I've been rather worried about BabyMoo having to deal with Mandarin as a 2nd language from the time I realised that the bub inside me only 'hears' English, Malay and Indonesian words around him. Introducing BabyMoo to Mandarin seems a pretty daunting prospect, given that he is exposed to a predominantly English speaking environment.
Now that he is all of 17 months old, I realise that now is as good a time as any to (hopefully) start him on this journey of discovery. The invitation from Daphne to experience a class at PerchingKids couldn't have come at a better time, especially since I found out that they welcome kids from 0 to 6 years of age!
PerchingKids is a Shanghai based award winning early childhood education chain. Their selling point seems to be that they have 'developed a programme that enables a child with no background in the Chinese language to learn 1,000 Chinese Characters prior to going to school'. (source: media release)
'For children aged 0 - 2, the 'Know Myself' programme introduces Mandarin to them by its effective usage while involving them in fun-filled activities. The older children, aged 2 - 6, are encouraged to explore their creativity through the 'I'm Creative!' programme, whereby they can express themselves artistically without any inhibitions, and as such are introduced to Mandarin naturally.' (source: media release)
We were excited to attend the session. As Chinese non-Chinese speaking parents, we are very curious as to how the class will be conducted, and how BabyMoo will respond to it. From past experience, every time his Aunt tries to speak to him in Mandarin, he will either just ignore her or look at her like she's speaking gibberish (which to him it probably was).
BabyMoo is all too familiar with PerchingKids, since I12 Katong, where it's located, is just a stone's throw away from my in-laws' place, where he's at during the day. He 'hangs out' at the mall and my mum-in-law tells me that every time they walk past the school on the way to the Water Playground next to it, he will always make a stop at the entrance, perhaps attracted by the bright happy colours and toys within!
BabyMoo's trying his luck.
We were met by Annie, who made sure that we were very well looked after. She addressed all our queries (in English!) even though she would definitely have been more comfortable in Mandarin.We really appreciate the fact that she made the conscientious effort, even before she realised that although we look Chinese - that's where it ends in the language proficiency department!
I like that they take hygiene issues seriously. BabyMoo's hand and feet were checked, and all of us were made to wear socks and sanitize our hands before we entered the 'classroom'.
Surprisingly, BabyMoo allowed himself to be led away by Annie, who told him where they were going and what they were going to do in Mandarin(!!), without even a backward glance at us.
He was rather 'overwhelmed' when we entered the class, though. He clung on to me, and it was pretty apparent that he was uncomfortable and didn't know what he was in for. It could well be the fact that he feels so alone as a little person in a room of 'foreign speaking' adults. I suppose feeling like the centre of attraction in this case didn't sit too well with him. He's never been a shy boy, warming up to people almost as soon as he determines that they're 'okay' in his books... so I was rather surprised to see this side of him. Perhaps the two teachers singing, clapping and encircling him in a language which he wasn't used to only added to the discomfort.
Started off all apprehensive... but when he was given a doll (Yang Wa Wa 洋娃娃)* to 'keep him company', he warmed up somewhat. After he determined that all is well, he abandoned the doll, and started participating in the class!
*Note: Even Mummy learnt Mandarin words along the way!
Red = hóng 红, Yellow = huang 黃 and so on.
We then moved on to musical instruments. Music has always been BabyMoo's favourite, and he was very happy to chime this hand-held bell in tune with the sing-along! The two teachers did their best to make him comfortable, and being able to adopt a 'kiddy-like' voice to sing and speak to BabyMoo did wonders to put him at ease. He even started to respond correctly to their instructions and questions even though they were made in Mandarin.
We were really pretty amazed.
We then played peek-a-boo... and BabyMoo was tickled pink, amused that all the adults were entertaining him, while basking in all the attention!
He was then given a pair of wooden cylinders, and encouraged to do as he liked with it. He ran around the room, knocked the walls, floors, and even tried to operate the laptop (which was there to provide the music). All this while, the teachers followed him and pointed out each object which he touched in Mandarin. They kept repeating it, and I believe that this actually helps the child to associate words and objects through play.
He was by now, enthralled and responsive.
Animals were also introduced, along with their appropriate names in Mandarin.
Next came BabyMoo's favourite part of the class. He was led to the mini play area, accompanied by a teacher. She led him to the different play sections and apparatus, while patiently naming each item in Mandarin. she also conversed with him throughout in Mandarin, and I was extremely surprised to note that BabyMoo responded far beyond our expectations. He was asked to show me the 'Red Ball' (see pic below) which he immediately walked to and jabbed at with a happy grin at me! This was also the case with the yellow slide. Perhaps he made the colour association during the class earlier. Or it could be sheer coincidence. Either ways - I was a very ecstatic mummeh!
We came away from the session feeling that Mandarin can be taught in an effective way. DaddyMoo and I actually learnt a few words during the class! If they have a class for above 30s, we would seriously consider it. :)
We would have actually signed BabyMoo up for the classes there and then but for one 'little' thing - at S$2,680 for 34 sessions (S$79.00 per session) classes at PerchingKids are considerably pretty costly. However, we're still considering the classes, because given the positive experience, I suppose good things does come at a price.
I12 Katong Mall
112, East Coast Road
DISCLAIMER: We received a complimentary trial class at PerchingKids for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own except when stated otherwise.
*Update: The complimentary classes have been given out. Thanks Elizabeth and Denise for participating, and we hope that the class will be a positive experience!
PerchingKids has very kindly offered 3 complimentary classes for our readers, so if you are interested in experiencing first hand how PerchingKids can benefit your child, here is the perfect opportunity to do so.
Simply do the following, and leave me a comment on my Facebook page as to why you feel Mandarin is a challenge for your kids! I like to feel that I'm not alone :)
The first three posts will qualify.
1. "Like" MummyMoo on Facebook (Thank you!)
2. "Like" PerchingKids on Facebook
3. Leave me a comment.
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MummyMoo is not responsible for the claim or usage of the trial classes further to the provision of this giveaway.