We’ve been friends for 100 days!
Where has the time gone! On 13th February, we marked 100 days of friendship at Wellington College Bilingual Shanghai by asking the children to create artwork of them and their friends. The outcome was the stunning display that you will see in Reception – the children have formed remarkably close relationships with the other pupils in their class and demonstrate a sense of security in their Wellington family; it is all very heart-warming to witness.
We are Thinkers Week – week beginning 20th February
Next week, the teaching teams have prepared some amazing activities for the children (check out Classroom News). Have you thought about the questions that you ask your child during your conversations? Try, as best as possible to have open-ended questions where the answer cannot be yes or no. For example, if your child is drawing a picture, rather than ask “Is that a cat?” to which the answer can be either yes or no, consider engaging them in conversation with something more akin to, “Wow, that looks amazing, I love the animal that you have drawn…….it looks very happy……” and see where the conversation takes you. We will be asking the children lots of questions about the world around them next week, please try and support us by considering the same at home – get the Grandparents involved too and get thinking!!
A special Invitation
There will be a very unique invitation coming home early next week for our young Wellingtonians……..I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we have a special birthday coming up soon. We opened on a leap year and therefore our true birthday will only be celebrated every four years. This year, we will celebrate being one on 28th February. Look out for the invitation coming home in the Wellington Weekly – the original artwork will be on display in Reception from Monday 27th February.
The Value of the Week is Respect (written by William Green)
This week, we will take an in-depth look at respect as a value to promote and develop in ourselves in addition to our children. Margaret Walker, a famous American poet and writer, once said that “friends and good manners will carry you where money won’t go.” In its basic sense, being respectful means being courteous and acknowledging others, particularly those who guide and lead us. We also show respect to our peers and those in need of our help and support. Teaching the value of respect in a bilingual setting means understanding the myriad of cultural backgrounds that define and have brought us together. The appeal of respect as a basic human dignity is nonetheless a universal phenomenon. This perhaps explains why so many of us from so many different countries are active participants in the Wellington College Bilingual experience. From parents to teachers and children, we have chosen this setting to grow and develop ourselves. However, if we are to become adept at showing respect, it is important to understand the unique and fortuitous set of circumstances in which we find ourselves. As the examples below will show, symbolic expressions of respect differ greatly from culture to culture and understanding these expressions of respect are key to understanding and appreciating the diversity of the human experience. This is necessary, I believe, as we move forward in this ever increasingly, highly connected, globalised 21st century environment and even more important as we prepare our children to inherit this world.
In Japanese culture, a complex system of honorifics are used to address senior people. For example, the word “taberu” means to eat but when addressing someone of senior rank, the Japanese will usually say “meshiagaru” which can be translated as “to eat honourably.” The system of polite language is very complicated for non-native speakers, but a typical conversation would go like this. Assume I wanted to ask someone about whether they had eaten or not. To my brother (a close connection), I would casually say “tabeta?” (You eat?) To my teacher, I would say “tabemashitaka,” (Polite: Did you eat?) which is the polite form of “taberu,” Finally, to the school principal (if I wanted to show respect), I would say, “Omeshiagarimashitaka?” (Honorific: Have you honourably eaten?) These honorifics, in Japan, are combined with ritualistic bowing, which also vary in degree and depth depending on who one is bowing to. These rich cultural expressions of respect are learned over the course of one’s entire life and probably differ from any expressions of respect that you and I are deeply familiar with.
In Chinese culture, Jean Jin (EY1 teacher) explains that children show respect by changing the word “Ni” (you) into “Nin” which has a similar connotation as “thou” in English. “Nin” can be used to address teachers, family members and those in other professions such as doctors and professors. Also, when children want to ask questions, they use “Qing wen” (May I ask…) before asking a question. It is considered polite in China for one to give one’s seat to the elderly when on the bus, train or on the subway. Older people show respect by going along with a senior’s opinion or suggestion even if he or she believes it would be better to do otherwise. Children in Chinese culture show respect by listening to and following the advice of their elders. Showing an earnest desire for learning with satisfactory and diligent completion of homework is considered very respectful indeed. Expressing the desire to learn is an integral part of showing respect to one’s elders in Chinese culture and is a major cornerstone that epitomises the concept of filial piety. After all, the rationale is that it is through learning that children develop the skills they need to be successful later in life. This learning, in turn, empowers children with the means to support their family later in life.
