During the suspension of face-to-face classes under the threat of the epidemic, kindergartens need to adopt other modes to enable children’s learning at home. In the kindergarten sector, we are pleased to have dedicated, professional teachers who have remained vibrant and positive, and supported one another amid the unprecedented adversities and challenges. With enthusiasm for nurturing children, they have applied immense creativity to their design of interesting learning activities, and enlisted the support of parents in sustaining children’s interest in learning and fostering their physical and mental development.
As the parent of a kindergarten student, I was impressed by the sector’s thoughtfulness in supporting children’s home learning, and hence achieving the goal of “suspending classes without suspending learning”. For example, some schools have produced “Parent-child Treasure Boxes” containing various simple but educational games that parents can play with their children for the purpose of learning at home. After having a try with my daughter, I found that these tools were really useful in helping children learn through play. The Education Bureau (EDB) is thankful to kindergarten teachers for the strenuous efforts they made in this difficult time and their incessant care for children’s well-being, which are indispensable in ensuring that children keep enriching themselves with appropriate learning and grow healthily.
In supporting children’s learning at home, the EDB has always been working side by side with the sector. Further to the letter issued to all kindergartens on May 11 this year about the principles and strategies for supporting children’s home learning, we organised a seminar entitled “Principles and Experience Sharing on Supporting Kindergarten Children’s Learning at Home” on November 25, with academics in early childhood education, educational psychologists and representatives from kindergartens sharing how different modes were adopted to facilitate children’s learning at home. With equal emphasis on theory and practice, the seminar received highly positive feedback from participants. Useful information and first-hand experience shared by speakers and participants have been uploaded onto the EDB website. We would like to share with kindergartens the summary of the insights and experiences from academics, experts and the sector.
Emphasis on children’s all-round development
When face-to-face classes are suspended, kindergartens should not only sustain children’s interest in learning, but also cater for their emotional needs and moral development. Kindergartens may stay in touch with children through various means and design activities that help them express feelings and release emotions so as to develop positive attitudes as well as good and healthy living habits. To engage children in different home activities that are good for their physical and mental development, kindergartens may provide children with nursery rhyme books, mini musical instruments or picture books, and design physical exercises that can be managed at home. As for children with special needs and non-Chinese speaking children, kindergartens may utilise community resources, solicit the help of professional teams, keep regular contact with these children and their parents, and provide timely assistance and support according to their individual circumstances.
Flexible use of diversified modes
Given their young age, kindergarten students should avoid prolonged use of electronic screen devices. In principle, real-time online teaching is not recommended for kindergartens. It is through sensory exploration and hands-on manipulations that children broaden their experience. Based on learning themes or students’ interests and abilities, some kindergartens prepare learning materials for distribution or make use of objects that can be readily found at home or easily obtained to encourage creativity and play through performing hands-on and minds-on tasks. To facilitate parents’ understanding of the learning objectives of activities and the appropriate use of related materials, some teachers provide parents with brief notes and videos or QR codes that direct parents to websites for downloading information. Besides, some kindergartens encourage parents to give children simple tasks, such as making snacks, folding clothes and tidying wardrobes, so that children could learn in real-life settings. With teachers’ instructions and explanations, parents recognise that these tasks, though seemingly insignificant and ordinary, are conducive to knowledge acquisition and life skills development. For example, by tidying wardrobes or folding clothes, children learn to better coordinate their gross and fine motors, and to distinguish colours. For older children, the idea of sorting could be introduced in these tasks as well. Moreover, parents may allow children to decide what to wear for the weather, as a way of training children to take care of themselves. In the process, children learn to develop not only self-care abilities but also a sense of responsibility. Since children are fond of exploring on their own, parents are encouraged to be creative and work with children to invent games with rules of play using household items, so as to open up opportunities for children to gain diversified life experience.
Close home-school communication and collaboration
Both parents and teachers play a vital part in supporting children’s development. In the case of learning at home, parents’ role is even more crucial. To enlist parents’ support in fostering children’s healthy development, schools may provide parents with necessary information and conduct activities on parent education. Parents are not supposed to replace teachers, but their company and support are very essential to children’s learning at home. Kindergartens may encourage parents to take advantage of learning at home to spend more quality time with their children and create more opportunities for parent-child interaction. Teachers are expected to maintain close communication with parents to find out how well children are doing at home and what they need. Parents should be assisted to work out with their children a daily schedule for both active and quiet activities. This not only enables children to keep proper daily routine at home, but also prepares them well for the resumption of face-to-face classes.
Partnership with the sector for the common goal
Through different channels, we will continue to share with the sector schools’ practical experience of supporting children’s learning at home, in the hope of tapping into collective strength and wisdom for achieving the common goal with concerted efforts. In parallel, the EDB will provide kindergartens with resources to enable children to learn at home in a stress-free and joyful way. Details will be announced in due course.
2020 has been a year full of challenges. Once again, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to the kindergarten sector for addressing children’s needs with professionalism and great love, and in an inclusive manner. Looking ahead, the EDB will continue to work together with the sector in providing quality kindergarten education.
15 December 2020