Thinking out of the box is serious business for little ones at Cherie Hearts. The established childcare chain has enhanced its education model to foster children’s curiosity, creativity, capabilities and sense of entrepreneurship. “The SPIRAL Literacies Model™ not only trains them to inquire and question what they see, hear, listen and read, it also prompts them to consider different perspectives”, according to Ms Jane Choy, General Manager at G8 Education Singapore which owns the brand.
Developed in-house, the Cherie Hearts SPIRAL Literacies Model™ has been piloted in selected Cherie Hearts Centres since January 2016, with principals and teachers undergoing specialised training in questioning techniques and familiarisation of curriculum topics. Inspired by the New London Group academic theory on “Pedagogy of Multi-literacies” which addresses literacy pedagogy appropriate to our time, the enhanced educational model reconceptualises children’s learning of early literacy and numeracy. Cherie Hearts Centres island-wide have begun to implement the enhanced curriculum at the start of the school year in January 2017.
“Equipping children with critical 21st century skills for living and lifelong learning essentially helps them adapt to a rapidly changing globalised world where demographics and technological advancements drive the future,” says Ms Choy. The enhanced skill sets taught in the SPIRAL Literacies Model™ are aligned with the SPARK accreditation of Singapore preschools, and the Ministry of Education’s Framework for Nurturing Early Learners with 21st Century Competencies. They include thinking skills, managing self, relating to others, and contributing to, not merely participating in society.
The core competencies acquired in the process enable children to problem-solve, create, analyse, collaborate, communicate and account responsibly. While equipping its learning environment with new reading materials and resources that support inquiry and enhanced learning, Cherie Hearts invests in teacher training by engaging experts in multi-literacies to inspire passionate and meaningful delivery of the curriculum across the different age groups. In line with the Cherie Hearts’ philosophy, five key components in the SPIRAL Literacies Model™ enhance children’s holistic growth and ensure they experience personal success while developing a joy for learning:
- Critical Literacy – Beyond essential functional skills in reading, writing and counting, children learn to think creatively and problem solve by appreciating and uncovering underlying messages in a variety of text, enabling them to ponder, question and reflect from different perspectives. Creativity is honed in the process of children becoming critical thinkers, problem solvers and decision makers.
- Civic-Social Literacy – This aims to build children’s character and social intelligence by equipping them with the right attitude and aptitude to care about others so as to contribute compassionately and graciously to society. Embodying social and emotional quality, the SPIRAL Literacies Model™ develops children’s confidence and resilience as they learn to accept themselves and others. In recognising their emotions, children are encouraged to express their feelings in acceptable ways that lead to successful conflict resolution.
- Financial Literacy – Besides basic numeracy, the SPIRAL Literacies Model™ introduces money management skills to help children understand the value of money and how money works in the world; how it is earned, managed, invested and donated to help others. Through entrepreneurship children learn practical lessons on the investment power of savings, while a social component shows them how as charitable entrepreneurs they can use profits earned to support adopted charities.
- Environmental Literacy – With the SPIRAL Literacies Model™, Cherie Hearts aims to shape young children’s behavior by cultivating a healthy respect for all living and nonliving things, and to promote responsibility for the environment on issues such as littering, mosquito breeding and conserving natural resources. Realising that children in urbanised environments like Singapore rarely explore the outdoors, teachers take time to discuss the creation of and respect for life as well as the importance of co-existence with the elements around them.
- Digital Literacy – Through its collaboration with JULES Ventures Private Limited, a Singapore-based digitech educational start-up, Cherie Hearts promotes the literacy of digital savviness and computational thinking which in the 21st century, is as important as reading, writing and arithmetic. In an age where children can use tablets before they can read, teaching them to be technologically literate becomes essential. In partnering with Cherie Hearts, JULES has specially customised their School of Fish Computational Thinking Curriculum to complement the teaching of Cherie Hearts Digital Literacy. In learning to create their first digital diary, children will hone their ability to think abstractly, compartmentalise and synthesise information.