putting on shoes is a self help skills

Self-Help Skills in Preschoolers

Self-help skills are the day-to-day tasks that people engage in as they are crucial in our daily lives. Such skills include cleaning up after oneself, self-feeding, carrying one’s own belongings, and the list goes on.

As much as these tasks are usually done by young children with much support given by adults, the term ‘self-help’ suggests that these skills are expected to be acquired independently to sustain their very basic needs in their daily lives.

But how can we be so sure that our children will eventually get there? How was it like for us when we were growing up? When was the last time your parents put on your shoes for you? How is it like for our children now that we are parents or caregivers ourselves? What can we do as caregivers to help children get better with such tasks?

Nature VS Nurture

These everyday tasks are things we, adults, often take for granted as those tasks are so in our nature. However, to children, these tasks require skills that need to be nurtured, giving them the opportunity to learn, practice and acquire.

Thinking back on our childhood days, can you recall when was the last time your parent put on shoes for you? Probably not, as most of us may not have any memories of our childhood before the age of 3. And if we cannot recall our parents doing some of the everyday tasks for us, this would probably mean that we have been accomplishing these tasks independently at a really young age. Because we were given the exposure and opportunities to learn, practice and acquire these self-help skills, we can accomplish the everyday tasks so confidently that all these daily routines just become so natural.

Overdoing Vs Supporting

Don’t be surprised that we, the caregivers, are sometimes the biggest thing standing in their way. We are so often in a hurry and it is so much easier to do things for our children, and this is a sign of caregivers overdoing it. When we overdo it, we unknowingly take away the precious opportunities for children to learn, practice and acquire these self-help skills.

Instead, support them, by slowing down and giving them your trust that with gentle encouragement and bite-size guidance, they will be able to do it on their own with you around them and eventually, being able to do it independently.

As children approach self-help skills, it’s given that they will do things differently, messier and longer than what is expected from them. But as children gain finesse through trial-and-errors, they will achieve mastery.


Benefits of Supporting Children with their Self-help Skills

Most young children like to feel independent and will start taking pride in what they do when they can accomplish tasks independently. More often than not, they still need our constant encouragement to be reminded that they are capable, and we believe that they CAN do it.

Having said that, the caregiver’s patience and gentle guidance will mean a lot as the children need to be given plenty of time and opportunities to take on and practice on accomplishing different tasks on their own. But this choice of yours will definitely benefit them in the long run as it encourages independence and self-confidence in our children.


Let’s consistently encourage our children in acquiring their self-help skills,


Capella Preschool team

physical activity in preschooler

Physical Activity for Preschool Children

We live in a digital era where the nature of our lifestyle is more sedentary. We spend the majority of our time in front of the digital screens as technology is undebatably part of our lives. While the invention of digital screens and other mobile devices is a quantum leap of this age that brings us so much convenience, there is an increasing number of researches highlighting the negative effects of it. One of the negative effects is physical inactivity which leads to poorer body coordination and obesity.

Our Children Move Less Nowadays

A study has shown that one-third of more than 70,000 young teens lead sedentary lives, spending more than three hours a day watching television or playing on the computer. (Gruthold et al., 2010). This is supported by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) study done on global health in September 2018, stating that one in three Singaporeans does not get enough physical activity.

With this trend on a rise, Singapore’s government bodies have worked together to ensure that sufficient physical activities are catered to children to counter the negative effects that people are facing in this digital era.

Why Physical Activities are Important for Children

Physical development is one of the initial fundamental skills that is largely focused on because these are essential skills that will help them to gain strength and flexibility in the movement of their body.

physical activity soccer playroll the ball physical education

In order for children to be more skilful in controlling and coordinating their body movements, it is important that physical education is in place to provide them with opportunities and experiences to enhance their fundamental movement skills and increase their movement competencies. Given sufficient time to explore and practice, children will become more competent in demonstrating motor skills and applying these skills to prepare them to take on sports in the future.

