Layla’s holiday trial at a nearby enrichment centre called thinkBIG went well, and by the end of the month a cozy community had formed. Kids would be popping in just to say hi, and we did the same too. The science teacher Jenny told me recently that what she likes best about the student community here is how they all seem connected in some way, like they’re not only neighbours but also former kindy classmates, or playground playmates, or soccer buddies–you get the picture.
Despite our positive experience during the trials, I only had the budget (and intention) to enrol Layla in one class at thinkBIG and she picked creative writing. I wanted Layla to have a strong sense of independence and accountability when it came to her schoolwork, instead of gradually increasing her reliance on tutors because it’ll be hard to turn back.
Layla’s overall science grade for last year was 86%, which to us is OK. She’s not particularly curious by nature; I was that way as a kid too, and even as a grown-up I still tend to accept certain things at face value unless I have a vested interest in the subject. But, the thinkBIG teachers kindly offered to let Layla sit in for their science classes in exchange for regular blog coverage. I felt she could use the additional support to gain confidence in tackling science, and was happy to accept.
As mentioned earlier, Teacher Jenny runs the science classes at thinkBIG, and during the December holidays, she gave the kids a refresher course on Primary 3 material. I was pleasantly surprised when Layla came home with handwritten notes that were much more comprehensive and organised than her school notes, which were minimal and random, to be honest. I decided to store the notes with the interactive notebook method in mind; there are lots of resources and videos about such notebooks online, and you can start with this video.
It’s great to have notes on hand again; I had copies of the much-recommended Ultimate Science guides but they really sucked the joy out of science and learning. Layla didn’t seem to retain much of the information from the guides after repeated readings, so I decided to leave them at our library’s book exchange corner.
Of course, the next thing to do with notes is to ensure you understand and remember the information, and I’m using mnemonics and additional explanatory material to help her along.
Yesterday was thinkBIG’s first official science lesson of the new year and the topic of the day was materials, which is something Layla’s school has already covered. But according to Teacher Jenny, the four kids in the class still needed a lot of exposure to the topic, so she spent some time with the kids to examine the various objects around them, such as an electric kettle, a power plug, and so on, to discuss what materials they were made of, and why those materials had been chosen. I liked this list that she gave the kids–she wanted them to think of all these properties whenever they had to answer a materials-related question:
Next week, it’s quiz time; quizzes are going to be a regular thing in Teacher Jenny’s class!
From what I can see, for now, the factors for learning success are in place. Although it’s only week #1 of the school term, Layla’s already bored with science lessons in school, but without exception, she has always been eager to attend a lesson at thinkBIG. Teacher Jenny’s getting along swimmingly with the other kids too–it’s a small group and everyone’s comfortable enough to volunteer answers and ask questions, and since she’s not teaching ahead or beyond the syllabus, she’ll be helping kids build good study habits as they clarify and review concepts in a consistent manner.
thinkBIG is a newly opened enrichment centre in the Bishan-Thomson area catering for primary, secondary, and JC students. I’ve paid for Layla to attend their creative writing classes, and she’s been invited to sit in for their science classes in exchange for blog coverage. I like to support young entrepreneurs and we’ve had a positive experience with them from the start, so do check them out if this is a convenient location for you! Note: I mentioned in an earlier post that sessions would be run in two-hour blocks, with the first hour reserved for help with the student’s schoolwork. The thinkBIG teachers have decided to scrap this idea–kids are welcome to drop in at the centre earlier on lesson days if they need help with homework, but lessons will now be conducted for two hours, once a week, at $140 per month. To read my other posts about thinkBIG, click here.