We Are One!
February 28th marked the first birthday of Wellington College Bilingual Shanghai. What a fascinating journey it has been thus far; we have seen such astonishing changes, welcomed new additions to our Wellington family and strengthened the partnerships between parents and educators. As a team, we have grown in number too, and the non-academic and academic teams work cohesively to make the setting a place of warmth and welcome. It is very difficult for me to articulate what it means to be the Master of the setting; I’m continually privileged, humbled, amazed and grateful to be a part of the magic.
March means spring has sprung!
Ben Okri writes that March is a month of magic and changeability, its presiding deity is change. True magic is not pulling rabbits out of hats; it is the transformation of things. In March, seeds are transformed into plants. Dark days have passed; the earth shows its new face to the cosmos. The shape of the year is being prepared. March is the theatre of possibilities in their undeveloped stage. March is when the sun is born again in the promise of daffodils and the myth of the green man. The gods of nature make their triumphant return to the world, and herald the return of light. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/dec/17/2011-calendar-what-months-mean
In Shanghai, Spring represents the emergence of beautiful blossom, warmer (albeit rather unreliably so) weather and lighter evenings. The change in the weather bring yet another round of seasonal illnesses and it is important that children are dressed appropriately for the day. Wearing excessive amount of clothing overheats little bodies – better to have suitable indoor attire and put on winter coats when outside. A healthy diet and lifestyle, appropriate amount of sleep and exposure to the outdoors support a healthy immune system.
The Value of the Week is Responsibility (written by William Green)
Responsibility is a core Wellington value, one that is equally prized by people from all walks of life. Teachers encourage responsibility from as early as EY1 where children help pass out the afternoon snack, tidy up after reading in the library or use napkins to clean up after they’ve spilled soup on the table. Many parents equally encourage children to put on jackets, scarves, hats and shoes by themselves. To be responsible is to be accountable for one’s actions. This value forms the basis for being successful later in life. To be responsible, we must wilfully choose to act for the greater good. Most of the opportunities that come our way in this life are predicated on how responsible others perceive us to be.
I believe that being responsible requires children to carefully consider their and other’s needs and responding accordingly. When children wash their own plates by themselves, they are not only learning how to clean up after themselves, they are learning social skills as well. We all need to work together to solve problems. This can only work when everyone on the team is being responsible. Ultimately, the key question that emerges is how we can best motivate our children to begin behaving responsibly. To my mind, children need to have a sense of autonomy to truly engage in authentic acts of responsibility.
I am also convinced that taking initiative is a prerequisite for developing one’s sense of responsibility. When children decide that they want to take care of themselves and others, they are, in effect, on the path to becoming more autonomous. Thus, the decision to become independent, responsible actors lies with our children themselves.
In order to develop a child’s sense of responsibility, it is important that adults (parents, family members and teachers alike) allow children to take part in completing daily tasks such as picking up toys or items that have fallen on the floor and setting the table. Encouraging children to get dressed by themselves and put their own rubbish in the bin supports an understanding of responsibility. However, this needs to be a part of a daily routine; one that all members of the family support, so that expectations are set.
To ensure that children effectively become responsible, there are two areas that adults should consider carefully. First, it is important to scaffold or model responsibility for your child. Oftentimes, when parents begin allowing children to take the initiative, they will find that children make mistakes and complete tasks less efficiently. For example, you may find that children spill bowls of soup or have trouble pouring juice in the cup and perhaps do not tidy up as well as you would like. You may become frustrated or tempted to revert to doing things for them to save time. Ultimately, to help children progress, you should avoid taking over, rather try to communicate with your child. As you are acting responsibly, talk about what you are doing and explain how you are doing it. Say things like “Now I am washing my hands. I am using soap. Now I am rubbing my fingers together to get all the soap between my fingers. My hands are going to be very clean and all of the germs are going to go away.” Talk as you are engaging in responsible actions that you want your child to learn. Likewise, when your child is struggling to complete a task, coach them toward completion instead of doing the action for them. This process of talking while acting helps your child better internalise key behaviours that will help them become responsible.
