Michelle Choy, better known as Mummy Wee on her popular parenting blog, has spent the last 18 years raising half a dozen children. Her down-to-earth parenting advice has been highly sought after, and she is regularly featured on TV, radio, newspapers, books and magazines.
Applying her occupational therapy rationales in actively raising 6 children, she discovered that there was a missing link in our education system. Children were expected to enter formal education with a set of skills to ensure they were ready for classroom learning. However, these same skill sets were not explicitly taught anywhere.
She also realised that our education system promoted a fixed mindset in the students, with most subjects having a narrow margin for the ‘right’ answer. Mistakes were frowned upon instead of being viewed as learning experiences.
Mummy Wee could see that her kids were not prepared for a demanding and changing future landscape. She tried to develop in her children traits that will enable them to adapt and succeed in an unchartered age, but wished that there was a better and more systematic way to equip children to face a volatile future. Then she met Michelle Tham, Speech Therapist and Founder/Clinical Director of Leapfrogs, a highly successful and recognized children’s therapy centre.
Michelle Tham has spent the last 15 years understanding, researching and developing the best approaches to support children in learning, growing, and communicating. Together with her team of educational specialists, speech therapists, and occupational therapists she has worked with more than 6000 children.
When it came to children, she discovered that there were 3 essential pillars that made a significant difference in their competence and confidence in becoming astute, holistic, and happy learners.
Firstly, children need essential skills – these involved not just known skills that allow a child to pay attention, focus, engage, think, remember and learn, but, executive functioning skills; a rarely discussed but most pivotal and critical foundation to learning success.
Secondly, they need to develop healthy learning habits – habits that enable them to reflect on what they are doing and encourage them to think before they act.
And lastly, they need to nurture a growth mindset – this turns failures and mistakes into opportunities to develop resilience, persistence and grit.
Not only do they share the same name, they share the same vision.
Together, they imagined a different future for children. A future that is filled with young learners with the ability to think dynamically, learn powerfully, explore new possibilities, and build on ideas to create new solutions for our world.
Welcome to The Little Executive. Where learning is redefined and futures, reimagined.
The thought and speech bubbles embody our hopes and dreams for each child to be a perceptive thinker and compelling communicator. Our programme aims to develop the high level cognitive skills required for the classroom and eventually the boardroom. Just as a board of directors is able to analyse, think strategically, negotiate and make decisions, we equip our children with tools to enable them to push frontiers and pursue their dreams.
Michelle is the principal co-founder of Leapfrogs Children’s Therapy Centre and heads the Speech Team. She graduated from the University of Queensland in Australia with top Honors in speech language pathology and is on the Dean’s list. Upon returning to Singapore, she worked in KK Women’s and Children’s hospital before she started The Children’s Speech Therapist in 2003. The practice grew to Leapfrogs in 2005 and continues today. The inspiration, research, and design for the curriculum at The Little Executive emerged out of all the years working with over 6000 children.
Michelle finds great delight in understanding how each little human being is unique and is constantly fueled by their small but meaningful achievements, tickled by their unexpected comebacks, and inspired by their absorbent minds.
She is currently a Clinical Supervisor and external council member supporting the Masters of Speech Pathology Programme in the National University of Singapore, served on the board for additional qualifications with the Allied Health Professional Council, and has been involved in leading several volunteer speech therapy training projects with the Singapore International Foundation. Michelle has been invited as a specialist to numerous talks, workshops and has been interviewed on the topic of children development and currently holds 12 certificates from the College of Teachers, UK and is pursuing IACT, USA accreditation. She knows though, that when it comes to children, no course will have all the answers and that as she teaches them, they will be her greatest teachers.
Michelle views raising 6 kids despite the odds, and continuing to parent them bravely in these challenging times, as one of her greatest achievements. She holds a degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Newcastle and is passionate about working with children and discovering ways for them to reach their optimal function in their occupation – that of a child and student.
Enriched with much wisdom from her parenting experiences, she has been regularly interviewed on TV, radio, newspapers and jointly authored the parenting book “Keep Calm and Mother on”. An opinion leader in the local education scene, she has been invited to closed door dialogues with the Ministry of Education.
A deep concern of hers is the worrying trend of escalating mental health issues in our young, which spurred her to be a voice to champion for a less stressful and more meaningful childhood. Her beliefs are reflected in the unconventional way in which she brings up her children, eschewing kiasuism and the proverbial rat race for a more purposeful and applicable education. She volunteers in a local hospice, with children and the elderly in her community, and sits on the committee of the parents’ support group in her daughters’ school.
She refuses to accept the notion that academic success and the happiness of the child are mutually exclusive. Idealistic as it may sound, Michelle hopes to change the learning landscape from one of teaching to the test to one of enabling each and every child to shine in his or her own learning curve, with the attainment of success in whichever field they may so choose in future.
May is co-founder of Leapfrogs Children’s Therapy Centre and head of the Education Team. Prior to Leapfrogs, she founded Victoria Place for Children, a Montessori pre-school, was a literacy specialist at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore, an early educator at PCF kindergarten, a parent volunteer at her childrens’ schools, and a volunteer at childrens’ welfare homes. An avid advocate of children’s development, she decided to pursue further studies in Special Education with the Flinders University, Australia, which she completed in 2008, when she was close to her 60th birthday. A clear life-long learner, May holds at least 16 accreditations from UK’s College of Teachers and is currently part of International Association of Counsellors and Therapists’ pioneering class.
