Kiddy123 continues our quest to answer the question most frequently asked by our almost 30,000 monthly website users: “What are the good kindergartens in my area?” This time, Kiddy123's team surveyed the neighbourhoods in Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, made a selection of five preschools there, and interviewed the principals. Read on to find out what these educators believe early childhood education should be.
(Note: The preschools are listed in alphabetical order.)
Smart Reader Kids Bandar Utama is one of the franchise centres under Smart Reader Worldwide, the largest chain of child enrichment centres in Malaysia. Yuzliyanty Yusof and Gail Rodrigues, the two principals, started the kindergarten in Bandar Utama in 2001, just two years after the Smart Reader Kids concept was launched, catering to children from 3 years to 6 years old. Since then, their centre has been receiving Smart Reader Worldwide’s Gold Award almost every year.
Says Puan Yanty (as she is often called), “We are an innovative and fun English-medium preschool with a reputable and internationally recognised syllabus. Our teachers are our greatest asset. Not only are they experienced and well-trained (we are supported with regular training by Smart Reader Worldwide), they are committed to helping our students learn and succeed. That’s why the children still remember their teachers after they have graduated from kindergarten and moved on to primary school. We can spend extra time on children who need more attention because our teacher to student ratio is low, usually one teacher to 10-15 students. If a class has more than 15 students, we will always have two teachers.”
What is unique about the Smart Reader Kids concept? Puan Yanty says, “We use the Smart Reader Creative Teaching Methodology which not provides a fun and exciting learning programme but also enables children to imbibe good moral values. Throughout the learning process, children are taught to reason out problems, find answers and look for solutions on their own. In addition, we always make sure the children are ready for the next level before we proceed.”
Subjects taught under Smart Reader Kids are: Smart English, Smart Bacaan, Smart Maths, Smart Science, Hygiene/Moral, Pendidikan Moral, Art & Craft, Kinder Cooking, Smart Music, and Smart Computer. Optional subjects are Smart Mandarin and Fardhu Ain. After school, the centre also offers Mandarin and Bahasa Malaysia tutorial and an Intensive English Programme.
Ms Grace also believes that children should be exposed to learning as young as possible: “Dr Andrew Meltzoff (an expert on child development) says that children learn more in the first five years of their life than they will ever learn in any other 5-year period. As such, besides focusing on the 3Rs (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic), we emphasise the 4Cs – Creativity, Communication, Critical Thinking and Collaboration. This means that our kids are equipped with life skills, can think through things, and care about the Earth and their community. We also incorporate multisensory and multiple intelligence (MI) materials into our curriculum; every child has his own set of materials from International Proven Education Systems.
"Our kids learn a lot, yet in a fun way without stress. For example, Mandarin is a challenging language for children if we use the traditional approach. But amazingly, our students can master all three languages using our right-left brain, animated approach! Parents find it very effective while the kids love it and want to learn more! As such, our students are well-prepared to go to any school, whether Chinese-medium, international or national."
While we were there, Kiddy123’s team saw multisensory and MI learning in action. A group of three- and four-year-olds stood on the porch holding umbrellas while a teacher sprayed water on them from a high ladder (besides learning “r” is for rain, these city kids learn how rain feels like). Another group went to a nearby park to hug trees and walk barefooted on the grass -- an activity under Tadika Aktif’s 2016 theme “Importance of Trees and Appreciating Nature”. We saw children expertly using robot kits to build and programme robots. We saw a tiny little girl confidently holding a microphone and singing her heart out. Definitely 21st century kids!
Do let us know
Kiddy123 hopes these ideas on early childhood education have helped you to assess the choices available out there for your child. Please see our list of kindergartens in Bandar Utama and let us know when you find others that are worthy of mention.