Experts Say: Learn Through Play

Children are at the heart of the Yew Chung 12 Values Early Childhood Education (ECE) Approach at YCIS Shanghai, where children’s interests drive their learning experiences. We utilise the “Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage” (EYFS) curriculum framework together with a unique Co-Teaching model to facilitate a bilingual, emergent learning environment in which both Chinese and English languages are equally valued.  

Our international curriculum allows children to discover the joy of learning through a balance of play and structured activities and at a rate that suits the individual needs of each child. Play is a fantastic way for children to explore the world and their place in it. It acts as a vehicle for learning during the early development stages (ages 1–5) when children’s bodies and minds are growing at a rapid rate. Therefore, our curriculum needs to be robust and flexible enough to accommodate all the changes that occur during these formative years. Western Head of ECE at YCIS Pudong, Ms Joanne Beaumont-Bates, explained:

"Learning through play is more meaningful to children because they are leading their learning, allowing them to take an active role in their experiences. Research shows us that this practice is more significant than others because we learn and retain more information within environments that allow us the freedom to explore."

Ms Daisy Xu, YCIS Puxi ECE Chinese Curriculum Coordinator, outlined what our teachers may do when observing children while they play: "During play, teachers constantly observe the children and listen, think, explore, search, and reflect on their motivation and their play." She added that ECE teachers must ask themselves: “How can we stimulate the true potential of each child, ignite creativity, and promote their development?"

At YCIS Shanghai, to offer the best child-centred learning, teachers constantly review the activities in which children engage. The co-teachers use the EYFS framework as a reference and discuss with each other to make changes, additions, and adjustments to the curriculum to achieve the best possible outcomes. Teachers need to grasp the fundamentals of child development and the basic principles of education while also bringing a sense of reflection in their assessments.

The founding of the Chor Hang Educational Research Institute (CHERI) in 2016 enables the continuous review and enhancement of the Yew Chung curriculum and pedagogy and engages with the broader professional community. All our educators in ECE have a background in child development, which helps them equip the children with the foundational skills needed for lifelong learning. Furthermore, YCIS employs specialist leaders who work on campus to oversee the implementation of the curriculum best practices.   

"One of the reasons I am here is because we are so keen to ensure our standards in early years education develop consistently over time. We created an in-house research centre with CHERI that shows the dedication and commitment of Yew Chung to constantly improve the curriculum for children in the 1–5 age group," said Ms Miriam Shah, YCIS Pudong Early Years Curriculum Coordinator.

In ECE, our core focus is to ensure that children see themselves as competent learners and know they are valued, respected, and understood to be responsible citizens. Such experiences give children a strong foundation for their education and help them greatly when they move into the next phase of their journey in Primary, Year 1. Learning through play contributes positively towards a child’s future ability in school, and later, toward their success in an increasingly globalised world.

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