“All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.”
“I would like to thank all the teachers who have taught Gerald* during the past 1.5 years in Methodist Church of the Incarnation Kindergarten (MCIK),” began a letter from a parent.However, this was no ordinary letter, as the grateful parent went on to add: “Gerald is definitely not the easiest child to handle as he is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He is not able to join the class or stay in the group like other children. Besides social and behavioural issues, he was also not able to speak or feed himself when he first came to MCIK.” Yet, the parent noted, “I have seen tremendous improvement in Gerald… from a child who can’t speak much to a confident boy who can tell me ‘I love MCIK. I love my teachers’. It’s all the love and kindness showered by the teachers that made it possible. Thank you, teachers. Thank you, MCIK. Gerald loves you all.”
This heart-warming testimony is only one of several that our Methodist pre-schools (kindergartens and childcare centres) live out in their daily ministry of building a strong educational foundation for children in the community, in the neighbourhood of the churches they are situated in.
Such ministry is no easy feat, especially with increased competition from other secular and subsidised centres. Nonetheless, our Methodist pre-chools, which are guided by the beliefs and values of The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS), persevere in their work, continuing to see themselves as outreach arms of the Church; and what a vital role they play in being one of the first points of contact between each local church and its community.
Kampong Kapor Methodist Church (KKMC) Kindergarten is one such example. Having served the community surrounding the church since 1955, its impact can be seen when new church members share about how they had attended the kindergarten when they were children – and how that experience led them to KKMC when they began looking for a church to attend.
Going beyond building a bridge to the community, Methodist pre-schools also have opportunities to demonstrate to society our Christian values and Beliefs, such as treating each child as a person of value regardless of his or her strengths and weaknesses. Efforts are made to welcome children with special needs, and recently in February 2015, Trinity Methodist Church Kindergarten was highlighted in a Channel NewsAsia ‘Spotlight’ episode for their participation in the Integrated Support Programme for Pre-schoolers with Autism.
Most often, though, parents of pre-schoolers are grateful for the opportunities for holistic child development afforded to their children by our pre-schools. Here, our Methodist pre-schools are increasingly being recognised for their quality performance, as evidenced by their successful certifications, re-certifications and awards by the Singapore Pre-School Accreditation Framework (SPARK), a quality benchmark for all pre-schools in Singapore.
The staff of Bedok, Capstone, Faith, Foochow and Sengkang pre-schools share their best practices and mentor other Methodist pre-schools working towards their SPARK certifications. This collaboration is one of the many benefits of the Methodist Pre-schools Network, which was formed at the suggestion of Mrs Elsie Yee, Principal of Faith Kindergarten, in order to bounce off new ideas, share challenges faced and seek advice from one another.
Apart from supporting one another, the Methodist pre-schools need the Continued support of the local churches and the Methodist community in their outreach ministry. Often, ministry to the children becomes a blessing to the family, as shared by a parent, Joan*: “I recall my surprise when my children came back from their first day at Foochow Methodist Church Kindergarten and picked up their toys without any reminder.
“Most of my children are very quiet or soft-spoken in school, having difficulty voicing their needs; the school encouraged them to open up. When the school heard about my family problems, they reached out to encourage me and help the children tide over the problems.
“I would like to thank the Kindergarten for nurturing my children.”
The Methodist pre-schools are grateful for the strong support they are receiving from local churches and the MCS. With continuing and increased support, may they be encouraged to persevere in their ministry, so that, as quoted by parents of a child in Pentecost Methodist Church Kindergarten, “All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.” (Isaiah 54:13)
“Most of my children are very quiet or soft-spoken in school, having difficulty voicing their needs; the school encouraged them to open up. When the school heard about my family problems, they reached out to encourage me and help the children tide over the problems.”
*Names have been changed to protect their identity.
Photos courtesy of the Methodist pre-schools
The Methodist Pre-schools Network
Before the Network was formed, Principals in the 18 Methodist pre-schools often felt alone, and as if they were working in silos. “What a lonely job! Where are the other kindergartens? How are they managing? Don’t we have resource people in Early Childhood whom we can tap on?” were some of the statements and questions on their minds. Today, the Methodist pre-schools are no longer alone as the network forges strong bonds and fellowship.
The Network also provides much-needed support in the yearly recognition of long-serving teachers, and in the professional development of pre-school staff, including a Leaders’ Retreat. The Methodist Pre-school Network is 10 years old this year, and the yearly events are financially supported by the Council on Education of the MCS.
Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church Kindergarten
Barker Road Methodist Church Kindergarten
Bedok Methodist Church Kindergarten
Bukit Panjang Methodist Church Kindergarten
The Capstone Kindergarten
Foochow Methodist Church Kindergarten
Kampong Kapor Methodist Church Kindergarten
PLM Covenant Kindergarten
Pentecost Methodist Church Kindergarten
Sengkang Methodist Church Children Centre
Toa Payoh Methodist Church Kindergarten
Trinity Methodist Church Kindergarten
Wesley Child Development Centre
(HQ – Wesley Methodist Church; Telok Blangah; Toa Payoh; Serangoon North) www.wesleymc.org/!main/content/view/255/158/
Grace Toh is the Assistant Editor of Methodist Message. She put this article together with valuable input from Ms Mabel Wee, Assistant Education Secretary overseeing Methodist pre-schools in the Council on Education of The Methodist Church in Singapore, and the Principals of the Methodist Pre-schools Network.