coding

Developing your child’s fine motor skills

Every baby has an innate curiosity to explore the physical limits of their body when they’re born. Generally, they are able to roll over by the age of four months and hold items by eight months. During these early stages of their life, your child develops motor skills.

What are motor skills? Motor skills are movements and actions of the bone structures. There are generally two groups of motor skills — gross motor skills and fine motor skills. As your child learns to walk, run, jump and play ball games, they’re developing gross motor skills, which engage the large muscles in their arms and legs, as well as improve the coordination of their entire body. On the other hand, when your child writes or zips clothes, they’re developing fine motor skills which make use of the small muscles in their fingers and toes.

Importance of fine motor skills

When your child is able to coordinate their fingers and toes, they are able to complete simple everyday tasks on their own as well as use tools like scissors and pencils. Furthermore, your child’s handwriting and cognitive learning abilities will improve.

Developing fine motor skills

As your child starts to develop fine motor skills, they need your unending support and patience in guiding them along the way. Here are some possible activities you can do with your child:

Quick and easy tools found at most homes: Tweezers, clothes pins or chopsticks. Use tweezers, clothes pins or chopsticks to pick up and sort objects like beads, cereal, cotton balls, pompoms or other small objects (watch closely for choking hazards).
Provide them with a variety of art supplies like chalks, crayons and finger paints when they are drawing and unleashing their creativity.
Encourage them to use utensils when eating. It is normal for children to mess up when they are initially learning about using utensils, so do be patient towards them.
Let them play with small objects like beads, marbles and Lego pieces. Since Lego pieces come in all forms and proportions, attaching Lego pieces together require fine control of the strength of the smaller muscles. Hence, playing with Lego pieces will improve your child’s dexterity.

The more your child practices using their smaller muscles, the better their dexterity and strength. Hence, introducing some fun activities and games involving the use of small items will go a long way in building their fine motor skills.

So, why don’t we start ‘training’ our fingers with our children, starting from today?

In The Lab, students age 5-9 years old learn coding with the use of Lego robotics. Connecting the bricks with precision and detail strengthens fine motor skills and improves hand-eye coordination. Picking up LEGO pieces with their fingers builds muscles and skill your child may need when holding and controlling a pencil to write or draw. Curious to understand or learn more about our programs?

Sign up for a complimentary trial class now!

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What skills does my kid develop from learning Coding?

5 main skills which are HIGHLY transferable:

(1) Logical and Analytical Thinking

Logic is a skill students have to practice while coding. Through dissecting existing programs to understand the process and flow to achieve the solution through written code, students become increasingly analytical. Whether they are building or debugging, they are exercising their logic faculties on a regular basis. Understanding machine operations, conditionals, and progression in coding projects strengthens logic. Being able to break down issues into small, separate parts and figure out how each is affecting the other will help students think in a systematic and objective way, rather than relying on solving problems emotionally.

(2) Problem-solving

Computers require specific instructions for it to work effectively. As such, students need to break down the problem and give direct and specific instructions for their program to work. Students have to be aware of and apply appropriate coding skills for different requirements or scenarios. Students that practice this will improve their ability, having broken down a problem that may seem complex or abstract, to recognise the optimal way that its solution can be articulated.

(3) Abstract thinking

Abstract thinking is the ability to think about objects, principles, and ideas that are not physically present, for example the use of analogies. Once students begin to learn languages like JavaScript or Python that are not immediately visualized, students will need to practice speculating and predicting results in how the interrelationships of the code happen as a whole.

(4) Project planning

Project is something that The Lab students does on a regular basis. It is proven that Coding is best learned through project-based learning. Students practice and learn planning by thinking through the steps necessary to achieve their end goal. In order to meet the deadline, set by the teacher, students learn how to assess their resources and knowledge to get the project done on time.

