Monday 12 December 2016

Lessons with The Little Executive

Executive function skills consists of working memory, impulse and emotional control, flexibility, planning and prioritizing, self-monitoring, and task initiation. These skills are necessary to ensure tasks are followed through from the beginning to the final stages, enable us to make decisions, see the big picture as well as details. 

If our child is equipped with the essence of these skills, I will say learning in and out of school will be a breeze. Jazz had embarked and now, completed an 11 weeks journey with The Little Executive (TLE). TLE, aims to develop essential brain-based skills and cognitive processes that children need in order to succeed both in and out of the classroom, all the way to the boardroom!

Building on the 3 pillars, Essential skills, Learning habits and Growth mindset, TLE aims to help each child discover his innate ability to be independent and self- aware, equipped with tools to assess and change his performance, growing into an astute, whole, and happy person.

I've to attest that these skills can be lifelong if we choose to intervene and bring in the right learning habits from young. Activities and curriculum developed by TLE are catered to the different age groups from preschoolers to primary school kids.

Here's a peek into Jazz's first lesson with her teacher, Ms M. In 1.5 hour, the following 6 tests were covered.


Here are some understanding I have gained as a sit in parent.

Bobo's room
Bobo is a bear. A room was made for him, both in 3D and 2D. The mapping of 3D to 2D and vice versa is a key mental manipulation. It allows the seeing of things on paper in a 3D form, and is a critical skill needed in primary school.

Visualising in 3D definitely helps with solving the problem. It is a crucial skill in seeing how reality and text are a representations of each other.

Stroop Exercise
I thought this was really interesting and challenging as it goes along.

Refer to the chart of pictures below, the kids were tasked to call out the names or colours of the animals on the chart to the metronome beat. They go from rows then to columns. On the first row, it goes bear, pig, cat, monkey, bird and so on. Followed by colours, blue, red, yellow, green, red and so on. The challenge increases as the speed gets faster with the metronome beat.

This is an important skill to develop selective attention and block out distractions. It means they will have to put away the identity of the animals and concentrate on its colours, and then vice versa.

This is one good way to manage multiple instructions, build on concentration and train our brain to persist and stay on task. When one of the picture is for example, replaced by a name, say 'tree', it allows the mind to think flexibly, adjust to the unexpected and accept new information over the old.

It builds on that growth mindset when kids are asked to up their challenges. 

Handwriting exercise
This is Jazz's favourite segment. It allows her great fun with shaving cream!

Using an ice cream stick, the kids draw the horizontal figure '8' repeatedly for about 1 to 2 minutes. The crossing of the mid-line enhances the left and right brain connections.

This fun activity develops concentration span by having to focus on the task of drawing '8' for a long period of time. While drawing, they do need to display active listening skills on when to 'freeze', 'change direction' or 'continue.'

Wrap Up!
The lessons are often summed up with setting goal for the week. Which Ms M will discuss the steps needed to achieve these goals and check back the following week. It makes them think really hard and want to achieve more when we bring goals and thinking out of the usual home settings.

Above are some of the many tests done to measure specific skills. I do not think problems with any of these tests will predict how bad or good a child will do in real life, it simply prompts parents to intervene early and help the child outgrow. Executive functioning skills can be trained and strengthened.

I love the rationale and benefits curated behind these activities, and most importantly, a team of educators who knows how to deliver these activities effectively. It really isn't about saying "good job" or "well done" all the time. I noticed the constant praising of an effort over achievement. This cultivates a growth mindset that prompts a child to go for greater heights!

Instead of a downright reply of "right" and "wrong", the teachers throw the kids thinking questions like, "Is yours like mine?" Which sends them into the state of checking, re-checking and thinking. It trains them to eventually start looking and listening. That's what will help our kids excel better in and out of classrooms, as well as future workplaces.

At the end of the term, a progress report is given to help parents understand the significant progress and areas of improvement. Jazz is dominantly shy in class and resists from speaking up when asked to. I do hope she gets better and is more comfortable about sharing in class.

The most significant progress I saw, was her interpretation of 3D to 2D images. While most of us would commonly term drawing as front view and back view, we were impressed that she was taught front profile, side profile and back profile!

It teaches more than just mapping of the dimensions, but also learning to look at things and matters from a different perspective. It's so often that we jump into various conclusions without even analysing the different aspects.
Just how essential these skills are!

These are some skills, parents could have potentially missed out. Academic isn't all that encompasses a child's growth. There are the learning habits and growth mindset to tackle.

Aside from TLE's regular curriculum, they conduct holiday camps too. Jazz enjoyed her weekly lesson, which we called it the Bobo bear class. It wasn't a single bit dull or boring, so be assured that your kids will enjoy and see it as purely, learning through play.

Check them out soon! 

The Little Executive
144 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 229844
Contact: 6908 1889

Disclaimer: Jazz was sponsored a term of class with TLE. All opinions and photos are solely ours.

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