On top of that, it contributes to the holistic development of the whole child, such as promoting mental alertness, creative thinking, decision making, physical fitness, better physical coordination, self-esteem, self-confidence. Children who are competent in fundamental movement skills are proven able to participate successfully in a range of sports and more likely to assume leadership roles, as they perceive themselves positively (Teo-Koh, 2018).

physical activity ball Physical activity win

What We Can Do as Caregivers

While it may seem like children are naturally progressing in basic movement skills such as walking and running, the fact is they need guidance and practice to acquire many other movement skills, such as leaping, galloping, hopping, throwing, jumping, catching, kicking, etc. Without proper demonstrations and opportunities to practice, these movements may not be “encoded” in their brain and they may not be able to use these skills to manoeuvre in their physical environment.

physical activity jumping

It is also good for caregivers to be actively involved so as to keep the children motivated. This way, children will find joy in movement. This lays the foundation for them to continue being active and more inclined to incorporate regular physical activities later on in life.

Physical activity

During physical activities or play, do give them guidance and ample time to keep practicing and perfecting the skills that they are acquiring. To keep their interests up high, remember to always use positive reinforcement.

Physical activity fun


Do check out our article about the benefits of cookery experiences at preschool: Cooking with Children at Schools – Why it is Important.


Happy Reading,


Capella Preschool Team



Guthold, R., Cowan, M. J., Autenrieth, C.S., Kann, L., Riley, L.M. (2010). Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Among School Children: A 34-Country Comparison. The Journal of Pediatrics

Lai, L. (2018, September 6). One in three Singaporeans not active enough. Retrieved from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/one-in-three-singaporeans-not-active-enough

Teo-Koh, S. M. (2018). Fun Start Move Smart! Fundamental Movement Skills for Growing Active Learners. Sport Singapore.

crayon resistant process art

The What, Why and How of Process Art in Preschool

Art lessons used to be about copying the teacher, following instructions and creating the same-looking art pieces.

We call this process as product-focused art, where there IS a right and wrong way to work on the project and typically require a specific skill and technique to create the artwork. We are glad to share with you that the current preschool art experiences are moving away from product-focused and work towards process-focused.

In process-focused art, the children are provided with a variety of materials to choose from. They can explore different ways of using and manipulating those materials. They do not necessarily need to create something recognizable or “nice” in the adult’s standard. They can take their time to learn about the properties of each material and what happens when they combine more than two materials together. With these constructed experiences, their subsequent artworks will be more elaborated and distinguished.

According to NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children), process-focused art is the most developmentally appropriate art experiences.

process art marvellous mess process art mess

What is Process Art in Preschool?

Process Art, as the name describes it, is an art experience where the focus is on the process of creating and not the end product. The artist has the freedom to direct the experience, choose the materials, techniques, and medium available. It celebrates discovery through exploration in different ways to maneuver the materials and experience.

The final products are always unique from one child to another despite the same materials used. There will be no cookie-cutter art pieces on the class bulletin board or “wall of fame”. The audience may think an outcome of the specific art-process experience is nice, that’s great, but the end product is never the focus of process art. Sometimes, the audience may consider the end product not visually nice, that’s okay too, as the little artist actually used that particular experience to learn something about the materials, medium, colours, lines or techniques. It is a valuable experience for his/her art practice and development as an artist.

process art foam

Why is Process Art important?

Process art is freeing without step-by-step instructions, and any samples to follow. It is entirely driven by the child’s choice and motivation. This encourages a greater sense of ownership over their art because it is all their own choice and work.

The children need to bring in their curiosity, and also their positive attitudes towards play, exploration and discovery when doing the process-art. As they learn the best through play and open-ended activities, process-art is just the perfect opportunity that allows them to explore, ask questions, and see how things work. It also allows them room to be themselves, to focus, to make their own decisions, to take risks and just to create!

There are also other benefits of process-art such as practicing motor-skills, co-operation, wondering, thinking, predicting, planning, making connections, daydreaming, revamping ideas, looking at things closely, noticing details, generating ideas, counting, recognizing shapes, experimenting, and many more. It is endless!

benefits of process art by art spark

How to Encourage Process-Art at Home

A simple setting with a piece of blank paper and a variety of drawing materials should be provided in the environment for your child to use. Extra pieces of blank paper or a paper roll should be readily accessible. The size of the paper matters too. If the paint is made available, provide other tools besides paintbrushes. It could be lego blocks, ribbons, potato mashers, feathers, popsicle sticks, pom-poms, and other random things. These can be great non-traditional brushes that inspire creative thinking, experimentation, and out-of-the-box artwork.

