Mandarin Play at ChengZhu

Today marked our first day in school with ChengZhu Mandarin Centre. It evolved from Julia Gabriel Centre, running purely mandarin programmes where children are exposed to the language and its culture with an injection of fun. It is a very new facility at Rochester Mall where it opened its doors in January 2012. I have always talked about going to mandarin school with my child and wished there was an educational institution that allowed parent accompanied programmes. I was delighted when I heard about ChengZhu’s inception and was certain we will be signing up for it. 
Panda isn’t going to school with you Ewan
Their PlayNest programme is for children aged 6 to 18 months and is designed for hands-on, interactive learning and language stimulation. I still hold on to my belief about children playing hard so it has to be a playful environment. I want to steer clear of cards flashing and a studious environment with whiteboards after whiteboards of pictorial exemplifications of animals, colours or body parts. There at ChengZhu, we are signed up for 1.5 hours (twice weekly) of play in a large and colourful classroom. 
The theme for this whole term is Colours. There will be an introduction of a new colour each week and this week’s colour is Blue. Instead of showing our little ones the colour Blue on cards, the teachers at ChengZhu encouraged us to dress ourselves up in Blue when we come for class. Our puppet today was a shark, obviously in Blue. Art and Craft involved the painting of the deep Blue ocean and the sea animals that dwell in there. When it came to story-telling, one of three teachers dressed herself up as a Blue cat and went frolicking in the class with her Blue yarn, licking her paws and nudging the children with tickles. 
What happens at PlayNest?
Music: Language learning is stimulated through enjoyment of rhythm, sounds and the melody of traditional Mandarin Songs. Ewan was going crazy over the keyboard and I had such a tough time pulling him away from the teacher who was playing it during song and dance.
Puppets: Children develop interpersonal skills through interaction with their teachers and their puppets. Our friendly blue shark went around the class for some imaginative fun. While some obviously love their new friend, some were afraid. Ewan was skeptical but he warmed up quickly to it.
Special Activities: Physical activities develop gross motor skills and co-ordination at the playground. Playing with so many friends and observing what they do, got Ewan climbing up the steps of the slide and came easing down with pride. Actually, I was the one that was proud of his achievement. I didn’t know he could do that. 
Art & Craft: Children will be introduced to different forms of art each week. Paint, sand, stamps, foam, macaroni, crayon, magazine tearing, etc. It’s painting today!
Story Time: Stories expose children to language, stimulate their imagination and enable them to understand the value of spoken words. Stories were not told from a storybook but in the form of role-play. One teacher narrates the story and two other teachers act them out as if the children are watching a theatrical play. To be honest, I didn’t think it will capture the children’s attention for long but it did! 
Snack Time: Ewan’s favourite time of the day. Children get to sample different food and learn the social skills of eating with others. I knew Ewan was going to love this part of the session the most but I didn’t know that with peers surrounding him on the same table, going through the same notion, my 13-monther can actually feed himself off the bowl like a big boy! He even refused my help when I offered to feed him.

We had a full class of 12 today. Because the size of the classroom is fairly large, we do not feel uncomfortable cooped up with 12 kids, 12 mums and 3 teachers. Also, the PlayNest classroom is a corner room with floor to ceiling windows which was bright and roomy. We walked into class with a whole room of toys for the children to warm up to as we waited for everyone to arrive. It was also a time for socialising with his classmates which comprised mostly of boys.

Warm Up: Stacking
Warm Up: Peek-a-Boo

Warm Up: Musical Table

Here is Ewan’s Art & Craft session with 张老师 where he got his hands dirty with paint. He was concentrating on what the teacher was guiding him through. So much so, he couldn’t sit on his chair but stood throughout his craftwork. Mummy learnt a new word too! 海豚🐬 means Dolphin! Yahoo! We will be bringing his work home the next lesson when it’s all dried up.

Dribble the paint 
Hold the brush

Start Painting Blue

Let’s make some waves

Paste the Whale, Seahorse and Dolphin

Playground! The indoor playground is very well-equipped and very clean. There are sufficient ride-ons for all the children and there is no need to wait for a free horse or car to sit on. The wall murals are cheery, the puzzles are interactive and the playground itself is really fun. There were slides and tunnels for them to explore in. We had a great time. This is part of the 1.5 hour class and I forsee him looking forward to the playground each time.

Driving Round and Round

Wall-Mounted Puzzles

Running Away

The Playgruond

Finally, it’s snack time after all the play. A round of organic apple puree for all and would your like juice or water sir? 李老师 assisted the children with their meals and went around serving them like they were little patrons of a restaurant. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw my boy feeding himself happily to his apple puree. I realised that we belittle our children too much. If we had given them the opportunity to be self-reliant, they could actually do more. A lot of times, it is us as parents who impede their growing curve. We want less mess and faster results so we choose to do things on their behalves.  Same for throwing that pacifier out of the window. We are too lazy to go through days of crying and choose the easy way out by letting them sleep with their dummies. Ewan didn’t allow me to feed him today at school as he held onto his spoon tightly. He wanted to show his friends that he can do it on his own.

Snack Time


Here’s how you scoop!

I will finish up for you partner

Before signing up for ChengZhu, I heard about 陈老师. It was from Mayven and Finn’s trial class 2 months ago that got us enrolled in 陈老师’s class. Their mummies sang praises of her and what better way to choose a teacher by word of mouth. I read up on 陈老师 and found out that she was the Head of department for Parent Accompanied programmes in ChengZhu. 陈瑞珍老师 holds a Diploma in Early Childhood Education from Taipei Municipal Teacher’s College and spent 7 years teaching at the kindergarten before coming to Singapore. She has been involved in Julia Gabriel’s mandarin programmes since 1999. I am glad we joined her class. Her passion for working with children is evident in the way she speaks and plays with them. Ewan even walked up to her and requested for a hug.

Now for the fees per term. PlayNest’s Term 4 commences on 16th September and ends on 1st December 2013 with 11 weeks of class (twice a week), which brings you to a total of 22 lessons for S$1,147 + 7% GST. There will be a refundable deposit per programme of S$200 before the end of  term. Each lesson of 1.5 hours comes up to about S$55. We will not be continuing with Term 4’s PlayNest because we will be in Europe in October. They do not replace classes unless your child had a medical certificate. So, I have decided to sign us up for PlayClub in 2014’s Term 1 instead. By then, he would have been 18 months and his needs will also be different.

I would say Ewan enjoyed himself thoroughly at today’s lesson. For mummy, I was totally knackered. Today is our first lesson of twenty and I am already dreading the next nineteen because of the hectic schedule I need to fit into our Tuesdays and Thursdays. No more lazy weekdays of sitting around in our living room and waiting for the next nap time. It was tiring running after a toddle toe but seeing him having fun, makes it all worthwhile. Also, I witnessed Ewan’s self-feeding and sliding capabilities at class today and am especially proud.

Lastly, I learnt a new song! I now know how to sing Twinkle Twinkle in mandarin! Way to go mummy!

ChengZhu Mandarin Education Centre
35 Rochester Drive, #03-01
Rochester Mall
Singapore 138639
T: 6737 5348


2 thoughts on “Mandarin Play at ChengZhu

  1. Hi,亿文妈妈。我是Cheng竹的李老师,很喜欢你的Blog,希望你能经常上传亿文宝贝的动态。最后要谢谢你对我们的肯定! I like your blog,hope you can often update,thank you to our affirmation finally


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