10 Jun, 2022
10 : 00
A holistic learning environment is proven to help young learners begin to develop a sense of self, and learn to build authentic, trustworthy and respectful relationships.
When it comes to instilling personal values and skills that will lead to later successes in life, a positive early childhood education cannot be underestimated, experts say.
During these formative years from zero to six years old is when rapid neurological development happens in children. As such, a holistic learning environment is proven to help young learners begin to develop a sense of self, learn to build authentic, trustworthy and respectful relationships, as well as discover the world around them.
For these reasons, Yew Chung International School (YCIS) places incredible value into making sure that they are helping children to build a solid foundation of values and skills that they can take with them throughout their lifelong learning and personal journeys.
With a rich history of almost 90 years providing quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) in Hong Kong, the school prides itself in two areas: being a forerunner of play-based learning in Hong Kong, as well as its dedication to uphold its “12 Values” through the Yew Chung Approach.
According to Amy-Leigh Hood, Assistant Co-Principal of the ECE section: “Our approach to learning is unique and has shown over time to be successful”.
The school follows a Chinese and English bilingual programme for all years. The Infant and Toddler Learning Programme (ITLP) and the Kindergarten Programme is guided by the developmental outcomes of the Early Years Foundation Stage of the National Curriculum of England. In line with this curriculum is an emphasis on the motto: ‘Development Matters’ with focus areas placed on seven domains. These include physical development, understanding the world, expressive arts and design, personal, social and emotional development as well as Mathematics and Literacy.
Underscoring this curriculum is a further emphasis on four principles which assert that: every child is unique and is a competent learner; children are engaged in building positive and trustworthy relationships; the environment in which children learn in plays a key role in their development and learning and that children develop a global perspective through the multicultural and multilingual focus.
Beyond these four principles, what else makes the school’s early years programme stand out are its 12 Values which form the Yew Chung Approach. This was developed over a period of time by research done by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Some of the 12 Values of the Yew Cheung Approach include: children are worthy of our respect and admiration; children are capable and can be trusted, members of the teaching team work together as equals, and teachers and children construct learning together.
While all values are equally important and foundational to the work that the school does. Hood highlights a few to illustrate how the school embeds them into its curriculum.
“Firstly ‘Value 1: Children are Worthy of our Respect and Admiration’ really frames all the work that we do, reminding us of the reason our work with young children is so important,” she said.
Every child is respected as a unique individual, and teachers and leaders are focused on creating opportunities and developing ways that enrich and deepen their individual strengths as well as support areas for growth.
Another value that Hood talked about was ‘Value 4: Strong Relationships Must Be Developed Between Teachers and Children’. She explained that children learn in the most authentic way when they know that they are safe and secure. This is how trustworthy relationships with those who care for them are formed. This is also why there is such an intentional focus on building relationships and trust between student and teachers, further extending this to the parent community as well.
Another value is ‘Value 9: Children are Supported in the Use of their Home Language’.
“We are intentional about celebrating and supporting children in the development of their home language, as well as supporting them in becoming multilingual learners,” Hood said. As a bilingual school, a key tenet is a belief that children can flourish and best express themselves in the language that they naturally think and process information in. Hood explained that this is in fact powerful in aiding the acquisition of knowledge and other languages.
As a school, YCIS is proud of its 12 Values within the Yew Chung Approach and many believe it is what makes them stand out further lending to its success.
“Our 12 values are intertwined into everything we do as a school. They are instilled in the work we do within YCIS and are referred to in discussions, reflections, planning and learning,” Hood said.
She adds that “the two values that really underscore everything is the way that we view children and our perspective on how, valued, admired, trusted, and respected children are as individuals,” she said. “All the work we do with children and families is based on our image of the child and how important their learning, growth and development is to us.”
So even given the current online learning during COVID, YCIS has never wavered on its dedication towards creating interactive, engaging and stimulating online sessions. As in the classroom, children’s interests, ideas and individual queries continue to be a strong focus as well as the support offered to families through workshops, connection or resource boxes sent home. This is all constructed through well thought out reflective discussions amongst the teachers and leaders in order to create an off-campus online learning experience that fully honours the Yew Chung way.
“We are determined to provide children within our ECE with the best learning experience, whether we are online or face-to-face on our campus,” Hood said.
Source: South China Morning Post, https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/education/article/3180604/implementing-core-values-start-ycis
Teachers use music and singing to engage children and support their auditory skills and language development from a young age.
Collaboration with others is an important part of learning and development in an Early Years context
Teachers engage in learning alongside children in both English and Chinese, challenging their thinking and supporting their developing skills
Children’s curiosity and investigation is encouraged as they explore their ideas through play opportunities
Engaging with children at eye level, helps to strengthen relationships and ensure children feel valued and respected within the lending environment