(5) Attention to detail

Coding is great practice for attention to detail. Not only from the perspective of the accuracy of the code itself, but also accounting for users’ needs; for example ensuring a well-designed user interface and experience. A savvy coder may develop a system to avoid repeated mistakes. Where errors are present, they will examine their work systematically. Experienced software developers often try to “break” programs to identify problems and areas of improvement before launching a product to the market. This iterative and creative process can be applied in your classroom as well. Get students to demo and test each other’s creations and see what they pick up on.

For more details on The Lab program, visit our website at: https://www.thelab.sg/programs/python-program/

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Why are Parents sending kids to Coding schools?

Coding has gone a long way.

Years ago, learning Coding is unheard-of for kids. Now, kids as young as 3 years old are learning it. The level of interests of parents sending kids to Coding schools is picking up speed.

Why is this so?

More children are being sent for computational thinking and coding lessons as parents increasingly see the value in starting them early in a manpower-hungry industry.

Children are now exposed to technology as soon as they are born, but it is better if my child engages with technology with a critical understanding rather than becoming a passive user.

 

In today’s digital age, most children learn to swipe and click before they can speak coherently or walk. Smartphones and tablets are their digital pacifiers, companions and entertainers. It is but natural, that many parents want their children to learn how to create the very technologies that they are dependent on.

 

They could be an artist, a doctor, a painter or a teacher. But what we do believe is that the coding and computational thinking will help them in excelling at anything they do in a digitally connected world.

 

Building games and apps are not the only reason children are being nudged into computer programming. There is a growing need for digital literacy, and children with easy access to technology will be at an advantage. Coding offers a chance to improve cognitive skills and develop computational thinking.

 

Interested to find out more? Visit The Lab Programs @ www.thelab.sg.

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Five reasons why coding is important for young kids

 

Here are five reasons why coding is important for young kids:

– Coding is another language.  

Coding teaches kids the basic principles of languages and functions. It teaches kids how they can be combined to create meaning from seemingly unrelated elements, and how different shapes represent concepts like variables or data types. It’s a way that kids learn by doing as opposed to being told what to do. 

– Coding fosters creativity. 

Coding requires kids to builds on their imaginative capacities. It requires them to think about new ways of solving problems with limited resources in order to produce something (a program) out of nothing but imagination alone.  

– Coding helps kids with math skills. 

Coding requires kids to think about quantities and measurements in a way that verbal descriptions don’t. This is something that’s difficult for many young people, which is why it becomes easy for them to confuse words like “more” or “less.” 

– Coding improves writing academic performance. 

Kids who learn how to code do better than their peers when they write essays. This is because the process of coding has taught them how to organize and break down information into chunks based on logical patterns so as not to be overwhelmed by any task at hand.  

– Coding helps kids become confident problem solvers.

Learning coding requires kids to solve problems all the time. The more experience they gain, the better problem solvers they become.

To find out more, join us for a free trial class for a fun-filled experience!

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The Importance of Technology… and Coding

 

COVID-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point—and transformed business forever. Digital adoption has taken a quantum leap at both the organizational and industry levels. More so than ever, the understanding of technology is paramount even to a lay man on the street.

As such, kids should learn coding, not just to aspire to be a programmer, but to have a better understanding of the technologies around them. The skills acquired through learning coding goes a long way as well.

Understanding machine operations, conditionals, and progression in coding projects strengthens logic. Being able to break down issues into small, separate parts and figure out how each is affecting the other will help kids think in a systematic and objective way, rather than relying on solving problems emotionally.

In The Lab Singapore, we teach kids coding but focus strongly on learning through play to make it fun and enjoyable for them. Play is far more powerful for children, than many parents realize. It is the key to learning. Researchers and educators across the world have found that play can help enrich learning and develop key skills such as inquiry, expression, experimentation, and teamwork.

Our goal at The Lab is to help students learn to ask questions, express themselves, collaborate with others, and take creative risks. We also want them to retain their natural curiosity and to never lose the excitement of learning something new. All those things are achieved by making learning fun for children.

To find out more about us and the team, visit our website at www.thelab.sg!

 

 

 

 

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How can The Lab Singapore help in my child’s DSA application?

 

Meet Jay!

