Date
13 December 2017
Kindergarten 1 pupils may be too young to be given writing and drawing exercises because their arm and wrist muscles are just starting to develop. Photos: HKEJ, Facebook/不願小朋友成為功課奴隸
Kindergarten 1 pupils may be too young to be given writing and drawing exercises because their arm and wrist muscles are just starting to develop. Photos: HKEJ, Facebook/不願小朋友成為功課奴隸

New kindergarten guidelines seek to reduce stress on children

The Education Bureau has issued revised curriculum guidelines for kindergartens, putting emphasis on fostering children’s holistic development rather than assignments and classroom drills.

The new guidelines will replace the existing version launched in 2006 and pave the way for the launch of the free quality kindergarten education scheme in the 2017/18 schoolyear, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Under the new guidelines, pupils in Kindergarten 1 will not be assigned writing tasks, while mechanical copying and calculations should not be given to those in the second and final year in the kindergarten.

Kindergartens that ignore the guidelines and fail to pass the quality review to be conducted by the bureau could lose government subsidies, the report said.

Dr. Anna Hui Na-na, chairperson of the ad hoc committee on the new kindergarten curriculum guidelines, said children entering the kindergarten are just developing their arm and wrist muscles, which is why teaching them how to write at that stage may prove unhealthy.

Hui said it is better to improve their motor skills, body posture and muscle development through games and other activities.

Once the children are equipped with pre-writing skills, they can start doing simple writing exercises, she said.

Hui encourages kindergartens to arrange homework that is not too difficult to avoid subjecting children to unnecessary stress, help them find interesting topics to learn, and design more parent-children activities.

A father of two schoolchildren, surnamed Chan, said he hopes his kids can relax and play more, instead of having to do so much homework every day. 

However, he also fears that if his children are given to much down time, they may not be able to catch up with the classroom lessons when they enter primary school.

Under the guidelines for primary school curriculum, writing exercises and dictations are postponed for at least one school term in order to give children enough time to catch up with the lessons and learn.

Deputy Secretary for Education Dr. Chan Ka-ki said the bureau has consulted school administrators, teachers and parents in preparing the new guidelines.

Woo Chun-sing, principal assistant secretary for education, said schools will undergo a quality review process to evaluate their overall performance, curriculum planning and implementation, school management and culture.

Legislator Ip Kin-yuen welcomed the new curriculum, but voiced concern over how the education bureau would determine if schools should be removed from government subsidies.

Tong Siu-fan, chairperson of the Hong Kong Kindergarten Association, agreed that children should not start learning how to write too early, but noted that some parents are very demanding and think schools are not giving their children enough work.

[Chinese version 中文版]

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