The effectiveness of I-Creative Learner’s early education program lies in its ability to cultivate active learning from young.
Since it opened 17 years ago, I-Creative Learner’s student enrollment has grown tremendously, not through successful marketing strategies or powerful advertisements. The clients were all referred to the center by satisfied parents whose children had gone through the program and had achieved success. It is no surprise then that if you want to register your child into I-Creative Learner, you need to do it two years in advance. Like what Treaz Tan, founder and chief executive principal of I-Creative Learner says, “Something that works speaks for itself.”
I-Creative Learner has been accredited with guaranteed success in establishing literacy and language skills made possible by its unique pedagogical methods and strong team of dedicated teachers. At the pre-school level, their comprehensive and systematic curriculum is structured to engage young minds, encourage active learning and to empower the lifelong learner. While phonics is taught in most childcare centers or kindergartens, “it can be very confusing for students as the vowels have more than one sound,” says Tan.
Thus phonics application is very important, and I-Creative Learner focuses on the application of phonics by making it applicable to other sounds through the staggering of short and long words, often using words that the students already know. Besides learning to pronounce these words, students are also encouraged to spell them. A variety of activities such as games and worksheets are used to expose the students to the words.
Each student has to go through specific stages. “I-Creative Learner strongly believes that no child should be left behind. So when students are facing difficulties or are slower than others in the class, the teacher will pay more attention to them and at the same time, raise the problem to their parents so that their parents can assist their children in the learning process. This structure has helped many gain confidence in themselves,” shared Tan.
The turning point of Tan’s life was in 1992, when her elder son entered primary school. When Tan noticed how her son’s inability to spell had reduced his joy in learning, she was determined to help him overcome the situation. She quit her job and started researching on various methods to help improve her son’s spelling. The end product was a dynamic lesson package that included a lot of self-prepared hand-drawn material, visits to the libraries, reading and spelling games.
When her friends saw the improvement in her son’s studies and her love for teaching, they requested that she start a class to help their children too. Empathizing with the difficulties her friends faced, Tan, a former vice principal of a childcare center eventually agreed.
Armed with the humble goal of wanting to help her friends’ children prepare for primary school and the lesson package she had prepared, tried out and fine-tuned, Tan set up I-Creative Learner in April 1994. She started a home-based playgroup with only four to five children, meeting them twice a week. With referrals from satisfied friends and clients, the number of children grew to 35 at the end of the year. However, Tan was not satisfied with just having a playgroup. She wanted to streamline her product, to focus on what will help equip these children the most. As such, she focused on training students to read and write creatively.
A SMOOTH BEGINNING
When some homemakers heard about the effectiveness of the program and how it could be done at home, they approached her to be trained and obtained permission to use her materials. With a new desire to help other women be financially independent, Tan started the franchise model in 1995.
At that time, Tan, being trained in mass communication and not business, did not know anything about franchising or even royalties. “All I knew was that I should charge a fee since these people were using my materials,” Tan recalled. It was only through one of these women that she was introduced to the word “royalties.” Slowly, as the business improved, she increased the royalties. When asked how she started the franchise when she did not even know anything about it, she attributed it to fervent prayers, reading up and experience.
Tan also shared how God had sent people to help her on many occasions. For example, at the beginning of her franchise model, she was informed by a number of friends and even strangers of how others were using her name to sell their services. Tan recalled how a lawyer friend taught her to start branding her product, and advised her to send warning letters to people who misused her name.
However, like all great businesses, Tan also faced some stumbling blocks and they came in the form of people. Though she started with a heart to bless children, their parents and other franchisees, she found out that it was very difficult to deal with franchisees. With a desire to serve others and to share what is good, she found herself torn apart when franchisees did not want to follow her program fully or were more interested in profits. In fact, she was so discouraged that she considered closing down the franchise in 2001. At that time, she cried out to God to give her the peace to either end the franchise or make the necessary changes. In that year, she learned to be upfront with her franchisees and to state clearly what her expectations were. Even though by the end of 2001 she was only left with four franchisees, she felt the peace of God to continue her business.
Tan’s motivation comes from the achievements of her students and the sincere gratitude of parents. As such, she displays each letter or e-mail sent by the parents to remind her teachers and herself of the good work they have done and to remain faithful in what they do.
The latest project Tan has taken up is the I-Creative Learner hubs. They function as centers for students to gather and a place for her teachers to share ideas. This is also where new materials are tested before being rolled out.
When asked what the key to her success is, Tan says, “I just want to build up and equip lives. God reminded me to be faithful in what I do, as He reminded me how He saw me through many difficult times.”
Log on to www.icreativelearner.com.sg for more information on I-Creative Learner.