Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Kindernomics Workshop!

Over the March school holidays, I let Dumpling "pontang" for a morning from her Chinese lessons (her school does not adhere to the regular school calendar) as we were kindly invited by Kindernomics for a morning workshop, extended to us by two other mummy bloggers from My Playschool.  

Started by three ex-bankers, Kindernomics' core focus is to teach life skills to children through play and extending to Math and English. When asked what was it that prompted three ex-bankers to start up such a venture, Kindernomics' reply was "we wanted to make a difference and feel that it is important for children to learn to make their own choices from early on, understand trade-offs in terms of the advantages & disadvantages of certain choices, and how to think faster and smarter. We quickly realized that an economics curriculum provided a great platform for us to equip kids with the necessary applied academic and life skills sets that we think are essential to be successful and relevant in the 21st century."

The way this is taught is through Kindernomics' EMPIRE model which aims to equip children with choices and, through participation, they learn.

I was particularly excited about the workshop because I believe in the exposure of life skills to children and letting them develop not just critical thinking skills but also the necessary emotional and social skills. 

Dumpling and I were the first to arrive that morning and we were ushered into a waiting room where books and toys were laid out. My immediate impression of the compound was that it is clean and bright.

Once the rest of the blogger mums arrived, we were led into another room where the class was conducted. The teacher started the session with a "read-a-loud" using a book entitled Honey Cookies by Meredith Hooper. From the story, the concept of "production" was introduced as the teacher discussed the various ingredients / raw resources to the production process and finally to the finished product.

After the "read-a-loud", the children viewed a proprietary video which introduced Kindernomics as well as the concept of money - how they can earn, in this case, Kinder Dollars and how they are able to "save" the money to "purchase" the items which they want.

The children  were then led to a table where labelled ingredients were placed. They were encouraged to read the labels and were introduced to "cost" and how much they would have to pay in Kinder Dollars for the ingredients. 


A worksheet was then handed out for an addition activity.

The children then took turns at prepping and mixing the ingredients for a "hands-on" baking activity: Honey Cookies. The teacher also encouraged the children to discuss which ingredient they prefer to handle and then guided them into what I feel was an early introduction to negotiation.

Towards the end of the session, while waiting for the cookies to be baked, the children were then led to "deposit" their kinder dollars into their Kindernomics bank account through a cool machine, made to operate like an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) as shown below. :)

What worked for us:
Dumpling had fun at the session so that was certainly a big plus point. The location was convenient (Forum Shopping Centre) and the classrooms were clean and spacious. I also found the curriculum unique as it deviates from the other "enrichment" schools which focus mainly on more academic stuff.

Dumpling was also given choices at different junctures as to what she wanted to do with her earnings. I was happy to note that the teacher neither encourage or discourage her choices but left it to Dumpling's decisions.

The use of short videos was also clever as it definitely engaged the children. During the briefing to the blogger mums, Kindernomics also shared that eBooks and games were developed and are loaded in tablets such as the iPads which form part of some lessons.

We also learnt that there is a parent's portal in their website which aims to update the parents on the child's activities and progress.

What I wish could have been different:
The session flew by very quickly for us as it was only 1.5 hours long. Besides the video, we did not have any chance to view the eBooks or games which I feel was a pity.

While I understand each term spans over 10 weeks and concepts do take some time for the children to grasp, I wish the group had the chance to go more in-depth into them. Baking as an activity is fun but it was something Dumpling could have done at home too. It would have been more interesting for me to see how the children can learn to negotiate / barter through role playing, etc. to understand trade and even the concept of scarcity when for e.g. one particular resource  "runs out". 

As this is a weekly lesson, I am also unsure how firmly the children can grasp the concepts. So personally, I feel that it would be great for the school to be able to have simple "extension" activities which can be reinforced throughout the week by the parents (anything from as simple as observing the store owners to discussing creative ideas to other activities to encourage "innovation", etc.). 

All in all, it was a lovely morning and I will not hesitate to attend this again if we were invited back in future. 

My Playschool has also written a review on this and they are currently giving away a free trial worth $55! Head on there to enter your details for the draw! :)

About Kindernomics:
Kindernomics School Private Limited

583 Orchard Road
#11-01 Forum (Office Tower)
Singapore 238884
Telephone: +65 6591 8748
Term fees: $550 for 10 sessions (90 mins per session)

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