We all like to think that our children are gifted, and in many ways they are. However, if your child truly is advanced, finding the right environment for them to thrive in can prove quite a challenge. After struggling to find support for her own son in the mainstream school system, Yee-Wuen Lee came up with a solution: a school that would educate based on ability, not age, with a curriculum tailored to the individual child.
We talk to Yee-Wuen about The Explore School House and how it nurtures the talents and interests of each student.
What is The Explore School House and why did you create it?
Through my journey in finding support for my son, I was appalled at how little provision there was for gifted kids in mainstream classrooms. Whether it’s pre-school, kindergarten or primary, if your child is advanced, most of the time they’ll be asked to read on their own or help teach the other kids.
That drove me to set up The Explore School House in 2017. We teach Grades 1-6 (6-12 years), but the children are taught based on their abilities rather than their age group. Everything is centred around my beliefs that:
– Education is about instilling a love of learning
– It should be personalised for each child based on their strengths and interests
– Each child should be encouraged to find and pursue their passion
– Children should be respected and have a say in their education
– Learning should be rich and authentic
How is a regular day for students at The Explore School House different from those in mainstream schools?
We start every class with a case study. The students share their ideas and we discuss different solutions. The objective is not to find the right answer but to think about the different aspects of the problem; to understand that there are always pros and cons to every solution. This is real life! Through this, they discover what they need to learn to solve a particular problem. This spurs them on to learn about the topics they need to cover.
Many schools simply prepare children for exams. I want to prepare them for life, and for them to love learning and to celebrate their passion. Twice a week the students also have “project time” where they can explore their own interests. Every six months we hold a fair to showcase their work. We also have one field trip or guest speaker per week. We want to show them how what they are learning applies to life and to show them how people use particular skill sets in their work.
How can parents tell if their child might benefit from this alternative approach?
The stereotypical “gifted” child excels in school, is well behaved and is a natural leader. However, we know this is often not the case. Boredom is misinterpreted as ADHD, misbehaviour labelled as a behaviour disorder, and disengagement from learning is viewed as lazy, careless or disorganised.
If your child is advanced, they may become bored or frustrated in an unchallenging classroom. This can cause them to lose interest, learn bad study habits or distrust the school. Some may mask their abilities to fit in socially with their peers, while others may have a learning disability that hides their giftedness. A caring and perceptive adult can help these talented learners to break the cycle of underachievement and reach their full potential.
Children with advanced learning abilities are very diverse. They will not exhibit all characteristics all of the time. However, there are many common traits to look out for, such as:
1. The capacity to focus and concentrate on tasks of interest
2. A good memory
3. The ability to learn rapidly
4. A love of solving problems, especially with numbers and puzzles
5. Idealism and a sense of justice from early age
6. Self-taught reading or writing skills from preschool age
7. Abstract thinking
8. Intellectual curiosity
9. A strong motivation to learn
10. Deep, intense feelings and reactions
11. A keen and/or unusual sense of humour
12. A vivid imagination
What’s the next step for students after The Explore School House?
We plan to add on higher grades in the very near future. One of our objectives is for our students to go to university after The Explore School House. While this path is not for everyone, we only work with universities that have very established early-entrance programs. If the student is motivated and the parents are in agreement, we help to get them ready.
The Explore School House is currently accepting registrations for the academic year 2018/19. Check out their website to find out more.
41 Sunset Way
#02-06 Clementi Arcade
8826 6071 | theexploreschool.org
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