As the new principal of the Woodland group of preschools, ADAM PATTERSON takes over a 40-year learning legacy in Hong Kong. We asked him about his approach to the role.
Where did you work before coming to Hong Kong?
I was the Head of Early Years at the Australian International School in Singapore. I’ve been working in international schools for over 20 years in Brazil, Malaysia, China, Kuwait, the United Kingdom and France.
What do you love most about working in early education?
I get asked this question a lot, especially as a male early years educator. The way we work with young children and guide them on their journeys to becoming compassionate, curious and passionate humans is crucial to the kind of world we’ll all be living in. If you want to see a real-life superhero, talk to an early childhood educator!
Why Woodland; what drew you to move countries and lead the school?
Woodland has a proud history of quality and innovation within the early childhood sector, and to be a part of this is something very special.
What are you most looking forward to about moving to Hong Kong?
When my family and I were living in Shanghai, we had a yearly trip to Hong Kong Disneyland, but this time around I have much more to see than the Magic Kingdom! I have a real interest in architecture and history, and I’m sure Hong Kong will provide me with many opportunities to experience both.
Hong Kong’s school system is renowned for being tough. What makes Woodland a soft place to land for families?
I love the saying “nothing without joy”; this is a good motto for life, but even more so for early childhood education. A happy child is a learning child; children are happy when they feel safe, respected and belonging to a community. At Woodland, these things are paramount to what we do.
What’s the most important thing parents can do to help their preschoolers thrive?
I love this question. There are many experts all over the world with answers and apps and books and other services for parents. However, it’s much easier and cheaper to follow the research, which basically says: speak with your child from the day they are born. Even non-verbal babies and toddlers benefit from taking turns in a conversation. Communication face to face with a caring, interested human (not a screen) increases a child’s chance of a success at school. Read to your child every day and let your children see you reading for pleasure – have books in your house!
To find out more about Woodland’s nine schools in Hong Kong, visit woodlandschools.com.
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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.