If you’ve been following us on facebook you will have read about The Curious Academy that is starting up in Damansara Heights. It is said to be the first Glenn Doman center to combine physical and intellectual stimulation for children age 0-6 years in Malaysia. We were invited to attend two of their trial classes so I accepted and took Hercules along to give it a go. Here’s a little more about our experiences, what we thought and what we know about The Curious Academy…
About the Curious Academy
The Curious Academy is an early learning enrichment center based on the Glenn Doman educational philosophy. Their core program is their physical excellence/English + Mandarin program. In addition to this program, they will also be running other add on programs:
- arts & crafts
- rock climbing
I must confess it was the latter that caught my interest since I was an avid rock climber myself.
At present, the only program running is the physical excellence/English + Mandarin program. However, a number of the other programs will be kicking in before the end of the year. In order to sign up for the additional programs, your child must be taking the core program.
The core program is structured so that your child will receive 2 x 75 minute lessons a week (60 minutes for the children 3 years and below). In each lesson, your child will receive a physical program plus either Mandarin or English. You may opt for:
- Physical + English (both lessons in the week are in English)
- Physical + Mandarin (both lessons in the week are in Mandarin)
- Physical + English/Mandarin (one lesson of each during the week)
What’s a typical lesson like?
It begins with a warm up – the children come into class and they can play with the toys, warm up to the environment, and get settled ready for the start of class. The lesson begins with greetings and introductions. It is followed by a story and flash cards of the main words in the story. After that, the children go through a series of warming up exercises to get their bodies moving and ready for the physical component of the lesson.
An obstacle course is set up and the children are shown what they must do at each station. The children then go through the obstacle course and observe more flash cards while they rest in between. The session ends with a cool down and goodbyes.
We had two trial lessons – one in English and one in Mandarin. We were running late for the first lesson (which was the English one) so Hercules was terribly distracted by the equipment in the class room when we arrived. He spent the entire lesson running up and down the room, crawling through the tunnels, jumping on the trampoline and climbing all the structures he could get onto. There was no doubt that he thoroughly enjoyed himself.
When the teachers called the children to sit in a circle so they could listen to the story, Hercules defiantly refused, “No! I don’t want to.” Being the parent of the only disruptive child in the class, as the other three girls were obediently sitting down and paying attention to the teachers, I wanted desperately to hide my face in a brown paperbag. Even when everyone was going through the warm up before the physical component, Hercules was busy negotiating the physical course. Little children don’t really appreciate the need to warm up because they don’t really suffer from strain injuries the way we do when we don’t bother to warm up first.
The first session was not great in terms of cooperation, but the participation was acceptable. He gave all the exercises around the obstacle a go. Although he didn’t immediately sit down to listen to the story, he did eventually join the circle when the story caught his interest (even then, he had to plonk himself right in front of the book and block the view of the other well-behaved children).
I expected a better response to the second trial since I figured he would be more familiar with the environment. I didn’t expect it would be even worse. Perhaps because he couldn’t identify with the language. We don’t speak Mandarin at home at all and even though we’ve been working on BrillKids’ Little Chinese, I find that his acceptance of lessons depends largely on his mood for the day. Although he’s always happy to receive his Little Reader, Little Math and Little Musician lessons, he is not always willing to sit through a Mandarin lesson and will tell me “no” from time to time or get up and leave halfway. To be honest, I cannot figure out what’s with the resistance to learn Chinese…
During the Mandarin class at The Curious Academy, Hercules didn’t want to listen at all to the story or the flash cards. When we got to the physical component, he only did what he wanted to do. He was even less cooperative compared to the first lesson. I’m assuming it was the Mandarin that he was objecting to.
What we think…
As much as I would love Hercules to learn Mandarin, this is clearly not the right environment for him. Following Doman‘s instructions – learning should be joyous and your child should demonstrate an eagerness to learn, otherwise you should stop. Since Hercules is clearly disinterested in Mandarin, we should not force it. We still have the flexibility to continue his Mandarin sessions on Little Chinese at home where I can run the program following his interests so I’m not too concerned.
In the English class, he knew all the words they flashed (because we’d already done them on BrillKids Little Reader). I was a tad concerned about the amount of repetition they did for the flash cards (since we follow the Heguru/Shichida philosophy at home which calls for less repetition of the same set of flash cards). I suppose that is the limitation of a Doman class as opposed to a regular at home program run by parents – the teachers only have two sessions a week to work with the children so they try to maximise the time with extra repetitions; in the home program, parents can do the program daily as and when the child is ready for it. At home, if your child is not interested to do lessons now, you can always come back to it later when he is ready so there is no pressure to get things done according to a set schedule.
What I really liked about the Curious Academy was the physical component of their class. It was the perfect program for Hercules and I wished they would offer it as a stand-alone. While I can do a reading program and a Chinese program with Hercules at home, I cannot replicate the physical program because I don’t have the equipment. For now, the only way to take the physical class is to sign up for the core program. Once your child is taking the core program, you can also sign up for the other add-on programs – climbing, cooking, art, swimming, etc.
In addition to the programs, they also have a couple of free play areas that are really cool. Outside, there is an obstacle course (currently not open yet), and inside, next to the reception area, is an indoor play area. So if you sign your child up for classes, you will also have free access to these terrific play areas outside of class time. I confess I’m tempted to sign up for lessons for Hercules just so he can play in their free play areas!
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