Safari Kid Asia, part of the American-based Safari Kid, is now opened with a specially constructed campus on spacious grounds in Bangsar, bringing its unique educational philosophies and successful programmes to Malaysia.
I recently sat down with the CEO of Safari Kid Asia, Mr Aniruddh Gupta, for a fascinating discussion about the school’s impressive and highly effective early education programme which has consistently excellent results from each of their locations across the world, and to talk about their emphasis on accelerated learning. Their core belief is that even children as young as nine months old have an immense capacity to learn, and that through their techniques based on brain research, they are able to tap into areas of the brain that have long remained untouched by traditional early education.
Mr Gupta tells me that through the use of sophisticated tools such as brain imaging, it is now understood that our brains have what is called plasticity. This means the brain can grow and change in a variety of different ways and it does not remain static as was once thought, but that it has the ability to evolve and grow. Most intriguingly, it is the first five years of a child’s brain development, when this plasticity is at its most malleable, that is the most crucial finding, as it forms the entire foundation for life-long learning. As a child grows older than five, this plasticity lessens, thus making it more difficult to learn, originate and assimilate new concepts. It is far easier to teach a young child a foreign language, for example, than it is a teenager.
By targeting the areas in the brain’s mechanisms responsible for functions such as cognitive skills, emotions, social awareness (leading to potential leadership qualities), physical and creative areas, the Safari Kid team have found the abilities of young children to develop these abilities accelerate and strengthen using their programmes.
“Every child is different,” Mr. Gupta explains, “and so has a different learning curve. We customise our curriculum, which was developed in Silicon Valley in California, and take great pains to continuously produce the best learning environment for each individual child. We firmly believe that based on these brain studies of plasticity and our highly targeted curriculum, as well as creating a warm and welcoming environment that focuses on the individual child, all combine to create a child with a lifelong passion for learning, exploring the world around them, using their imaginations in very creative ways.” He goes on to say, “We believe in the practise of Accelerated Learning, a system for both enhancing the design process and the learning processes. What makes accelerated learning so effective is that it’s based on the way we naturally learn. Accelerated Learning unlocks much of the potential for learning that has been left largely untapped by most conventional learning methods. It does this by actively involving your child, using physical activity, creativity, music, images, colour, and other methods designed to get children deeply involved in their own learning,” Mr Gupta explains.
Although ICT is seamlessly incorporated at Safari Kid, students are also exposed to a rich array of books, printed reading materials, and sports of many kinds including swimming lessons in their large pool. They are also exposed to the arts in a purpose-built art studio with a structured art programme in which children are taught how to sketch, draw, and paint, enhancing their gross motor skills, and them to self-direct based on their interests. “Every month we select a different theme to work with and all children participate,” Mr Gupta shared. “For example we focus on having each child do public speaking from a very early age before self-consciousness sets in. During our many events and functions, the children become accustomed to speaking to others, even large public groups because of our focus on this.”
Safari Kid International also offers an excellent comprehensive After-School Programme for all kids up to seven years old, whether or not they are enrolled in the school. The programme is suitable for all children, with an emphasis on helping each child to complete homework packets, assessing each child’s strengths and weaknesses so that the School may customize the most effective programme for them, and combining intellectual and physical activities that will reinforce learning potential and keep the child engaged.
Source: The Expat Magazine April 2014
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