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Pacific Early Childhood Education

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1 Pacific Early Childhood Education
How the Environment Rating Scales facilitate cross-cultural communication in the early childhood field: Experiences of Hong Kong November 4, 2011 NAEYC Annual Conference, Orlando Dr. Lydia L.S. Chan Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association

Director: Dr. Betty Chan Po-King Deputy Director: Ms. Priscilla Yeung ECE Superintendent: Mrs. Elizabeth Randall ECE Co-Principals (HK): Ms. Cecilia Kam and Ms. Nicola Weir PECERA-HK ECERS COMMITTEE Chairperson: Mrs. Chu Tang Lai-Kuen (Council of Non-profit Making Organizations for Preprimary Education) Members: Dr. Betty Chan Po-King (Yew Chung Education Foundation) Mrs. Chan Lau Yin-King (The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong) Ms. Lau Yau Lin (Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Council) Dr. Maria Lee (Vocational Training Council) Ms. Gloria Leung (Caritas) Ms. Wendy Leung (Hong Kong Christian Services) Mrs. Elizabeth Randall (Yew Chung Education Foundation) Ms. Jannet Wong (Vocational Training Council) Ms. Mary Wong (Tung Wah Group of Hospitals) Ms. Priscilla Yeung (Yew Chung Education Foundation) Our Team

3 Overview Hong Kong Educational Context:
Pre-Primary Education Government Guidance Classroom Environment Parental Demands A Broad Continuum of ECE Practice Using the ECERS-R in Hong Kong: Yew Chung International School Sheng Kung Hui (Anglican) Welfare Council Child Care Service Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Nursery Schools PECERA-HK ECERS-R Pilot Study

4 Population: 7,102,300 (end of 2010)

5 HK Educational Context
A former British colony for over 150 years; now a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China: “One Country, Two Systems” Over 95% of population are ethnic Chinese, most speak Cantonese English is a co-official language alongside Chinese, remains dominant in Government, business, education, and law After the 1997 Handover, new language-in-education policy of “Biliteracy and Trilingualism” Early bilingual education (or partial immersion) programs have gained popularity in recent years HK Educational Context

6 Pre-Primary Education
Pre-Primary education is not compulsory, but almost universal: over 95% of children (ages 2-6) attend Kindergartens or day nurseries Kindergartens serve children aged 3-6, mostly half-day programs. Teacher to pupil ratio should be 1:15 or lower All privately run, much variation and little regulation; the Pre- Primary Curriculum Guide serves as reference only Developmental Objectives Learning Areas Physical Development Physical Fitness and Health Cognitive and Language Development Language Affective and Social Development Early Mathematics Aesthetic Development Science and Technology Self and Society Arts Pre-Primary Education

7 Government Guidance
The Guide to the Pre-primary Curriculum (2006) emphasises that early childhood education lays the foundation for life-long learning and whole person development. The core value of early childhood education lies in "child-centredness". Pre-primary institutions should formulate their curriculum according to the basic principles of “children’s development” and “children’s learning”. Children's interests, needs and abilities should be taken into consideration. They should also create a stimulating learning environment that facilitates children’s development of multiple intelligences. Through life experiences, sensory encounters, exploration and interesting games, children's holistic development can be fostered. Government Guidance

8 Classroom Environment
“Kindergartens vary a lot in their scale of operation and the number of classrooms can range from two to over ten. Most of them however can create a stimulating learning environment that caters for children’s life experience and interests, by setting up different activity centres. For instance, Reading Corner, Mathematics Corner, Nature Corner, Art and Crafts Corner, Music Corner, Home Corner etc. These activity centres are all well equipped with teaching aids to facilitate self-learning” ( “Typical” Characteristics of HK ECE Centres: Very limited indoor space Outdoor space is a luxury Relatively high staff-child ratios Relatively lowly qualified staff Strong emphasis on academic development and school-readiness Mostly large group activities Schedule tends to be very structured Stringent health requirements – especially after SARS! Classroom Environment

9 E.g. Clean toys properly. Washable toys should be cleaned at least daily by immersing them in 1:99 diluted household bleach for 30 minutes before ordinary cleaning. Unwashable toys should be wiped regularly (at least daily) with towels soaking with 1:99 diluted household bleach and wiped dry after rinsing with water. Toys made of strong absorbents such as wool should not be used.

