How do you inspire curiosity, collaboration and enthusiasm in young learners? By encouraging them to play and explore! And one way you can help to do this is by taking those little learners into spaces that are interactive, safe and fun. We find out how this preschool is giving little ones opportunities to learn outside the classroom and explore the big wide world.
At Hong Kong Academy (HKA), this commitment to play as a means of developing curious minds is front and centre. “Play is the brain’s favourite way of learning,” says GRETCHEN ABASOLO, a Learner Support Inclusion Teacher at the school. “It motivates and encourages our students to explore further and build their interests.”
“In playgroup, we ease children into the learning environment,” adds CHERYL SHANAHAN, HKA Playgroup Teacher. “Students confidently enter into play with no expectations; it’s open-ended, so they go at their own pace and start to make connections between the classroom and the world around them.”
As a through-train, IB World School, HKA provides an Early Childhood environment to support the confidence and wellbeing of the school’s youngest learners as they begin the journey from dependence to independence, and from learning to understanding.
Discovering the world: learning outside of the classroom
From those beginnings, it’s important that students are then given opportunities to interact with the larger world as they make sense of it, and to discover their role and responsibilities. To this end, HKA believes in taking students out of the classroom through a range of field trips where they have authentic interactions with their social and natural surrounds.
The Sai Kung location is ideal for this, as the natural world is right on the doorstep. At the same time, the school is fortunate to have great relationships with various groups in the town. For example, PK students have elderly “buddies” from the Sai Kung District Community Centre who they regularly visit, and even invite to school to enjoy classroom activities, musical performances and more.
Kindergarten students recently walked around Sai Kung town to learn about solids, liquids and gases, observing and recording examples of them around the shoreline and in the town. Meanwhile, trips to the police and fire stations help to develop an understanding and appreciation of the emergency services and different roles and responsibilities in society; and a trip to Hoi Ha marine park allows for a study of a mangrove habitat and the challenges associated with human interaction with the environment.
Aside from all the opportunities for play and exploration, the school’s lucky learners are also treated to a slew of specialist teachers, who work with them and give them the opportunity to develop their language, sporting, technical, artistic and musical talents. DESTA OLDS is a music teacher at the school; she says, “In Early Childhood music lessons, the children learn to express themselves musically with their singing voice, through dance and by playing a variety of musical instruments. Our youngsters are very creative and love to collaborate on performances for assemblies, music concerts and community events.”
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This article first appeared in the June/July 2019 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.