We’ve been thinking this week!
As part of ‘We are Thinkers’ Week, we marked World Thinking Day on 22nd February with some challenging activities to get our young Wellingtonians thinking about the world around them. From ‘Shoe Mountain’, balancing stacking and counting activities in EY1, colour blending, making rainbows and building bridges and towers in EY2 to thinking about ‘same’ and ‘different’ in EY3, the pupils have had a week of conundrums, problem-solving and experimenting.
Food for thought
Did you know that just 2.5 daily portions of fruit and vegetables can lower the chance of heart disease, stroke, cancer and premature death? A study by Imperial College London has recently found that whilst 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day is good for you, 10 is much better and could prevent up to 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide every year. Fruits and vegetables associated with preventing heart disease and stroke include apples, pears, citrus fruits, salads, leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. To reduce the potential risk of cancer, your menu should also include green vegetables (e.g. green beans), yellow and orange vegetables (e.g. peppers and carrots) and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage. Adapted from the Guardian at www.guardian.co.uk
Satisfaction survey – a set of delightful results
The results of the Parent Satisfaction Survey were analysed last week and I’m delighted at the responses from our families. The results demonstrated to me that our families truly understand and share our educational ethos and our values. Moreover, our families believe that we are doing the right thing for their child. Key points from the survey are:
- 88% of parents consider that Wellington provides a unique and special educational experience to the child
- 89% of parents agree that the setting reflects a sense of community that is important to the family
- 90% of parents believe that their child is happy and well-looked after at Wellington College
- 91% of parents believe that our educational philosophy matches with theirs
- 92% of parents believe that Wellington keeps my child safe
- 93% of parents are happy with their child’s teacher
- 97% of parents believe that the staff treat their child as an individual
- 98% of parents understand the Wellington Values and value them equally
- 99% of parents understand the pillars of the Wellington Identity
The Value of the Week is Kindness (written by William Green)
Last weekend, as I sat on the train with my son on the way to tap dance class, something interesting happened. Right across from us was a little boy who was four years old along with his father and mother. The little boy was very interested in us and wanted to know where we came from. I told his parents that we were
“Hello!” “How are you?” he said. “I am fine.” “What’s your name?” I asked in return, following the common protocol for typical conversations that we usually have in this kind of situation. Yet, interestingly, as this young boy wasn’t nervous in the slightest and seemed very eager to talk and keep the conversation going, I decided to press further for information. I found out his name and age. I learned that he was four years old and that his family were from another province and were now living and working in Shanghai. His father told me that his son could speak English because he normally attended a training centre at the weekend to learn English. He informed me that his English teacher was also an American.
In most cases, that would be the end of such an exchange in the metro and normally I would have gone back to talking with my son about tap dance practice. This time however something peculiar happened that would yet again bring this little boy back into the spotlight. As we approached Changshu station on line 7, an elderly woman got on the train. She held on to the rails where the boy and his family sat. The little boy turned and looked at his dad and said emphatically in Chinese, “Father, please stand up and let her sit down.”
When he said this, there was a burst of laughter throughout the train. Simultaneously, everyone turned their attention to the little boy near the train doors. The laughter, to my mind, was not because this was a humorous situation (although it was mildly amusing because the father promptly did exactly what his son asked him to do). The laughter was mostly out of surprise that a four-year-old child could be so aware, empathetic, and ultimately realise that we should give up our seats to those in need even as others sat or pretended not to notice. We can call this a form of respect. In addition, I believe that this represents, in its basic sense, a pure act of kindness out of genuine concern for others.
Kindness means being considerate and taking the time to think of how we can support others in their most precious time of need. Children around the setting have shown kindness by picking each other up when they fall, sharing toys with one another and of course saying “please” and “thank you” when they request and receive things. Consideration for others is a natural trait of mankind as a social species that only requires guidance and gentle reminders to be nurtured and to blossom into other key values that make it possible to form a civilised society.
Children, more often than not, seem to understand the importance of being considerate. I recall one child at the setting tried to feed me toy donuts during her first day at the setting because she wanted me to settle in well! Another child “found” my water bottle on the table and gave it to me. Other children enjoy giving high fives to each other or helping each other look for insects near the trees. It is this natural state of kindness that we need to build upon, particularly when it comes to language development.
Although children naturally understand the concept of being considerate, they still need to learn ways to express their kindness appropriately. For example, if the boy in the example above were older, he might have given up his seat to the elderly woman instead of asking his father to do so. Most children do not know to when they need to say “please” and “thank you” (There are adults as well who vaguely understand these concepts as well but that is beside the point!) Thus, we’ve got to nurture this value by giving concrete examples and modelling kind behaviour.