Allow your child to choose what they want to draw with, what they will draw and how they want to draw. Let your child glue more than two googly eyes wherever he/she wanted.

Refrain from using compliments such as good job, nice painting, beautiful drawing and the similar as these will indicate the “right” way to draw something. Comment on the art elements used by the child, such as the lines, colours, shapes, textures, space, and patterns. For example, “It is interesting to see how you mix the blue and the orange together.”

Keep in mind that process art for kids can get messy. Do plan on how to deal with the mess during and after the experience. If there is no access to a clean water source nearby, have baby wipes ready in place. If the paint is used and staining the clothes is one of the concerns, put on a smock, an art apron or an oversize old t-shirt over your child’s clothes.

Most importantly, accept that messiness is part of the process 🙂

Do check out our article about the benefits of cookery experiences at preschool: Cooking with Children at Schools – Why it is Important.


Let’s make time for process art,


Capella Preschool team

separation anxiety in preschoolers

Understanding Separation Anxiety in Preschoolers

A simple act of waving goodbye to their parents involves a certain complexity of emotions for preschoolers, regardless of the duration of separation. The biggest feeling that usually surfaces up when anticipating separation is anxiety. People usually feel anxious because of the unknown and uncertainty that come after the separation. This anxiousness will lead people to feel other mixed emotions such as fear, feeling lost and frustrations.

As adults, we know how to manage and express these emotions in different socially-acceptable ways. However, it is not the case for our young ones. They will usually apply the ways they know how to express those feelings, which include screaming, crying, clinging, rolling on the floor, hitting and kicking. On some occasions, separation anxiety may lead to nightmares and insomniacs, which are just part and parcel of adjusting to the changes that are happening in their lives.

Why Does Separation Anxiety Happen to children?

Fearing the unknown is the cause of separation anxiety, in this case, children experience separation anxiety because they do not know:

  1. How long they are going to be away from their parents
  2. Would their parents even come back for them
  3. Is the new environment safe for them

How Do We Handle Separation Anxiety?


  • Children are very sensitive to the feelings that parents emote. Thus, it is important for parents to stay calm and composed. We understand that in the process of going through separation anxiety, the parents can also be very stressed and anxious which is expected. In the case that the parents or caregivers need to express their emotions, it is advisable to do it after the parents have sent the child into the school and not in front of him/her. Seeing that the parents and caregivers are as anxious or even more anxious than the child will heighten up the existing anxiety, which in this case will not help the situation.
  • Parents should always inform their children where they are going and when they will be back to pick them up. It is strongly advisable to keep the promises made to them and be on time when picking them up.
  • Parents should reassure children that they will be in school with the teachers who will take good care of them and have fun with them. Make it visible to the children that the parents trust the teachers hence they can trust the teachers too.
  • Parents should create a short and simple goodbye ritual with their children and stick with that consistently, especially during the process of easing the anxiety. For example, waving goodbye followed by a big hug and a kiss on his/her forehead. After that, the parents should walk away confidently from them and let the teachers take over.


  • Do not hold onto your crying child tightly, instead, confidently pass your child to the teacher-in-charge because this act of passing shows children that the parents trust the teacher and therefore, they can feel safe with her.
  • Do not prolong the goodbye process. Some children will try to drag the goodbye longer by negotiating or clinging on to the parents tighter than usual. Stick to the consistent goodbye ritual and keep it short and sweet.
  • Do not disappear when you realize your child is not looking, because this act of disappearing will result in your child fearing of the unknown. In this case, the children will no longer be able to predict what causes the parents to go missing, when and why they suddenly go missing. This will lead to a feeling of helplessness.
  • Do not appear again because you realized that your child is still crying, because this will send a signal to the child that when he/she cries, daddy or mummy will come back for them immediately. This action will also prolong the anxiety as they will attempt for more intense, longer and louder cry, thinking that this action will bring the parents back like the day before.

Separation Anxiety is NOT Forever

Well, the good news is separation anxiety is a phase that every child will go through in the process of understanding the concept of time, temporary partings and managing their emotions. Rest assured this will not happen forever and soon enough, your child will wave goodbye to you and walk into school independently by himself/herself. Having said that, it is always important to work closely with the school and take necessary measures to ease the transition for your children.

Do check out our article about choosing the right preschool for your child: What is the Best Preschool in Singapore for My Child?


