We were delighted to welcome the pupils back to Wellington College Bilingual Shanghai this week. With such a short space of time between the winter break and Chinese New Year break, we don’t feel like we have spent very much time together since 2016. However, we have a solid eight week run up to the next break, with lots of amazing activities and learning opportunities planned between now and the end of term, including two focussed activity weeks when the pupils will be involved in projects around ‘We are Thinkers’ (did you know it is World Thinking Day on Wednesday 22nd February??) and ‘Arts Festival’.
After ‘We are Thinkers’ week, the pupils will start to explore the next theme for their specific groups:
- EY1 – Let’s Explore!
- EY2 – Sensational Seasons
- EY3 – Lifecycles
The teaching teams have been busy planning the themes to ensure that the pupils have an abundance of opportunities to discover, investigate, learn and explore the world around them.
A Kind Request
Many of the pupils retuned to us after the break with a rather funky interpretation on the Wellington College uniform. Whilst we are happy to promote being individual and unique in our personalities and characters, the uniform is compulsory and Wellington parents are kindly reminded to ensure that their child wears the appropriate uniform for their year group. We are proud of our Wellington College uniform and wish our parents to help support the pupils in wearing the appropriate College uniform.
Wellington College – a Growing Community
We were delighted to welcome Murray Lindo, Head of the Wellington College Community Network to the setting today (CAN WE HAVE A PHOTO??). The Wellington College Community Network is made up of current pupils, Old Wellingtonians (and their children), parents (past and present), staff (past and present) and other ‘friends’ and strategic partners. Wellington College China are in the process of developing a ‘Wellington College China Community’ which will bring similar networks together to benefit pupils, as well as creating social and business opportunities for all members.
The Wellington Values
This Week Ahead will be the first in a series of articles that focus on how to promote the Wellington Values at home. Values-based education is an essential part of the Wellington experience and throughout the setting, the values of courage, respect, integrity, kindness and responsibility are prominently displayed through our words, work and actions. These values define, in essence, what it means to be a Wellingtonian. These values help us to make the best decisions in the present whilst reflecting on our past. Ultimately, they are the keys to success in the future as they prepare us to become role models and decent citizens who positively contribute to society. A key question that we often hear from parents is how they can create the conditions at home that will help their children truly embrace the setting’s ethos and identity.
The Value of the Week is Courage
What is courage?
Courage is a very important value that needs to be developed and nurtured in young learners. Courage in Early Years means being able to try new things, explore the immediate environment and the ability to openly and honestly say one’s thoughts and feelings politely but without fear. Trying new things might mean eating new foods such as vegetables, which may taste a little ‘unusual’ but actually necessary for our physical and mental development. It might also mean using materials in new and exciting ways such as moving toy animals through sandy foam. Exploring the immediate environment could mean searching for fallen leaves and rocks and not being afraid to touch or dig them out of the dirt. Finally, expressing one’s opinion could be as simple as having the courage to raise one’s hand and say, “I like the soup, may I have more please?” A child can also show courage by saying which song he or she would like to sing. All of the aforementioned require the ability to move out of one’s comfort zone. For young children, it also requires the encouragement of a supporting adult.
Teachers utilise a plethora of activities that naturally create the conditions where courage can develop. Teachers, by their very nature, like to make good use of encouragement through their daily interactions with children and, in general, within their practice. The word “encourage” in English means to motivate, inspire and give confidence to another person. As the word “encourage” contains the word “courage,” the literal meaning of this word is to make someone courageous. Encouragement involves providing opportunities for children to be proactive, share in the decision-making process, make mistakes and try and try again in activities that they pursue. Encouraging young learners also means making effective use of praise and acknowledging children for their efforts to be courageous and experience new things.
Communication about values is essential
Talking with your child’s teacher about the value of courage is good start toward promoting this value at home. Working together, you will be able to pinpoint key areas that your child has shown courage in as well as areas for further development. The benefit of using the values as the point of reference in the conversation is that you will find that in order to promote one value, your child will need to possess multiple skills. For example, being able to make a suggestion or opinion at the setting in front of a group of people requires: confidence, the ability to raise one’s hand at the right time so as not to interrupt, the ability to engage and make eye contact, the ability to make a polite request as well as the ability to be resilient and control one’s emotions if others disagree. Teachers spend much of their time assessing children’s abilities to engage in these skills. These skills are gradually developed over time at the setting and home and are a culmination of all of your child’s acquired competencies. Thus, courage is not developed overnight but the result of making progress in a variety of differing environments (e.g. on the playground, in the living room at home, in the lunchroom or multimedia room). It is for this reason that communication is important and by working together we can be aware of what we need to do to further develop our children. Furthermore, it is from this communication that we truly come to understand the enormous task that teachers and parents share in helping children learn to embrace Wellington Values. It certainly is not simply a matter of saying “please” and “thank you.”
