Here, parents are sharing their experiences in their own words. The content of the testimonials has not been edited, however in some cases the children's names have been changed to protect their identity.
HENRIQUE: A BOY WHO LEARNED TO COMMUNICATE
"During his time in Mighty Oaks, Henrique has enormously improved his verbal communication, his ability to identify people’s feelings and his playing skills. He loves his school routine and is very positive about learning new things. He’s built very strong friendships there and will no doubt continue to meet the children for many years after leaving Mighty Oaks!" (From Henrique's Mom, August 2017)
WINSTON: A SHY LITTLE BOY WHO LEARNED TO PLAY WITH FRIENDS
"Our son Winston joined Mighty Oaks in June 2014 at the age of 3 yrs and 10 months. We initially planned to have Winston at Mighty Oaks for 10 weeks only during summer holidays. However upon attending Mighty Oaks for about 2 weeks, we made a big decision to move to Singapore for good so Winston can attend Mighty Oaks full time. To say we are pleased with what Winston has achieved is an understatement. He arrived as a very timid child, to the point of being fearful of other kids. He also didn't like and didn't know how to play with other kids. He also didn't show any interest in toys.
After about a month or so, although he was still fearful to other kids to a certain extent, we definitely saw improvement. He no longer ran away when other kids were approaching or trying to join him. I think what he learned the most at Mighty Oaks was how to play with other kids. Social skills is what Winston lacked the most. We are very contented to witness how Winston has changed from a very timid, shy, anti-social little boy to where he is now. He sure has come a long way. Mighty Oaks also helps him to a certain extent to be kids, to learn to enjoy playing with toys and other kids.
Winston left Mighty Oaks in August 2016 to join a bigger school. He has made tremendous progress since, and we still put Winston at Mighty Oaks during his long holidays even until today, because we feel that he benefits a lot from the Mighty Oaks program. Plus he absolutely loves and enjoys Mighty Oaks. "(From Winston's Dad, August 2017)
MIKE: A BRIGHT 3-YEAR OLD WHO LEARNED TO MANAGE HIS EMOTIONS
“ My 3 year old's pre-school teacher raised concern over my child’s behaviour in school. My child got agitated when playing with rowdy children, particularly boys. A typical response to an argument or disagreement was to hit or scratch despite my child having good language and vocabulary. My child struggled to moderate the frustrations and found it difficult to control impulses with other children. Initially, we thought it was a part of growing up and this behaviour would improve over time. We even visited KK Hospital’s Child Development Centre and the doctor raised no concerns and said we were to monitor the situation.
As a parent, I strongly believe in early intervention and I have met persons with high intelligence but who find it a struggle to interact with people. I do not wish the same for my child. So, we started at Mighty Oaks when my child was 3.5 years and we were there for a total of 8 months. Initially, my partner was against the idea of going to Mighty Oaks but relented after seeing the child’s improvement. Now, my child has learned to read and use body language/nonverbal communication (e.g. gestures and facial expressions) and my child respond so much better at social situations now. Once in a while, we still do have “misses” but have we learn to cope better with the situation. “ (From Mike's Mom. Mike graduated from Mighty Oaks in June 2017 to join a mainstream preschool)
GEORGE: A 5-YEAR OLD BOY AND THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING
"What We Are Most Grateful For: As parents of then 3.5 year old, almost non verbal boy, with only 20 consistent words in usage (of which barely half was intelligible to a perfect stranger), we find the most remarkable of all possible learnings that he has received from Mighty Oaks was the importance of being 'listened to'. He was able to realize that he can be 'heard' even if the words don't come out that clearly, and that gave him the confidence to speak, communicate and interact.
The Mighty Oaks Approach: Through observational skills and big affects (using nods, big smiles, good consistent eye contact), his teachers and in-house therapists were able to motivate our son to communicate and model back good eye contact, vocal expression like "oh -oh!", "whoops" and such. Calm, reassuring acknowledgement of emotions such as "I can see you did not like that..." Or "I can tell that you are upset..." confirmed and validated to him an essential fact - "People can actually communicate back to me! My thoughts and ideas from the inside can be communicated to my outside world too! What an undeniable motivation that was for a little guy who was once always frustrated and screaming and on the edge as he must have felt that no one was listening to and understanding him.
Where We Are Today: Gone are the days that I used to write down in a notebook every new word, strings of words, simple sentences that he has made - to chronicle and witness his progress, and at the same time encourage ourselves from whence we've started this "child lead" approach in his personal journey/discovery and learning. There is this saying I came across that goes "attention is the purest form of listening" and I believe that our son has learned greatly from his time at Mighty Oaks. We all have something to say and we wait for our turn to say it. Then we acknowledge our feelings - happy, sad or such - after we speak. Nowadays, we hear many friendly strangers commenting on how "chatty" and "friendly" he is. "Was he always like that?" they would ask. We then would smile back and say to ourselves - "You just don't know how long we've waited for him to be like this!"
The Journey Continues: Now, at five years of age the biggest rebuke he can ever give to us his parents is - "oh , you are not listening...!" (From George's Mom. George graduated from Mighty Oaks in March 2017 to join a mainstream kindergarten.)
MARK: A 4-YEAR OLD BOY WHO LEARNED TO COMMUNICATE AND EXPRESS EMOTIONS
"Most important thing my children learned from Mighty Oaks is to communicate verbally and emotionally . He learned the foundations of communication from Mighty Oaks. He learnt to enjoy the school environment which gave him confidence for any new programme." (From Mike's Dad. Mike left Mighty Oaks in March 2017 to join a mainstream kindergarten.)