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PUBLISHED

01 January 2024

NTUC First Campus rolls out socio-emotional modules for low-income children to equip them for primary school

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Kalila and her family at her Kindergarten graduation ceremony

When Kalila Binte Herman was in Nursery 2 two years ago, she faced challenges in language and literacy. She had difficulties recognising letters and their sounds, struggled to write, and needed additional prompts to answer questions during class discussions. Tasks that involved multiple steps were also challenging for her. Seeing her challenges, her teacher enrolled her in NTUC First Campus’s Classroom Support Programme (CSP).

In the CSP, Classroom Co-Facilitators (CCFs) provide additional support to improve the academic performance and socio-emotional skills of children from low-income families in NFC’s My First Skool (MFS) preschools, to better prepare them for primary school.

Madam Siti Junaidah Jasni, the classroom co-facilitator at My First Skool in Edgefield Plains, providing extra guidance for children in the Classroom Support Programme

Since participating in the programme for the past two years, Kalila has made remarkable progress. She is now confident in blending and spelling simple words, and is also able to independently form and write sentences, an achievement that demonstrates her commitment to learning and growth as a student. Her confidence increased and she began to express her views more. 

In addition, Kalila actively participated in a variety of small group activities designed to prepare her for the challenges of primary school. One of these activities involved learning how to handle coins and notes of different denominations. Through engaging role-plays, she learned the practical application of these financial tools, understanding how to use them for purchasing food and drinks. With continuous reinforcement and practice, she is now capable of working collaboratively with her peers to ‘pay’ for items, a skill that she can apply in primary school. In another activity, Kalila was encouraged to think about time management and her daily routine schedule. This exercise taught her management skills and a sense of discipline, which will prove invaluable as she progresses through her educational milestones. 

Today, Kalila will graduate from preschool this December. She is ready for life in primary school both academically and emotionally.

Kalila learning to identify coins and notes of different denominations to purchase food in preparation for the transition to primary school

NFC initiated and launched the CSP in 2013. The introduction of socio-emotional modules to the CSP in 2022 was the result of findings from a Classroom Support Programme Impact Study, which was executed by the National Institute of Education. The study affirmed the effectiveness of the CSP, with children in the study showing marked improvement in language acquisition, obtaining a score similar to that of their peers in Kindergarten 2 despite vastly different starting points. At the same time, the study indicated that children developed greater self-confidence and better learning dispositions when the CCF catered to both their learning and socio-emotional needs, and recommended expanding the CCF’s role beyond supporting the children’s learning to include promoting socio-emotional well-being.

NFC rolled out three socio-emotional modules in 2022 to augment the CSP. Titled ‘Primary School, Here I Come!’, ‘I am a BIG Child!’ and ‘Making Friends’, these three modules include inculcating in children skills such as planning their daily schedule, making friends and buying food. The CCFs would personalise these sessions for each child, factoring their learning abilities, language proficiency and current interests, to help them learn these useful skills in preparation for primary school.

NFC plans to launch additional socio-emotional modules that focus on developing the executive functioning skills of children in subsequent years. CSP currently benefits more than 700 children a year across more than 20 centres, and NFC plans to expand the programme in 2024 to about 850 children.

The Classroom Support Programme Impact Study was funded by the CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), the philanthropic arm of CapitaLand Group, which has been a partner of NFC’s charity arm Bright Horizons Fund (BHF) since 2019. Through the partnership, CHF funds the CapitaLand-Bright Horizons Fund Ready-for-School Programme which helps low-income children be ready for primary school. The programme funds the CSP at seven MFS centres, and provides schooling essentials for graduating low-income K2 children from all 157 MFS centres. CapitaLand’s staff volunteers help pack these schooling essentials to be distributed to the beneficiaries each year. About 1,000 children benefit from the Programme every year. CHF has pledged more than S$1.9 million from 2019 to 2025 for these programmes.

“Enabling bright futures for every child and their family is at the heart of our work at NTUC First Campus. We are happy to be aligned with CapitaLand Hope Foundation in our mission to provide a good start for our low-income children in terms of academic learning and socio-emotional development. This will help close the gap between this group of children and their peers when they enter primary school. We are thankful for the partnership and support from CapitaLand Hope Foundation all these years and we look forward to empowering more children together,” said Louisa Chng, NFC’s Chief Child Support Officer.

“Supporting the educational needs of children is one of CHF’s key focus areas as we strive towards building resilience in the communities we operate in. To create a bigger social impact, we believe in seeking like-minded partners with whom we can work with to amplify our collective efforts. We are thus delighted to further our collaboration with NTUC First Campus to better understand and support the educational needs of children from underserved families which are crucial stepping stones to their growth. Through the CapitaLand-Bright Horizons Fund Ready-for-School Programme, we hope to aid in the holistic development of these children and lay the groundwork for their future achievements,” said Tan Seng Chai, CHF’s Executive Director, who is also Senior Executive Director of CapitaLand Investment.

Media Coverage

Straits Times Online (31 December 2023)

Straits Times Print (1 January 2024)


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