The second issue that often prevents children from becoming responsible are rewards. While your child is learning to act responsibly, you may be tempted to give stickers, extra snacks or treats for a job well done. This, more often than not, is not a very effective way to develop the value of responsibility and the reason is clear, although usually in hindsight. When you give rewards for acting responsibly, you are sending the message that this value is not an expectation and that the reward is of equal to or of greater value than the action you want your child to engage in. If I give you a biscuit for hanging your coat up, I am essentially saying that hanging your coat up equals a biscuit. Most children will probably just think that the action (in this case, coat hanging) is meaningless and it’s all about doing whatever it takes to get the reward (the biscuit). What follows then is that when the reward is no longer available, the action stops or contrastingly, children begin to ask for more reward in a manner similar to asking for a pay raise or salary increase (e.g. “To account for inflation, I need two biscuits today mum!”) Thus, it is important to avoid giving rewards when encouraging children to act responsibly and instead make responsibility a household or classroom expectation.
Ultimately, being responsible manifests itself when children take steps to incorporate knowledge and advice that they have received in a meaningful way. In order to achieve this, children must be confident and believe that they have the abilities or skills to solve whatever problems they are faced with. As adults, we must encourage children to reflect on their actions and praise them when they get things right. This naturally leads children to contemplate and incorporate methods into their daily routines that enhance their progress. Overtime children become more and more aware of their strengths and weaknesses and take steps to improve. When you see your child acting responsibly, ask them to talk about what they have done and why it is important.
All children, regardless of ability, must, at some point in time, work with others to ensure the welfare and success of everyone involved. It is important that daily routines and schedules be placed on the walls to remind children what is expected from all members of the household or classroom. This will provide the necessary scaffolding to get children into the habit of acting responsibly.
At the setting, the icon for responsibility is orange and features a hand holding up a plant as an offering thus symbolising the act of giving and being considerate of others. Talk with your child’s teacher about activities that are taking place to promote responsibility at the setting. Try to incorporate some of these practices at home with your child.
Classroom News for week beginning 6th March 2017
Early Years 1
EY1 will be having lots of fun discovering how things work. We will be exploring the concepts of ‘on and off’, ‘open and closed’, and how things in our daily lives work. We will experiment with light by shining torches in the dark to find hidden objects and the children will have coloured boxes where they can also shine torches and observe the change of colour!
Children will engage in talking about how important it is to protect the environment and not waste the world’s resources. Children will learn where different waste materials should be disposed of; paper, metal, plastic and batteries are not to be disposed of in the regular trashcan, there is a special place where we can recycle them.
Water, salt and sand will be used to make science experiments and children will find out which of them is missing after mixing them together.
Book focus is Whose Hat is This?, Pa Lang Fei Popo and Ting Dian Yi Hou.
Songs being sung in EY1 are ‘Feeling the Beat’ and ‘Open and Shut’.
Early Years 2
As we leave spring and enter the second week of the topic of ‘Seasons’, we start to focus on our favourite season, summer. During this week, the children will be learning about the importance of protecting themselves when out in the sun through singing the song ‘Slip, slop, slap!’ (Words and video can be found by typing Slip, slop, slap into a Bing search engine). On English days, the children will make sun catchers and seasons mobiles, play imaginatively with our small world beach picnic area and look at different shapes, colours and smells in our natural world. On Chinese days, the children will find out how the summer insects sing. They will discuss their favourite seasonal food and summer fruit, make their own ice-lolly and get busy with some fingerprint painting of bugs and insects.
The books we will read include ‘Summer Days and Nights’ (Wong Herbert Yee), ‘Four Seasons Make a Year’ (Anne Rockwell) and ‘《蚂蚁和西瓜》’ (田村茂)
The songs we will sing are ‘The Seasons of the Year’, ‘Slip, Slop, Slap!’, ‘The sun has got his hat on’ and ‘Xia Tian Da Lei Yu’.
Early Years 3
This week we will be continuing to focus our learning on Little Red Riding Hood and storytelling. The children will be making stick puppets to help them become their favourite character and will be learning a series of songs to be able to tell the story in a different way. In each class, the children will create a small world play area based on a variety of other stories to really help them come alive!
Chinese and English book this week is Little Red Riding Hood and the children will sing a series of songs to support the story including:
- I love red
- Wolfie blues
- Let’s make a cake for Grandma
- Stay on the path
- Wolfie went a-walking
- What big eyes you’ve got
- The big bad wolf has gone