In my previous post documenting my observations during the Primary One Math lesson and Nursery Two English lesson at the The Learning Lab (TLL), I mentioned that my next post would be about another observation of a lesson in term 4 of the academic year. Eventually, we thought that seemed like a repetition so here’s something more informative and I’m sure you’d be glad to find out how the curriculum and worksheets actually look like.
I’ve shown quite a bit of that for the Nursery Two level in the previous post, so if your child is going to be in N2 next year and you’re thinking of signing up for 2016, you might want to hop over to take a look. If your child is going to be in Primary school next year, please read on.
I do not claim to have a comprehensive overview of the curriculum – just what I have seen of the curriculum in these two terms (Terms 3 and 4) that my girl was enrolled in TLL.
As mentioned in my very first TLL post when we checked out its main centre at United Square, one of TLL’s strengths lies in its holistic curriculum, where it is designed to follow MOE requirements closely, yet is purposefully pitched 20-30% higher to give students a confident head start in school. The TLL curriculum is developed by a 30-people strong team who refreshes the learning materials weekly to equip children with up-to-date knowledge.
So, here’s what I’ve observed in the Primary One Math curriculum (2015).
Besides the worksheets that the students complete in class, there’s homework to be completed every week. I was advised by my girl’s teacher to provide minimal help for the homework (with the exception of tutorials named “Advanced Tutorial”) so that she’d know if my girl had any problems with what was taught in class, and then she could follow-up with her accordingly. I thought that was really helpful, pedagogically speaking and also from a busy parent’s point of view.
The Learning Lab curriculum overview
(1) Very structured and organised – clear learning objectives stated
(2) Useful tips and exam skills are taught during lessons and reinforced in the tutorials
(3) Well-crafted (requiring more thought and critical thinking) and interesting tutorials to work on for homework:
This tutorial (pic below) stuck in my memory because I know I’d have loved to work on something like that at that age instead of the usual mundane Graph-themed questions – so much more depth in thought required from the child:
More examples of questions that require a bit more thought:
(4) Bringing Math alive for the students
Besides the usual worksheets, we received a magic cube in Term 3 in time for Father’s Day. During class, the teacher had taught them how the magic cube works and my girl embedded a ‘secret’ message for her dad in it!:
(5) Additional challenges
There are also weekly IQ Puzzles that are handed out together with the homework during school holidays. Some are really interesting!
(6) Heuristics made easily comprehensible for the student
Getting a hang of heuristics is all the rage today! I find that TLL makes it so simple to understand – my girl not only managed to understand it well, she could even craft questions for me to complete.
(7) Focuses on trickier concepts and deals with them intensely:
There are just some concepts that are harder and more abstract and these are singled out for more illustration and practice.
(8) Exploration activities – hands-on activities with real-world applications
I found this really interesting as I feel letting children experience real-world applications of Math is crucial in fostering a love for the subject and improving subject mastery (applying the concepts (theory) they have learnt helps them to remember and internalise the concepts).
(9) Practice makes perfect
I think we agree that there is no escape from practice where Math is concerned. And TLL does make sure that sufficient practice is given apart from the more sophisticated question-types.
(10) Practice tests
As there are schools which still adopt the full-format tests (40-45 questions in a paper), TLL provides Practice tests for the students. I am relatively neutral to this practice as I personally don’t see any harm in letting students attempt more questions and have a feel of the full paper, which most would encounter in Primary 2, if not earlier.
(11) Always providing a head start
Always aiming to let TLL students have a head start, TLL embarked on the Primary 2 syllabus in Term 4 (of the Primary 1 class), after the exams. [Side-note] If you don’t already know, TLL does not have term breaks, hence each term at TLL runs for 13 weeks, and you can arrange for make-up classes via the online parents portal should you have to miss classes.
Not only does TLL have a strong curriculum for its core programme, this strength is also seen in the way the holiday enrichment programmes are planned and executed.
My girl was thrilled to attend the Marvellous World of Math at TLL, United Square during the holidays:
Like the core programme, the holiday class was very organised and systematic in its approach. In the Marvellous World of Math class, the students took on the role of (birthday) party planners and there was a series of 9 tutorials, where Math was worked into the planning process, bringing out its real-life applications.
- to process information through elimination while planning the logistics (Tutorial 1),
- to multiply the proportions in a recipe (Tutorial 2),
- to calculate costs of shopping for the party (Tutorial 3),
- about volume and fractions while preparing for the party (Tutorial 4)
- about time management while planning the whole event (Tutorial 5)
- to think logically in order to locate the venue (Tutorial 6)
- about welcoming guests through planning seating plans and guests’ diets (Tutorial 7)
- to solve puzzles (Tutorial 8)
- to solve the mystery of who gave which present by reading through a series of clues (Tutorial 9)
To top it off, there was a hands-on section where the students were brought to another classroom where they could pretend they were ‘shopping’. They were given a shopping list and were supposed to write down the total cost as well as the change they’d receive.
Overall, I think you’d agree that much thought goes into the curriculum planning to ensure that TLL students do get good exposure to picking up necessary skills for subject mastery. My favourite is how they allow students to make sense of that knowledge by putting their skills to practice in real-life.
Although we won’t be continuing with Primary 2 Math at TLL (sadly so!) due to our budget constraints in the upcoming year, we have certainly enjoyed the journey with TLL. I hope this coverage of the curriculum sheds some light for those of you who are keen to find out about the curriculum and the approach that TLL takes. If you are keen to enrol your child for the year 2016, or like to find out more, please call +65 6733 8711.
For more information about the locations, course fees, and programmes offered at The Learning Lab:
Disclosure: We were invited to experience one of The Learning Lab’s holiday programmes. All opinions expressed are 100% mine.