Time really flies. Just like that we’ve completed a whole term with Sparkanauts. For those who have been following our journey on Instagram, you’d know how much of an improvement Noah has made over the past 10 weeks. But before I go on to share about the improvements he has made, here’s a quick recap about Sparkanauts and their enrichment programmes.
Photo taken from Sparkanauts’ website
As simply and clearly stated by Sparkanauts’ slogan, their fundamental aim is to ensure children learn through purposeful play. Their research-backed teaching methods and programmes are specially designed to give children an all-rounded edge in life. We’re not just talking about honing intellectual abilities, but also physical and social abilities that are equally important in various situations in life.
What I love about Sparkanauts is that both parents and children are engaged in class. You can find teachers summarizing the reasons for certain activities, its benefits to the development of children, and how, as parents, we can continue to use these activities at home. It’s really interesting to learn about all this alongside your child, especially since I’m a first time mama.
Types of Enrichment Programmes
At the time that we were invited for a trial class with Sparkanauts, Noah was about 16 months old and was enrolled in the Junior Pilots class. For their enrichment classes, Sparkanauts offers a whole range of them according to both a child’s age and other pre-requisites.
Photo taken from Sparkanauts’ website
These pre-requisites was the reason why I had a good first impression of Sparkanauts. The Principal of Sparkanauts, Ms Selene Diong, noticed that Noah was already walking independently and steadily for his age and thus recommended that he join the Junior Pilot class instead of the Cadet class. It was important for me that they allocated a class that was deemed suitable for Noah based on his individual progress, instead of just putting him in a class based on age. Afterall, children develop at different speeds and their learning should also be catered at a pace that is comfortable and optimal for them.
What to Expect. Don’t Fret, Mama!
Immediately after the trial class, I shared my concerns with Ms Diong about how I was worried that Noah was not able to pay enough attention to get through the whole 75 minutes. The class was packed back to back with activities and Noah didn’t seem to be doing very well. He was distracted and walked around the classroom during activities that he was supposed to be seated down. We’ve brought him for ad-hoc classes before enrolling with Sparkanauts but these lasted no more than 30 minutes and were relatively laid back. So naturally, I was worried that this 75 minute structure was something that Noah couldn’t get used to. Ms Diong smiled a very comforting smile (almost as if she knew I’d have this concern!) and told me that Noah’s behavior and response was definitely not the first she has seen to be like this. In fact, she shared that children of Noah’s age has an attention span of about 2 – 3 minutes and that Noah was just being, well, a toddler. Imagine my relief!
Ms Diong also explained that their activities were intentionally paced at 1 – 5 minutes per activity in order to engage a child’s right brain. The right brain of children below 3 years old is highly active and one way of stimulating it is through the use of well-paced activities. The brain, as she explained, is like a muscle and it needs to exercise to grow. Stimulated well, it helps children process a large amount of information, think, and learn faster. Eventually when they start going to school, this helps them comprehend information faster and also helps them better focus in the classroom. She reassured me that we would slowly see Noah start easing into the routine and as the weeks passed, he really did!
75 Minutes of Fun AND Learning
When class starts, the children sing a welcome song with bells and are brought through a series of flashcards of words they’ve learnt in the previous week.
They are then introduced to the week’s new theme with a new set of words. Each child is then given a flashcard with a word and are asked to match it to the correct picture that are nicely laid out across the classroom. During this time, parents are given a great opportunity to guide their children to the correct picture by reading the names of the pictures out loud.
You would notice the use of flashcards now and then during the entire duration of the class. This segment of class proved the most challenging for Noah especially during the first few lessons. I remember during his first lesson, he constantly got up to roam the classroom and even kept trying to take the flashcards away from his teachers.
But almost halfway through the term, my husband and I noticed that Noah had shown so much improvement when it came to activities that required him to stay seated. He was able to sit through the entire animal alphabet song with flashcards. Definitely still room for improvement, but the progress he has shown during this segment is something we were really impressed by!
2.Locomotor Activities & Action Rhymes
Locomotor skills are movements such as walking, jumping, side-sliding, and hopping. Sparkanauts ensures that their little learners get a lot of these by incorporating them in action songs that teach children how to move in a certain way or direction. We’ve gone through songs that has taught Noah how to use one hand to zoom to the opposite direction, hopping on the spot, move two different parts of the body at the same time, and also wriggle their entire body at one go. You’d think these movements are simple but they actually require a lot of effort for our young ones and working on them helps with training their coordination.
This segment is Noah’s ultimate favourite, and my favourite too because I see him have so much fun. You’d think that classes with gym mats strewn across the classroom is just an opportunity for children to run, climb, and jump, oh but think again! I have learnt from Sparkanauts that activities such as the circuit actually help train a part in the brain called the Vestibular System. This system controls our ability to maintain posture and equilibrium and affects our ability to pay attention. Naturally, this is underdeveloped in a child.
