The DNA of Swords & Stationery
Swords & Stationery (S&S) is a Singapore-based specialist tuition / educational therapy programme for children and youths with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD)—or what is commonly called ‘special needs’—including dyslexia, dysgraphia, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).
It also works with mainstream learners, as well as those from a background where English is spoken as a second or foreign language (ESL).
The most suitable age range of students for the Swords & Stationery programme is 7 to 17 years, though we do accept learners outside of this range on a case-by-case basis.
The Swords & Stationery programme features the following:
At its core, the Swords & Stationery educational therapy programme focuses on English-based subjects for students aged 7 to 17. This includes English Language at the primary and secondary school levels, and secondary school subjects like English Literature, History and Social Studies.
To maintain our students’ focus, we use role-playing games and board games to facilitate learning. Reading and spelling components, for example, can be conducted entirely within the simulation of a tabletop game. This style of academic learning is unique to the Swords & Stationery approach; we are the only organisation in the world that does this.
Before the start of each lesson, we create a digital, animated presentation (unique to every class) using PowerPoint, Prezi, and other similar tools. Along with the teacher’s guidance, classes become far more interactive and lively. Difficult concepts become crystal clear.
We use the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach, which includes basic phonics training, to help struggling readers and writers. For intermediate and advanced learners, we provide morphological awareness training by teaching morphemes (i.e. meaningful units of a word) to them. The knowledge of word stems and affixes has helped many of our students to ace their English.
The programme also follows the OG principles, in which lessons are conducted in a scaffolded, sequential manner; they are diagnostic and prescriptive, and no two lesson plans are identical.
The curriculum includes various modular concepts, techniques and frameworks. These can be scaled to any level, age and degree of competency, and are taught through various classroom practices such as the Joint Construction Method and Process-Genre Approach.
To suit every child’s needs, every single worksheet is created in-house and vetted thoroughly by NIE/OG-trained educators. In addition, lesson plans are individualised as far as possible, so that the child can learn at a comfortable pace.
Vision: To establish Swords & Stationery as a regional institution, known for its avant-garde but highly effective practices.
Mission: To help learners with specific learning differences perform to the best of their abilities in English Language-based subjects.
History: Swords & Stationery is the brainchild of Shaun Low, an educational therapist by training with over five years of experience and a track record of producing successful, highly motivated learners. The methodology operates on the Orton-Gillingham principles and works fantastically with learners of ages 7 and above. The curriculum is versatile enough to accommodate learners with differing academic inclinations, while being robust enough to cover most English-based academic subjects such as Social Studies, History, and, of course, English Language.
Since 2014, over 50 students have learned and benefited from this methodology; many have gone on to junior colleges, top polytechnic courses (e.g. aerospace engineering) and renowned secondary schools like Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School, St. Margaret’s Secondary School, Anglo-Chinese School and St. Joseph’s Institution. Said students include those with dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, ASD, and ODD, as well as those with lower levels of motivation.
Educational therapy is a remediation process to help students with specific learning difficulties improve academically, as well as grow socially, emotionally and intellectually. A therapy session is typically planned out and executed based on the strengths and weaknesses of the learner, taking into consideration his or her needs. There is at least one learning objective behind every therapy session; oftentimes this includes helping the learner to make progress towards overcoming a particular learning difficulty.
You may want to visit the Association of Educational Therapists’ website for more information on educational therapy as a practice.
Every educational service provider has its unique selling points, and we respect the work and passion of our fellow educators. Rather than make sweeping assumptions about what other providers lack, we will describe the most important aspects of our service, and you can be the judge of whether it sets us apart:
- We’re a specialist tuition/educational therapy programme, not a traditional tuition service. Our lesson plans are tailored to meet our learners’ needs by identifying and working on their weaknesses, as well as by working in close partnership with caregivers. As such, lessons are very much focused on skills and concepts first, before moving on to the stages of practice and revision. Furthermore, while we do see the merit of academics as a benchmark (and we do take pride when our learners see an improvement in their results after applying our techniques), we also place great emphasis on our learners’ self-motivation, behaviour and meta-cognition (i.e. the ability to critically think and reflect), which are crucial to their learning ability. Our resources and materials are specifically made to help our learners grow in these areas; lessons often have visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic elements to keep students engaged.
