27 November 2015: Yale-NUS students create innovative enrichment programme for children

Written by Clare Isabel Ee | Image provided by KidsAccomplish 

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‘If we can’t bring the children to a country, we’ll bring the country to them.’

That’s the unofficial motto of KidsAccomplish Enrichment (KAE), a Yale-NUS student organisation that creates exciting non-academic enrichment classes for upper primary school students.

Modelled after the liberal arts and sciences education offered in Yale-NUS, KAE aims to cultivate children’s interest about the increasingly interconnected world by exposing them to diverse modes of thought in a fun and engaging manner. KAE charges a nominal fee for the programme to cover the cost of the course materials and tries to reach out to all within the community, including those from lower-income families, who may not otherwise have the opportunities or resources to provide such exposure to their children. The group is currently exploring partnerships with Family Service Centres to reach out to lower-income students in the coming year.

“Every week, we introduce a new country to the kids in our class,” explained Lim Chu Hsien (Class of 2018), Vice President of KAE. “What is special is that we actually get locals from those countries to come and speak to the kids… this is one approach towards multifaceted learning.”

KAE taps on the global student body at Yale-NUS, enlisting a volunteer from a country to help form a lesson plan including a suitable topic for discussion and a creative activity. For their first batch of 12 students, they covered 10 countries, including Bolivia, Sweden, Japan, Morocco, and India.

When they delved into Sri Lanka, they worked with a Sri Lankan Yale-NUS student, who explained to them that each major racial group in the country has a different kind of tea.

“We taught the students to make the different kinds of tea and used that to launch into discussions on why each race has different tea, and how the races interact with each other,” shared Yogesh Tulsi, co-founder of KAE and an incoming Yale-NUS student.

“A lot of our lessons involve giving the kids space to consider and come up with ideas,” he added.

To prepare students for each lesson and kickstart the learning process, KAE sends out a few simple questions about the upcoming topic for parents to discuss with their children half a week before the lesson. After each class, parents receive another set of questions – this time birthed from the discussions of that day – to continue the enrichment at home.

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Group photo of students from KidsAccomplish and tutors from Yale-NUS 

So far, the parents of the 12 students who enrolled have given positive feedback about the programme.

“I approach education holistically, always looking at avenues and means to expand my children’s exposure to global issues, social responsibility and health,” remarked Ms Vivien Kwek, a Program Director and Life Coach with Life Transformers, whose 11-year-old daughter Celestine graduated from the KAE programme this year.

“I believe KAE’s success lies in the way it conveys lessons in a hands-on, experiential way which most children appreciate and learn better from.”

Ms Kwek added that her daughter has enjoyed learning about different cultures, and was especially impacted by the lesson on bullying and what to do about bullies.

“Parents tell us the effects of KidsAccomplish may not be able to be seen immediately [after each lesson], but they can see their children’s growth from the beginning of the programme,” said Saza Faradilla (Class of 2018), Founder and President of KAE.

Saza first conceptualised the programme after volunteering at Tampines Family Service Centre (FSC) and an internship at Halogen Foundation, a leadership development organisation for youths and educators.

She soon realised the importance of experiential learning, and the gap that existed in school curricula that typically focus on grades and theoretical knowledge of English, mathematics, science and a second language.

“KidsAccomplish is very different [from other programmes] as we do not talk about grades at all, but we do promote skills such as critical thinking and public speaking, that will help them in their academics,” she shared.

The first edition of KAE classes ran over two semesters from February to October 2015 and were conducted weekly on the Yale-NUS campus.