He used coding as one of his talent areas for his DSA application into SST (School of Science and Technology). Jay started coding at a very young age and is one of the pioneer students of The Lab Singapore.

Throughout his journey with us, Jay has collected several achievements which serves well for his DSA portfolio.

Here are some of the activities that we provide to create a comprehensive portfolio for your child:

Project-based curriculum for all students

One of the key focuses of the curriculum is the ability of students to apply and abstract programming concepts that they have learnt. This is done through the completion of a project or projects before graduating from a The Lab program.

Project based learning encourages students to develop a balanced, diverse approach to solving real-world problems. Studies have shown that project-based learning is linked to significant improvements in student test scores, attendance, and classroom engagement.

Monthly awards for students 10-16 years old

The Lab Singapore has several internal awards for a student to be placed on the leaderboard. We conduct monthly coding competitions and several merit awards such as The Fastest Coder, The Best Project and The Best Code awards for your child to collect while having fun coding with us!

Annual The Lab Hackathon for students 10-16 years old

The Lab Singapore has more than 500 students. Because we are that big, our internal competitions are highly prestigious. We organized an internal hackathon for students in The Lab 10-16 years old program in June so that students can display their coding prowess and exhibit enhance teamwork and collaborative skills amongst members.

Annual International/National Competitions for students 7 years old and above

For students who are below 12 years old:

For students who have completed The Lab 10-16 years old Advanced program: The Lab Singapore introduced a Competitive Programming Course for students who are serious in uplifting their coding skills. The course is focused on participation in international competitions. The preparation work is highly intensive, and students are required to commit between 6 – 9 months.

Letter of Recommendation

The Lab Singapore provides a letter of recommendation and consolidates the list of achievements done by your child throughout his/her coding journey with us.

Join us for a free trial class now.

Register @ www.thelab.sg!

 

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The Lab Singapore is on Cheekiemonkies

The Lab Singapore is highly honoured to have Kelvin – blogger of Cheekiemonkies to review us.

I’m Kelvin, a Daddy Blogger based in Singapore and most recently, an author of two editions of ‘Got Kids, Go Where?’ – a book of 550 activities for parents to do with their kids in Singapore. I have guest written for Yahoo! Singapore Parenting website and was invited as a speaker at Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2015, and a panelist for Singapore Children’s Forum 2015. I was appointed a judge for Singapore Tourism Awards 2016 & 2017, and a Council Member of the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD) Family & Community and Families for Life Council.

I also co-founded Daddy Matters – an online community of active dads as well as dads who want to be active in promoting the message of active fathering to everyone.

6 Ways The Lab makes it different for kids compared to other Coding Schools

Let’s face it – coding is the new language of the future.

If you didn’t already know, all upper primary students (Primary 4 to 6) will attend compulsory coding enrichment classes from next year onwards. The 10-hour Code for Fun programme will teach students computational thinking(this is a HUGE thing and I will get to that in a bit, I promise), coding concepts and problem-based learning.

For Ayd, he has always wanted to pick up coding. In fact, he even tried learning on his own through YouTube videos with varying success. I think it was because there was no structure and curriculum so he could not exactly keep track of what he has and hasn’t learnt.

So when The Lab came calling, he was over the moon. Ale was also keen to try coding so together with Ayd, they were signed up for their coding sessions.

The Lab is a coding school with coding programmes for kids aged 4 and above. They are the first Coding and Robotics school in Singapore that runs an adaptive learning management system to personalise each and every student based on their learning abilities and behaviours.

All very good on paper but how about in reality? Ayd and Ale have been attending coding sessions at The Lab for three months now and I have to say I am mightily impressed – by both its curriculum AND learning environment. I have been able to keep track of their progress through The Lab’s portal and one of the projects they have completed so far is to write a coding sequence for a motion sensor. For once, they know something that I don’t! 😂

So if you are considering to send your child to pick up coding, here are 6 ways The Lab makes it different for kids compared to other coding schools:

NO CLASSROOMS

The Lab is big on cultivating an innovative learning environment to foster ideas among its students. Hence, the entire premise is modeled on the idea of a playground where there are no walls separating one kid from another, i.e. there is no classroom setting!

