Singapore's largest pre-school provider MindChamps has one of many centres at One Raffles Place, where it delivers an innovative and unique early years programme that's drawn from research in the fields of psychology, education, neuroscience, and theatre.
The MindChamps network of pre-schools and nurseries certainly dominates the early years education sector in Singapore. Here’s a homegrown brand that has grown from one branch in 2008 to more than 30 centres across Singapore today. One of MindChamps PreSchool’s most centrally located centres is One Raffles Place, at the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD).
This centre is open for up to 120 children aged eighteen months through to six years, and it has the MindChamps DNA deeply embedded in its curriculum. Typical of a MindChamps pre-school, One Raffles Place offers the cutting-edge ‘unique champion mindset’ and ‘learning how to learn’ programmes that focus on developing a child’s mind, social and intellectual growth."
Founder David Chiem says:
“We have developed educational pedagogies drawn from research in the fields of psychology, education, neuroscience, and theatre. We have applied a learning-how-to-learn methodology to our early childhood curriculum and focus on unlocking confidence, imagination and a love for learning.”
Read our interview with David Chiem here.
Located next to the Raffles Place MRT station, One Raffles Place caters specifically for parents working in the CBD. The centre has extended opening hours from 7am to 7pm, to allow working parents to bring their chid in for breakfast and to collect them after the commuter rush-hour.
Centre director Ray Ong says:
“It used to be that parents would look for schools close to their home, but we are trying to shift that mindset. Travelling to work is valuable family bonding time. So, we have set up a breakfast club here starting at 7.30am where parents can stay and have breakfast with their child before leaving for work. It allows parents to come together, discuss parenting tips, spend time with their child, and eat breakfast – the most important meal of the day!”
Parents working in the close vicinity are also invited to come into the centre to have lunch with their child.
There’s a low teacher to student ratio here – 1:6 in playgroup, 1:7 in nursery 1, 1:9 in nursery 2, 1:11 in kindergarten 1, and 1:12 in kindergarten 2 – and every class has an English and Chinese-speaking teacher.
Parents in Singapore have a choice of pre-schools offering EYFS, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and Waldorf programmes. But MindChamps offers families a very different approach to early years education.
The MindChamps philosophy revolves around the 3-Minds model of education: the Learning Mind, the Champion Mind, and the Creative Mind. With these areas of focus, the group has developed not only an entirely bespoke curriculum (the SMILES curriculum – an acronym for Sensory, Motor, Intellectual, Linguistic, and Emotional learning areas), but a highly detailed enrichment programme that includes Neuro-Moves (a gym programme that includes a series of very specific movements designed to promote brain function as well as support physical development), Gourmet Moments (a cookery programme), Music for the Mind, and Creative and Theatrical Studies (which is designed to encourage confidence and public speaking).
“Neuro-Moves is a sequence of exercises that takes children from a very adrenalin pumped-up state to a very calm state. It starts with moving through obstacles, that gets them moving and makes the brain very active. They will then be asked to do things like crossing their arms and touching their nose, which involves the left brain talking to the right brain and vice versa; we are forcing the lazy brain to work harder. They will then so simple breathing, stretching and meditation exercises, similar to yoga.”
The award-winning curriculum, which is based on nearly two decades of research into neuroscience, psychology, and theatre, has been designed to prepare the children of today for 2038. It is born from research driven by the group’s founder, David Chiem, dean of research, Brian Caswell, and professor Allan Snyder. Chiem and Caswell wrote a book, The 3-Mind Revolution, upon which the philosophy and curriculum of the group is based.
It’s a curriculum that includes problem-solving activities and numeracy-based, language-based, and inquiry-based learning activities; there are also daily Chinese lessons from playgroup through to Nursery 2. Unique features include a Say and Sing approach to developing phonemic and phonics awareness.
“MindChamps started out as a reading and writing centre. We believe that reading and writing is the most important skillset, and we want to develop a keen reading habit in every child, which is the gateway to knowledge.”
All teachers and teaching assistants at MindChamps are required to undertake 200 hours of training, which is an impressive commitment to continuous professional development. Class teachers are recruited from countries worldwide, and all have a degree in education from their native countries.
Located within the vicinity of offices in One Raffles Place and Singapore’s CBD, this branch of MindChamps is well located for parents working in the Downtown Core district. It’s a modern, new, and purpose-built pre-school with facilities including classrooms, library, gym, swimming pool, jungle gym, eco garden, and outdoor kitchen.
Read about our tour of the campus here.
Health and safety
The main front door of the centre is always locked. To gain entry, all parents and visitors must press the bell to be granted access by a member of staff. Everyone visiting the centre has their temperature checked and is asked to leave their shoes at the entrance. There are CCTV security cameras located throughout the centre.
Admission and fees
MindChamps @ One Raffles Place opened in December 2017, and it is already 90% full. The centre is open from 7am to 7pm, and monthly fees range from $1,825 – $1,925.
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