Developing courage through encouragement and engagement
Reading stories can help children understand the concept of courage through example. The stories “Jack in the Beanstalk” and “The Little Engine That Could” are stories where the main characters must display courage in order to succeed or triumph under difficult circumstances. Usually you can find examples of key values in most stories written for children in Early Years. My favourite story of courage is “The Little Red Hen.” In the version of this story that I like, the hen goes through the process of planting wheat, harvesting it, and preparing muffins in the oven. While she is doing these activities, her requests for the other animals to assist her in her endeavours are repeatedly denied. She didn’t let that stop her however. It was her resilience and determination that led her to bake the cake and enjoy it by herself. The story highlights the amount of courage that it took for the hen to persist in her endeavours. With that said, it is important to encourage children to finish what they start. For example, if a child is racing outside on the playground or at the park, we should encourage them to finish the race regardless of whether he or she will win or not. We should encourage children to try to finish the food on their plate if they can. I think that there is something motivating and courageous about finishing what we start even when we are nervous about the result. This is possibly because every time a child tries to complete something and does so successfully, he or she is building confidence, self-esteem and resilience. With each attempt, a child gains more competencies and a better understanding of him or herself, others and the world around him or her. This then forms a positive feedback loop resulting in greater displays of courage as well as other values such as responsibility and honesty. The more opportunities that we give children to explore and experiment, the more likely they are to embody values such as courage.
Here are some guidelines for teaching courage that are exciting, wholesome, and worthwhile. At home, try to:
1. Use verbal praise: When a child does something well, praise him or her for the accomplishment. For example, if a child comes into the setting without crying for the first time, acknowledge this action by saying “Good job for doing……..!” or “Well done for………..!” Use praise even when they give it their best and are initially not successful, “Well done for trying your very best!”.
2. Try alternating your daily routines: Get your child used to change by doing things differently from time to time. If you usually sit on the carpet to read, try sitting at the table from time to time. Part of developing resilience is getting a child ready to embrace change calmly. Change is a natural phenomenon but we need courage to prepare ourselves for it.
3. Encourage your child to try new things: Perhaps, your child doesn’t like to eat tofu or has never tried it. What would happen if you mixed tofu with his or her favourite meat or vegetables? What if you showed your child that you liked to eat tofu and that it is tasty? Is your child afraid of dogs? Has he or she ever seen you playing with man’s best friend? Sometimes to get a favourable response, it is important to model the value that you would like to see.
4. Promote independence: Let your child have a go sometimes by him or herself. They may spill some soup or waste some rice on the floor but that is understandable. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Eventually they will get it right. It just takes time.
We must be cautious that we do not ignore the importance of a healthy fear when developing courage. Safety should always be our first priority and children should never engage in activities that could jeopardise their health or wellbeing. When thinking about activities to teach courage, ensure that they are age appropriate, will have an adequate amount of adult supervision and will allow a child to work at their current level or ability. If in doubt, try doing an internet search for developing children’s courage. There are many websites with detailed, picture descriptions of age appropriate activities that explain how to develop courage in children.
In summary, courage is an important Wellington Value which is a cornerstone of healthy childhood development. When children display courage, they often utilise multiple skills such as giving their opinion confidently or controlling their emotions. Open communication between parents and teachers is critical in creating a culture that promotes and emphasises values development. Values such as courage do not arise overnight but are encouraged, reinforced and nurtured over time. Promoting values at home involves praise, alternating routines as well as allowing one’s child to be curious and independent within a safe environment.
Classroom News for week beginning 13th February
Early Years 1
EY1 is continuing to explore feelings and now have a repertoire of songs to support our topic. Children have a lot of fun when we sing ‘If you’re happy and you know it’! To help in visualise emotions, we are going to make emotion art and crafts; sad faces, happy faces and we will also talk about worries.
We are going to read the Very Lazy Ladybug and ‘wo hao dan xin’ and the song ‘zhao pengyou’ will be also be sung. The EY1 children have started to understand better the concept of kindness. We are going to work every day on how to be kind to others, use our kind hands and words. Teachers are the models for our children. We model for them every day using positive language only, kind words and we show them how to use kind hands.
Early Years 2
The end of the dinosaurs is here, it is time for their extinction! Unfortunately, this is our last week on the topic of dinosaurs, during which time we will look what happened to them and where are they now. We will be investigating dinosaur extinction through theatre where the children will be introduced to the different theories of how the dinosaurs became extinct both in English and Chinese days. The children will use their listening skills to play our dinosaur freeze game during which time we will talk about fossils. To allow the children to express themselves they will be creating their own dinosaurs as well as naming them, ready to go into our dinosaur museum. To finish this topic off with a bang (not literally), the children will explore what happens when a volcano erupts. The children will also take a trip in the “time machine” to imagine a life where dinosaurs and humans get along.
We will have our English stories ‘Dinosaurumpus’, ‘Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs’, ‘How do dinosaur series’ and Chinese stories ‘你看起来好像很好吃’, ‘我是霸王龙’. Children will enjoy our daily singing with ‘Dinosaurs Lived a Long Long Time Ago’， ‘We are the dinosaurs’， ‘T-rex stomp around the earth’, ‘如果恐龙还活着’ and ‘恐龙灭绝的原因’.
Early Years 3
In Chinese in EY3 next week we will be returning to our pirate theme. We will be introducing the story ‘Finding Treasures’ and encouraging the children to predict what will happen at the end. The children will also be sorting different types of pirate hats according to their colour, shape and size and using their map skills, our little pirates will be investigating the compass directions North, South, East and West. In English, the children will be revisiting the story ‘Pirates Love Underpants’ by Claire Freedman. During activity times, we will be using the pirate versions of ourselves that we designed last week to make some items for us to wear when we turn into real pirates! In phonics, we are going to start to do some writing, using the sounds we know to explain some of the things we have drawn.