In Singapore, co-curricular activities for preschoolers are often taken by parents very seriously. Notably, the state invests a lot of resources in preschool education in a way that is atypical of its neighboring Southeast Asian neighbors and even its fellow industrialized nations. As a result, the mainstream Singaporean school system offers a remarkable range of co-curricular activities for preschoolers.
The reason for educational institutions’ investment in preschool co-curricular activities is much in line with Singapore’s long-term goals of human resource development: keep children engaged in the learning process to lay a firm foundation for advanced academics and for their future efforts to make them active and productive members of society.
It’s not just mainstream preschools that offer high-quality co-curricular activities either. Private and international schools in Singapore also offer a wide range of co-curricular activities. This is not only to compete with the high bar set by mainstream schools but also because of the strong evidence that points to co-curricular and extra-curricular activities being beneficial for young brains.
Preschooler’s Brains Are Different
Young children have an incredible capacity for learning, thanks in large part to their brains’ enhanced neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the capacity of brains to change and adapt to experiences. The human brain’s window of highest neuroplasticity is relatively short, starting in infancy and peaking before adolescence. While all individuals are capable of lifelong learning, it’s often highly advantageous for young children to have exposure to multiple types of activities and learning opportunities early on to take full advantage of their enhanced brain growth.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of schools that offer diverse co-curricular activities, even outside the mainstream system. Expatriate families can now easily find an international preschool Singapore-based parents trust, ensuring that no young child is denied the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to benefit from their early biological advantage.
Co-Curricular Activities for Young Children
Co-curricular activities for children should be engaging while also providing opportunities to develop specific, potentially useful skills. Importantly, they should provide educational opportunities outside of the classroom, reinforcing the idea that learning can be done anywhere.
Some age-appropriate co-curricular activities for preschool children include the following:
● Reading Clubs. Reading is foundational to many other types of learning. Giving children an early start and having them engage with challenging reading materials can be advantageous for their academic development and may also help them become better writers and communicators.
● Photography. Photography can help teach young kids important concepts such as aesthetic balance, patience, and nonverbal communication. Fortunately, photography is no longer a particularly expensive hobby to get into, and most kids will do just fine with an old smartphone to start.
● Yoga, Tai Chi, Wushu, or Other Body-Mind Exercise Classes. These low-impact exercises can help young children develop their fine and gross motor movements while also teaching them focus and discipline. These activities can also be a gateway for them to develop a lifelong appreciation of their bodies’ capabilities.
● Music Classes. Learning the basics of music early on can help children develop a deeper faculty for critical listening. There is even some evidence that brain processes for music and language learning are closely intertwined, if not the same. This may mean that early music exposure may be key to improving language learning in some children.
● Foreign Language Classes. Young children are extraordinarily advantaged when it comes to language learning. Exposure to different foreign languages early on may help children develop multilingualism which, in turn, may help them form a more nuanced understanding of the world later in life.
● Science Clubs. Children who are exposed to science concepts early on may develop a richer understanding of the world around them. Age-appropriate science experiments and demonstrations can be used to give preschoolers an early glimpse into various phenomena that shape our world.
● Lego or Clay-Modeling Classes. Creating sculptures may help children hone their ability to think creatively in multiple dimensions. The ability to think multidimensionally may have numerous benefits for children in many real-life situations and may also be important for those that have signaled an interest in a STEM career.
● Chess Clubs. Early exposure to chess can help children develop an appreciation of logic, abstract thinking, and problem-solving. Importantly, it also helps children develop their planning and foresight, as identifying future opportunities and delaying gratification is a critical part of the game.
High neuroplasticity during early childhood is highly advantageous for children, as it permits them to learn some things at a much faster pace than adults. Indeed, lifelong mastery of complex skills such as writing, mathematics, art, or music is often set before a child hits their teens because of the high levels of neuroplasticity their brains exhibit early in life. Giving young children sufficient access to engaging co-curricular activities can therefore be important in ensuring they have the skills they need to be successful adults.
Apart from being opportunities to maximize children’s early biological advantage in learning, co-curricular activities also offer other important benefits. They provide early opportunities for safe socialization outside of a strictly academic setting, they expose children to situations that require teamwork and communication, and they also may help stoke a sense of belonging. Thus, co-curricular activities during preschool can be vital to helping mold confident, socially literate children who are ready to take on any of life’s challenges.