As a Programme Director, May believes in continual professional training for her team, sharing the latest teaching techniques and resources. She acknowledges their personal qualities, builds a trusting relationship with them and provides an enjoyable environment for them to grow professionally. May is a source of inspiration to her team and believes in parent education and family involvement. She manages extension projects for three related groups: 1) Sibling Camp to help the siblings of children in therapy understand the struggles in the family, 2) Outreach Projects to educate preschool teachers about “Red Flags” to identify troubled students, and 3) a Parent Workshop Series explaining the 7 Essential Skills for Learning and how they can help their children.
May knows that children, regardless of native abilities and learning styles, need a collection of fundamental skills for success in school and adult life. With the right approach and understanding, she believes children can excel in language and cognitive learning and become more resilient when faced with challenges in learning.
More warmly known as Ms M, she started her journey as an educator as she has always been intrigued by the study of the human mind and behaviour, and it gave her the opportunity to work with children.
Graduating from Nanyang Technological University with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Psychology and a Minor in Linguistic Studies, she started her journey as an educator in a right-braining training centre, and a freelance outdoor camp instructor, leading her team to carry out overseas school camps. She went on to work with a well-being enrichment centre, teaching children yoga-play and music and movement. Her exposure to different forms of enrichment motivated her to pursue a Diploma in Educational Studies – Phonics & Early Literacy, with The College of Teachers, U.K and attained a Neuro-Linguistics Programming(NLP) Practitioner Certification, with The American Board of Neuro-Linguistics Programming for her continued education in teaching children.
Her exposure to different contexts of teaching and working with people of all ages from toddlers, teenagers to adults has taught her to be a versatile educator, attuned to children with different needs. She truly believes in instilling a positive mindset in children and that an all-rounded approach to learning is essential in nurturing a balanced child.
As part of her lifelong learning, she is currently working towards attaining her certification as a Goulding SleepTalk® for Children Consultant, accredited by IACT.
After vowing never to follow in his parents’ footsteps and become a teacher, Jim completed his TEFL qualification in London, 2005, and shortly afterwards found himself jetting off to China to teach English as a second language. His passion for languages quickly took over, and Jim spent the following two years studying mandarin at the Xi’an Jiaotong University. Along the way he also picked up some Cantonese, Japanese and Korean from his classmates. After returning to London to finish his honours degree at the University of London (BA Chinese, Modern & Classical), Jim taught Chinese to primary and secondary school students across the capital.
Following another stint in China working at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, and then a brief period as a digital journalist in Beijing, Jim returned to the education sector, at the University of Liverpool, and then Goldsmiths, University of London where he managed international student recruitment and marketing. He spent five years flying around the world attending education exhibitions, delivering seminars and helping students apply to university, but found the role too disengaged from the primary objective of education – to make a difference for each and every student in the classroom.
Being labeled ‘the naughty kid’ in school, Jim finds it most rewarding working with those students who also exhibit challenging behaviours (something he can totally identify with!)
Jim is currently working towards his IACT accreditation, as well as completing a diploma in Counselling Psychology from the College of Allied Educators.
In the spirit of lifelong learning, Jim is still trying to perfect his Singlish… lah.
A graduate from the school of life and then (due to the demands of societal norms and realities) Nanyang Technological University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and Sports Science with a Diploma in Education, Jamie brings with her 8 years of teaching experience with MOE in the local primary school education scene. Having taught in both a neighbourhood school as well as what is deemed as “one of the better schools” in Singapore, Jamie has long been an advocate of unconventional teaching methods to bridge the gap between children having a purposeful education to prepare them for all of life’s challenges versus just scoring an A on a test.
Jamie’s passion for lifelong learning has also been translated into her being appointed as a School Staff Developer where she was responsible for introducing courses to teachers for their continual development. She was also tasked to organize purposeful overseas school trips for their students. Some of her personal achievements include attaining the Outstanding Contribution Award in both the individual and team categories for two consecutive years. She has been certified in conducting Co-operative and Collaborative Learning, and earned an honors in Grade 7 Oral Communication from the London College of Music. Her passions include educating her two children on life’s values and skills, volunteering at her daughter’s pre-school as well as having a good workout which she always makes time for.
June is an educational therapist in training, freelance writer, and avid learner of all things related to child development. She has spent the last 7 years learning about the growth and development of young children, using her own 3 kids as research subjects. She’s made countless mistakes as a young parent and in order to make sure she learns from them, she writes them down on her parenting and education focused blog, mamawearpapashirt.com. Her blog was ranked among the top 10 blogs in the 2012 Singapore Blog Awards (Family Category). She has also been featured in various media, including Channel NewsAsia, The Straits Times and Newsradio 93.8.
June holds a first class honours degree in Media & Communications from the University of Melbourne. She graduated as valedictorian from Ngee Ann Polytechnic with a Diploma in Mass Communications. She also holds a Certificate in Counselling Psychology from Lee Community College.
June believes that every child has the potential to change the world, and they should be given opportunities to grow in their areas of strength and sense of self-worth. Besides teaching and writing, she is currently working towards attaining her professional certification in Special Needs Educational Therapy with the International Association of Counsellors and Therapists.