Are you a proud Singaporean keen to preserve your Mandarin heritage in the next generation, or an Expat wanting your kids to make the most of an international posting? Being bilingual in the modern world will give your children a leg up in life. And at Bibinogs Preschool, teachers know only too well that cultural awareness goes hand-in-hand with language acquisition. The proof is in the pudding (or so they say), so we’ve taken it to the source and asked parents what they think about the Bibinogs approach.
Hi Mia’s mum and Joshua’s mum! Can you tell us a little about your kids and why you chose Bibinogs?
MM: Mia started in Nursery 1 at Bibinogs Kings Arcade in January last year, when she was barely three. Mia’s older brother had already been at the school for a year. We love everything about Bibinogs, from the bilingualism program, to the small class size to teacher ratio, the parent-volunteer opportunities, the cultural activities, and the biweekly newsletters. We could see just how much our older son enjoyed school, and having both children in the same facility only made the decision easier!
JM: Joshua started going to Bibinogs Mandarin Tots at Serene Centre when he was 18 months old. When I read about Bibinogs in a magazine I was so impressed that I signed up for the accompanied Mandarin Tots class. I wanted to expose Joshua to the language at an early age.
When your little one started at Bibinogs, did they have any knowledge of Mandarin? How has your child’s interest in the language grown since?
MM: Mia couldn’t speak or understand Mandarin when she first joined the Bibinogs bilingualism program. We started to see the positive results as quickly as 3 months later, first noticing she could understand when spoken to in Mandarin. At the one-year mark she’s developed a passion for the language and loves to share her knowledge by teaching a few words to the non-Mandarin speaking family members.
JM: Joshua has limited exposure to the Mandarin language at home because we primarily speak English. It was obvious right from the start of school that Joshua was really interested in the language. I remember the first time he said his Chinese name and gender in class. I was so proud of him because I know Mandarin is not an easy language to learn. Over the years Joshua has become more confident, and is now more than willing to converse in Mandarin. I think it really helps that Bibinogs lessons are packed with fun and games because Joshua can’t wait to get in the door!
How has Bibinogs helped advance your child in other ways?
MM: Mia was a shy toddler so we were worried how she would settle at school. Right from the word go she looked forward to going to school everyday, and became more confident and independent. We love that she comes home bursting with stories about her day. The cozy setting and one-on-one time with her English class teacher means she’s formed strong bonds quickly. The Multiple Intelligences teaching ethos suits Mia as she adores singing and dancing, and is constantly performing the new songs she learns at school.
JM: Apart from all of the obvious academic goals Joshua has reached at Bibinogs, we were pleasantly surprised to see Bibinogs teachers’ focus on instilling good manners. Good behavior is important to me, so I’m very happy for the help!
On receiving the Innovation Grant from the Early Childhood Development Agency, Bibinogs organised some amazing cultural activities for the kids. Which events did they enjoy the most, and and how did it increase their interest in Chinese culture?
MM: Mia’s favorite activity was learning the Chinese Cultural Dance in preparation for Year-end celebration. As mentioned, Mia is passionate about song and dance. We didn’t realize just how passionate until this event! We have since signed her up for dance classes. She also likes cooking so enjoyed the meat dumplings hands on session. By seeing, feeling and smelling the food she was much more engaged with the Chinese culture.
JM: The cultural activities gave Joshua an opportunity to become more aware and appreciative towards Chinese language and custom. He’s a tactile kid, so adored getting his hands dirty planting the bamboo garden. He simply loves the language now and gets a real kick out of translating an English word into Mandarin.
Bibinogs strongly believes in involving parents in their child’s learning journey. Have you enjoyed this experience?
MM: It’s hard when your little one heads off to school, so I’ve relished chances to be involved. The Mid-Autumn Festival Family Bonding Day was fantastic, especially the parent-child craft session and the children’s Chinese skit on the legend of Mid-Autumn Fest. Mia was proud showcasing her skills to me.
JM: I believe in joining Joshua on his journey to learn language (and other subjects) because he is always more engaged and motivated with my support. Bibinogs are always running community events and parent-child sessions so I’ve been given plenty of opportunity to hold his hand along the way.
Would you recommend Bibinogs to friends and family?
MM: Absolutely! We sent Mia to Bibinogs because we had such a positive experience with her older brother. Bibinogs has a culturally diverse community and it’s a welcoming environment for young kids. We’d happily recommend it to any family looking for a preschool in Singapore.
JM: I would definitely recommend Bibinogs to my friends. The school has great facilities and caring teachers passionate about helping develop happy, confident and bright kids.
Thanks for taking the time to tell us about your experiences at Bibinogs. Sounds like we need to brush up on our Mandarin skills to keep up with our bilingual kids!
This post is sponsored by Bibinogs Preschool.