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Q&A with Jaslin Neo, Principal of Hundred Thoughts Preschool

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What is your background and training?
I have a Diploma in Preschool Education (Teaching), a Diploma in Preschool Education (Leadership) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education.

I constantly kept myself updated with the developments in the various curriculums around the world and was in Italy in 2005 and 2009 to be trained by Reggio Children in the Reggio-Emilia approach to education. Subsequently, I was Perth in 2011 for further training.

What made you want to become a principal?
I started off my career as a preschool teacher in 1999 because I really love children and only became a principal in late 2005 when I was approached to set up a Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool. This opportunity was invaluable as it allowed me to set up a preschool from scratch and practise what I had learnt and believed to be, the best preschool philosophy. I also found out that besides children, a principal is also in a good position to influence parents and teachers and I have actively shared my beliefs and good practices with the teachers and parents both locally and globally in order to inspire them to provide a better environment and education to their children.

What do you love about working at your school in particular?                                    
There are many reasons why I love working at Hundred Thoughts Preschool and the most important reason remains to be my love and respect for children and my desire to see them develop the enthusiasm and curiosity to learn – this will enable the children to grow and develop in the right direction.

In Hundred Thoughts, the children are accorded the respect an adult would receive notwithstanding them being very young. This is because these children are capable (or even more capable than adults) to fulfil many things with their small little hands (but great minds) and there are no boundaries to such capabilities.

As a leader and educator, this desire of mine also extends to my teachers. Teaching team at Hundred Thoughts shares my belief that teaching is a life-long journey of learning and it is only when teachers constantly improve and update themselves then they can provide the best education to the children.

What is your take on ‘play-based learning’?
I always believe that play-based learning enables children to develop their thinking capabilities such as problem solving, reasoning and lateral thinking and social capabilities such as communication and working in collaboration with other children and adults. In doing so, the children will develop life-long learning capabilities which will enable them to continue growing beyond the preschool learning environment.

What is unique about Hundred Thoughts Preschool’s curriculum?
Hundred Thoughts’ curriculum is Reggio Emilia-inspired and the associated conceptual framework is based on the emergent or negotiated curriculum which views children’s development, instead of the usual development of individual subject. The curriculum requires teachers and parents to respect children as persons with their own special characteristics and needs. Accordingly, children should have the freedom and are equipped with the means to explore, discover, learn and acquire knowledge for themselves.

Hundred Thoughts further encourages children to express themselves in creative ways so that they are challenged to think “outside the box”.  As a result of thinking “outside the box”, children are compelled to interpret knowledge according to their prior knowledge, understanding, experiences and interest which develops their problem solving abilities, decision-making skills and creativity in the process.

Lastly, Hundred Thoughts promotes open communication as part of the curriculum as fellow children, teachers, parents and the wider community form part of the children’s learning experience. Children are able to constantly share their ideas and experiences with others within such an environment which further accelerates their learning and growing.

What is your favourite game or activity to do with your students?
I love to explore the outdoors with my students and teach them both music and art – that is when they are most lively.

What is one fun fact about you?
During my spare time, I like to undertake small projects such as creating silly DIY, notes, videos and food to surprise my friends. These activities never fail to make my friends laugh.

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