If you have met Sean in person, you will find that Sean is a bit of a daydreamer. As a result, he sometimes has trouble sitting still, focusing on a task or paying attention to things going around him. Things like that don’t really matter when you are in kindergarten but the primary school environment may not be as forgiving anymore. As a parent, I am concerned of course and I would like to see how we can help him do better in this aspect.
The emphasis of the Little P1 Executive curriculum is on building:
- Systematic, sensory-based, process-oriented learning practices
- Detailed observation, clear analysis, and logical conclusion abilities
- New associations and the vocabulary to make sense of new topics, subjects, and concepts
- Multi-step thinking, solution formation, error analysis, and methodical approach
- Expressive, narrative, descriptive, original, and elaborated communication skills
- Social thinking and foundational self-awareness and reflection
- Independent goal setting, planning, and organization
- Accurate processing and ability to think under pressure
The hour-long classes are well-structured with a clear objective for every activity. The teachers were very patient and experienced in identifying each child’s strength and weaknesses and knew how to push them to do better. I look forward to their weekly updates because they are always spot-on on their observations of my boys!
Let me walk you through some of the activities they go through during a regular session to give a better idea of what you can expect at The Little Executive:
First, the children start with some warm-up exercises:
- Crossing the Midline (do click on the link to understand why it is so important!) is a simple exercise where the children walk slowly in a straight line whilst deliberately ‘crossing’ their legs over to the other side at every step. The ability to cross the midline is important because this encourages the left and right sides of the brain to communicate well together in order to coordinate learning and movement.
- The children played a simple game where they take turns initiating a certain sequence of actions (for example, snap fingers -> put hands on head -> shoulder tap) in a certain rhythm and the rest of the class will follow suit. This tests their sense of rhythm, ability to follow non-verbal cues and improves their hand-eye coordination. Not as easy as it sounds!
Then it was onto their first activity: Bobo’s Pokemon Go! (How clever of the teachers to use such a trendy theme to draw the children’s attention – little wonder why Pokemon-mad Sean is so enthusiastic about the classes!)
For Part 1 – Build your own 3D playground, Teacher Miss M showed the children how to construct their own 3D box without saying a word. So the children have to pay close attention to what Miss M was doing with her hands and this hones their ability to pick up non-verbal cues.
Then with their very own 3D grid and using Bobo the bear as a point of reference, the children were asked which Pokemon character was in front of Bobo the bead, behind, on the right and on the left. This builds on their perspective taking and ability to figure out directions and orientation.
In Part 2 – ‘Gotta Catch them all’, the children learned how to switch between 3D and 2D by changing the direction of Bobo in their 3D playground and filling in the worksheet with the corresponding answers.
We live in a three-dimensional world but children are expected to learn with a two-dimensional (verbal) model. Schools expect children to sit and listen to a teacher and re-produce the information in paper (worksheet) form.
This 3D-to-2D mapping and vice versa is thus a key mental manipulation and it encompasses spatial orientation and visualisation, thus being able to see things on paper in a 3D form.
Multi-dimensional thinking is a critical skill needed in primary school and it enables children to consider a problem from several dimensions, rather than adopting one approach. It is desirable because not only does it allow for greater intellectual penetration, a multi-dimensional thinker has the ability to think critically, without relying heavily on framework.
The benefits of multi-dimensional thinking are in all academic areas, including math sums, creative writing and comprehension.
The second activity is called Stroop exercises with +/- 1. In essence, the children have to call out the numbers on a grid (called Stroop numbers). Later they progress to calling out the colours of the numbers and then the teacher decides if each child is ready for an additional challenge of +/- 1.
When that is completed, the activity is stepped up using Uno cards. As teacher flips 1 card at a time, children have to listen to the instructions and call out either the number, colour, or +/- 1.
This activity helps develop selective attention and ability to block out distractions and information you do not need. It is also the best way to develop processing speed, improve the ability to manage multiple instructions and train executive functioning.
The third activity is Mental Math (Uno Stress).
In this game, everyone opens 4 cards each and places one card in the middle. They have to place a card which is +/- 1 on top of the card in the middle, if they have them in their pile. The first one to clear all his cards wins.
This activity trains processing speed which is one of the key measures of cognitive proficiency. It involves the ability to automatically and fluently perform relatively easy or over-learned cognitive tasks, especially when high mental efficiency is required.
I like how Miss M would ask the children after they have completed a round how they think they could improve their strategy (e.g. put their deck of cards on the table versus holding the cards in their hand) and would challenge them to do better at another attempt. Who can resist a good challenge? And they always do improve!
Sean loves this game – his takeaway is always to pay 100% attention to the game so he can win 🙂
At the end of every lesson, the children would summarise what he or she had learnt that day and set goals for the week. This guides children to focus on the ‘how’ i.e. the steps they need to take in order to achieve the goals, and reinforces the lessons learnt in class.
Sean’s goals over the ten weeks revolved largely around paying full attention to the task on hand and focusing on completing one task at a time. He made it a point to paste his ‘goal card’ on his cupboard in his room every week to remind himself of the lessons he has learnt in class.
Sean looked forward to his weekly classes because they were admittedly very different from the academic enrichment classes he regularly attends and he enjoyed the games and activities very much. I appreciated that the teachers would provide very detailed feedback on the child’s progress after every lesson – I definitely learnt a thing or two from them!
Most importantly, we did see a subtle and gradual improvement in Sean’s maturity and ability to focus on a task over the weeks. These things really do take time and practice, but I was heartened to see him being more responsible and mindful of his own behaviour. Hopefully, the lessons he has learnt will stay with him and he would be able to apply them in his long learning journey ahead!
If you are keen, The Little Executive will be conducting free trial classes on 26 November 2016 (Saturday) for N2 to P1 children. You can find the timings here and write to email@example.com to book a slot. I personally found the trial class very informative and enlightening – do go for it with your child if you can!
This year end, do check out The Little Executive holiday camps as well! You can read about Ryan’s out-of-this-world Astronaut Training Camp adventure here.
DINO DISCOVERY CAMP (N2 – P4), 29 November – 2 December
Your mini paleontologist will embark on a dino-dig, unearthing ancient dinosaur fossils and working together as a team to reconstruct a dinosaur skeleton! They will trace how dinosaurs lived through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, while learning about evolution. The kids will need to harness their acute powers of observation to identify each bone and work collaboratively to put the pieces together. This project highlights inductive and deductive reasoning skills, sequencing and problem-solving abilities.
ASTRONAUT TRAINING CAMP, 13-16 December (K1- P4)
Calling all little astronauts! This December holidays, let us take your child on a mission to Outer Space. Through this unique 4-day camp, aspiring astronauts will hone their problem solving skills to complete Space Missions, enhance their teamwork and communication skills as they work together as a crew, and sharpen their sensory systems while exploring new territories.
P1, HERE I COME!, 6 – 9 December (K2s only)
Get your little one all set for Primary school with our 4-day prep camp aimed at honing essential skills used daily in the classroom. Through a series of fun and engaging activities, your child will enhance his ability to listen and remember, pay attention in class, think and ask questions and communicate effectively. Join us for a P1 prep camp that will help your child grow to become an independent and confident learner!
Sean and Ryan are looking forward to the holiday classes for sure. If you are signing up, you can quote ‘olimomok15’ for a 15% discount. Thanks, The Little Executive, for having us!
Disclaimer: We were sponsored for a term of lessons for the purpose of writing this review. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own, and the pleasure was all ours!