Last year, 5-year-old Yap Jia Kai was attending MFS at Blk 347 Woodlands and his learning difficulties were picked up by his teacher. He was subsequently diagnosed with developmental needs, and was placed on the waiting list at the Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Children (EIPIC) centre.
In line with the government’s intention to advance inclusiveness in pre-schools to support children of diverse abilities, MFS at Blk 406 Woodlands was preparing to pilot the InSP by February 2022. Principal Andie Chia then got in touch with Jia Kai’s family to share about the Early Childhood Development Agency’s (ECDA) InSP, and Jia Kai soon joined the centre.
Since then, the cheerful child has been thriving in his new school. “The programme is very good. Jia Kai can now recognise all capital letters and small letters. He also loves to go to school,” said Mdm Wong Sit Wai, Jia Kai’s mother.
Fellow schoolmate Muhammad Fahmi Bin Muhammad Faizal also benefited greatly from the InSP at MFS at Block 406 Woodlands. Before the InSP was launched at MFS, Fahmi had to shuttle between his MFS centre and an EIPIC centre for more than a year.
“The InSP is very helpful because Fahmi can now do all his learning at the same place, and he will not be missing lessons at MFS. Previously, a bus would take Fahmi to and from the EIPIC centre thrice a week for classes, which is a lot of time spent on commuting,” shared Madam Nur Sa’adah, Fahmi’s mother.
Jia Kai and Fahmi are two of 11 children whose families have benefited from the InSP which is offered at two My First Skool pre-school centres – MFS at Block 406 Woodlands and MFS at Block 248 Kim Keat Link – which piloted the InSP in February 2022.
The InSP ensures in-school support for children requiring medium levels of early intervention support at their pre-schools. With differentiated teaching practices, the early intervention professionals and early childhood educators will plan and teach classes together, while tailoring the lessons to the children’s learning abilities. When deemed necessary, visiting allied health professionals will also provide specialist support to the children.
The two MFS centres have also set aside a room each for the customised sessions by the full-time Early Interventionists who support the children under the InSP.
“In line with NTUC First Campus’ (NFC) purpose of a bright future for every child and family, we are happy to be part of the InSP pilot. This programme enables children with developmental needs to learn alongside their peers in an inclusive environment, with the support of early intervention professionals,” said Louisa Chng, NFC’s Chief Child Support Officer.
“InSP does not only benefit these children and their families, but also the pre-school ecosystem. Typically developing children can build positive relationships with children of diverse abilities without compromising on their own development, and the early childhood educators also gain skills to better support children with developmental needs in their class.”
6-year-old Javen Chen is a typically developing child at MFS at Block 406 Woodlands who has relished learning alongside his classmates with developmental needs since the InSP was launched. “I am happy that Javen’s school has the InSP, which allows him to learn and play alongside children with different abilities. This initiative has helped him learn empathy,” said Javen’s mother, Mdm Peh Sing Ling.
Amy Soh is an English Lead Teacher at the same centre who has gained more experience and confidence in her ability as an educator. “I have picked up new knowledge, skills and strategies to better support children with developmental needs, such as using differentiated instructions from my lesson plans to engage them more meaningfully,” said Ms Soh.
“As a centre leader piloting this programme, I can positively impact various ecological systems such as children, their families and the larger community. Inclusion is a collaborative effort among stakeholders, it can never be left to schools alone to plough through. With this growing paradigm shift towards creating a more inclusive Singapore, it is vital to have services readily available and accessible to the children who need them,” said Andie Chia, Principal at MFS at Block 406 Woodlands.