And what do kids do best at a playground? They children move and explore, they invent games and stories and they collaborate with peers and negotiate conflicts. Of course, they are also supervised by adults throughout, but they lead their own experience.

And this is exactly what The Lab is all about.

The open concept layout empowers kids by giving them the responsibility towards their own learning progression. Tables are structured in groups of 4 and 8 to increase collaboration with peers.

And unlike in a clasroom setting, The Lab practices flexible seating which allows kids to choose where they work and with whom. Ayd and Ale could be sitting at one table for one session and at another for another week, depending on the project they are working on. Or even on the floor!

KIDS LEARN AT THEIR OWN PACE

Every child is different in his or her own right. Some will pick up coding faster than others, while some will show more interest in various aspects of coding. But if all kids are lumped together in the same classroom and sit through the same coding class, there may be a risk of some kids being not able to catch up… and eventually, lose interest in coding completely.

It is entirely different at The Lab.

What I love about its sessions is kids of various ages can be attending the SAME session together. That is the beauty of the school whereby it has classes for all ages running at the same time.

So Ayd and Ale could be attending the same session at The Lab, but they will be totally doing different things. It all depends on their individual progress, and teachers will be present to provide any assistance if they should require it.

And parents will be able to keep track of their kids’ progress remotely, thanks to The Lab’s parent portal.

Just log in weekly to get an update of your kids’ weekly projects – I can even see the time taken and number of attempts needed to complete each individual challenge, all while sipping my coffee while waiting for them to be done. 😆

 

And beyond all these data, each student is stringently assessed by a cutting-edge technology system powered by data analytics, supported with highly qualified facilitators. They closely monitor the progress of the student to ensure that he/she is learning in the most efficient way.

PAY A MONTHLY FEE & GO AS MANY TIMES AS YOU WANT

For kids who are aged between 10 and 16, the fees are perhaps the most worth it in my opinion. Pay just $280 per month (on a 12-month term) and the kid can attend the coding sessions as many times as he or she wants in a month. Want to go every alternate day to finish your challenges quickly? No problem!

COMPUTATIONAL THINKING FTW

The Lab is the first coding school in Singapore, if not in Asia, to formalize a Computational Thinking and Programming curriculum for students aged 4 and above.

Wait, so what is Computational Thinking?

Computational thinking teaches you how to tackle large problems by breaking them down into a sequence of smaller, more manageable problems. It allows you to tackle complex problems in efficient ways that operate at huge scale. It helps you go from specific solutions to general ones.

In short, it is an ESSENTIAL skill for the new world that our kids are growing up in. So even if one does not work in the IT industry in future, developing computational thinking skills teaches you a new way to think about the world.

At The Lab, the student not only learns to be proficient in Python, but also builds skills in computational thinking, logic and problem solving, analytical skills, and information processing. Students who learn how to think computationally increase their ability to think logically, solve complex problems and to think creatively. These skills facilitate and increase a student’s analytically power to better solve traditional school subjects such as Science and Math.

EXPERIENTIAL CURRICULUM

Most coding schools’ programmes are not curriculum based and do not have clear learning objectives against which to assess student progress. But The Lab has clear learning objectives and formalized assessment. From the time taken to finish a challenge, to number of attempts taken, all these are captured and recorded in its cloud database, which parents can easily access via the parent portal.

And even better, The Lab’s curriculum is an experiential one as it removes students from traditional classroom setting and allows them to immerse themselves into real-world problems. Its curriculum is well-documented and reviewed by Dr. Oka Kurniawan, who is the Senior Lecturer for Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

Kids will learn core computational thinking concepts such as decomposition, pattern recognition, and abstraction as well as programming tools such as flowcharts… stuff which had Ale initially stumped but she gradually picked it up and was writing flowcharts easily. And that really got me impressed!