- We use actual games to teach and engage our learners, from Role-Playing Games such as Dungeons & Dragons (to teach narrative writing), to tabletop games such as The Resistance (to teach oracy skills) and Codenames (to teach vocabulary and figurative language). We have also developed games of our own using gaming aids like Rory’s Story Cubes–which our learners absolutely love playing around with. Our lessons are anything but boring, and we’re frequently asked for extra classes simply because we make learning so much fun.
- Games aside, our resources and curriculum are developed in-house, with the latter being supported by existing research literature. Our techniques are built off concepts like the Process-Genre Approach (for writing) and Dr. Isabelle Shanti Benjamin’s Question Interpretation Approach (for reading comprehension), to name a few.
- We welcome caregivers to sit in for classes (only for 1-to-1 therapy sessions), for up to four lessons. We believe that learning is more effective when the child is well-supported at home too.
- We will do a diagnostic assessment prior to the first lesson. This assessment is exclusive to Swords & Stationery, and tests the learner’s literacy, writing and reading comprehension skills, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.
Specific results (e.g. getting an ‘A’ or ‘A*’) are not guaranteed as this is contingent on various factors, such as the child’s effort and innate ability. However, what I can guarantee is progress. 100% of my students have benefited from the programme thus far in different ways, some socially and emotionally, most academically.
In 2016, a survey was done with ex-students and parents to gather feedback on the Swords & Stationery approach. The response we received was overwhelmingly positive.
Note: The above documents are presented as snapshots of collective data from the aforementioned surveys conducted, and therefore do not disclose any personal information of our clients. Furthermore, we have since surveyed many more parents (over 15 to date) to further reinforce our findings from 2016.
You can also check out some of our students’ testimonials on the right, to see what they think of the Swords & Stationery programme.
Swords & Stationery started off as a blog that discussed games and education, sometimes combining both. The blog is still updated on a regular basis with such discussions. It also provides parents and educators with teaching tips and strategies. Finally, all the latest news on our programmes and services can be found there.
Shaun is an avid gamer and certified educational therapist who has been working with students with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) since 2013. An expert when it comes to teaching and motivating his learners, Shaun has a keen eye for their strengths and weaknesses, and a wealth of self-created resources (supported by research literature) that are constantly being updated and expanded upon. His lessons are tailored to accommodate his students’ linguistic (English) abilities while stretching the boundaries of their potential. He has a track record of producing SpLD achievers who have moved on to JCs and top courses in polytechnics.
Shaun graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2012 (B.A. in Economics), after which he joined the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) in early 2013 as an Educational Therapist. Over the next four years, he acquired a Specialist Diploma in SpLD and a Professional Certificate in Speech & Drama Arts. As a core team member of the Curriculum Team from 2016 to 2017, Shaun had also played a crucial role in developing the DAS’s curriculum. In February 2017, he was awarded the CEO Commendation Award for his contributions to the Curriculum Team.
Titus is an Allied Health Professions Council Registered Consultant Occupational Therapist who graduated from Nanyang Polytechnic with a Diploma in Occupational Therapy in 1996. He continued to pursue his postgraduate education at the St. Loye’s School of Health Studies (University of Exeter, UK) and obtained his Master of Science Degree in Occupational Therapy in 2001.
Throughout the 19 years of his occupational therapy career, Titus has worked in a variety of clinical settings, including the tertiary and community hospitals, special schools, an early intervention centre for infants and children, the Dyslexia Association of Singapore, and private therapy centres.
Titus had received various trainings in paediatric occupational therapy, including the Alert Programme, M.O.R.E., Integrating the Mouth with Sensory and Postural Functions, and Handwriting Without Tears. He is a Certified Handwriting Specialist, a Certified Rater for the Assessment of Motor and Process Skills (AMPS), and is trained in vision therapy.
His specialised interests are in handwriting remediation, using vision therapy for preschoolers and students, and applying the Occupational Therapy Intervention Process Model (OTIPM) in clinical practice.