Born and raised in Singapore, Syahira studied at the University at Buffalo (SIM) where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication. She has also completed her PGCE from the University of Sunderland. She has worked in international schools in the United Arab Emirates for 3 years.
As an educator, her philosophy is to make learning come to life. She believes children learn best when they are actively engaged and involved through real-life experiences and a hands-on approach.
Syahira was inspired to teach by her own mother, who is also a teacher. She understands that each child learns at a different pace and it is important to cater to their needs and abilities in order for them to reach their highest potential. She looks forward to working with the diverse community of teachers and students at OWIS.
She strongly believes that teachers should demonstrate kindness by being good role models to their students. She defines herself as a “Teacher by day, foodie by night!” She enjoys trying new cuisines from all around the world, loves to stay active and drink LOTS of coffee!
Hands-on learning is critical during a child's formative years. Between three months and five years, infants and children develop fine and gross motor skills, coordination and balance. Hands-on learning enhances physical, socio-emotional and intellectual development, as children gain new concepts by engaging their senses through different modalities. Hands-on learning also encourages critical thinking and problem-solving — essential life skills.
The importance of hands-on learning is supported by research. The National Association for the Education of Young Children notes that preschoolers thrive in child-centred environments that allow them to take charge of their learning through exploration and play.
Creating a hands-on environment at home gets your child excited about learning and ready for preschool:
1. Building with Blocks
You don't need sophisticated building sets. Just give your preschooler simple blocks and the freedom to build and knock down all kinds of structures.
2. Sand Foam
Stir the ingredients together. Encourage your child to play with the coloured foam using hands, scoopers and toy vehicles. This activity allows for plenty of creativity.
3. Sticky Paper Creations
Lay contact paper on the table, placing construction paper on the edges to hold the sheet in place. Invite your child to make creative designs by sticking craft materials to the paper.
4. Water Beads
Pour the beads into a water-filled bin, wait several hours for the beads to expand and let your child have fun.
5. Playing with Bubble Wrap
Tape bubble wrap to the floor or wind it around your child's feet.
Encourage your child to crawl, run, jump and hop on the bubble wrap to make it pop.
6. Coloured Volcanoes
Pour coloured sand into the Styrofoam cups. Cover each with 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda. Place cups into a large container. Squirt vinegar into the cups to cause colourful eruptions. Then, pour all the cups into the container.
7. Silly Putty
Stir the ingredients together. After ten seconds of stirring, mix with your hands until the putty reaches a silky, stretchy, mouldable consistency. Your child can bend the putty to form letters and numbers or trace patterns into it with a pencil.
8. Homemade Snow
Pour the baking soda into the container. Spray the shaving cream over it and mix with your hands. Invite your child to play with the "snow", using hands, plastic animals or scoopers.
You don’t need to always design specific activities for your child to be engaged in learning at home. Children learn in multiple ways and just including your child when you're doing household chores can be a learning experience for them. Explain how to use the tools for each task, then let your child engage with them.
Play fosters motor skills, communication skills, creativity and conflict resolution skills. At One World International School, we encourage different types of play — sensory, physical, imaginative, creative and more — to spark children's natural curiosity. Here's a glimpse into some of the activities in our Early Childhood (EC) classrooms.
Our Early Childhood students enjoy playing in our "herb soup" tub, consisting of discarded herbs, carrots and potatoes. Picking up small herbs and vegetables develops fine motor skills. In another activity, children cut shredded paper, which improves dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
In another EC classroom, you might find a group playing with miniature animals or structures (small-world play). Children "measure" a sand-foam mixture at another table while excitedly talking about what they're doing, which boosts their language skills.
In an older Early Childhood 3 class, several students participate in activities, such as washing baby dolls, that let them take on the roles of adult care-givers. Another group learns the basics of gravity by building with pipe cleaners.
At OWIS, multi-sensory learning is connected to the units of inquiry children explore in the classroom. By making connections between concepts and ideas, children build on what they already know through play.
To learn more about how we support holistic development through play, contact us to set up a virtual visit.
(All OWIS photographs in this blog article were taken pre-Covid. The school is adhering to hygiene protocols and social distancing measures as recommended by the CPE and Ministry of Health, Singapore.)