A four-year-old student pauses as he is about to climb the large wooden central staircase in the entrance of Sai Kung international school, Hong Kong Academy. While students stream past him as the school day gets underway, Primary School Principal Virginia Hunt keeps a close eye on the PK2 pupil as he attempts to take off his fleece unassisted before tackling the stairs.
While she is ready to help him if needed, she’s also conscious of giving him space to develop his independence. Before there’s a need to intervene, a friend arrives and offers to help with the fleece and the two young boys climb the stairs together.
It’s a small moment, but Virginia knows it’s a significant one in terms of the development of collaborative skills between the two young students. “The day has not even begun and there is so much wonderful exploration, discovery and interaction already under way,” she says.
Makers of meaning
Hong Kong Academy has more than 600 students, offering the International Baccalaureate Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programmes for students from Pre-Kindergarten through to Year 12. The school’s ethos is to foster creativity, communication and problem-solving skills in students to allow them to achieve their best and prepare them for the future.
This begins from the Early Childhood programme, which consists of PK1 (Pre-Kindergarten) classes for three-year-olds, PK2 for four-year-olds, and kindergarten for five-year-olds, and also includes Grade 1. The school has small class sizes with a student-teacher ratio of six to one, and a full-time Mandarin co-teacher in the PK1 and PK2 classes.
“Students at HKA are the ‘makers of meaning’ in their cognitive, social and emotional development,” Virginia says. “Teachers keep students at the centre as they wait, watch and wonder, and continue to learn about the joys of early childhood development.”
A family affair
Virginia says that HKA understands that parents want the best for their children. “We strive to give the students – and you – a learning experience that supports the whole family,” she adds. “We make a commitment to parents, knowing that parents know their children best. So, our teachers welcome parent engagement and conversation.”
Another key factor, according to Virginia, is that the school’s Early Childhood teachers are committed to crafting a learning adventure that is relevant to each individual child. “Our classrooms are places of endless possibilities where little voices are heard and nurtured as they discover the wonders of the world and their role in it.”
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This article first appeared in the June/July 2018 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.