Igniting Passion in Preschool Education
Highlights and valuable lessons from the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) Kinder College teacher training program.
At the age of three to six years old, a child can already undergo preschool education. Also called nursery, kindergarten, or day care schooling, preschool education is defined as a learning program which starts preparing children for formal primary education. It is believed that preschool education is crucial in a child’s development, as concepts and skills taught and introduced from the ages of three to six are most readily and rapidly absorbed.
In 2008-2009, the Department of Education reported that preschools had a total of 1,175,499 enrollees, a steadily increasing rate since the recorded 834,546 in 2004-2005. In fact, the total number of preschools in the Philippines has been markedly growing these past years.
Given the rising demand for effective preschool education—and effective preschool educators—former DepEd Secretary Jesli A. Lapus, signed DepEd Order No. 8, which signified that the “quality of experiences that children are exposed to, as well as the attainment of success in primary education significantly encourages children to stay in school and complete their elementary education.”
It was in this light that the HSBC Kinder College (HKK) teacher-training program came to fruition. The program aimed to improve the skills of preschool teachers by being informed on the latest progressive techniques for children aged five to six, to establish a successful and effective curriculum for teachers, and to develop more effective learners before they enter the elementary public school system.
There are three parts to the HKK Program: A) The Conference, B) The Laboratory Practicum, and C) The distribution of the HSBC Kinder College Ignition Kit.
Inspiring Preschool Teachers
Held on September 4-5, 2010 and September 11-12, 2010, the HKK conference invited 50 preschool teachers from among 187 applicants from the Sa Aklat Sisikat (SAS) partner schools in the National Capital Region (NCR).
One of the workshops conducted for participating teachers was led by speaker Germelina Salumbides, a BA English graduate from Maryknoll University in Quezon City with a Masters of Science degree in Elementary and Preschool Education from the Bank Street College of Education in New York City. At present, Salumbides is a reading and curriculum consultant for SAS and the Learning-Tree Preschool, and a part-time teacher at the University of the Philippines.
“My task during the HKK Conference was to review teachers on reasons, philosophies, and psychology of why they teach,” shares Salumbides. “If you truly understand how the child thinks, the structures for knowledge, and how a child begins to understand his world, then you can teach him better. Part of teaching is making them ask the right questions.”
Here are some pointers from Salumbides for preschool and elementary teachers:
- Ask the child to give a good example of what it is you’re teaching. “If he can’t explain it in his own words, then he doesn’t understand it.”
- Always think about where the student is coming from and what his basic premise is for arriving at that answer. “Stop asking ‘what’ questions. Ask ‘why’ and ‘how.’ When a child makes a mistake, instead of correcting them, ask how they arrived at that answer. Where was the weakness in their thinking? Look at the thinking and not at the person, so it doesn’t diminish him or her. You cannot understand something until you make a mistake. It’s in the back tracking that you understand.”
- Acknowledge the advantages of peer tutoring. “Peer tutoring is a great way of teaching other than lecturing. Each time the tutor explains the lesson, he gets to know the topic on a deeper level.” Another speaker, Katrina del Rosario, was part of the team from The Bridge School (TBS), a private, non-profit, co-educational early childhood learning center, which helped host workshops during the HKK Conference. “We knew that we had a great literacy program and various skills that we wanted to share when it comes to teaching and learning.” During the conference, del Rosario shared that they used several games, hands-on activities, and videos to rekindle the teachers’ passion for teaching. They also imparted lessons that the preschool teachers could take to heart or consider for interacting with their pupils. These are also applicable for grade school teachers,
- Give encouragement to the child when he or she needs it. “Instead of admonishing the child or pointing out the possible faults of the child for failing a certain task or assignment, teachers should assume a friendly approach and offer help so he or she can further explain the topic. This way, the child feels less hesitant or scared whenever he commits a mistake. The mistake becomes an opportunity for learning and improvement.”
- Children do better when they feel good about themselves and they know what is expected of them. “Problems and conflicts are wonderful learning opportunities that cannot be taught through a textbook but instead be facilitated by the teacher.”
- Try a morning message, written by the teacher each morning. “It’s a great way to get the children excited about reading, first thing in the morning!” shares del Rosario. Follow the morning message with shared reading to practice reading skills, and try coming up with reading play stations as well to reinforce all of the reading and writing lessons learned.
Learning From Each Other
Rosmito Rodriguez, Jr. from Fernando Ma. Guerrero Elementary School expressed his sincerest appreciation for the lessons he learned. “I loved the activities and I really want to use them in my classroom.”
Marilyn Panahon from Rizal Elementary School in Manila says, “I now have a deeper understanding for preschoolers and new techniques on how to handle four to five-year-olds,” Panahon says. “We’ve tried new songs that the kids love to sing along to and we’ve also applied modern instructional materials in the classroom.” These new elements incorporated into their curriculum have added an element of enjoyment to learning, so that kids will be more attentive during class time.
Even the speakers learned a lot from the conference. “As teachers, we too are still learning so we thought this would also be a great opportunity for us to learn from each other’s strengths and feed off each other’s passion,” del Rosario imparts.
“The participants were so appreciative,” recalls Salumbides. “It’s inspiring when you have that moment of ‘Aha! I understand!’ And when you reach that Aha moment you get inspired to become a better teacher.”