At Wellington College Bilingual Shanghai, we make it a point to teach values in our lessons. We have Wellbeing meetings that focus specifically on how we can promote values within the curriculum. For kindness, we’ve planned activities where children learn the terms “kind hands and feet” and “kind words.” When we say “kind hands and feet,” we teach children to pass things with both hands, pick up a friend when he or she falls, shake hands with each other, stand up together hand in hand, and be mindful of where we put our feet when others are around. When we say, “kind words,” we mean being polite, saying “please” and “thank you,” and using language to show consideration. For example, if someone falls, we might say “Are you okay?”
To reinforce our values, we’ve created logos that are displayed throughout setting which reinforce and serve as reminders for all children to keep our precious values in mind throughout the day. The symbol for kindness is an icon with two hands coming together in the shape of a heart. This reminds us that kindness is, at its very basic level, actions rooted in caring for others. If you happen to see the logo around the setting, remind your child what it means to be kind and ask them how they’ve shown kindness at the setting.
This is what we’ve been learning this month about kindness at the setting:
In EY1, we have been introducing the concept of kind hands, feet and words and will teach children to be kind to each other and how to help each other in times of need. For example, we should say “please” and “thank you” when we receive something from others and we should help to pick someone up when they fall.
In EY2, we have been exploring the friendship bridge which will help and teach children how they can solve social problems by themselves. We have also been sharing stories about how people should treat with others through reading stories such as “How do Dinosaurs do” (Social Stories) and the Miyasnishi Dachiya Dinosaur series.
In EY3 we have been talking about what it means to be kind – kind words, kind hands – and how we can use these in the classroom – helping to clean up, asking if people are okay and sharing with our friends. EY3 children also visited EY1 to help them with the things that we thought they might find difficult (e.g. putting on coats and shoes, and reading stories).
Speak to your class teacher to find out how you can better promote kindness at home.
Be that role model!
Classroom News for week beginning 27th February
Early Years 1
We will be having some fun opening and shutting everything we can this week! A toddler’s favourite activity is to open and close doors, books, drawers, bottles, window and boxes. We are going to have different coloured boxes and children will choose to open them and shut them and choose items they like to put inside and take out, describing them to their friends. Lots of lids, containers and boxes – the children will take their time to figure out which lid will fit on which containers. We will also be playing the “What is missing?” game to work on memory and attention. ‘Home for a Bunny’ will be read and the song ‘Open and Shut’ will be sung – the children love this song and they are always happy to sing it.
Children will have the chance to bring and open/shut item from home. They will introduce the item and share it with friends in class.
We are asking parents to support our Wellbeing programme by using positive language at home. Our youngest Wellingtonians are growing up fast and they are growing to be wonderful people. Try seeing your child as a pure and innocent little human who needs you to help him/her to become a well-rounded, kind and respectful person. ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ is widely used in our setting and if used at home as well, children will understand that is the right language to use, no matter where they are.
Early Years 2
Goodbye winter, hello spring – welcome to our new theme of Sensational Seasons! Spring is a great season for children to go out and discover new things. We will talk about the change of the seasons, encouraging children to share their discoveries, feelings and preferences. And we will make four trees of the four seasons, together with birds and insects friends. On Chinese days, children will decorate umbrellas in the rain, paint spring and make a kite. We will also have picnic on the playground and fly kites! Our stories are ‘Flower Grandma’, ‘The Diary of a Worm’ and our song is ‘We are going on a field trip’. On English days, children will get a chance to count flower petals and match with numbers; they will also play memory games of the seasons and seasonal clothes. The story focus is ‘Does a Kangaroo have a Mother too?’ and the song of the week is ‘Four seasons in a year’.
Early Years 3
This week in EY3 we will be starting our new theme of ‘Fairy Tales’. Throughout the whole of this theme, we will be developing our story-telling and imagination skills in both English and Chinese, and using books as the focus for our activities. The main activities that we will be doing will be mirrored in Chinese and English, so the children have opportunity for deeper and richer learning experiences. The children will be looking at the well-known story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ for the next two weeks. First, we will think of some actions for the story, so that we can join in when someone else is reading to us and even have a go at retelling it on our own! Then, we will use pictures to put the story in order, so that we know what happened at the beginning, in the middle and at the end. Building castles in the clouds and decorating the entrances to our classrooms will also be keeping us busy!