“Happy Bear Preschool came into being because the name conjures up an image of a Disney-like animated film where momma bear has always been the quintessential example of a mother’s love and little baby bears are always curious and cute, with a wide-eyed innocence,” says Ms. Sheena Ng, Happy Bear Preschool’s principal. “In this happy environment, a child’s development and the learning process come easily,” Ms. Sheena adds.
Happy Bear Preschool’s classes, and activity plus sleep areas are spread over nine rooms and two large common areas, housed in two brightly painted red and white corner double storey buildings connected back to back via a covered walkway.
Being a Montessorian and schooled in its ways, Ms. Sheena has laid out and planned for the entire two buildings. Its flow from one area to the next, appear seamless. Great attention has been given to the littlest details, from the child height shelves, tables and chairs to the height of the taps and wash basins and the size of the toilet bowls.
A typical school day at Happy Bear Preschool starts at eight o’clock in the morning. Lessons, activities and studies are conducted in the morning session. The afternoon session is for baths, nap time, tea time, homework guidance and educational activities. Meals are prepared fresh daily from their own kitchen. The children are served their meals at their desks. Whereby they are taught to eat and clean up after themselves and to have proper table manners and hygiene. Enrichment classes such as creative arts classes, music classes, clay classes as well as English Phonics classes can be arranged for the children upon request.
Happy Bear Preschool employs the Montessori Method of teaching incorporated with a thematic approach. A thematic approach to teaching involves integrating all subject areas together under one theme. It crosses over subject lines and helps children relate basic academic skills to real-world ideas. These themed units incorporate reading, math, science and social studies, as well as the arts for a well-balanced curriculum.
On the day of our visit, the children’s laughter is heard ringing throughout Happy Bear Preschool. It mirrors perfectly the principal’s bright and sunny disposition. Or maybe it was just time for water play when we arrived! It was ‘controlled chaos’ throughout the half hour or so. There were screams and shrieks of laughter with water splashing everywhere. Protected from the sun by huge trendy shade sails, the children were having a whale of a time and I suspect the teachers were too, judging from the wide smiles on their faces and the fact that some of them were completely drenched from head to foot!
Ms. Sheena proudly tells us, “At Happy Bear Preschool we encourage play and real life learning. We consider this aspect to be crucial to the holistic progress and development of the child.” Apart from the twice a year progress report, there are bonding sessions with the children and parents during their Family Day, annual concert, graduation sleepover camp, educational previews, parenting workshops and the various celebration days where the parents’ participation is almost 80% to 90%. Commendable indeed!
After the visit, this little nursery rhyme “Teddy Bears’ Picnic Song” kept playing in my head,
“The little teddy bears are having a great time today, Watch them, catch them unawares, And see them picnic on their holidays, See them gaily dance about, They love to play and shout, And never have any cares, At six o’clock their mommies and daddies, Will take them home to bed, Because they’re tired little teddy bears….......”
And I replay the image of the ‘little teddy bears’ during water play…..
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