10 Child rearing in Chinese societies is strongly influenced by Confucian values, which emphasize academic achievement, effort, and perseverance: education is regarded as the path to success and financial gain…During the preschool period impulse control is stressed as it is widely regarded as a precursor to academic achievement…By the age of three, preschoolers in Hong Kong are relatively well controlled and well behaved despite relatively high staff–child ratios and large group sizes (Rao et al., 2003: 334). All Kindergartens in Hong Kong are run by the private sector, with little financial support from the Government, and hence are highly susceptible to market forces. Very often their curriculum and teaching approaches are unduly influenced by what they think parents want and are prepared to pay for. Parents, forced by the system and for pragmatic reasons, often have to opt for certain Kindergartens in spite of the pressure they know they are putting their children through. Kindergarten teachers, because of the relatively low level of qualifications and salaries, are not confident in their ability to convince parents otherwise (Chan & Chan, 2003: 11) Parental Demands

11 Broad Continuum of ECE Practice
Kindergarten A PECERA-HK Member Organizations Traditional Progressive Broad Continuum of ECE Practice

12 Kindergarten A: K3 (age 5) Classroom


14 Kindergarten A: Roof Playground

15 PECERA is a non-profit organization dedicated to disseminating and supporting research in early childhood education in the Pacific area. Aims of the HK Chapter: Develop and provide a platform for exchange of expertise, sharing of research and dialogue among educators and professionals working in ECE settings Provide an academic forum in HK and Pacific region for development and dissemination of high quality research in ECE Facilitate cooperation and collaboration among scholars, researchers and professionals working in ECE Promote links between research and practice in ECE Raise the visibility and status of research in ECE in Hong Kong and the Pacific region PECERA-HK: Overview

16 Yew Chung International School
Founded in HK in 1932 by Madam Tsang Chor-Hang ECE re-introduced in 1970s by Dr. Betty Chan with pioneering new concepts (e.g. learning through play) Present ECE Program provides for children aged 6 mths to 4 yrs Program deeply rooted in Chinese culture, but continuously examines and adopts contemporary theories and practice from around the world, seeking to combine the best elements from the East and West. Chinese and Western Co-Principals and Co-teachers create a multicultural and bilingual learning environment for children, where their active participation, investigations and experimentation enable them to make sense of the world in which they live Strong emphasis on an emergent curriculum and project learning approach   ECE Programs in HK, Shanghai, Beijing, Chonqing, Qingdao, and Silicon Valley Yew Chung International School

17 Multicultural Staff

18 Bilingual & Bicultural Co-teaching
“Co-teaching is a significant feature of Yew Chung ECE. The cohesive and authentic co-teaching starts from co-teacher’s individual observations of children and then the co-planning, where the teaching partners (Chinese and Western teacher) plan together. Because of the different linguistic and cultural strengths of Chinese and Western teachers, there may be differences in the understanding of the children in their classroom. Only when the co-teachers share and discuss on a regular basis, do they fully understand the needs of the students and make the best decisions possible through their curriculum planning and are able to provide authentic co-assessment of the children”. “Each teacher takes the lead at different times during the day, but they are both present in the classroom and interact with the children for most of the time...The teaching partnership is encouraged to develop a working relationship which includes regularly sharing and reflecting upon the outcomes of all teaching and learning”. ~ Mrs Elizabeth Randall (ECE Superintendent) Bilingual & Bicultural Co-teaching

19 A Typical Day in HK ECE Time Whole day Programme 8:00:8:45
Welcome & Choosing Activities Time 8:45~9:05 Gathering Time (English/Chinese) 9:05~9:35 Outdoor Play 9:35~10:00 Snack 10:00~11:00 Topic Study Activities Language (English /Chinese), Maths, Creative Arts 11:00~11:25 Putonghua Lesson / Music Movement 11:25:~11:45 11:45 Lunch Time 12:30-2:00 Nap Time 2:00~2:45 Outdoor Play / Snack 2:45~4:05 Focus Activities Time English / Putonghua / Violin / Music Movement 4:05~4:30 4:30 Going home time A Typical Day in HK ECE

20 Co-teachers in Action

21 Specialist Teachers

22 Indoor/Outdoor Space

23 Using the ECERS-R in YCIS
The ECERS-R and ITERS-R have mainly been used for the professional development of ECE staff Scales were formally introduced to ECE leaders in HK, China, and Silicon Valley in 2008, and each campus have been using them to stimulate professional reflection/discussion, thereby improving practice “The ECERS-R and ITERS-R were a wonderful tool to facilitate discussion, reflection and targeted training in respects to cultural differences in educational beliefs. It allowed us, as a school, to discuss how different cultures view, for example, interaction with children and agree on what YC philosophy believes is good ECE pedagogy. The ECERS-R provided an opportunity for us to explain and discuss why we believe our pedagogy is the 'best' for young children…[the rating scale] really did help in that it gave our teachers specifics to work with”. ~ Ms Nicky Weir (HK ECE Western Co-Principal) Using the ECERS-R in YCIS

