Blog 3: Developing the curriculum
Since two weeks I have the honour to work at the EEG project for Heutink in China. The next few weeks I will write about the project and my experiences in China. In this blog I will introduce myself and tell you about the EEG project.
Iris & the EEG project in China
My name is Iris Bonhof and the last three years I have worked as a teacher at primary schools. Last year I also graduated for the Master Educational Science and I was co-developer at Stichting Leerplanontwikkeling. This year I had the luck that I came in contact with Heutink. They were looking for a person who wants to work on the EEG project in China for a couple of moments and I took this challenge.
At the moment I’m very busy with our curriculum. Deadlines are coming closer. We hope we can show an almost complete curriculum at the Hongkong fair in January. For this curriculum I’m working together with teachers and designers. Especially the Chinese teachers are really important for this process. We are all very critical and we use our knowledge and experience to make the best result. We also visit Kindergartens. This is especially for me very important to understand the differences between how the teachers are used to work and our curriculum. The last two weeks I have visited three Kindergartens.
Xiangshan. The two Chinese signs for this city name are ‘elephant’ and ‘mountain’. That’s why we saw a very big statue of elephants when we drove in the city center. The name of the Kindergarten means ‘sea view’ because this city part of Ningbo is close to the sea. I did get a warm welcome. A big sign on the school entrance said: ‘Welcome preschool expert Lris Bonhof to our kindergarten’. It was really friendly, with only the funny little mistake that my name was Lris instead of Iris. Outside parents were playing games they want to learn the children. They told us it’s really important that parents first check the activities before they offer it to the children.
This kindergarten has 600 children in the age from 3 to 6 years old. There are 19 groups with about 30 children in each group. Directly after the entrance there is a big role place area. Here the children can play a couple of times during the week under the guidance of teachers or parents. They already have some Educo products like the kitchen and the supermarket. The school building existed out of three floors. They pay close attention to children’s work and that’s one of the things I really like. They showed the children’s work in the classrooms and corridors. And they didn’t only have the corners, but also whole classrooms for a specific domain. For example: classrooms specifically for science or creativity activities. The biggest problem for this kindergarten, like most kindergartens in China, is: how do we offer the activities. Think about classroom management, focusing on learning goals etc. They were really interested in our curriculum after I gave a short presentation. There will be a follow-up visit, because this school really needs specific help with the implementation of the games and the curriculum.
After this visit we went to another Kindergarten belonging to the same school foundation. There are fewer children at this school, but the establishment was more modern. Really nice to see that they had designed their own hospital in one of the classrooms and in a corner of the corridor there was a supermarket and a bank.
Beilun. I also visit a recently built kindergarten. Before we went to this school we had to pick up a French couple at the Experiment Center of HaPe. The man of this couple is a Kindergarten expert. When we entered the center they were filming for a documentary about Peter Handstein. And directly we were asked to join. We had to play with some children. One of the many unexpected things that I experience during my stay. And those little things make my stay a lot more fun.
The kindergarten we visited will start in March next year. The principal showed us the now empty school and classrooms. She asked for advice about how to decorate the classrooms with furniture and the corners. She is working closely with EEG. EEG is helping with the development of this school. They will use the school day structure like in Europe’s kindergarten and the EEG curriculum as basis. It would be lovely to see this school in the future again when it’s running for a while.
And now we are ready to go to Chongqing. We will visit some kindergartens who want to know more about how play based learning can be part of their school curriculum. I will do two workshops to show how a day will look like with our curriculum and learn them to work with our games. I’m excited about it and it my next blog I will let you know about my experience.