Teachers and students of Yew Chung College of Early Childhood Education Visit the University of Wollongong (UoW), Australia
27 November 2019
In order to broaden the international vision of students and deepen their understanding of early childhood education in different countries and regions, some of our Year 3 and Year 4 students of the Bachelor of Education (Honours) in Early Childhood Education, under the leadership of college lecturers, visited the University of Wollongong in Australia from October 26 to November 2 for a week of exchange and learning. This valuable experience was made possible by the Professor Shen Shir Ming Global Citizens Development Grant, generously supported by our inaugural President, Prof. Shen Shir-ming.”
Dr. Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, Academic Programme Director of The Early Years, UoW, and Ms. Karen Tonge, Lecturer of The Early Years, UoW, first conducted two workshops for students: “Introduction to Early Childhood Education in Australia” and “Early Science Learning.” In the workshops, Dr. Hewett designed an interactive session in which students could try all kinds of interesting scientific activities by themselves and intuitively feel how to bring early scientific concepts into daily teaching in ways that engage children.
Dr. Hewett and Ms. Tonge also led teachers and students to visit the early discovery space in the early childhood education center. Like the Pamela Peck Discovery Space in YCCECE, the Early Start Discovery Space of UoW promotes the concept of “learning through play,” providing not only a space in the community for families to explore and play but also a research base for an early childhood education center at UoW.
In the next exchange activity, Dr. Anthony McKnight led the teachers and students to discuss “The Significance of Culture for Early Childhood Education”. Everyone sat outdoors in the UoW Campus to discuss what culture is, how to connect with nature, and how to guide children to respect culture, understand nature and respect life.
After a day of theoretical study, the exchange included sites visits to observe first-hand kindergartens in Australia. Under the leadership of Dr. Hewett and Ms. Tonge, teachers and students visited two local kindergartens in Wollongong, Keriavillay Preschool and KU Wombarra Preschool, which were also affectionately called “Kindergarten in the Bush” and “Kindergarten by the Sea”.
Both kindergartens use the methodology of “learning through play”, by taking advantage of unique natural conditions, so that children can roam in the mountains, flowers, grass, blue sea and sky, and fully engage with the nature of play and creation. Our teachers and students expressed admiration for these natural learning methods.
(Keiravillay’s person-in-charge introduces their concept of kindergarten to YCCECE students)
Day 3 and Day 4
On the third and fourth day, students in pairs went to various local kindergartens for short-term practicum. In the process of practice, they interacted with children, actively communicated with teachers, constantly observed, asked questions and reflected, and examined different early childhood education environments from the perspective of early childhood education professionals.
Although the two-day practicum was short, the “student-teachers” have gained a lot. After just a few hours of preparation time, each group of members completed a rich and in-depth reflection report, which was praised by Dr. Hewett and Ms. Tonge who said, “The students of YCCECE are really wonderful. Their positive attitude to participate in the internship, their excellent ability to report and reflect, and their treatment of young children as well as their enthusiasm of childhood education make us believe that they will bring changes to Hong Kong’s early childhood education!”
On the last day of free time, YCCECE students enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Australia in Sydney. The exchange program lasted only for a week, although students would have liked to stay longer. Next year, UoW teachers and students of early childhood education will visit YCCECE. Through long-term exchanges and cooperation between the two schools, it is hoped students of both schools can become more professional early childhood educators in the context of internationalization.