24 Some Topics for Discussion
Could our classrooms be made more “homely” with more soft furnishings? How could we make outdoor play more challenging? Could the home corner could be made more interesting? Does it always have to be a home corner? Importance of sand/water play – despite local health and safety concerns Must all children take naps? How could we further enhance interactions among children? And also staff-child interactions (not just supervision) Meals/snacks as opportunities for conversation, so staff should be encouraged to sit with children   Some Topics for Discussion

25 Soft Furnishings

26 Outdoor Play

27 Dramatic Play

28 Interactions among children

29 Other Changes to the Environment

30 HKSKH Welfare Council Child Care Service
7 Nursery Schools and 1 Child Care Centre in HK Edu-care service from birth to 6 full-time Day nursery and extension services (e.g. babysitting, meal service for families in need) Nursery school also offers integrated program for mentally disabled children Aims to “provide a safe and inspiring learning environment for children to grow holistically (physical, emotional, social, speech and intellectual aspects); cultivate positive living manner and attitude by providing suitable teaching and activities. We believe that: Every child is unique. Every child possesses talents that may be different from others, but just as precious. Joy is the motivation for learning. Children with joy and confidence would be willing to learn, and eventually be learning to learn. HKSKH Welfare Council Child Care Service

31 Inspired by the ECERS-R
Space for privacy – set up a quiet prayer corner in every classroom Dramatic play – added more resources to the home corner Art – importance of individual expression Inspired by the ECERS-R

32 Nature/Science Activities

33 Math/Number Activities SHK

34 Operates 15 Kindergartens in HK, serving about 2,970 children from 2;8 – 6 years
Both half-day and full-day services “Our kindergartens emphasize children's healthy development during their childhood. Development programmes facilitative to their language, mathematics, music, arts, physical, emotional and social growth are conducted. The curriculum adopted in our kindergartens is student-centred. Various teaching and learning strategies, including project approach, whole language teaching, picture book scheme and big book approach, which are conducive to children's learning motivation and interest are used in the classroom. Various activities, such as choir, instrument class, dance class, art class, tai chi class and marching band, are organized in our kindergartens to foster young children's self-confidence and creativity”. TWGH Nursery Schools

35 Using the ECERS-R at TWGH
“Our staff in all TWGHs Nursery Schools have been trained to overview the ECERS-R and using it as tool to evaluate and improve areas that are related to their respective focus of school development... The tool can offer teachers and principals a more objective and comprehensive tool to find out strength and weakness of the school. More salient focus can be identified and goals can be formulated systematically for development of the school. It emphasizes the significance of environment in fostering growth and learning of children, and provides concrete yardsticks and common language for teachers to make decisions and share on matters related to practice”. ~ Ms Mary Wong (TWGH Service Coordinator) Using the ECERS-R at TWGH

36 Inspired by the ECERS-R
Blocks Inspired by the ECERS-R

37 Nature/Science Dramatic Play TWGH

38 Supervision of children

39 PECERA-HK ECERS-R Pilot Study
Research Questions: To what extent is the ECERS-R appropriate for assessing quality in HK Kindergartens? If necessary, how should the scale be amended? Method: Administering the ECERS-R in 12 ECE Centres (24 classrooms) and seeking expert review of the ECERS-R from local ECE academics, ECE supervisors/principals Sample: 7 participating organisations: Caritas - Pre-school Education & Child Care Service Evangelical Lutheran Church of HK (ELCHK) - Social Service HK Christian Service (HKCS) Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Yew Chung Education Foundation (YCEF) Sheng Kung Hui (SKH, i.e. Anglican Church) Gigamind Education Foundation PECERA-HK ECERS-R Pilot Study

40 What is the definition of “free play” in the HK context
What is the definition of “free play” in the HK context? Does this differ substantially from the ECERS-R definition? What counts as “access” to learning activities/materials? And can we meet the “at least one hour daily” requirement? E.g. At least 5 learning areas may be visible in the classroom, but some areas (e.g. blocks, dramatic play) are rarely accessible to children due to space constraints (e.g. teacher uses block area for direct instruction with half the class) What is the definition of “small groups” in the HK context? In terms of the “schedule” – what would be considered “too rigid”? For “toileting” practices – are we “meeting the individual needs of children”? E.g. Do 7 scheduled periods of toileting per day constitute “long periods of waiting during transitions”? Food for thought…

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