Last month, People Impact invited us to sit in on one of their classes, called the EQ/IQ Programme. I was really interested to find out more especially since I have a friend whose 3 kids also attended classes at People Impact, and whom all enjoyed it very much.
I know what you must be thinking, talk about EQ and IQ is a little bit old school right? That’s because the programme is rooted in 15 years of development! But actually, EQ and IQ are still important today. If you have read my previous posts on executive functions, you’ll know that that is a more common buzz word these days, and it is also the core of the People Impact philosophy. The People Impact programme focusses on enhancing various soft skills, such as communication, heightening self-esteem, leadership skills, money and time management, arithmetic & linguistic reasoning, creativity and critical thinking. Essentially these are all the important skills for the new generation!
What does that really mean? Well let me describe to you what happened in the classes.
In the Level 1 class, for children ages 3-6 years old, there were 2 main activities for the day. Skit in a Bag and Toy Maker. For Skit in a Bag, the trainer prepared some toys in a bag and each child took turns taking a toy out of the bag. The trainer explained what a skit was, and it turned out that the items in the bag were all food related.
What impressed me about Skit in a Bag was the facilitation. In trying to decide who should go first to pick some items out of a bag, the facilitator got everyone to suggest, discuss and agree on who should go first. And these are 4 – 5 year olds! In most classes, the teacher would ask who would like to go first, and then pick, so I was taken by surprise. I really like how their teamwork skills were being honed here, even though they are all so young!
Then as a group, the children decided what they wanted to role play, and came up with the idea that it would be a tea party at one of the children’s house. So together with the trainer they set up the room and lined up to enter the house and played tea party. It sounds like a simple activity, but the children were required to work together and make connections between the toys and creating a relevant skit.
The second activity was Toy Maker. The children were asked to create some toys with the materials given. Some children knew straight away what they wanted to make, while others started creating first before deciding what they were going to make. All throughout the session, the trainer helped the children work through problems when creating their toys, and reminded them to take turns and share materials. After one child had completed her flower, another child decided she also wanted to make a flower, so the trainer had both sit together to help each other out. After all the toys were made, the trainer made labels and arranged the toys to showcase to the parents. My girl loved this idea and was so proud of what she made!
In the Level 2 class for children ages 7 to 12 years old, there were also 2 activities (sometimes there are 3). The first was an interesting obstacle course.
The children had to decipher a card, walk through an obstacle course, build a small structure, then pick out the card at the end of the obstacle course. If the exact same card was not available on the board, they had to pick the next best one. This tested their mental flexibility, working memory and alertness.
At the end of the class at the parents session (which I will explain later), when Trainer Neil explained this part to the parents, it took all of us some time to decipher the cards ourselves!
As part of the obstacle course, the children were also split into 2 groups, to give the activity more of a competitive edge. The trainer observed the way the children worked together and also tried to manage the children during the activity. Naturally some children were quite anxious about the success outcome of the game, in other words, they got really kan cheong and were not as encouraging of their team mates as they could have been.
After the activity, Trainer Neil asked the children to think about what was more useful in helping the children who needed assistance. This prompted them to think about emotional control – were they able to exercise control over their anxiousness to help a child who is slower?
The second activity for Level 2 was creating a restaurant. The children had to think up of a restaurant concept, choose between 3 locations, and design a menu, decide prices, draw a layout, etc. It required the children to think critically – throughout the activity Trainer Neil led the children to think about looking at a matter or situation from different perspectives. For example, each of the three locations had their pros and cons. I liked this activity and think that in this digital age where everyone is so quick to judge, comment, or share things without first thinking through properly, it is an important skill to hone. I hope to prompt the kids more often to practice this.
As a group, they had to decide on a restaurant concept. A leader was appointed and she assigned two children to each task. The tasks included designing a menu and deciding prices, designing uniforms, drawing up a layout, and creating food items out of playdoh. The children realised that they needed to liaise with each other, and the leader had to make sure she knew what each group was working on. After all that talk of sushi, after class we went next door to have lunch at Sushi Tei and my eldest said he had drawn up the floor plan according to what he observed from the Japanese eateries that he has been to.
At the end of every session, there is a parent debrief, which I found very valuable in understanding what went on during the class and also learning more about the different skills and functions that we can concentrate on. Additionally, the trainer will speak to each parent on a 1 to 1 session about their child, which happens about once a month for each child.
I had a chance to speak to Trainer Neil about my boys, and I thought it was very insightful. He shared what he observed during the class, and also mentioned that they speak to parents before the children join the class to understand their concerns. Children often behave differently at home and in a class environment, so it was interesting to have a different perspective. I think this is approach is so much more beneficial to the children than just dropping them off at a class with no follow ups.
My final thoughts? My 4 year old has already asked when we will be going for a class again, and the boys are excited as well.
UPPER THOMSON BRANCH
213 Upper Thomson Road Level 3 Singapore 574348
Tel: +65 64514908
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180 Kitchener Road #08-01 Singapore 208539
Tel: +65 6509 6570
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3 Simei Street 6 #03-01/02 Singapore 528833
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154 West Coast Road #01-74 Singapore 127371
Tel: +65 6635 8573