Kiddy123 recently discovered that parents in Puchong have been especially active in checking information on our website. As such, our team decided it was time to head south in our quest to answer the most frequently asked question by parents: “What are the good kindergartens in my area?”
We started off by surveying the sprawling neighbourhood of Bandar Puteri, then moved on to nearby Puchong Jaya and Pusat Bandar Puchong. In these three areas alone, we had the opportunity to interview the principals of an amazingly wide cross-section of preschools, with teaching methods and programmes ranging from Montessori to Waldorf to R.E.A.L Kids, Hanz Education, Hankids, Brain Dance, LPC Thinker, etc. We have compiled our experiences in Bandar Puteri into a report for you. Take a look at Part 1 to see the educational treasures available for your little one.
More selected preschools in Bandar Puteri Puchong: "Selected Preschools in Bandar Puteri, Puchong (Part 2)"
Note: The preschools below are listed in alphabetical order.
When we arrived at Merryweather Playcare Centre, a Waldorf-inspired nursery, the first thing we heard was the joyful laughter of children in the garden. It was time for outdoor play with water, sand, and the rabbits! Given all these elements, one would expect things to go a bit wild, right? But to our surprise the little ones played with care and respect for one another and for nature. When it was time for lunch, they went for their shower, dressed themselves, put the wet clothes in their laundry bags, and sat down at the table to wait for their meal as if they were at home.
We expressed our delight at seeing such calm and responsible children. Principal Ms Elayne enlightened us, “It is our simple, warm, and loving home-like environment with its regular rhythm that makes children feel safe to explore and create all kinds of possibilities. For their healthy development, it is important to surround children with beautiful and meaningful experiences that encourage trust and confidence in the goodness of the world. Our setting also offers children plenty of opportunities for meaningful imitation and free play.”
What exactly is free play? Ms Elayne explained, "It is unstructured, imaginative play, where children act out scenarios of their own creation. It helps them to experience different qualities of life on earth. Play materials -- such as wooden blocks and stands, clothes, pebbles, beanbags -- are capable of being transformed at the will of the child’s imagination. Play enables children to make sense of their outer and inner world and it establishes the foundation of future learning. Free play also helps them in building social skills."
At Merryweather, children will enjoy elements such as story-telling, puppet shows, singing, outdoor play, circle games, healthy meals and artistic activities -- all of which are typical of a Waldorf kindergarten. Some favourite activities will be wet-on-wet watercolour painting, modelling, crayon drawing, baking, and handwork. Ms Elayne told us that the rhythmic repetition of these activities strengthens and nourishes the children, imbuing them with a sense of order and harmony, "It is such activities that nurture and challenge the child's will, and help them develop healthy habits and good attitudes. At Merryweather, the child's natural curiosity and creativity are encouraged and engaged, and the overall well-being of each child is tended to with attention and care. We also help to nurture family life as well, with ongoing parent education and support, participation in festival celebrations, both in and out of school hours."
We learnt that the early childhood programme at Merryweather is non-academic in nature but its curriculum brings all of the above in a developmentally appropriate way, so that when the children are ready for formal schooling they have a solid foundation of life experience and are ready—mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to this, Ms Elayne has introduced some academic learning in a fun way to her children, e.g. learning alphabets through story-telling, plus phonics and ‘suku kata’ through gesture and finger play, so that the children get the best of both worlds.
Ms Esther, the principal of Q Garden, is soft-spoken and looks as if nothing can disturb her calm and patient demeanour. However, she is definitely a determined early childhood educator, no mistakes about it. She works hard and keeps her classes small to make sure all her students know their lessons well. There are also extra classes for subjects like English and Chinese where students are given individual attention to improve their reading and knowledge of the language. For parents who want their children to have that something extra, Q Garden has enrichment classes such as Mental Arithmetic, piano, art & craft and Taekwondo.
Ms Esther focuses on the thematic approach in teaching. This means that areas of the curriculum are connected together and integrated within a theme, for example, animal theme or transportation theme. Using this method, learning becomes more natural as creating connections is believed to be the best way for a child to learn. Testimonies from the students’ parents about their children’s progress confirm that Ms Esther’s teaching methods have been working well.
The kindergarten also focuses on hands-on activities to teach scientific principles. Ms Esther said, “We make science fun for the children by doing experiments and letting them discover science for themselves. Also, every child has a science kit with which they can try out the science experiments we do here at home with their parents. We tell our parents that in doing this they can help to reinforce what their children have learnt here.” There is also a Science Corner for the children to explore and learn, complete with interesting 3-D models of the Earth, the universe and the human anatomy.