In the Western world, holding the door open for others is kind and also respectful. Around the setting, it is not uncommon to see teachers and parents kindly holding the door for each other. Respect is also encouraged in using expressions such as Mr. and Mrs. when addressing teachers or other professionals. Using polite and long forms in English, are usually considered politer than shortened, colloquial forms. For examples, it is better for children to say “yes please” to adults as opposed to “yeah.” In the English-speaking world, people also frequently avoid being overly blunt when disagreeing with others to show respect. For example, instead of saying “That is a bad idea!” people will often say, “What do you think about….instead?” or “How about…?” Respect and kindness seem to go hand in hand for many Westerners. Therefore, in many Western cultures, teaching children to have manners such as being polite, generous and positive are synonymous with developing children’s ability to be respectful.
Finding Common Ground
In nearly all cultures, spitting, yelling, cheating, fighting, screaming, taunting, bullying, unfairly discriminating against or harassing others are considered disrespectful forms of behaviour. Although, different cultures have differing ways of expressing respect for sure, there are several common behaviours that ultimately define what it means to be respectful. These behaviours are embedded within the way we greet and treat others, the way we show gratitude, our personal habits, as well as our table manners. What you will notice is that for these expressions of respect to be impactful, we must go beyond the words, cultural clichés and symbolic expressions. To my mind, the currency of respectful behaviour is sincerity in action.
The most basic form of showing respect comes from the way we greet each other. Greetings include things like “good morning” and “good bye’. It is not simply enough to say “good morning” however. One must say it with feeling in a positive tone while conveying enthusiasm through one’s gestures, attitude and facial expressions. In other words, our greetings must be sincere and wholehearted. Through greeting others, we acknowledge and set the stage for the creation of enduring, dynamic relationships. When children at the setting are learning to greet each other, parents and teachers should take care to ensure that their intonation and expressions are appropriate in accordance with the language that they are speaking.
Showing gratitude means expressing thanks to others for helping us. When we request things, we ask politely. For children, this means learning to ask for things using expressions such as “May I…” or “please”. Children also learn how to say “Thank you” when they receive what they have asked for. More than this, showing gratitude goes beyond words, it emerges when we give someone a hug, a high five, a handshake and when we proffer a smile of recognition. Parents can support their child’s development by having them use other expressions to show appreciation such as nodding, shaking hands, or even giving hugs when it is appropriate.
Personal habits are how we conduct ourselves to ensure that we do not annoy or make others feel uncomfortable. For children, this means, not picking their noses in public, spitting or coughing without covering their mouths. It means cleaning their noses with a tissue or getting tissue for someone who has coughed or sneezed. Being respectful means also means picking up things that we’ve dropped on the floor or cleaning up messes that we have made. Children in early years need special attention to ensure that they do not do these things. However, it is unclear how many young people know why they shouldn’t do these things. Sometimes, in developing children’s values, it is necessary to explain why we do some things and avoid doing others.
Table manners refer to the ways in which we eat at the table. In differing cultures, table manners vary, even the utensils do, but children are generally encouraged to eat all their food. Children are also encouraged to eat with utensils with the notable exception of finger food. Children are also encouraged to clean their mouths and clean and tidy up after eating. Of course, most people speak more quietly while eating. And of course, it is when we want to eat more that we can use those polite expressions that we’ve learned to make a request.
How Respect is taught in the setting
Sarah Peel, a teacher in EY2, says that teaching respect at the setting requires explaining the reason for respectful behaviour to children. Teachers explain that we are quiet in the library because we don’t want to disturb others. We line up in the hall and proceed quietly down the corridor for the same reason. Sarah says that teaching respect is all about “the immediate action” of engaging with others and interacting in the setting. In other words, teachers at Wellington College Bilingual Shanghai are always monitoring to ensure that children are on their best behaviour and providing explanations as to why respectful behaviour benefits everyone in the long run. Teachers in all year groups make a sincere effort to ensure that our children are saying please and thank you when they receive their lunch trays and when they request more snack and food. We try to model respectful behaviour whenever and wherever we can.
