Teacher Anis’ eyes sparkle with joy when she talks about the children in D’Garden Educare Centre -- her children. We could clearly see that she loves each and every one of them and they her. During our visit, each time we walk into a class with her, there are delighted squeals of “Teacher Anis! Teacher Anis!” and the children happily take turns to hug her… even the smaller ones who can only reach up to her knees!
“People say that mothers suffer separation anxiety when their children start going to kindergarten. I suffer separation anxiety when my pupils graduate and leave for primary school,” said Teacher Anis laughingly. Although she is the Principal of D’Garden Puchong Utama and the Operations Manager for D’Garden’s 10 centres, Teacher Anis makes time for her students. The children are welcome to knock on her office door if they need to discuss something troubling them. “I don’t have children of my own, so all my pupils are my children. If they have a problem, I want them to tell me. And if necessary, I will inform their parents,” said Teacher Anis. It can be anything from not willing to share a toy to not liking carrots for lunch, but Teacher Anis treats each case with patience and respect.
“I don’t believe that children should be seen and not heard. If we allow them to express themselves, we can then guide their social and emotional development. But we must be consistent. If they misbehave, we must be firm that it is wrong behaviour. If they persist, we sometimes implement a 2-minute time-out in a corner where they are asked to ponder on what they have done wrong. That usually works,” she added with a smile.
“D’Garden is a place where children can play and learn in a safe and homely environment. We not only emphasise on academic learning but also social skills, manners, and living skills. We design our own textbooks and workbooks and have incorporated very hands-on activities that help children learn. For example, we let them see the colours of the actual fruits, they touch the fruits, they smell, and then taste the juice of the fruits. During art class, we let them choose their own colours so that they can express their emotions. We also have water play and sand play; we develop their gross motor skills by allowing them to climb, jump, run; we let them walk barefooted on the grass to improve their sensory skills and balance. There are regular training programmes for our teachers where we teach them to be creative in their lessons. Every child is different, and therefore the teaching approach we use may differ from child to child. Our teachers have even taken the children to Tesco to buy groceries, each armed with their mum’s shopping list,” said Teacher Anis.
In fact, D’Garden tries to involve parents in most activities so that they can participate in their children’s education. Once a month, they have a ‘Take a Break’ stall where the 3 to 6-year olds sell breakfast to children and parents using real money. They also had a Mothers’ Day Breakfast recently where the children had breakfast with their mums, complete with pretty table settings. “After that, the dads clamoured for their own Fathers’ Day Breakfast,” Teacher Anis told us with a laugh.
So much loving thought and care have been taken with all the activities that both children and parents feel as if they are a part of a big family – the D’Garden Family.
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