ABIE Shanghai helps with donations to Tibetan Charity School

American Baby International English (ABIE) in Shanghai, China setup a donation box in the schools campus to raise funds for the “Give the Gift of Literacy – Tibetan Charity School” Indiegogo fundraiser campaign.

With both staff and students donating money funds for our projects are really rising fast, both online and offline.

Parents said “We are fortunate here in Shanghai as we have access to so many good books that we sometimes forget how truly lucky we are. It’s is a great pride for us to be able to give from the heart and help out these students who have such a high passion for learning.”

The school owner, Andy, above with Ms Calope from OMW China, said we just wish we could do more to help and it is our great pleasure to have ABIE involved in with the work that One Million Words does for our country.

Thank You One Million Words

SenJiMeiDuo Tibetan Charity School Stage 1 donation

Hong Kong’s early childhood education lacks a vital element – FUN!!!!

A long-waited advisory report on the gradual implementation of free kindergarten schooling has finally been tabled by a government-appointed committee, arousing much heated discussion about kindergarten subsidies and voucher systems, teacher training and salary range. However, we should not allow debate about financial benefits or government responsibility to overshadow what really matters: our vision for early childhood education, and whether it needs to change.

An excessively long and harsh learning schedule will stress out the children.

An excessively long and harsh learning schedule will stress out the children.

A long-waited advisory report on the gradual implementation of free kindergarten schooling has finally been tabled by a government-appointed committee, arousing much heated discussion about kindergarten subsidies and voucher systems, teacher training and salary range. However, we should not allow debate about financial benefits or government responsibility to overshadow what really matters: our vision for early childhood education, and whether it needs to change.

Sadly, this vital point seems to be missing in the debate.

Besides transferring knowledge, the most crucial element of education is empowering students to learn from their mistakes and failures in a safe environment, such as a kindergarten or school. So, when students encounter challenges, whether in the form of study setbacks, exam failures or emotional attacks, they can try to overcome the difficulties with the help of guidelines and assistance provided by devoted and qualified teachers.

During this process, they can figure out who they are, where their talents lie and what they most enjoy doing. They will learn to understand their own strengths and weaknesses. This will help them find a direction, take responsibility for their own life and ultimately serve society well.

Since preschool children have yet to fully develop their physical muscles and mental cognition, it can be torture if they have to write thousands of words or repeat the same things daily, never mind being fed with burdensome information far beyond their level of understanding. For preschool children, a meaningful education vision would revolve around healthy and creative play in a safe environment, assisted by teachers and parents, rather than being force-fed knowledge.

When children engage in spontaneous, pleasurable and flexible activities, such as a rhythm game, for enjoyment rather than a serious purpose, they can happily develop their creativity, physical strength, emotions, problem-solving skills, concentration and empathy. It is evident that children who learn good social skills and have healthy emotions are more likely to succeed academically.

Moreover, abundant research has demonstrated that creative play has a strong positive impact on a child’s cognitive, linguistic, physical and social development in early childhood.

Research from Germany in the 1970s showed preschool students who attended play-oriented kindergarten excelled in physical, social, emotional and cognitive development compared with those who studied at academic-oriented centres.The findings motivated Germany to switch all kindergartens to play-based programmes.

If parents treasure the value of play, their sons and daughters will have wonderful childhood memories, which can better equip them to handle frustration, take responsibility and deal with setbacks with maturity and endurance. However, it seems some Hong Kong kindergartens and parents don’t see the same benefits in a play-based childhood education. Business-oriented kindergartens offer tough syllabuses with a view to attracting driven parents of preschool children. In response, some parents who fear their children may be left behind are blindly chasing the wind, and send their toddlers to tuition classes and extra-curricular activities.

I remember a young child of friends once sharing with me in confidence that she sobbed at night because she felt so exhausted and stressed by being coerced to attend different language training classes after school, followed by piano or violin practice. When she got home after fulfilling all those parental demands, it was often 7pm or 8pm. How could the toddler get sufficient rest for her long-term development?