Happy Reading,

Capella Preschool Team

cooking with children

Cooking with Children at Schools: Why it is Important

Cooking with little ones is not limited to just baking cookies or squeezing oranges to make orange juice. It is about empowering children to practice life skills, applying what they have learnt or are learning, encouraging healthy eating and so much more. 

Have you seen your child pretending to cook while they are playing? I am sure it has happened many times when your little one(s) run back and forth serving different “dishes” to you. Have you ever wondered, “why do they like to do that so much?” 

Well, perhaps it is because they really want to be in the kitchen doing all these things that they see their parents and grandparents doing!

So why not give them real-life experiences in addition to exposing them to pretend plays only? Let’s start by allowing them to get involved in the kitchen.

Wait, what?! Why should we let them hands-on and cook when all we get is a big mess, unsightly dishes and a lot to clean up?

cooking at preschool

Despite all the mess and the hurricane-aftermath that will happen in your kitchen, we should STILL let them be involved because of the benefits of cookery activities at a young age.

Cooking is Learning

When adults cook, we cook by following a recipe and hope that the dish we are making turns out like what the recipe says it would be.

When children cook, so much more is going on. They will have the opportunity to read or even write recipes, understand sequences, follow step-by-step instructions and most importantly learn about safety in the kitchen.

cooking at preschool cutting fruits watermelon cooking at preschool

They can also put their mathematical understanding into practice, as cooking will require them to measure and count correctly.

They are practicing their eye-hand coordination skills to pour, mix, stir, squeeze, tear and knead. While doing these actions, they also learn the action-verbs used.

The best part is that they can have fun and learn all of these concepts at the same time.

cooking at preschool orange juice

Cooking is an Adventure

When children are involved in the cooking process, they feel a sense of achievement when they have “cooked” something and would gladly eat it or at least try it. There is also a sense of familiarity as they have observed how the ingredients change from the beginning to the end. They also had a chance to transform the ingredients into different forms.

cooking at preschool orange jelly

Don’t be surprised to see a child eating unseasoned vegetables cooked in boiling water when he usually doesn’t even want to touch any vegetables in a bowl of soup during lunchtime. 

cooking at preschool orange blender

Cooking is a Life-Skill

Cooking is an important life-skill that will come in handy for the rest of their lives. Under any situation, they will be able to whip up something to eat. So we don’t have to worry about them going hungry!

The earlier the child picks up cooking the easier it is to apply this life-skill in the future. The interests and experiences encourage them to explore possibilities of making different dishes using similar ingredients, building their confidence in cooking.

Besides that, cooking is also one special way that children can use to communicate and express themselves.

At Capella Preschool we believe that cooking is an important part of children’s learning. It is one of the best opportunities for children to consolidate and put into practice, all the concepts that they have learnt (and are still learning) so far, from mathematical concepts, language concepts, social skills, emotional skills, understanding cause-effect, motor-skills, and coordination. It is also a medium for them to express their stories, experiences, and ideas. 

adventure cooking at preschool

Do come down and find out more about how we integrated cookery in our curriculum. We are also contactable at sayhello@capellapreschool.com.

Read our article about loose parts play here: Let’s Loose Parts Play in Preschool!

Happy Reading and Cooking,

Capella Preschool Team

loose parts play in preschool with rocks paper

Let’s Loose Parts Play in Preschool!

 “As long as materials can be moved, redesigned, put together, and taken apart in a variety of ways, they are classified as loose parts.” – Simon Nicholson, 1971 (Founder of the idea of Loose Parts)

The theory of loose parts has begun to influence child-play experts and playscape designers in a big way. It was first proposed back in the 1970s by architect Simon Nicholson, who believed that it is the loose parts in our environment that empower our creativity.

So, what IS loose parts play in preschool?

In a preschool, loose parts are any collection of natural or manmade objects that can be used to extend and further ideas in children’s play. They are open-ended materials that can be moved, combined, taken apart, redesigned, lined up. There is no pre-determined use of the function.

Loose parts are open to a child’s interpretation and creative thinking.

A loose part can become anything!  

