Preschools in Singapore teaches Computational Thinking

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This article first appeared on “Tech in Asia” in 2017 and showcased how Singapore puts more effort in building up children’s digital and technical skills by introducing computational thinking lessons to preschool children aged 4-6. KidsEdu STEM takes inspiration from Singapore’s trail-blazing work of incorporating computational thinking in early childhood education.

As more people agree on the importance of digital literacy and learning to code, another consensus seems to be emerging: better to start ‘em young.

Singapore-based Jules is one company that’s taking this to heart. It’s developed School of Fish, a curriculum that’s aimed to promote and teach computational thinking to preschool children.

Computational thinking is a problem solving method inspired by how software coders solve programming problems. It involves breaking down problems into smaller parts, recognizing patterns, and developing step-by-step solutions. It promotes a structured, analytical way of thinking that’s essential in approaching coding, while still encouraging creative thinking.

“Preschoolers can learn and improve their digital literacy, even at a young age”

While there are several websites that provide tools for parents to get their kids familiar with coding, Jules has created a structured approach that preschools can integrate into their teaching programs.

The firm is working with a number of preschools in Singapore to integrate School of Fish into their curriculum, like Carpe Diem, Sherwood Childcare, and most recently with Cherie Hearts – a subsidiary of educational childcare company G8 Education. 345 pupils from 23 Cherie Hearts centers got started on the curriculum in January.

The lessons, delivered to preschoolers via tablets, feature interactive teacher characters (or “learning buddies”), games, activities, and videos. There is also a dashboard for parents to keep track of their child’s progress and performance.

“Through School of Fish, we believe more preschoolers can learn and improve their digital literacy, even at a young age. The learning process must be fun and interactive for children,” says Jules founder Jonathan Chan.

Jules’ computational thinking curriculum for preschool children. Photo credit: Jules.

Concerns as to whether children in that age range are too young to get started on digital literacy and computational thinking could be quelled by just watching your average four-year-old use an iPad these days. However, preschools do take care to limit the time their pupils spend on the curriculum.

Singapore has put more effort in building up children’s digital and technical skills. 19 secondary schools in the city-state have started teaching programming at the O level this year, phasing out previous computer studies subjects. The new classes teach Python, previously only taught at A level.

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