Learning Values and Preparing for Life, All Through Fun

Learning Values and Preparing for Life, All Through Fun

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It is never too early to learn to be respectful, responsible and resilient. Such core values will inform a child’s thoughts, words and actions in preparation for life ahead.

At a YMCA Student Care Centre (SCC) in Punggol Waterway, eight-year-old Kayden Lim is playing his favourite game. The Primary 2 student is engaged in a Tangram challenge, where he and a group of students take turns to rearrange geometric pieces into an image of a shape or pattern.

At first glance, the game seems straightforward. But through this simple activity, Kayden has learnt about traits such as resilience, teamwork and patience that will prepare him for life ahead.

“It is very fun and interesting, and the lessons are easy to understand,” said Kayden.

Students learning about resilience, teamwork and patience through the Tangram challenge at YMCA SCC @ Punggol Waterway.

An hour of learning, a lifetime of takeaways

From Mondays to Fridays, around 30,000 children attend Student Care Centres (SCCs), spending up to six hours there after school. There was an opportunity to design a programme that equips them with the necessary skills to prepare them for life ahead, through fun and games.

So since November 2017, Temasek Foundation Nurtures (TF Nurtures) introduced the Learning is Fun and Exciting (LIFE) programme. LIFE lets children learn life values and get to form their own principles through creative activities like games and role-playing for 45 minutes once to twice a week in various SCCs. They incorporate core values such as respect, responsibility, resilience, integrity, care and harmony.

Everyone gets to learn

Ms Grace Gan, in the midst of conducting the Mindful Jar activity that inculcates slow and deep breathing.

Although YMCA SCC @ Punggol Waterway only introduced the LIFE programme in July 2018, coaches have already observed behavourial changes in the children.

“They are able to focus better during activities and control their emotions,” said centre supervisor Ms Grace Gan.

Besides the students, the programme has also improved the ability of the SCC coaches as well, through training and mentorship opportunities.

For instance, the one-on-one mentorship provided has allowed Ms Gan to hone her management skills with children and build a better bond with them.

“I’ve learnt how to manage them better as a group, and it’s now easier for me to get their attention,” she remarked. “The programme has had an impact on each of them, in one way or another.”

Building strong foundations  

During the initial phase, TF Nurtures partnered trainers from two education centres in Singapore – Julia Gabriel Education and The Alpha Mind – to conceptualise the LIFE programme.

In this pilot run that lasted for eight months, SCCs have the choice of adopting two curriculums, tailored for children between the ages of seven and nine. The Foundation is currently working with more partners as the programme progresses.

The LIFE programme which follows the THRIVE curriculum designed by Julia Gabriel Education, has become a favourite among students at the YMCA SCC @ Punggol Waterway.

One special feature about the THRIVE curriculum is its weekly mindfulness activity added to the LIFE programme, besides story-telling and games.

Although it is not easy for a group of lively children to remain still for five minutes, the idea is to introduce some calm and focus for the students who are constantly swamped with the daily rigours of academic pressure, said Ms Fiona McDonald, Head of programme quality at Julia Gabriel Education.

Instilling values from a young age will allow the children to be better prepared for an increasingly disruptive and fast-changing world, added Mr Eugene Tay, developer of the second curriculum by The Alpha Mind. Under this curriculum, creative activities like stories and craftwork play a huge part.

"Squeeze into a rectangle” teaches students how to support one other. Photo taken at YMCA SCC @Greenridge Primary School.

The key is to let the children establish these principles on their own. “We want to let the children find their strengths on their own and let them discover who they are as people” added Mr Tay.

“If you have your principles, it’s easier to do things in life. You have a code of conduct to rely on,” he noted.


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