Thomas Ho – Programme director of early learning centre, KinderU
Most kindergartens go for a play centred approach. Do you think that this is the best way to teach young children?
Absolutely. When it comes to children they aren’t aware of whether something is difficult or not. So, if something is difficult but fun they’ll stick at it. But if something is easy but boring they won’t do it. Right brain education is therefore very important. When you’re using the right side of the brain you’re relaxed and having fun, so you’ll remember things much more quickly.
How long should a child of kindergarten age be spending at school?
Well I think how long a child spends in school each day depends on what he or she has after school, as well as on the quality of the school. If a school has the facilities to offer extra activities, such as Kung Fu or choir practice, it’s best for the child to stay in school for a full day. Otherwise, if you send a child to a half day school they’ll be running all over Hong Kong for extra curricular activities afterwards anyway. It’s best to just keep them under one roof. The child needs to bond with the premises and the people. The thing is, that in Hong Kong most parents work full days, so children are then left with their helpers at home and despite helpers being absolutely marvelous people, they’re not teachers, so keeping the child with the helper all day doesn’t always help. But it’s very dependent on the family situation.
What should parents be asking when looking for schools for their child?
Number one for a teacher would be ‘How long have you been in the industry and why did you choose to become a teacher?’ The motive is very important, you need to get a sense of their passion. You also need to understand what the school’s vision and mission is and then ask people in the school about it. This should come easily if they have a clear understanding of the school’s vision and are taking it seriously.