“Start Small Dream Big” doubles in size to inculcate strong values in children with support from President’s Challenge
This year, the Early Childhood Development Agency’s (ECDA) “Start Small Dream Big” initiative will involve some 20,000 children from over 300 preschool centres taking part in community service projects over a period of six months. This is double the number of 150 preschools which participated in the inaugural run of the initiative last year. Similar to the inaugural run, this year’s “Start Small Dream Big” will also be organised in collaboration with President’s Challenge.
According to an Early Childhood Parenting Landscape Study conducted by ECDA in 2014, parents ranked moral and character development higher than academic achievements and material success. In addition, 90% of parents surveyed said they wished their children to be gracious, caring and become a useful person in life. Through the “Start Small Dream Big” initiative, pre-schoolers get the opportunity to learn values such as responsibility, empathy and compassion for others. Parents are also invited to work with pre-schoolers and teachers on these projects.
Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, who launched this year’s “Start Small Dream Big” initiative at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, said: “I am happy to see overwhelming support for ‘Start Small Dream Big’. It encourages our children to become aware of what is happening around them, think of what they can do to contribute to a good cause, and build values through action”. At the launch, over 1,500 pre-school children and 300 teachers pledged their commitment to make a difference to the community.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the “Start Small Dream Big” Project?
The “Start Small Dream Big” Project was initiated by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) to encourage pre-schools to create authentic platforms for children to innovate, problem-solve and tap on their unique strengths to help others. It was first launched in 2015 as part of SG50 and the 15th anniversary of President’s Challenge, an annual series of fund-raising and volunteer activities. ECDA works with participating centres to design and implement community service projects over a period of six months.
2. What are the objectives of “Start Small Dream Big”?
As a society, we aspire to nurture each child holistically, including character building, so that they are well-prepared for life-long learning, active and responsible citizenry and success in later life. Through “Start Small Dream Big”, we hope to encourage young children to use their own resources and creativity to give back to society, and in the process, instil the spirit of giving and good values such as care for others, humility, kindness and compassion.
3. What is the age range of children that will be participating in “Start Small Dream Big” and what is expected of the children?
The children are mainly from the K1 and K2 levels (i.e. 5-6 years old). The pre-schools are encouraged to involve and guide the children in developing, planning and implementing the community projects. Under the guidance of teachers, the children should play an active role in deciding who they want to help and what they want to do. Parents will also be involved in supporting their child’s community projects.
4. What are some of the community projects that centres will be carrying out?
The participating preschool centres have come up with various types of meaningful community projects. For example, several preschools are involved in crafts & bake sales and food donation drives for various charity organisations and elderly homes. Others are involved in caring for the environment, such as cleaning up the beach, parks and playgrounds. Some projects are closer to home, as they raise awareness on dengue and haze to their family and residents in the area. Children also extend their compassion for animals as they embark on projects that care for animals and their welfare, including endangered animals and guide dogs for the visually handicapped.
5. What kind of support will ECDA provide to the participating centres?
ECDA has provided a resource package to all participating centres. The resource package includes Start Small Dream Big pledge cards, bucket hats, mascot stickers, hanging mobiles and posters. ECDA will also provide training for teachers to build their capability in organising community service programmes, engaging community partners, and mapping out learning outcomes. Further, ECDA will link them to like-minded community partners and create opportunities for centres to share best practices.
6. How will the “Start Small Dream Big” projects be showcased?
The community service projects by pre-school centres will culminate in an exhibition at a “Start Small Dream Big” Finale in October 2016. An e-book will be published to share the projects implemented.
7. Which are the community and government agencies that ECDA is partnering with in 2016 for Start Small Dream Big?
Centres are welcome to engage the various community and government agencies for their projects. ECDA has also worked with many agencies to support centres in relevant community projects. Some examples are Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), National Parks Board (NParks), National Library Board (NLB), SPORTS SG, Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), National Environment Agency (NEA), Public Utilities Board (PUB) and the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM).
The Early Childhood Parenting Landscape Study
The Early Childhood Parenting Landscape Study was a nationwide study conducted by ECDA in 2014. The study involved more than 3,800 parents of young children from birth to eight years of age. The study, done in collaboration with SIM University, was designed to provide a landscape perspective of parental knowledge and beliefs of early years childhood development, parental aspirations for their children and their parenting practices.
What Parents Know
The study found parents to be knowledgeable about child development. Most parents (in excess of 90%) indicated all seven domains of child development as important or very important. These domains include physical, cognitive, language, literacy, social, emotional, and moral development. By level of importance, parents cited physical (26%) and intellectual development which encompasses cognitive and language development (25%) as the topmost important development domains. Moral development (23%) was also prominent in the minds of parents (see Figure 1). Parents tend to place emphasis on their children’s cognitive and language development in the earlier years compared to literacy which increased in emphasis as children reached school-going age.
Parental Attitudes and Aspirations
Parents tend to put the happiness of their child first, over academic and other material successes. When asked for their aspirations for their children, moral and character development was ranked higher than academic achievements and material success. Aspirations for a happy life, being gracious and caring, being a useful person and a good citizen were each scored as important or very important by more than 90% of parents. Of the 13 options presented to parents, academic success ranked 10th in importance (see Figure 2). More than 1 in 5 parents did not indicate academic success as “important” or “very important”.