Related News

Home » Feature » Education

Giving pupils a head start in life

WITH daily reports on the competitive job market and shrinking global economy, it seems only logical that a head start in school will mean a head start in life. At Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (YCIS Shanghai), students as young as one year old start their lifelong learning journeys in an East-meets-West environment that encourages tolerance and socialization among various cultures.

While it is ultimately up to the parents to determine when their children are ready for school, Sarah Jayne Zarzo, Western Early Childhood Education (ECE) coordinator at the YCIS Shanghai Pudong campus, points out that ECE is about providing a rich experience base for deeper level learning, rather than encouraging the parrot syndrome of reciting alphabets and numbers.

"Our classrooms are designed and planned to provide environmental stimuli and experiences not available at home. It's a place to meet same-age children, to learn from and with each other. There are no older siblings to tell them what to do. It's true cognitive development," Zarzo says.

Laurel Zhang, Chinese ECE coordinator adds, "We see them as young individuals, not just children, so this early socialization sets them up for life."

For expatriates without extended families in Shanghai, an ECE program can also provide a wider network of significant adults who can bring more positive influences to the child's development.

The school's long-standing Early Childhood Education program was pioneered by Dr Betty Chan, the director of YCIS and a world-renowned ECE expert. Her vision of a new global learning environment serves as the backdrop to a bilingual education that combines an inquiry-based method with play-based learning.

A few stray ants foraging in the playground led to one recent example of play-based learning. Closely observing the children's interest in the ants, the teacher took the opportunity to develop this interest into a full-blown class topic. A real ant farm was set up in the classroom and became the centerpiece of class discussions of the species, colonies and communication - all taught by two fully qualified teachers, one native English speaker and one who teaches in Chinese.

This co-teaching method is rounded out with co-planning and co-assessment so that each child's development is monitored by two teachers at all times.

Zarzo emphasizes that activities such as observing the ants help children focus on intellectual learning and true curiosity for their surroundings - traits needed to maintain cultural sensitivity and appreciation in today's global workplace. "Children are born scientists," says Zarzo. "Our job is to guide them through their development of social and self-organization skills. These are lifelong skills that they can use no matter where they go."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend