After successfully hosting the inaugural symposium last year, the Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS) and S R Nathan School of Human Development (NSHD) joined efforts again to invite four experts in early childhood education to discuss and share how children’s literature might impact Chinese language learning in early childhood.
Over 200 preschool educators and invited guests attended this year’s symposium which was held on 1 September 2018.
In his welcome address, Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President of Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), enumerated the benefits of children’s literature as a tool for early childhood education. According to Prof Cheong, great stories can help children develop language skills, unlock their imagination, instil values in them, and enhance their relationships with their educators and parents. He thus encouraged preschool educators to equip themselves with knowledge of a good range of quality children’s literature, and even try to create interesting stories and literature for others to use.
Professor Yu Zhenyou from Capital Normal University, Beijing, delivered the first keynote speech “Children’s Literature and Early Childhood Language Learning”. Employing theories from Piaget and other theorists, Prof Yu presented play as an important part of children’s learning and development. Hence, literature for toddlers should have an element of fun, and reading activities should be like games. In addition, reading aloud and discussions are essential to language development activities.
Complementing Prof Yu’s presentation, Ms Lin I-Hung, Head of Hsin-Yi Experimental Children Center in Taipei, shared case studies from her centre which elaborated on how to read and discuss stories with children. In her presentation, “Reading for Meaning: Enhancing Comprehension in Children’s Reading”, she used examples and verbatim quotes by students and teachers from her case studies to illustrate the importance of stimulating children to think independently and critically when reading stories with them. By asking age-appropriate questions, Ms Lin argued that educators could help in developing every child into a little thinker.
Kicking off the afternoon session was Mr Teo Huat, aka Nian Hong, a prolific writer and experienced educator from Malaysia. Mr Teo introduced different types of nursery rhymes, and explained how to integrate them in classroom lessons to make learning (e.g. counting in Chinese) simple yet fun! His talk included a series of fun and energetic sing-along sessions where the participants recited and sang several nursery rhymes together by following his lead.
The final keynote presentation was delivered by Dr Sin Joo Ee, Head of Master of Education in Early Childhood Education (Chinese) Programme, and two students from the programme. Framing her presentation to the Singapore context, Dr Sin introduced literary works by local writers and encouraged participants to add more local elements when designing lessons. The two students presented their analysis on local preschool educators’ understanding of children’s literature, as well as suggested ways to enhance their knowledge in this genre of writing.
Positive feedback on the symposium was received from many participants. One of them, Ms Xu Jia, commented that, “The symposium made me realise the importance of children’s literature. As preschool teachers, we should keep a curious mind, be observant, and try to write stories or nursery rhymes for children.”
The 2018 Early Childhood Chinese Symposium was supported with subsidies from the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) and sponsorships by Tiger Balm and Union Book.
If you missed the 2018 Early Childhood Chinese Symposium or would like to re-visit each presentation, you can access them via this link.
2018新加坡学前教育论坛 – 儿童文学与学前华文教育