In a preschool, be it indoor or outdoor environment we can provide an array of loose parts for use in play: stones, egg cartons, sand, soil, fabric, branches, wood, strings, balls, buckets, baskets, crates, boxes, leaves, rope, tyres, shells and bottles…

Why loose parts play

When children play this way, they

  • Do the thinking and figure things for themselves
  • Learn how to take healthy risks
  • Find innovative ways to think about the world and how it works, based on their own self-led, intrinsically motivated interests.
  • Practice necessary skills such as overcoming obstacles, creative problem solving (on their own or with other children), communicating their feelings effectively with others, and working with those who may have different points of view.
  • Experience the joy of self-discovery, the thrill of being able to pursue their own creative ideas without the fear of failure that usually arises when there is one, predetermined way to be “right” or to “win”.

theory of loose parts in preschool  

In a nutshell, Loose Parts allows children to do the thinking and it aids in the following learning areas:

  • Problem Solving
  • Engineering
  • Creativity
  • Concentration
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Fine motor development
  • Gross motor development
  • Language and vocabulary building
  • Mathematical thinking
  • Scientific thinking
  • Literacy
  • Social/emotional development

and believe there’s much more…

How to loose parts play?

  1. Start collecting loose parts materials or add to your existing collection
  2. To support child-directed play, give children permission by making sure they have their playtime every day – time with no adult-directed activities. Some children may need encouragement, ‘It’s Okay! Just play.”
  3. Children need to have a place that they feel safe to play freely and get messy! This is where we play an important role. Assess the area and materials that children will be using before they get wild during their magnificent play. Making sure loose parts are age-appropriate and be aware of choking hazards.
  4. Lastly, Children are experts in their own play. To support them, simply observe and listen. When invited, play along! If children ask for help, lend a helping hand. This shows that you are supporting their play without taking over.

Say goodbye to fancy toys and gadgets… Happy Playing!


Capella Preschool Team




Anna Housley Juster (Aug, 2o13), The Amazing Benefits of Child-Directed play The Amazing Benefits of Child-Directed play Excerpt from Pop-Up Adventure Play’s P.L.A.Y. Guide

Sally Haughey and Nicole Hill (2017), Loose Parts: A Start-Up guide

Retrieve from FairyDustTeaching

best preschool singapore

What is the Best Preschool in Singapore for My Child?

Having worked in preschools for many years and helping many families to decide on the right preschools for their children, I have encountered many of these questions from parents — “What is the best preschool in Singapore?” “Do you think this is the best preschool in Singapore?” “Can you recommend us some best preschools in Singapore?”.

If you have similar questions, I apologise for not being able to name you a preschool. Because, I personally believe that it is more important to find a preschool that best suits your child, in other words, Your Child’s No. 1 preschool, not Singapore’s Best Preschool.

Here are some questions that you may find helpful in choosing a preschool that will best suit your child.

Focal Point #1 – What is important for your child?

Being academically inclined, possessing positive moral values, an independent learner who has intrinsic motivation to constantly explore, investigate and construct his/her learning, able to understand his/her likes and dislikes, confident in his/her strengths, acknowledging and striving to improve his/her weaknesses.

By rating the above outcomes based on their level of importance can be a good way to determine what kind of approach and curriculum you would want to provide for your child’s education. It is important that the preschool you choose have the pedagogy and curriculum that will provide your child the best opportunity to become that person you want to help him/her to be.

Focal Point #2 – The Environment

Is the school clean? Does the school provide meaningful and safe facilities that engage children’s learning? Is the school filled with caring and fun-loving teachers who prioritise children’s needs above theirs? Is the management one that supports the teachers in prioritising children’s needs?

These are important things to notice because the environment plays a big role in providing the type of experiences that both you and your child will receive.

Focal Point #3 – Local Primary School VS International School

All parents would want to prepare their preschoolers so that they can transition in to the next milestone with minimum hiccups.
If your child is heading to local primary school, you may want to consider a preschool with a more structured curriculum that gives opportunity to your child to exercise a good balance between guided and child-initiated learning. Such curriculum will better ease your child into the local primary school which generally has more structure with mostly guided learning.

Talk to Us

If you would like to have a chat about finding a preschool that best suit your child, we are more than happy to help! You can give us a call to schedule for a visit to speak to us and meet our team. We are also contactable at sayhello@capellapreschool.com.

Read our article about separation anxiety here: Understanding Separation Anxiety in Preschoolers.

Happy Reading,

Capella Preschool Team