Hidden Valley Waterfall

Hidden Valley Waterfall

Friday, March 15, 2013

Seeing is believing

This morning, our preschool had the opportunity to attend a Chinese preschool for professional development and see how things are different. I had NO idea what I was in for. I figured it would look similar to ours, but it was nothing like ours. Most of the time, my only response was, "Wow".

To begin with, they start each morning with the kids walking in a circle doing exercises. This is a very common practice for adults to do as well. You'll see large groups outside of apartment complexes doing the same thing in the evenings.

We then go into the school where they have their morning breakfast/snack. There are no tables. They eat out of metal bowls in chairs, some being fed by the teacher. These are the 3 year old kids, keep in mind.

The children on the chairs in the background were finished and just waiting. No tables, no toys...just waiting.

We then observed "class time" which pretty much consists of singing songs at this age, as well as learning dances. We asked about the tables, which were stacked in a corner. Where do they color, paint, etc? We were told they do not do "work" at that age. Therefore, the tables aren't really needed except for lunch time. And as we saw in the rooms, there were no art supplies, building blocks, etc. It was very unappealing. At least in my opinion.

Their cots for nap time are kept in the rooms all day, so that takes up room. And the artwork you see was the extent of it. There were no calendars, no weather charts, abc, etc. Just a few things on the walls, which all seemed to be done by adults, or predominantly so.

The common areas, such as the bathroom, was another bit of a shock. There are no doors. There are not separate stalls. Boys and girls do not have separate bathrooms.

Ironically, despite using the same bathroom, they still line up in a boys line and a girls line. 
So, after visiting the younger children for a bit, we were taken upstairs, where the 5 and six year old kiddos were. There were other lessons going on here. First, we saw an art lesson. The teacher drew four steps on a chalkboard on how to draw an apple tree. The students were then given their own booklets to draw in and judged on how well they followed the steps.
 As you can see, it is important for them to follow the instructions given.

We then saw an English lesson in progress. The children were learning words to say what their parents did for work. They were repeating the English word over and over, as if in a boot camp environment. It was so cookie-cutter.

 As we went about the school (not very big at all), we noticed that there were little to no books. No art supplies about. No toys around. Nada. We asked. We were told that it was Friday, and the children would bring a toy from home to share with their friends for a change. The other toys were put away. They are only brought out for play time. They are not left in the rooms. Below is the only set of student books we saw.

 All of the rooms had the cots in them, but the older children's cots surprised us most. They are wooden and the surface to sleep on is a wooden plank. It is believed to be not only comfortable, but good for the back. So by age 6, they are sleeping on these.

 Being from America, I have never felt so uneasy in a school setting. I'm used to colorful wall art, visual learning aids, and toys. I was very anxious to get back to our school, where things feel right to me. My final two pics are rooms at OUR school. One is a 2 year old classroom and the other is a four year old classroom. The visual differences are very clear.

The 2's is on top and the 4's is to the right.

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