Preparing Heidi for Singapore Kindie

As we are one month into the Singtel Futuremakers incubation programme, activities and workload intensify. As busy as Tara, our founder, is, she’s got to get Heidi, her daughter, used to the life in Singapore for the next couple of months.

Despite the jetlaggedness (is that even a word?) of the kids, she drags herself and Heidi to a kindergarten that she found. Thank god for them, as many kindergartens are not ready to accept kids for short periods, or already have a long waiting list and long, we are talking about a year. And we thought Singapore has a low birth rate issue.

After the first bout of good luck, comes a reality check. The first problem she faced, kindergartens in Singapore are not as well prepared to care for kids with special needs. But thankfully, this kindergarten is willing to try. So after gaining some experience from Norway, where Heidi goes to school, and some help from Singapore therapists and advice from her Norwegian therapists, she’s compiled a short list of some tips to prepare your kid and yourself for kindergarten.

  1. Look for a smaller kindergarten so that teachers manage lesser kids and a dedicated teacher can pay more attention to your child.
  2. Rooms should have good sound proofing and floors should preferably be carpeted. If that’s not possible, suggest the kindergarten to put paddings on chairs to reduce the noise level.
  3. Conduct a session to educate teachers about the devices and the child’s condition. Better still, bring in a therapist before your child starts the kindergarten.
  4. For older kids, it would be great to conduct a learning session for the rest of the children about hearing loss and the devices. Present it in a positive and light-hearted tone.
  5. Bring in a therapist after a few weeks to conduct an observation.
  6. Always have her teachers’s mobile number and make sure they have yours.
  7. This list is not exhaustive but since we promised it would be short, one more thing we thought was useful is to create a poster so that teachers and other kids can read about hearing loss and the devices. We have attached the sample in this post for your reference. (psst, the daddy made it, so it isn’t all that professional looking. But nonetheless kudos to him and all copyrights are his.)

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We apologise if the image is not clear enough on wordpress. If you would like a copy, simply email Tara at tarateo@irisada.co. I’m sure she is more than willing to share the original copy.

Below is the chinese version, since most Singapore kindergartens are bilingual.

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The Purple Parade

Things have been pretty purple in Singapore this last week. The skyline has been lit up with 19 buildings going purple in solidarity with the purple parade movement. If you haven’t seen them you can check out the photos here http://www.purpleparade.sg/purple-light-up. All the hype has been leading up to the purple parade, a gathering to show ability and inclusion of those with special needs here in Singapore.

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Our first impression of the parade was simply WOW it is busy! There was a sea of purple shirts and purple hats, around 10,000 people according to the strait times. It felt like this movement deserved more space than they had, you could have taken over a whole block with the parade alone. We turned up just as the parade started, shouts and drum beats filling the air as people held their banners high and marched forward.

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The parade ended a short while away at an outdoor stage where there was a mixture of speeches and performances. A number of top politicians were there too, including the deputy prime minister and mayor of central Singapore district. The performances showed the talent of the special needs community, with musical performances including a percussive group and a modern interpretation of flamenco. Quite a mix!

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After viewing the performances we moved on to the shopping. Stalls were set up to showcase handicrafts, baked goods and art created by the special needs community. Even salted egg crisps! (which if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived). We ended up buying some rather delicious cakes.picture4

The atmosphere in the parade was great, there were areas set up so people could sit and watch the shows on a nearby screen if they’re tired, swing bench’s wreathed in flowers, and a lady entertaining the kids with a large bubble net. There was even a small area for boccia, a game I’d never seen before a bit like boules but for wheelchair users.

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All in all the parade was great and showed how many people here care about the special needs community. I’ve no doubt next time it will be even better.