But what does posture have to do with paying attention you ask? Maintaining posture and equilibrium is not just about sitting upright. It is also about keeping still and focused during seated activities like circle time, for example. By stimulating the Vestibular System through activities that promote balance, we’re training the lower parts of the brain to take charge of these motor skills. With the lower brain taking charge of this, the higher thinking part of the brain can focus on and be fully utilized for higher functions such as thinking, learning, and grasping difficult concepts. So don’t underestimate a classroom with gym mats and balancing beams, it’s actually an important and well-planned brain stimulating activity!
During the first few lessons, Noah had difficulty completing a part of the circuit – the tunnel. At first, he avoided the tunnel altogether and refused to put his head in. This was as far as he got during the first lesson before running off to the next circuit station!
With much encouragement from us and his teachers, Noah managed to pop his entire head through the tunnel for a few seconds during lesson 2.
Then at lesson 5, he managed to crawl through a short makeshift tunnel.
Then at lesson 6, this happened
We were really SO amazed by the progress Noah made! We also noticed that he now has the confidence to crawl through tunnels in other play areas as well.
Let’s not forget another one of our favorites during Sparkanauts’ gym sessions – the trapeze! Again, don’t underestimate a few swings on the trapeze. This activity helps to train and develop upper body strength. Noah has friends in class that are able to swing AND kick their legs, all while laughing as the teachers and parents count to 5.
A regular activity you can expect from Sparkanauts’ Junior Pilots class is the beanbag shuttle run. Children are asked to transfer beanbags from one end to the other, one at a time. It was actually during this section that Teacher Rachel noticed that Noah had an awkward run. She spoke with me after class and shared that it’s normal for some children to have this because they didn’t have enough time, exposure, and experience in crawling. Which was really true because Noah hardly crawled and started walking at 9 months old. We were advised to create more play situations that encouraged him to crawl and creep more. Things like pretending to be a lion, down on all fours, would encourage the use and coordination of all four limbs which would help with his bodily movement when walking and running.
They also have seated activities that focus on early stages of Math development and training fine motor skills. For example, parents and children work together to line penguins on a number chart
and sort chips according to their size.
5.Music Appreciation and Movement
Besides singing and dancing, you can also expect your bub to have a go at playing some instruments! A regular activity in the Junior Pilots class is having the children take turns to play a short snippet of a song on a chime bar. During the first few lessons, we were actually quite shocked at how steady Noah’s hands can be. But during the later few lessons, we noticed he got so comfortable with the teachers and class that he would play the first note correctly, proceeded to try his luck by playing other keys loudly, before getting back to the task at hand. Cheeky little one I’ve got!
Toward the end of each class, the children spend some time working on crafts that are in line with the theme of the week. Here are some of the crafts Noah has done!
Using dot markers to decorate a conductor’s vest because we were learning about musical instruments that week! Noah also worked a fair bit on his fine motor skills when he was encouraged to uncap the markers himself. This artwork is actually hanging on my personal office board and it brings a smile on my face every time I look at it!
Sometimes, the craft activities are as simple as sticking stars on their new wooden xylophone. Again, you’d think it’s a simple activity but it actually helps train fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. We were also given this xylophone to bring home so that we could teach and practice colours with them by telling them to tap on a certain coloured star.
Sparkanauts has so generously offered to giveaway not 1, not 2, not 3, BUT FOUR sessions to one lucky child! To be eligible for this giveaway, simply do the following:
- Like this Instagram post and follow both Sparkanauts & MotherAnxious on Instagram
- Like both Sparkanauts‘ & MotherAnxious‘ Facebook Page
- Tag 3 or more parent friends, one tag per comment, in the comments section of the Instagram post. The more you tag, the higher your chances of winning!
- In each tag, tell us which one of the six activities offered by Sparkanauts that I’ve listed above you like best.
It’s really that simple! Please note that this giveaway is eligible for those residing in Singapore only. The 4 sessions include 2 English sessions and 2 Chinese sessions that are non-transferable and to be attended consecutively from January 2019. Giveaway ends 30 November 2018 at 1200hrs and the winner will be announced on the same night. GOOD LUCK!
Got more questions about Sparkanauts and their classes?
SAFRA Toa Payoh
293 Toa Payoh Lorong 6, #02-01
Tel: +65 62590307
You can also fill in their class enquiry form here.
**We were invited to attend a trial class and a term of 10 lessons with Sparkanauts for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was given and opinions expressed in this post are strictly my own honest reviews.**