Are you looking for a warm welcome for your little one's new life at school? Victoria Thomas of Tanglin Trust School shares how the Nursery Years can be made so special.
When your toddler is ready to start Nursery in Singapore, finding a warm and nurturing environment where they can settle into their first school can mean the world. Tanglin Trust School has created a wonderful community for families where children feel safe, secure and happy from the very start of their schooling life, and parents feel involved each step of the way. The Nursery team at Tanglin Trust has over 80 years of experience between them, so there is a wealth of experience that little learners benefit from – but, most importantly, its early years curriculum is designed so that toddlers have fun as they begin their learning adventure! Tanglin offers a British-style education with a global outlook and has been ranked as ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED. As a not-for-profit school, all of its resources go back in to the development of the school and its community through staff development, programs that encourage parent involvement, and, of course the children.
HoneyKids spoke to Victoria Thomas, Head of Nursery at Tanglin Trust School about why the early years here are so special and how the teaching team at TTS makes a positive difference.
What do you love about teaching little ones in their nursery years?
“Ensuring that the children develop a love of learning and want to be at school – a happy child is one who learns. Children are like sponges and naturally curious, so we love sparking a child’s interest in something new and watching them develop… we love to see happy children bouncing in and out of school full of energy and confidence.
Children are so adventurous at this age so it’s such a pleasure to watch them explore and learn in their new world and make friends. We also take a lot of pleasure from guiding and supporting the children as they take these first few steps of independence, helping them through the early days and watching them flourish as they gain in confidence, establish friendship groups and start engaging in the daily routines. It’s important not to underestimate how important our Nursery year is for preparing children for their time at Tanglin. It’s incredibly rewarding to see how they progress through the Infant School with growing confidence, independence and excitement about the journey ahead.”
Why is play-based learning so important?
“Children learn through play and having fun – as the saying goes, ‘a child’s play is his work’. In Nursery, and indeed in the rest of the Infant School, all children’s needs, interests and activities are meticulously planned for and hours of planning goes in to what can seem apparently ‘free’ play. Learning is ‘open-ended’ in Nursery, meaning that there are no fixed boundaries within which children need to learn. They are given a lot of freedom to explore within a well-planned structure and at the end of the day all teachers and teaching and learning assistants review the day and plan for the following day’s activities. If one area has proved to be particularly popular and relevant then we enhance this learning opportunity by giving children the creative freedom to explore using their innate instincts and sense of fun.”
What is the best thing an early years educator can do for a child at this stage of development?
“To inspire children to want to learn. Making sure they feel happy (parents too!) and secure and that they want to come to school. Our aim is to help toddlers develop the confidence to share what they know and develop skills for later life. This includes talking to and making friends, and developing independence at an early age, from going on the bus, unpacking their bag, doing up an apron to writing their name.”
Can you describe a typical day with the nursery kids at Tanglin? What activities could a parent expect their little one to be enjoying throughout the day?
“No day in Nursery is ever the same and every day our classrooms look different! The classrooms are set up and planned for on a daily basis with a range of open-ended activities covering all areas of learning. Each day involves a balance of child-initiated activities, which adults extend, and carefully planned adult-led activities to meet each child’s next steps: we have an inside and outside classroom approach where children have free-flow access to our amazing early years playground, and can interact with friends from other nursery classes when indoors thanks to our open-plan classrooms. Children access PE, library, specialist teachers such as Mandarin and music and many special activities such as storytelling sessions or visiting authors to keep school life exciting and fun. Recently, we developed a kitchen and snack hatch where important skills and language are introduced such as variety of food and the importance of eating healthily – and parents are encouraged to get involved through special cooking activities.
Families in the Tanglin Trust community often comment on how warm and accommodating the school is – how do think the school has helped create this lovely atmosphere?
“Our community is the most important aspect about Tanglin and it is this feeling of being part of a big family that makes parents and students feel so welcome. The Nursery is a nurturing and caring environment where parent/teacher relationships are key and actively encouraged. Also, although Tanglin is a big school the infant school is housed in its own building with its own playground so it feels very warm and welcoming with a small-school feel. Each year is housed on one floor and all classrooms open on to a central shared area so there is a strong sense of community and sharing amongst the classes.
We also place a lot of focus on creating an inclusive learning community where students and staff learn and thrive together, involving everyone from nursery to sixth form, in order to remain a close-knit community. One of the ways that we do this is by dedicating certain days for older students to get together with younger members of our community for various activities. Our house system also affords integration between year groups as we engage in friendly competition.”
From August 2016, Tanglin Trust School will be increasing its Nursery provision, giving parents the option for their children to stay on after 12pm to 1.50pm. For a tour of the school or for more information, please contact admissions at [email protected] or p. 6770 3583; www.tts.edu.sg
This post is sponsored by Tanglin Trust School.