BEYOND THE CLASSROOM

Equipping a child with coding skills is only one side of the coin but enriching his/her emotional, social, artistic and creative attributes will serve to prepare each child to meet the challenges of the real world. The Lab has in place various programs that aids in student development:

Monthly Members’ Competition
The competition is designed to enhance teamwork and collaborative skills amongst members. The competition requires little coding skills and hence includes members of all levels to learn coding in a fun and competitive way.

Leaderboard
The Lab Leaderboard is to introduce excitement, energy and enthusiasm from students. Gamification is introduced into the curriculum to cultivate a fun learning environment for the students.

Participate in National Competitions
The Lab participates in Robotics and STEM related competitions that places a student’s credentials at an advantage, particularly for DSA-SEC (Direct Secondary Admission – Secondary).

Student Industry Tours
The Lab organizes student industry tours. The Lab ethos behind such tours is to expose the students to a different landscape, variety of people thereby encouraging interaction, ignite career inspirations, exchange of ideas and to acquire the knowledge about the basic functionality of a company.

Mentorship Program
The Lab engages established industry veterans to act as Mentors to guide its students in charting a career path ahead in technology. They work to provide insights to aspiring students on specific career sectors, how to get ahead and gain tips to navigate the job market.

On top of it all, The Lab makes it FUN for kids to attend its classes. Ayd and Ale keep bugging me to remember to register them for the following week’s session and are genuinely disappointed when they have to miss a session due to some events on certain weeks – which I guess is great testament to the great job that The Lab is doing!

FREE CODING TRIAL CLASS!
Let your kids try out for one session at The Lab for FREE! Register for the free trial class at www.thelab.sgEnter the promo code CM$50OFF when you sign up for the free trial to get a $50* off one-time membership fees!

*Not to be applied in conjunction with other discounts

Useful Information

The Lab
Address: Katong V, 30 East Coast Rd #03-15/16, Singapore 428751
and
Wisteria Mall, 598 Yishun Ring Rd #01-35/36, Singapore 768698 (Opening in Nov 2019)
Tel. No: WhatsApp chat (+65) 8767-4557
Email: contact@thelab.sg
Rates: https://www.thelab.sg/membership/
Website

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5 Top Questions Parents Ask About Coding For Their Kids

Here are the 5 Top Questions Parents Ask about Coding for their kids:

1. Why should my child learn Coding even though he/ she does not wish to work in the IT industry in the future?

Learning to code is not able being software engineers or programmers, it is about developing computational thinking skills. Computational thinking is how software engineers solve problems. It combines mathematics, logic and algorithms, and teaches you a new way to think about the world.

Computational thinking teaches you how to tackle large problems by breaking them down into a sequence of smaller, more manageable problems. It allows you to tackle complex problems in efficient ways that operate at huge scale. It involves creating models of the real world with a suitable level of abstraction, and focus on the most pertinent aspects. It helps you go from specific solutions to general ones.

2. Isn’t programming too complex for kids? I have heard of C, Java – how can young kids learn those?

Traditionally programming required knowledge of syntax, that is, the use of sequences of text including words, numbers, and punctuation. You are right, this is a complexity that children cannot successfully navigate.

But visual-based programming, such as Blockly, that uses blocks like pre-created code, and ensures kids can focus on the fundamental programming logic, rather than syntax.

Children can easily drag and drop to write a program (that is, build a game, a story) that works. Kids don’t get frustrated with a program not working because of a missing semi colon!

3. When should I start my child to learn how to code?

It’s common knowledge that children under the age of 7 acquire foreign languages extremely rapidly. So why not the computer vernacular?  Researchers have found that the best age range to begin teaching children a second language is between 2 and

Childhood and early adolescence are the critical age ranges for children to learn anything, including programming, because their brains are still developing and learning how to learn.

4. I don’t know anything about computers or programming. How do I know how he./ she is progressing?

Every member of The Lab is meticulously tracked by our system. From the time taken to finish a challenge, to number of attempts taken, all these are captured and recorded in our cloud database. Parents can log in into our system to see your child’s learning progression. Our curriculum is well-documented and reviewed by Dr. Oka Kurniawan, a professor in SUTD.

