Q: What are the SEL 21st century competencies?

The 21st century competencies are illustrated by the MOE as a roundel, and have three parts. The Core Values are stated as:

  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Integrity
  • Care
  • Resilience
  • Harmony

Around these Core Values are knowledge and skills, which in turn shape beliefs and attitudes.

The MOE describes the second ring in this way:

“The middle ring signifies the Social and Emotional Competencies—skills necessary for children to recognise and manage their emotions, develop care and concern for others, make responsible decisions, establish positive relationships, as well as to handle challenging situations effectively.”

These are the precisely the competencies taught by E.S.I KIDS. The third ring is also described:

“The outer ring of the framework represents the 21st century skills necessary for the globalised world we live in. These are:

  • Civic literacy, global awareness and cross-cultural skills
  • Critical and inventive thinking
  • Information and communication skills”

As above, these are the outcomes that E.S.I KIDS works towards.

Q: What is SEL education?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is developing 21st century competencies in soft skills and values that go beyond the academic curriculum.

Q: What is EQ?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate ones emotions. Research has shown that emotional intelligence can be learned and strengthened.

Q: What is SQ?

Social intelligence (SQ) refers to the ability to understand, manage, and engage in meaningful social interactions with others.

Q: Why the need for EQ and SQ skills?

EQ and SQ skills are needed to allow learners to:

  • Stay positive, well-grounded, and balanced
  • Achieve good grades and take an interest in learning
  • Speak and express themselves with confidence
  • Cope with failure and rejection
  • Manage stressful situations and solve problems
  • Overcome shyness and introversion
  • Develop sharp and creative thinking

Q: What is Education? Singapore’s perspective.

“Education is about nurturing the whole child. Education means developing the child morally, intellectually, physically, socially and aesthetically.”

“The foundation of a person is his values. From these spring his outlook on life and his goals in life. Our children also have to learn to relate to other people – their elders and their peers, people who are like us and people who are different.”

~ Source: Excerpts taken from Ministry of Education website.

Q: What are the current challenges in our Education system?

A survey found that only 50% of respondents viewed Singapore as a good place to raise children, giving our education system as the main reason. They felt there was excessive focus on academic results, while other important aspects of a child’s development, namely emotional and social skills, are neglected.

Former Education Minister Ng Eng Hen said that we need to rebalance our education system, and that education in Singapore needs to ‘nurture each child to believe in himself and be self-sufficient, to care for his fellow man, and to be able to contribute to the larger society around him.’

In 2010, Ms Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State (Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Education), said that children to be “well-grounded and balanced” in the Primary Education Review and Implementation Committee (PERI) Seminar.

Q: What is active learning?

Children learn by doing, thinking, exploring; through quality interaction, intervention, and relationships. Children are more likely to understand and remember skills and concepts they learn through participation, exploration, and experimentation involving real-life objects and experiences. Based on this, active learning is learning which engages and challenges the learners thinking by using both real-life and imaginary situations. It takes full advantage of the opportunities for learning presented by:

  • free play
  • planned, purposeful play
  • investigating and exploring
  • events and life experiences
  • focused learning and teaching.

All active learning opportunities can be supported by the teacher when necessary

Q: What is purposeful play?

Both free play and purposeful play are vital parts of a child’s development. Free play is vital because it provides opportunities for the child to acquire flexible and adaptive behaviour in response to their ever changing environment.

Purposeful play does these things too, but there is some structure and a learning aim, and it is designed to develop specific skills such as throwing or language use.

Besides being enjoyable, purposeful play also allows learners to make meaning out of their experiences and consists of activities or games that may have some rules or goals outlined, such as a game of touch football.

Q: What is iTeach?

In the MOE Curriculum Guide (2013), there are six suggested principles for quality in a kindergarten curriculum. These are listed as ‘iTeach’:

i for Integrated learning
T for Teachers as supporters of learning,
e for engaging children in learning through play
a for ample opportunities for interaction
c for children as active learners,
h for holistic development

According to the iTeach, children learn through experiences while teachers facilitate and support the children’s learning. By exploring and interacting through play, described in the Curriculum Framework for Kindergartens as ‘purposeful play’, knowledge is constructed and children’s learning stimulates their thinking skills. If they are given ample opportunities to indulge in purposeful play, children are able to interact meaningfully with materials, their peers, and their teachers. Children are involved as ‘active learners’ who explore, discover, and construct knowledge through meaningful tasks.