From what we have seen and observed, Q Garden is your typical medium-size friendly neighbourhood kindergarten where parents and children get to enjoy individual attention. Throughout her eight years in operating Q Garden, Ms Esther has had to answer many pleas for urgent assistance from her students’ parents. Wanting a single drop-off before rushing to work in the morning, parents of her students have requested Ms Esther to help out temporarily by taking care of the younger siblings. Sympathising with their dilemma, this has led Ms Esther to start multi-sensory programmes and nursery facilities for the younger ones.
The story does not end here. Even when her students have graduated from her kindergarten and entered primary school, parents come back to ask her to allow their children to come to Q Garden for guidance in their school work -- definitely a testimony to the trust and confidence parents have in her!
We had a pleasant surprise when we arrived at R.E.A.L Kids in Bandar Puteri; it was so peaceful – the quietest kindergarten we have been to so far. When we complimented her, the principal Mrs David, explained, “It is about setting boundaries in a positive way. We use positive words, we don’t reprimand the children by saying ‘Don’t run! Don’t shout!’ Instead, we tell them our classroom rules are ‘Walking feet’ and ‘Quiet voices’. When they make noise during lessons, we remind them to have ‘Looking eyes’ and ‘Listening ears’.” She made cute little actions to demonstrate the rules. “The children soon learnt that when they are here, these rules must be followed. When they enter primary school, this discipline will help them to fit in well,” she added.
We also soon learnt that Mrs David was a paediatric nurse for many years before fulfilling her dream of becoming an early childhood educator. This explains the neat and orderly arrangement, especially when the 3- and 4-year olds are doing their work. We saw the little ones sitting on the four sides of a demarcated square on the floor, working quietly with their materials on their own little mat, or working as a team, without intruding into the space of others. If a child happens to take another child’s materials, teachers are on hand to settle issues amicably.
Mrs David is backed by a team of well-trained teachers, half of whom have a diploma in early childhood education, while two teachers are doing their degree-level course. From what we have seen so far, this probably places R.E.A.L Kids Bandar Puteri among the kindergartens with the highest percentage of diploma-level staff in the area.
We also had a look at R.E.A.L Kids’ wide range of colourful textbooks and unique educational materials. We learnt that these were developed in-house by their own team of curriculum development specialists in their HQ. The fact is, R.E.A.L Kids had to develop their own materials as they were the first preschool in Malaysia to adopt the Multiple Intelligences (MI) approach back in 2002.
Like in all R.E.A.L Kids preschools, academics is complemented by extra-curricular activities. The children here enjoy weekly swimming lessons in the pool at the side of the building as well as Taekwondo classes. There is also a MI Corner and a small library for the children to explore and learn. Living skills are also taught from young. The children have learnt to butter their own bread and those who stay back for the extended programme fold their own blanket after their nap. This is definitely a preschool for parents who want their children to grow up to be well-balanced individuals.
With a 14-year history in Bandar Puteri, Tadika Vista Cemerlang is one of the most well-established preschools in the township. The spacious kindergarten, with its signature “alphabet wall” and beautiful artificial grass, sits majestically on a hill that overlooks a breathtaking panoramic view of Puchong and beyond.
The principal, Ms Tham, has been involved in early childhood education for more than three decades, and exudes the confidence of an experienced educator. She had developed her own curriculum over the years and, based on feedback from her students’ parents, her programmes have helped to nurture the children into individuals who are responsible, disciplined, and willing to work hard to achieve academic excellence. Even today, she is continuously exploring new approaches and ways to enhance her programmes.
“I’ve taken so much pains in developing my curriculum because I believe the first six years are crucial for inputting into the child the skills, knowledge, and character traits that will help him or her succeed in an increasingly competitive world. We not only focus on the academics but also on other activities such as music and movement, art & craft, cookery classes, and taekwondo to provide the children opportunities to learn new skills and to build their self-confidence,” said Ms Tham.
“Building self-confidence is important for a child. It is not easy for a child when he or she enters primary school, especially when it is a Chinese-medium school where the competition is so keen. However, our student’s parents have seen that their kids are not afraid to go to school. This is because our students can already read, write and speak in BM, English and Chinese when they enter Primary One; they have learnt mathematics and science; they are disciplined in their studies. All these give them self-confidence,” she added.
Ms Tham also emphasises on safety and security. The whole kindergarten is equipped with CCTV while the side gate, its only entrance-cum-exit, uses a magnetised door access card system. Much thought has also been put into the children’s surroundings. The edges of the walls are curved to provide greater safety in case there are falls, while laminated flooring makes the floors easier to clean and sanitise.
Interestingly, we saw that the covered walkway from the side gate leads straight to the principal’s office door before turning left into the classrooms. Ms Tham’s office door is almost always open, which means she can see every child who walks through the gate and observe their mood and behavior. It also means an open-door policy for parents who wish to discuss any matters with her. Such strategic arrangements certainly speak clearly of her commitment to her students and their parents.
Read more about other selected preschools in Bandar Puteri Puchong: "Selected Preschools in Bandar Puteri, Puchong (Part 2)"