5. There are so many programming languages. Which one should my child learn?

The easiest coding language to learn for the first time learners is Python. Python is open source and free to use, even for commercial applications. Thanks to its flexibility, Python is one of the most widely used high-level programming languages today.

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What is Computational Thinking?

Computational Thinking has been identified as the bedrock of 21st century skills which anyone should have.

1 What is computational thinking? Wing first defined computational thinking in her 2006 in ACM Communications?Computational thinking involves solving problems,designing systems,and understanding human behaviour, by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science?

2 One of the biggest contribution of computational thinking is,as stated,in the area of solving problems.Computational thinking helps one to ask how difficult the problem is to solve,and what the best way to solve the problem is.In this article we will share a problem solving framework inspired from how computer scientists solve problems.This framework is called PCDIT.

PCDIT

PCDIT is a problem solving framework to help novice programmers to write code.

At the same time,we can apply such framework to other context and situations even where computer code is not involved.The framework consists of five non-linear steps that programmers do in solving problems.It starts with P which stands for (P) roblem formulation.

(P)ROBLEM FORMULATION

In this step, one asks questions like: What is the input to this problem? What do we have in hand to start with? What is the output of the problem? What do we want to achieve? What is the computation involved? Or what is the process we need to do? Though this steps is simple as it sounds, novice programmers may have difficulties in identifying the input and the expected output.Sometimes they don’t ask further questions like what kind of input they have,what the domain of the input is,or even what the boundary cases are.

(C)ASES

Thinking through this problem formulation may sound abstract,and that is where step C comes into
play.This step stands for (C)ases,or in programming is more commonly called Test Cases. Rather than
jumping straight into implementing a solution, a programmer designs test cases based on the
problem formulation.Designing test cases may help us to formulate the problem in a more precise manner.It may also help us to think of the boundary cases.The main point of this step is to go into the concrete example and detailsof the various cases in this problem.

(D)ESIGN OF ALGORITHM

Thinking about various cases does not only help us to re-formulate the problem to be more precise, it also helps us to bridge to step D,which stands for (D)esign of Algorithm. By looking at the Cases and work on
those cases, we can start writing our step by step approach in solving the problem.These steps
constitute a solution to the problem,an algorithm.The key element in this step is to write those steps and
re-write them again.One should refine those steps, looking for patterns and common steps that is to be done again and again. Almost all algorithmic solutions comes into three kind of basic structures: sequential, branching,and iteration.We will discuss these patterns in another articles, but now, we are ready for implementation.

(T) ESTING

The last step is called T for (T)esting. One should always test their implementation and see if their solution works.What may not be obvious is that such testing should not be done only after the whole implementation is finished.Rather,it should be done in small bites as the solution is being implemented. One should learn to test in steps as well as to test for all the possible cases.We can see how these steps may not be linear as we can discover more cases or even found out that the solution may need some refinement.There maybe cases when we need to refine our problem formulation.

In summary, PCDIT framework which is used to help programmers writing a computer code can be used consciously or unconsciously by anyone in any other problem solving situations.Such computational thinking helps one to solve problems systematically.Such thinking helps one to solve the problems more thoroughly by analyzing different cases of the problems.Such thinking encourages iteration and refinement of the solutions as well as testing those solutions in bites and in big chunks.Maybe that is why computational thinking is identified as the bedrock of 21st century skills for today’s world and the future.

References

(1) Kurshan,B.Teaching 21st Century Skills For 21st Century Success Requires An Ecosystem Approach
https://www.forbes.com/sites/barbarakurshan/2017/07/18/teaching-21st-century-skills-for-21st-century-successrequires-an-ecosystem-approach/#116570f73fe6 (accessed Jul 24,2018).
(2) Wing,J.M.Computational Thinking.Commun. ACM 2006,49 (3),33?35.

Download this White Paper – Computational Thinking

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