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Nurturing Individuality in a World of Standardization

The first step for parents to get their child into a prestigious school often starts as their pride and joy is taking his or her first steps. Competition to secure school places is so intense that toddlers are often booked into various classes to maximize their prospects of being accepted in school admission “interviews.”

Local education institutions are often accused of “force feeding” children to ensure they pass their exams, but this method does little to help children develop independent thought.

Swindon Education Limited’s Chairman John Leung, and Principal Carol Choi said they are not big fans of rote learning. Instead, they encourage children to learn from everyday life.

“We place strong emphasis on teaching children to take care of themselves,” said Choi. “We encourage children to learn through various activities and life skills. For example, there was a very popular recipe online about tomato rice recently, and our team decided to cook the recipe with our students.” 

Choi said such activities teach children a wide range of skills and also boosts their confidence and self-esteem. “One parent was delighted to tell us she was so proud that her 3-year-old child showed her how to make a pizza after making one in class,” she said.

Although teaching a child how to make a pizza is far more difficult than teaching them about weights and measurements, or new vocabulary, Choi said she strongly believes children learn far more than just how to make a pizza.

But how does she strike a balance between hands on activities and traditional classroom learning to ensure children advance academically?

Leung said that as they are a school, they are obviously concerned about students’ academic results, because further education greatly influences one’s future. However, children at pre-school age learn very differently from primary-school-aged children; they learn by doing and trying things, so hands-on activities are the most effective way for them to learn.

“We are completely open about how we teach, which is why parents are welcome to sit in a lesson anytime they want to,” he said. “This is also useful for students, because it makes them comfortable when they know parents are watching them, which boosts their confidence.”

 

The joy of learning

The school also stimulates students’ interest in books through its cosy reading corner.

“Reading is a very important way to learn, and we believe it is very important to help children discover the joys of reading,” said Leung. “Even our name, Swindon, is synonymous with reading, because Swindon was the first town in England to open a lending library.”

The kindergarten also places a strong emphasis on individuality. Instead of painting its walls with colourful scenes common in many kindergartens, Swindon’s walls are white and children are encouraged to decorate them with their own paintings and handicrafts.

 

Celebrating individuality

Swindon’s school anthem, “We Have a Dream,” tells the story of its education philosophy that everyone is special and unique. It also respects children’s individuality. A teacher-student ratio of 1:8 allows teachers to carefully follow each child’s learning progress and tailor activities to best suit individuals’ needs.

Its philosophy is winning over parents who want their children to grow up to be well-rounded individuals.  Although it opened in 2013, it already has 160 children enrolled in classes and will see its first cohort of “graduates” this year.

“We are very fortunate to have the support from parents, who also embrace our education philosophy,”said Leung.

As its students grow, so is Swindon. The kindergarten is looking for opportunities to develop in size and expertise. Recently, its organized an exchange programme for some teachers.

“We went to Nanjing, a city similar to Hong Kong in terms of pre-school education as well as parents’ aspirations, to exchange thoughts on teaching,” said Choi. “The exchange was very useful and we will be looking to organize such exchanges with other cities in Asia.”

 

Company: Swindon Education Limited

HKGCC Membership No: HKS1064

Website: http://www.swindon.edu.hk

Contact: 26176108

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