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With the recent opening of MindChamps Nursery in Bloom Gardens, Abu Dhabi, Edarabia had the chance to interview Mr. David Chiem, CEO & Founder of global chain MindChamps Nursery.
Mr. Chiem has expressed his optimism in offering the UAE access to one of the most “robust early childhood learning platforms in the world.”
MindChamps Nurseries are known for cutting-edge curriculum, synthesizing development of three distinct domains – Neuroscience, Child Psychology and Theatre. How does this help develop a child’s growth in all aspects (mind and personality)?
At MindChamps Nursery, we have instituted our S.M.I.L.E.S.™ curriculum – which incorporates learning in the 6 vital areas of Sensory, Motor, Intellectual, Linguistic, Emotional and Social learning. By designing a curriculum that is holistic and multi-faceted, we are able to prepare children to be more creative and responsive to change more effectively than the more outdated approaches.
This prepares them with the foundations upon which they can build the skills and strategies to face the demands of an ever-changing, information-saturated world. In this world, they will be forced to compete on a global, rather than a local scale, and will be rewarded for collaboration, communication and creativity, rather than the limited ability to ‘store’ information.
How does MindChamps Nursery prepare the youngest members of the community for the challenges of the future?
I believe that the thing which differentiates MindChamps from the rest is the philosophy upon which we were founded. Our purpose has always been to find the gaps that exist in society and fill them.
This means that in designing education programmes, we must take a wider view of what we are setting out to achieve. It is not enough to prepare children for exams, simply because exams are important here and now. If our children are truly prepared for whatever our changing environment will throw at them into the future, they will still be able to do well in today’s exams, but they will be prepared for so much more.
So, we focus on skills, creativity and developing the right mindsets. This way, we teach for success, both in the limited and limiting environment of an education system struggling valiantly to keep pace with the accelerating rate of change brought about by the Information Revolution, and in the world of the future, the nature of which most of us can only guess at.
Building a strong early foundation is an essential first step to inspire lifelong learning. Can you describe how MindChamps offers a strong foundation to young children?
MindChamps Nursery prepares children for learning and development by nurturing a solid ‘foundation’ of skills and strategies in a number of key areas.
The programmes offered by MindChamps Nursery can be likened to a bamboo plant – strong and resilient with a solid foundation.
One of the most successful plants in the world, the bamboo plant is able to withstand natural disasters due to its structural soundness and flexibility. However, before it can mature into such a strong plant, it first has to build its foundations. It does this by extending its roots deep into the soil. The roots provide sustenance for the bamboo plant by providing it access to resources like water and nutrition. The roots also provide stability and a strong base before its shoots can begin to grow above the ground. Once the bamboo shoots do appear on the surface, they grow quickly and efficiently, having developed, beneath the surface, all the necessary components required to thrive in its environment.
Like the bamboo, MindChamps Nursery prepares children for learning and development by nurturing, often at a level beneath the immediately visible, a solid ‘foundation’ of skills and strategies in the following key areas.
CHAMPION VALUES AND EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE BUILDING STRATEGIES™
Champion Values and Social Skills are more important today than ever before, and they are learned from young. For example, fear of public speaking, of sharing our ideas – even fear of rejection – is a learned response; a behaviour programmed in childhood and lodged in the non-conscious mind.
Our young children need to develop their self-confidence and social skills – including their empathy and compassion – at an early age.
CREATIVITY AND THEATRICAL (C&T) STRATEGIES™
Young Children learn best through hands-on experiential activities – as exemplified in MindChamps’ ‘Crafted Play’. MindChamps’ Theatrical Strategies are developed from solid, established theatrical principles and practices.
Creativity and Creative expression are developed through the exploration of diverse media, and through the employment of generative questions. Creativity & Theatrical strategies are designed to engage young minds and bring life to every aspect of the curriculum.
ASSOCIATIVE THINKING & COGNITIVE STRATEGIES™
Associative Thinking and Cognitive Strategies are developed in the programme through ‘relationship and connection’ questions and exercises, ‘cause and effect’ questions and exercises, problem-solving activities, as well as numeracy-based, language-based, music-based and inquiry-based learning activities.
With communication skills being critical to success in the 21st Century society, laying strong preschool foundations for language and communication is essential.
Communication Strategies are developed in the MindChamps Nursery Programme through a variety of engaging social language activities, which enable young children to develop their own responses.
Language skills are further enhanced through the specialised MindChamps Natural Literacy and Reading and Writing Programmes.
NARRATIVE INTELLIGENCE STRATEGIES™
MindChamps’ Narrative Intelligence Strategies are designed to build a child’s mastery of learning domains through their natural affinity with stories and metaphors. These strategies are designed to create successful future readers, writers, storytellers (and learners), and provide an environment that nurtures the child’s love for story and reading.
LANGUAGE AND READING STRATEGIES™
This approach is based on the latest scientific research into language acquisition and the importance of a child’s engagement with language, rather than the discredited ‘drill and kill’ approach.
MindChamps has developed the ‘MindChamps Reading and Writing’ and ‘The Love for Chinese Language’ programmes especially for pre-readers and emerging readers.
They incorporate age-appropriate activities, including our unique ‘Say and Sing’ approach to developing phonemic and phonics awareness.
These strategies lead children to see several possible pathways to the final answer. Children learn to focus on the ‘how’ (process) of arriving at the answer – as opposed to simply memorising the algorithm (conventional method) for reaching the answer.
Fun numeracy activities lead children to discover the logic and the fun in numbers, number structures and patterns. Children also develop their own written and verbal language responses to number facts and relationships.
