Saturday, 21 June 2014

Ed-Quest - Mandarin Enrichment Centre

Typical of many families these days, my kids are hardly exposed to Mandarin outside of their school classrooms. It is no surprise that they end up failing their Chinese year after year. I asked around and was recommended some of the big name enrichment chains. I signed the 3 older ones up for a year but found no improvement in their grades. Now my strategy is to give them one-on-one tuition during their P6 year and so far, the 2 older ones managed to get an 'A' with 1 year of chinese tuition.

When we were extended an invitation by Ed-Quest for #5 to attend a Mandarin Enrichment holiday program for a week, I was apprehensive to send him as he already dreads Mandarin lessons in school and I wanted him to have a good break and enjoy the June holidays. I glanced at the program and was surprised that it looked interesting and very hands-on. I finally decided to let him join as #3 and #4 were also going to be tied up with school for that week. In the end, I'm glad he went, as it was a fun way to expose him to the language and he found out that Mandarin doesn't have to be dry and boring.
Having fun making lanterns
In his 1 week holiday program, they did lots of interesting activities like wrapping rice dumplings, cooking jiaozi, folding dragon boats, just to name a few. I like that they adopt the approach that Mandarin is not merely an academic subject but a language that is rich in history and cultural roots. As this week's theme was on food, they explored the food items with their five senses, then created and tasted what they cooked. As their interest was piqued, they were more interested to learn the related descriptive words. The holiday program is catered to children between the ages of 5 and 8 years old. The older kids were exposed to more phrases and idioms, and they also wrote poems and short essays about their experiences thereafter.
Tea appreciation
#5 got his good buddy to join him for the holiday program, and when I picked them up, I asked Wu laoshi for feedback and if they behaved well. She said they enjoyed themselves and mentioned that #5 is a visual learner. I quipped, "He hardly understands Mandarin, so he watches to know what to do!" I probed on about his behaviour as his school teacher keeps telling me what a naughty boy he is in school. Wu laoshi mentioned that he is rather mischievous and always tries to push the boundaries. He would also make jokes constantly and tries to do things his own way. Spot on. She deciphered him in 1 lesson. I asked her if she was able to handle him and what methods she used because his school teacher was at her wit's end.

She shared with me that she did not scold him but was very firm with him and patiently explained why his actions are wrong. Perhaps he can tell from her tone that she is not merely nagging him, but was genuinely concerned about him. She also explained to me that I have to break this behaviour if not he thinks that it is acceptable to play up in every class. Needless to say, I was extremely impressed with Wu laoshi. I relayed my feedback to the management and they told me that they believe in hiring very experienced and competent teachers.

Making jiaozi

I was surprised that #5 actually looked forward to going for the classes and Wu laoshi told me that he started behaving really well and even helped the younger boys. One of the days, they were taught how to make jiaozi (meat dumpling) and she noticed that #5 was fumbling and was probably on the verge of rebelling or giving up. She explained to him why the edges should be tucked and sealed and he went on to improvise and made a whole dozen! I'm glad laoshi didn't insist on him making it that one and only way and she allowed him leeway for his creativity.

His UFO-looking jiaozi

Ed-Quest has been around for more than a decade, and with Mrs Patricia Koh (founder of the first Pat's Schoolhouse) as Education Director, they firmly believe in bringing the language alive and making it relevant to the children. My sentiments exactly. If only our schools can adopt this approach, along with having smaller classes, many of our kids won't be struggling with the language.

The fees for their holiday program are at $250 for 1 week, 9am - 12noon. It runs through to July to cater to the international students as well. Do contact them at 6356 8186 for more details. In addition, they have regular classes for both children and adults.

Sane tip: I'm glad #5 had a very positive first Mandarin enrichment exposure. I'm now all for exposing them to Mandarin in fun and interesting ways. If they can slowly build up their vocabulary and listen to the language spoken more, it wouldn't be so tough on them during the PSLE year. Ok, here's my new strategy: Let them join fun Mandarin lessons during the school holidays (I get to have a break too!), listen to some Mandarin CDs, and give them private tuition during P6.

Save tip: I believe in giving my kids quality extra academic classes. No point wasting the child's time and my time sending them and put them in any enrichment classes from P1 just to make myself feel secured that I'm doing something extra. I always follow up on their progress and ascertain if there is any improvement in grades. If there isn't, I will stop after 3-4 months because I believe that if the child finds the right fit of the teacher and the method, we will definitely see an improvement in their grades or at least in their interest in learning that subject.

Ed-Quest

177A Thomson Road
Goldhill Shopping Centre
Singapore 307625

Tel: 63568186


Disclaimer: We were sponsored this holiday program. All opinions are my own.



~ www.mummyweeblog.com - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

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