Yew Chung, where Children Speak and are Heard
YCIS Beijing’s youngest students in classes K2 to K4 have officially begun their third week of the school year. Their teachers are ensuring a safe and seamless return to school, especially for our youngest learners and first-timers. By the look of things many have quickly taken to their new environment thanks to the experience and passion of co-teacher Ayis and newly appointed Early Childhood Education Western and Chinese Coordinators Sinead Earl and Margaret Zhang.
Both coordinators attribute their love of children as the driving force behind their desire to become educators – something evident in their interactions with young students.
Sharing a similar passion for children, Madam Tsang Chor-hang who founded the first Yew Chung school in 1932 in Hong Kong, established an early childhood centre that embraced a holistic approach to learning – a revolutionary concept at the time.
Now, 88 years later and with campuses around the Mainland and in Silicon Valley, the Yew Chung Yew Wah network under the leadership of Dr Betty Chan Po-king, Madam Tsang’s daughter, continued with its pioneering innovations in ECE (and other levels). These now include our learning communities, which allow for a flexible learning environment and, more recently, the introduction of 12 foundational values, which guide our approach to teaching.
At the core of our ECE learning communities are a host of empowering connections – among teachers and between staff and students. These aid in bilingual learning, building student relationships and social skills and, of course, fostering harmony between home and school.
“Relationships are the key,” reiterates Sinead, a Londoner who has over 13 years of experience in early childhood education.
Both coordinators speak fondly of their experiences with students who visibly improved their abilities – social, academic, and motor skills – over the years. Developing diverse skills is important for this age group and care needs to be taken to value and heed children’s opinions.
Says Margaret, who has been at YCIS Beijing for six years, “We listen to our children.” It is a simple but powerful statement. And it is a way to show that opinions are heard and respected. Listening encourages children to share their views, challenge others, and raise questions about the world.
Our co-coordinators are looking forward to developing and implementing new initiatives such as Rhyme Time, which will be a tool to promote language learning, solidifying what is already in place and getting parents and staff excited about being a part of this community.
As Margaret says, “We are standing on the shoulders of a giant.” To continue the legacy of YCYW it is important that educators continue to be child-centered. Sinead echoes this sentiment underscoring how fortunate they are to be entrusted with young students by parents – a responsibility they do not take lightly. And it all begins with listening.