Young children need rest, not just for their physical health, but also their emotional well-being. Any excessively long and harsh learning schedule, or having parents who are focused only on their academic results, will stress out the children, which could hurt their emotional development.

If they grow up in a cold and materialistic environment, lacking valuable relaxation and the joy of play, is it possible that such children will suffer emotional problems or even sickness later on?

Take one case, several months ago, of a 31-year-old man who was convicted of murder after killing and dismembering his parents. He claimed they had put him under great pressure. He was educated, with some Chinese media reporting that his IQ exceeded 120, above the average for most people. Unfortunately, it would appear that his higher intelligence, plus parental pressure, equated to a tortured life.

Perhaps Martin Luther King’s statement applies here: “Education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.”

Knowing right from wrong is easy; holding on to our principles requires not just being smart, but also emotional and moral intelligence. The best period for children to develop such intelligence is between three and six years old.

A solid foundation of healthy emotional experiences constructed in early childhood can lead to success and happiness in adulthood. Parents, teachers and the government need to treasure the value of play and moral education, starting from kindergarten. Will these become the new vision for Hong Kong’s education policy?

Closing The ‘Word Gap’ Between Rich And Poor

In Virginia this summer, Arlington Public Schools transported students in poor neighborhoods to community libraries for group readings. Studies say children from low-income families may hear roughly 30 million fewer words by age 3 than their more affluent peers. Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Getty Images hide caption

In Virginia this summer, Arlington Public Schools transported students in poor neighborhoods to community libraries for group readings. Studies say children from low-income families may hear roughly 30 million fewer words by age 3 than their more affluent peers. Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post/Getty Images hide caption

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In the early 1990s, a team of researchers decided to follow about 40 volunteer families — some poor, some middle class, some rich — during the first three years of their new children’s lives. Every month, the researchers recorded an hour of sound from the families’ homes. Later in the lab, the team listened back and painstakingly tallied up the total number of words spoken in each household.

What they found came to be known as the “word gap.”

It turned out, by the age of 3, children born into low-income families heard roughly 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers.

Research since then has revealed that the “word gap” factors into a compounding achievement gap between the poor and the better-off in school and life. The “word gap” remains as wide today, and new research from Stanford University found an intellectual processing gap appearing as early as 18 months.

That study led to some increased calls for universal preschool, but some say that’s not early enough.

“I recognized that we need to really start in the cradle,” says Angel Taveras, mayor of Providence, R.I.

He says two-thirds of kindergarteners in the city show up on their first day already behind national literacy benchmarks.

Next month, with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Taveras’ city will launch “Providence Talks,” a new effort to take on the “word gap.” Providence will distribute small recording devices — essentially word pedometers — that tuck into the vest of a child’s clothing. These will automatically record and calculate the number of words spoken and the number of times a parent and child quickly ask and answer each other’s questions.

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“We are very hopeful that we can be the laboratory here in Providence, and as we have success we can share it with the rest of the country,” Taveras says.

The idea was inspired in part by a research program called 30 Million Words in Chicago.

Aneisha Newell says that program taught her to talk to her young daughter in new ways. She says she never realized bath time — with colors and shapes of bubbles and toys to describe — could be a teachable moment. She ended up breaking the program’s record for the most words spoken.

And then there was the moment her daughter — not yet 3 years old — used the word ‘ridiculous’ correctly. Newell was amazed.

“It was just something that made me feel good as a parent,” she says.

Progress like Newell’s stems from a special kind of parent-child interaction, says Dana Suskind, a professor of surgery and pediatrics at the University of Chicago, who started the 30 Million Words program.

“We can’t just have people saying 30 million times ‘stop it!’ It’s got to be much more,” she says.

The parent should “tune in” to what the child is looking at, talk about it and ask questions that can create a sort of “serve and return” between parent and child.

Suskind says that research shows overhearing a cell phone conversation or sitting in front of a television program doesn’t cut it when it comes to building a child’s brain.

She and others hope to expand their style of training to day care centers and beyond. She says she hopes to eventually have it be routine for parents to learn about this at their newborn’s first hearing screening. She wants them to understand that their talk matters well before their baby starts talking back.