Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ryan's preschool portfolio

When Richard and I were selecting a preschool for Ryan, we agreed that we did not want a place that would stuff him with facts and facts and nothing but facts. There is plenty of time and opportunity to learn facts (plus there is always Google). We wanted to give him the opportunity to develop skills - social skills, thinking skills, communication skills - and to build character. From what we've seen, he's doing all that and we are very happy with the way things are going.

Today, I'm sharing some excerpts from Ryan's portfolio from school, which mainly comprises written observations by his teachers. These are from last term. I have only reproduced excerpts instead of everything in the portfolio. Also, I have not reproduced any of the photos in the portfolio; the photos in this post were taken by me whenever I was at his school.

"When the teacher invited the children to explore the red colour Ryan was fascinated by looking closely at the things that could be red. Ryan looked at the colour and chose "lipsred" from the list of options for his name. The children felt more confident to represent the name of the colour through drawing. On the other hand Ryan spelled the name of his colour without the teacher prompting him or supporting his writing. Ryan used capital letters for his writing."

Ryan is more inclined to write rather than draw. This, the teachers take as a sign of advanced communication skills because of his understanding of the power of the written word, his understanding of how to use it and his ability to use it.

"During the experience, Ryan developed deep understandings about the concepts of dark and light. In addition, Ryan demonstrated a strong understanding of the relationships between the colour and the light. Ryan is becoming a competent communicator. He begins to describe personal experiences and understands simple questions as well as he is developing his ability to respond with action and words. Ryan is beginning to use oral language to communicate during classroom activities, conversations and imaginative play extensively. Ryan confidently demonstrated his writing skills. Ryan was able to write the name of his colour without any support from the teacher. Ryan is beginning to use writing as a way of communicating his thinking and he wrote the name of the colour to communicate a message to a particular audience. Ryan also displayed a strong understanding of the letter formation."

I've mentioned in a previous post that, at home, I intend to work more with Ryan on writing. I get the sense that he is interested and so this would be the right time to focus on it. He is already very familiar with letter formation and is already comfortable writing words, so I am going to work with him on writing sentences.

"Ryan confidently explored materials and a new space, using verbal language to share his observations. He displayed a very positive disposition towards learning and was keen to involve his peers in his discoveries. As Ryan continues to build his understandings of light and shadow we will continue to build upon his idea of shadows having different colours."

This love for learning and this delight in brainstorming and ability to think out of the box are traits which I hope Ryan will always have. I'm really happy that his preschool encourages him in this respect. For example, when studying the rainbow, his teachers didn't just tell the children there are seven colours in the rainbow, which are red, orange, ... etc. What their class did was to talk about what colours they thought were rainbow colours and some of the children came up with silver, gold and white. The children had reasons for their theories, eg. silver and gold are rainbow colours "because they are shiny" - and the teachers didn't correct them. Then the students examined little rainbows created by light streaming through various materials and identified the colours on their own. You can see that, at the end of the day, the important thing is not knowing the colours of the rainbow. The colours of the rainbow is simply a scaffold used to help the children learn other things, intangible things - like thinking, reasoning, working together, experimenting, brainstorming, etc.

"Ryan worked confidently in a group, displaying innovative thinking as he used new materials in his representation. He used verbal language to communicate his observations, listening and responding to Yu Han and Eshal's comments. He also demonstrated an awareness that interacting, playing and engaging with others is a positive experience and a valuable part of team membership. Ryan displayed a strong interest in the light formation on the floor, reacting with delight and excitement as he saw the colours on the paper. Ryan is able to make strong connections to his prior knowledge, re-creating the shape of the rainbow with his hands to support his idea of the rainbow formation. As Ryan continues to work in small group experiences with his peers we will continue to support interactions, using his understanding that information can be shared with peers to support Ryan in a leadership position when engaging in collaborative projects."

Socially, Ryan has made leaps and bounds in his interactions. He is more comfortable to express himself now and, because of that, you can see his personality more. I was pleased to read the extract above because it mentions that Ryan can both lead a group and also be a team player. It's wonderful to know that he makes valuable contributions to the group because of his creative suggestions and his prior knowledge, coupled with his willingness to share and collaborate. All good stuff.

There is a Chinese section of his portfolio, which I haven't shared here because my Chinese is pretty hopeless. His Chinese teacher is full of praises for him so it's all good.

So, all is going well. Ryan is truly reaping the benefits of the curriculum and we do feel that his preschool has helped him to develop many important skills. I'm looking forward to seeing what they get up to this term!

What about you? What do you like about your child's experience in preschool?


DV said...

Hi Mummy of Ryan, I've been reading your blog for more than half an hour now, reading many posts on Shichida, Heguru and pre-schools. Very informative and thought-provoking write-up. Would you mind sharing Ryan's preschool's name to me by email ( a tonne!

Anonymous said...

Hi mummy of ryan, i am really impressed by your info on preschools. coincidentally, we had placed deposits at nanyang, st james, barker and are rethinking our choices. i like the fact that the preschool you chose in the end looks so neat- a montessori i believe. can you kindly let me know the preschool name as well? my email,

Pinkie Pirate said...

Hi Anonymous, Ryan is not attending a Montessori school. We no longer live in the vicinity of Nanyang, St James and Barker Rd and Ryan's preschool is not in that area. For that area, you might like to check out schools like Odyssey and Etonhouse at Dunearn Rd. They should be quite similar.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mommy of Ryan. Thanks for sharing. I love what I'm reading here and I feel your immense joy of finding a good school for Ryan. Do you mind sharing the preschool name with me at Thank you so much in advance.

smurfie said...

i chanced upon your blog while trying to look for more information on how to select a good preschool that suits your child. Totally agree and love what you are sharing...the pics about Ryan's preschool look great. Do you mind to share what's the name of his preschool with me at
thank you so much in advance. Best wishes, first time mum :)

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