NATURE AND ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS STRATEGIES™
In a world where the environment is becoming increasingly endangered, the next generation will need to act positively and effectively towards environmental protection. Our children develop their awareness of the nature and environment through experiential learning.
At MindChamps, our Nature and Environmental Awareness strategies are an ongoing priority and are developed in our programme through the exploration of themes focused on Me, My Family, My Friends, My Community and My World.
MOVEMENT FOR THE MIND STRATEGIES™
Decades of research have shown a strong and positively connected relationship between certain movements and cross-lateral neural development.
MindChamps NeuroMooves™ programme is scientifically designed and uses a variety of engaging and exciting developmentally appropriate activities, such as coordinated cross-lateral movements to help our children develop gross motor skills, musical intelligence, coordination and balance.
These developments help provide better blood-flow to the growing brain while laying neural foundations for a wide range of thinking skills.
MUSIC FOR LEARNING AND LIFE STRATEGIES™
Music for Learning and Life draws on the ground-breaking work of our World Advisory Board Giant, Dr Larry Scripp from the New England Conservatory – one of the World’s leading authorities on music and music integration in early childhood education.
Music is important in developing shared neural networks and fundamental concepts, and integrating conceptual development in all areas of learning and social-emotional growth.
This is a new and exciting area of study in neurology and psychology, and in this area – as in many others – MindChamps PreSchool is significantly ‘ahead of the curve’!
Music, used in accord with the latest scientific research into integrated cross-domain learning, is the root that connects and empowers all the other roots, making Music for Learning and Life, a unique and vitally important development in the area of early childhood education.
The “Champion Mindset” breaks free of traditional learning methods that teach ‘what’ to learn. Can you tell us more about these non-traditional methods MindChamps Nursery use and its benefits?
We have been implementing our ‘3 Minds’ approach to learning in our nursery programme. Drawing on the work of Professor Allan Snyder (Director of The Centre for the Mind at the University of Sydney Australia) in the areas of Concept Formation, Creativity and Champion Mindset, we target the Learning Mind, the Creative Mind and the Champion Mind of each child.
The Champion Mind – Celebrating the child’s uniqueness, going beyond conventional wisdom and overcoming adversity to achieve success.
The Learning Mind – Learning strategies that actively assist our children to understand, store, recall, and synthesize information and concepts.
The Creative Mind – Connecting multiple perspectives and integrating them to generate new, creative ideas.
Our Champs are passionate about learning because they experience it naturally through curiosity and freedom of expression. By teaching them the joy of discovery in an enjoyable environment, our champs are able to thrive while developing important skills that carry through to Primary, Secondary and Tertiary education. We lay this foundation for children before the routine and rigidity of the average school experience has the chance to stifle their potential.
That is why our MindChamps core curriculum and enrichment programmes are designed to nurture your child effectively from the beginning. Our award-winning education centres – supported by our team of internationally-acclaimed experts – provide a world-renowned education that caters to every child’s needs.
How does MindChamps Nursery ensure the quality of education in terms of teacher training and development?
When it comes to the quality of teachers and educators at MindChamps Nursery, only the best will do. To achieve this goal, we have a set of guidelines and best practices for which we prepare and strive for. This is aptly termed the ChampionGold Standard.
The ChampionGold Standard covers the three most important pillars of MindChamps: the quality of teaching and learning, the quality of care for our young champs and the quality of leadership at all levels. Together, these three educational, operational and service-oriented benchmarks empower our staff and teachers to provide the best learning experience for your child.
With up-to-date training across all three pillars, delivered by a central training team that travels from our headquarters in Singapore to train teachers and staff across all centres,all over the world, our ChampionGold Standard ensures consistent, quality education and leadership at MindChamps.
We make the extra effort, because, ultimately, educational excellence is at the forefront of everything we do and the quality of our educators and service staff are key to maintaining that level of excellence.
Parents support is paramount to a nursery’s success. How do you involve parents in every program? How does the nursery value parents’ feedback and involvement?
We believe that establishing partnerships between home and school is paramount to contributing to children’s long-term success. Apart from communicating with parents regularly on their Champs’ learning and development, we encourage parents to be supportive and be involved in their Champs’ learning, e.g. we welcome parent volunteers in our class activities such as storytelling, gourmet lessons, field trips (Champs’ Learning Journey), show-and-tell (in relation to Champs’ enquiry learning), etc.
The MindChamps parents’ app (available on Google Play and Apple App Store) is another primary source of communication and information that allows parents to be updated on their children’s progress.
This extends to exercises and activities that parents can do together with their kids at home.
‘Feedback as a Seed for Growth’ is one of the values that we uphold highly at MindChamps. Receiving positive or negative feedback is equally important to us. In fact, it is a crucial factor in running a successful nursery. Thus, we strive to attend to the feedback received promptly and to respond in a timely manner.
About Mr. David Chiem
As Founder, CEO, and Executive Chairman of MindChamps PreSchool Ltd, David’s approach of always ‘staying ahead of the curve’ has taken the organization from point zero in 2008 to the number one brand position in the highly-competitive Singapore premium preschool space, and, following a successful listing on the Singapore Exchange in 2017, to the creation of a globally recognized preschool brand.
He has been shortlisted three times for prestigious literary awards and is now Chairman of Actors Centre Australia, one of the top acting schools in Australia, with Hugh Jackman as its patron.
By synthesizing the Arts with empirical research in Education, Psychology and Neuroscience, David and his team have created what experts have described as ‘a new movement for education in the 21st Century.’
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Thank you once again for doing your part to keep Edarabia the most trusted education source.