Helen will celebrate her 30th year as an early childhood educator this year, having joined this sector after graduating from university with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She has 11 years international teaching experience as a preparatory teacher and 18 years experience in a range of curricula both in the local and the international scene in Singapore.
Having experienced the IB play-based curriculum in international schools, she believes that the best way to nurture a child’s development is through play. She believes in allowing the children to direct their learning based on their prior knowledge of the world and building on these strengths as they acquire more skills and concepts along the way. As she felt a passion towards teaching, Helen obtained a diploma in early childhood education, recognised by the government of Singapore and also earned a master’s degree in early childhood from the Queensland University of Technology. She is also a qualified teacher in Speech and Drama having earned a Trinity Guildhall teaching certificate in drama.
Helen expects her students at OWIS to work hard and play hard in engaging activities. They will have an opportunity to explore and have a sense of wonder of how the world works; they will have an opportunity to work together and be independent at the same time. She believes that we need to help children be resilient in a fast-changing world. She believes her objective is to develop a love and passion for learning in her students. Children who “learn how to learn” will become adults who are life-long learners.
How does Helen keep her boat afloat? She is happy and grateful for everything that comes into her life. She loves spending time with her closest friends and family. She believes “home” is everywhere where your love ones are. She also takes an active interest in special needs education. She believes that education should be inclusive and should be for all children. She believes that there is a unique gift within every child and that as an educator, her task is to help them find this gift and provide each child the opportunity to reach his/her full potential.
It's never too early to spark a child's creativity. Especially during their early years, engaging in imaginative play facilitates learning for all children. Role-playing, acting out their thoughts and coming up with imaginary scenarios help young children make sense of the world around them. At One World International School, we encourage our youngest learners to engage in dramatic play. A key component of our early childhood education, creative drama provides structure and support to help children use their experiences to build on what they already know.
Creative drama provides an outlet for young children to express their thoughts, wishes and emotions. It challenges children's perceptions of their world and themselves. Acting out imaginary roles and situations encourages them to think critically and creatively. By pretending to take on the role of parent or teacher, children learn to understand others' perspectives and behaviour.
Drama helps children manage their emotions, too. Looking at the world from another's point of view in role-playing activities instils tolerance and empathy. Creative expression enables young learners to grasp the consequences of their actions, practise appropriate behaviour and respond constructively to conflict.
Imaginative play also gives students a sense of agency and motivates them to be creative while making connections to what they're learning in the classroom. As they take on new roles, children experiment by coming up with different problems and solutions faced by literature characters. In our Early Childhood programme, drama provides a safe, supportive learning environment where children can make decisions and explore new possibilities. They can examine, discuss and even experience various actions and consequences without threat.
The importance of creative expression is sometimes overlooked. However it cultivates critical skills in young children and hence we incorporate it in our Early childhood curriculum. During these formative years, drama is:
At OWIS, we use drama to get our youngest learners immersed and engaged in their learning. Creative expression enhances students' skills in literacy, numeracy and more. Here are a few of the many ways we incorporate role-playing and other forms of creative expression into our early years curriculum.
Our early childhood students participate in fun activities such as finger play, depicting the water cycle and acting out animal movement. Creative movement sharpens spatial awareness and makes learning more meaningful.
Through songs and music, students learn about numbers, poetry and recitations. Theatrical techniques help students understand new concepts. For instance, we often use simple props when telling stories or depicting characters in literature. We illustrate various concepts through miming, puppetry and role-playing activities to make learning more relatable to early learners.
Another way we get our early childhood students excited about learning is through “small-world play.” Our Early Childhood (EC) classrooms have dedicated learning spaces and play spaces where children can play with sand, clay, water, miniature animals and other objects. In collaboration with their peers, they are entirely free to let their imaginations run wild. Here, they have boundless opportunities to cultivate their creativity while mastering the nuances of teamwork — taking turns, resolving conflict, communicating their thoughts and listening to others' opinions. Participating in these creative interactions develops open-mindedness, respect and tolerance — traits that are essential for successfully living and working with others.
Regular assemblies throughout the year give our EC students opportunities to gain skills and self-awareness through speaking, singing, dancing and acting. Additionally, every December, we have an Early Childhood Production in which our EC students act out a storyline. Each child plays an active part through speaking, singing, dancing and other forms of artistic expression.
At OWIS, creative expression is central to our Performing Arts curriculum. Drama helps our early childhood students learn more about themselves and the larger world in a fun, nurturing environment. To inquire about our early years program, visit us virtually today.
(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.)