How you can promote respect at home
The following are tips that you can incorporate to help your child develop the value of respect at home.
- Teach positive language. Have your child say “please” and “thank you” when he or she would like to request something (for example: more food or his or her favourite toy).
- Manners are important. Have your child cover his or her mouth when she coughs, turn away from others when he or she sneezes, use a tissue to wipe his or her nose and say excuse me after he or she burps.
- Sometimes we need to say sorry. Teach your child to apologise when they accidently bump into someone.
- Greetings make our day. Make sure your child knows how to greet adults and their peers. When your child sees a teacher, teach him or her to say Mr. or Ms. Have your child say hello to his or her peers when they come into the setting.
- Model respectful behaviour: Let your child see you hold the door open for others, give your seat to someone on the bus, subway or train, or ask for more food.
To our Wellington College Bilingual Shanghai parents:
Please ask your teachers about being respectful and how you can help your child embrace this value more at home and at the setting. Practice a few of the tips mentioned above at home with your child. Keep a learning diary and note what worked well and what didn’t. Make a list of 20 polite and respectful words that you would like to teach your child in English and Chinese. Try to teach five of these new words every week for the next month. Don’t forget to let your child get the opportunity to practise using these words in real, authentic situations!
Classroom News for week beginning 20th February
Early Years 1
EY1 are little thinkers! We are going to have our ‘We are Thinkers’ week and EY1 will be working on how to solve daily life problems. What kind of problems do our tiny little EY1 children have? Putting on, taking off clothes and shoes (that is a BIG problem to solve for our little ones!).
We are going to give children a chance to think, be thinkers and share their ideas. They will find out themselves blocks are useful for so many things other than building, tables can be little houses and chairs can become a train or a school bus to sing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ on them!
Support your child at home. Give them the chance to solve their problems by themselves. Teach them how to do things and let them have a try, get it wrong and try again. Get ready 5 minutes earlier than usual and give them the chance to put their shoes on by themselves, teach your child the steps, make them feel safe when doing it. Encourage them to be independent and don’t be too quick to jump in – having a go is one of the key characteristics of effective learning. We are going to be reading ‘My Big Shouting Day’ and singing ‘Hello!’ along with the other songs that we practise every day.
Please note the weather is becoming warmer. Look at the temperature before dressing your child in the morning and so they will feel comfortable in the classroom. Wellington College Bilingual Shanghai winter jacket is mandatory. Please make sure your child has it and so she/he will be safe to play outdoors!
Early Years 2
Someone once said “Invest a few moments in thinking. It will pay good interest”, and so this week to go hand in hand with World Thinking Day we will be setting the children the task of thinking. During the week, the children will be solving different problems through experimentation relating to colour, balance, ramps, bridge and tower construction and water movement. We will be challenging the children to think outside the box, to be courageous with their ideas and to be resilient when their ideas don’t go the way they planned.
The book that we will be reading this week in English is ‘Building Up: A Celebration of Building’, by Christy Hale, and the songs will be ‘Build’ em Up!’ (Play School) and ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’.
Early Years 3
EY3 will be doing a lot of ‘thinking’ next week, especially about other people. We will be focusing on the value of respect by thinking and talking about the ways in which we are the same and different from our friends as well as children in other countries. We will be reading the story ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ by Oliver Jeffers and using this as inspiration to draw self-portraits of ourselves to put together in a crayon box! We will also be using eggs to have look at how we may all look the same on the outside but are quite different on the inside. In Chinese, the children will be comparing old Shanghai to the Shanghai we know today, talking about the changes we can see. We will be sharing an old traditional Chinese story and poem to help us to show care and kindness towards others. One afternoon next week, we will also be going to EY1 to play with the children and show how kind and respectful we can be as the oldest pupils in the setting.