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Play, Explore & Learn: Meet Sabrina James, Principal of Pibo’s Garden Playschool @ Dunearn

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Hear from Principal Sabrina James on why she loves teaching at Pibo’s Garden Playschool!

When it comes to choosing a preschool for your child, one of the most important steps is to meet the teachers and administrators who set the tone and with whom your child will be interacting each and every day. One of the most fun parts of our job is getting to meet so many passionate, experienced educators at schools across Singapore. Today, we talk with Sabrina James, Principal of the Pibo’s Garden Playschool Dunearn location (there’s an additional location in Bukit Timah at Hua Guan Crescent). Read on to find our more about Sabrina’s educational philosophy, and to see if Pibo’s might be the right fit for your family!

What is your background and training?

I have been in the early childhood industry for the past 16 years. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Deakin University and a Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education – Leadership from Seed Institute and a Diploma in Preschool Teaching. I also hold a Grade 8 certificate in Speech & Drama from the London College of Music. I’m currently pursuing a Graduate Certificate of Education Research with Deakin University.

What made you want to become a principal?

I started off my career as a speech & drama teacher in preschools after completing my A-Levels in 2000. I enjoyed working with children and then became a preschool teacher in 2002. I became a senior teacher and then a vice principal in 2012.

As a senior teacher and vice principal, I mentored several new teachers and realised that many of them lacked guidance and needed a strong role model. Hence, I became a principal as I wanted to be a role model for teachers and share my beliefs and practices with them, and in turn, the teachers will go on to influence the children. I also enjoy working with parents and being a principal gives me ample opportunities to do so.

What do you love about working at your school in particular?

Pibo’s Garden has a cosy, homey environment where children come and have fun and learn through play. I love creating Pibo’s fun, engaging environment where children are encouraged to play and explore. At Pibo’s, we place importance on a Home-School Partnership, and I enjoy working closely with our families and children. Pibo’s is a home away from home!

Pibo’s takes on a play-based approach and I enjoy creating and designing learning environments within the school to allow children to have plenty of open-ended play choices. I also guide my teaching team to have meaningful interactions with the children.

What is your take on ‘play-based learning’?

I strongly believe that children learn best when they play. Play-based learning allows children to explore and develop critical thinking skills which are important for life long learning. Through play, we can help children become creative, confident and competent learners; this is also the ethos of Pibo’s Garden Playschool!

What is your favourite game or activity to do with your students?

I enjoy reading stories to the children. However, my favourite thing is to have little chit-chats with the children when I go into the classrooms or when they come into the office to say hi. I enjoy asking them about things they have done and how they are feeling. I have always encouraged the children to approach me to talk.

What is one fun fact about you?
I can tell stories in animated voices (thanks to my background in Speech & Drama) and the children love listening to me!

In your years of teaching, share with us your most memorable moment or event. What is the greatest lesson you have learned from the children?

In my years of teaching, the most memorable moment would be when a child with special needs under my care was able to go on stage during the year-end concert and perform a full dance performance. The joy and pride I felt at the moment are indescribable.

The greatest lesson I have learnt from children is to take time to smell the roses — which is something we often forget to do as adults.

In your opinion, what are the most important aspects of early childhood education?

Letting children learn through play is an important aspect of early childhood education. Learning through play has plenty of benefits for the holistic development of children and as an early childhood professional, we need to advocate play as a learning tool for children in preschools.

Pibo’s play-based approach greatly encourages children to learn as they play daily through a variety of active indoor and outdoor play activities. At Pibo’s, children are introduced to music, movement and creative expressions which allow them to explore and be creative. The Pibo’s team of staff are often physically engaged in active play as the children especially during messy and sensory play!

Read more about Pibo’s Garden Playschool here!

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