself when you are at level 3 of United Square!
Apart from the physical learning environment, TLL believes in the use of interactive and hands-on experiences and approaches in their classes. For instance, I learnt from the Science teacher during the curriculum talk that part of the curriculum is exploratory. He gave the example of students learning about the parts of a fish and the functions of the various parts as the teacher dissects a fish in a normal classroom. Thus, whether or not the branch the students attend has a Science lab, interesting lessons will still be carried out. The engaging lessons ensure that the student truly enjoys and loves learning, on top of doing well academically.
2. Incorporation of and exposure to current affairs and global trends into all TLL core programmes
As mentioned in my first post on TLL, TLL has a dedicated team of curriculum writers who refreshes the curriculum weekly to incorporate amongst other things, current affairs into lesson plans. For instance, a particular Science concept was taught through examining Joseph Schooling’s workout schedule. Another example is teaching/ revising comprehension techniques through the use of carefully curated articles about current news, for instance, the recent U.S. presidential election.
You might also remember from my previous post a photo of the infographic on Brexit that was given to the students.
Teachers employ interactive approaches to each lesson, incorporating visual media and in-class discussions of case studies on global figures /issues to help students develop critical thinking skills and cultivate an interest in current affairs.
3. Teachers are nurturing, passionate and well-qualified
TLL teachers all hold, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree from top brand-name institutions either locally or abroad. Before they can start teaching lessons proper, all TLL teachers have to undergo 200 hours of rigorous in-house training. Once they start taking classes, they will continue with in-house training and there is also a mentoring programme in place. Weekly meetings are held to discuss the curriculum for the week and how best to deliver the lesson to students. Senior teachers will also continue to give workshops and mentor other teachers.
TLL’s teachers are bright, energetic, nurturing and passionate individuals. Through my interaction with the TLL teachers I’ve had a chance to speak with, I can feel the passion they have – for teaching, for learning, for the students. I am not exaggerating – you should take the opportunity of TLL Experience Day to go down and speak to their teachers and curriculum specialists.
4. Life Skills, Not Just Results
At TLL, the teachers prepare their students for the future beyond school, even after graduation. The curriculum and classes instil fundamental life skills in your child, such as goal-setting and presentation skills. Take for instance, individual presentation of ideas during class is part of curriculum. Just recently during the Math holiday programme my girl attended, the students were required to present the ‘city’ that they designed as urban planners on day two of the programme. Students then voted after the presentation to see which city they liked best and the winner was given a congratulatory prize while the rest received a sheet of stickers of choice.
Showing me her ‘city’ at home, and telling me about what buildings she included
Over time, given more opportunities to present in front of their peers, confidence will be boosted and oral skills will also improve.
5. TLL Holiday programmes
I am particularly fond of TLL holiday programmes. After last year’s enjoyable Marvelous World of Math, I think that course is going to be a constant for us for years to come. The programme from what I observe, is tailored to tackle the topics for the syllabus the child will encounter in the next school year. For instance, my daughter will be P3 next year, so she enrolled for the P3 Marvelous World of Math.
I love the programme because I find that it gives the child a broad overview of the topics, especially the new ones, through a fun experience. New topics such as trigonometry, area and perimeter, which would normally be daunting to children are covered with ease because of the scenario the course has provided.
It’s very hands-on in terms of the actual construction of the city, ensuring that there’s enough space in the city to fit what they want (area/ perimeter). This allows the children to see real-world applications of what they learn. Last year, she attended the P2 Math holiday programme and she was a party planner where she had to tackle multiplication, division, volume etc. in the scenario. This year, she won the prize for her city in the P3 programme and the prize was also very in line with the theme!
My girl has been looking forward to P3 because of Science and so she was elated to find out that we enrolled her for the Science holiday programme as well. As interpreting flow charts and tables would be challenging for P3s, there were dedicated handouts covering these two crucial skills. The handouts are clear, comprehensive and have sufficient coverage in terms of questions to check understanding.
This year was the first time we sent little boy for TLL holiday programme. He attended Little Learners Camp for K2.
In the three-day programme, he did some math, craft, comprehension, learnt new vocabulary and also some history!
Overall, I find TLL to be very thorough in their approach as well as their curriculum. With everything well-thought out by the curriculum team and carried out by the passionate teachers in a conducive learning environment, TLL truly stands out in the myriad of tuition and enrichment centres in Singapore.
Registration for Term 1 2017 is already open or if you are still undecided, go on down to TLL Experience Day to find out more. It’s the last opportunity to register for TLL Experience, so act fast!
Quick details about TLL Experience Day
- 3 Dec to 4 Dec at Tampines Mall and 11 Dec at Rochester Mall
- 1 hour lesson experience, choice of your subject + level for your child
- 1 hour parent seminar
- Curriculum viewing, speak with TLL senior teachers and curriculum specialists
For more information about the locations and programmes offered at The Learning Lab:
Disclosure: This post is part 2 of 2 of my collaboration with The Learning Lab in 2016. The children received a holiday programme each, and we paid for the extra holiday programmes on our own. No other monetary compensation was received. All opinions expressed are 100% mine.