To promote a holistic development in the curriculum, the teacher facilitates and supports children’s learning in areas such as aesthetics, creativity, environmental awareness, language, literacy, motor skills development, self and social awareness.

Q: What is the relationship of iTeach principles to E.S.I KIDS?


Integrated Approach To Learning

ESI Kids uses learning activities as building blocks putting the learner into a situation where one activity leads into the next. For example, in a reading unit, learners may predict the content that accompanies the text before reading it. In a listening activity, language may be recycled from an individual reading, or discovery activity, into a roleplay. Language is revised at the start and end of lessons. Progress and continuity of language learnt and themes are achieved in each lesson.

Teachers Are Facilitators of Learning

ESI Kids uses a creative, structured approach including play as progress for the younger learner, and games, role play and simulation as progress for the older learner. The purpose of each approach is to ensure that learning occurs through a variety of experiences.

Engaging children in learning through purposeful play

The ESI framework provides a learning environment that helps ensure the learner is able to express themselves positively, has self confidence, and can communicate effectively according to the situation, purpose, and through role-play.

Authentic learning through quality interaction

Particular emphasis is placed on providing a supportive environment through which each learner’s emotional, social, and academic intelligence is developed. The programme is activity based and is designed to encourage learners to develop a useful range of emotional and social skills.

Children as constructors of knowledge

ESI Kids uses an experiential approach in which learners are actively involved in learning. Experiential learning addresses the needs of the learner and involves them directly in the learning process and helps in the development of change and growth. The experiential learning classroom sets a positive climate for learning, clarifies the purposes for learning (“what’s in it for me?”), organises and makes available learning resources, and balances the intellectual and emotional components of learning.

Holistic development

ESI Kids gives the learner activities that promote learning and achievement. These activities increase retention, develop social skills, and promote self esteem. Regardless of the age of the learner, positive independence, individual and group accountability, and small group skills are inculcated within the language framework.

The info-graphic above illustrates how teaching methods described in iTeach above are very similar to those employed by E.S.I KIDS.

Like iTeach, E.S.I KIDS teaches through integrating experiential, hands on, activity based, and multi-sensory methods of teaching into the lessons, in which the children are active learners and have ample opportunities to interact with each other, with the teacher who is supporting the learning, and with the environment.

Like iTeach, the E.S.I KIDS learning situations are structured for specific emotional and social skills, to ensure that the play is purposeful, and that it encourage and develops the learner’s holistic development of EQ, SQ, and English while still being fun, engaging, and stimulating.

By also integrating a unique problem based learning approach, learners are actively engaged in critical and creative thinking skills.

The E.S.I  KIDS approach, which has been in use since 2006, of teaching through controlled experiences (‘purposeful play’), in which learners have to interact with the world, their peers, and their teachers to solve problems, is also in line with the current Curriculum Framework for Kindergartens.

Q:What is E.S.I KIDS?

  • It is a focused Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum designed and developed in 2006, it is in alignment with MoE’s 2009 21st century competencies and 2013 iTeach principles.
  • It is a program designed and developed for children in early childhood from 4 to 8 years old.
  • It teaches communication, emotional and social skills to mainstream children and prepares them for school.
  • It consists of modules which progressively develop soft skills, values, and verbalisation skills in English.
  • It allows the child to be well balanced, grounded and better equipped to win the competition in school and life.

Q: How can schools implement E.S.I KIDS?

Schools can implement E.S.I KIDS:

  • In collaboration with the school as an enrichment programme.
  • As a licensee who integrates the E.S.I KIDS curriculum or program into the existing school’s curriculum.

Q: Why educate between 4 – 8 years old?

This time, during early childhood, is the ideal time to teach a child social and emotional intelligence. This is when the foundations of a child’s interpersonal relationships are laid, and is the most critical for future happiness and success in life.

From the MOE ‘Nurturing Early Learning’:

‘Pre-shool education lays the foundation for lifelong learning and influences the later development and learning of young children. Quality experiences in the pre-school years have been found to make a difference in the future learning of children (Heckman, 2008; Shonkoff, 2000; Sylva, Melhuish, Sammons, Siraj-Blatchford & Taggart 1999)’