February 7, 2017
Before the weather cooled down, some of the youngest students at YCIS’s Hongqiao Campus were greeted by the formidable sights and sounds of a local Fire Engine rolling onto the campus. Students were captivated by the sight, since they were immediately aware of what a Fire Truck was, and its duties to society. Excitement ensued when it was realized that this very special visit was meant precisely for them.
The emergent, international education at YCIS allows for learning which is driven by students’ interest and activity during the normal teaching process, as well as the specific interests that emerge from students throughout their day. In this particular case, the arrival of a fire truck on campus was the result of student’s interest, and how that interest impacted the direction of education in terms of language learning, spatial learning (through crafts), and character education.
According to Ms. Bernadette Silcock, Hongqiao Campus’ Early Childhood Education Coordinator, “The best way for people to understand our emergent curriculum is through examples. In this case, the teachers noticed that children were enjoying role playing as fire fighters. The teachers responded to this interest by supporting language in English and Chinese through stories and songs about fire fighters and by helping the children to build props to support their play, such as a big door with flames, axes to cut the door, and a giant ladder. The Kindergarten 2 (K2) children were involved in designing these props, and this engagement further motivated their play. They used large boxes to make a fire engine that the children could ride in, and by this stage their language and knowledge of fire fighters had increased and they could add a lot of detail to the fire engine and were happy to explain it to visitors who came to their classroom. Although they were fast becoming experts, the K2 children still had some questions, so the faculty invited the experts from the Tian Shan Fire Station to come to school to and answer the childrens’ questions. The Fire Fighters brought their Fire Engine and children were able to identify the features which most excited them, including the ladder, the siren, the huge wheels, and of course, the fire hose. The fire fighters showed the children how they climb the ladder in a rush and how they could change their clothes very quickly. In this way, the teachers supported the childrens’ interest, which nourished their creative thinking and also fostered a confidence that their ideas are of value. Children’s language in English and Chinese also flourished as their vocabulary rapidly expanded, and they were eager to share their knowledge with friends and visitors. The children also became aware that there are adults in our community who help us and keep us safe, and many of them have begun to assume this Helper/Hero disposition in their play and in their interactions with others.”
Educators at YCIS are intent on building outstanding cognitive, practical, and character attributes in students starting at a young age, that it is their mandate to witness the magic that comes from children’s play, and to turn that interest into real educational opportunities. And with the long-established history of YCIS, the fire department were delighted to have received the invitation. To learn more about how YCIS shapes student educational experiences, please click here.