Key Factors in Learning and Teaching


The Role of Teachers 4.1.1

i. Pay attention to the children’s physical and mental health and habits Besides understanding children’s developmental characteristics at different stages, teachers must also be aware of the health conditions, personalities, habits, experiences and abilities of every child, so that they can provide proper care and guidance according to children’s individual needs.

ii. Establish good relationships with children

Teachers should adopt a caring, accommodating and open attitude towards children. They should listen to children patiently and encourage them to express their feelings, raise questions and voice their opinions.

When conducting activities, teachers should use simple and clear language, open-ended questions and simple instructions to facilitate children’s understanding of the learning content. Furthermore, teachers may praise, encourage and comfort children by suitable use of eye contact, smile, facial expression and other kinds of body language. When children feel respected and accepted, they will be more confident and motivated to make new attempts in the learning process.

iii. Set a good model for children

Children tend to learn by imitation. Teachers’ words and behaviours affect directly or indirectly the learning and development of children. Teachers’

life attitudes and behaviours, including personal hygiene, etiquette and manners, as well as their values such as caring, friendliness, willingness to share and eagerness to help others, become good models for young children. Teachers must set themselves as examples and live up to these positive values and attitudes. In turn, children will learn from teachers, and the educational objective of whole person development will be achieved.

iv. Enrich children’s learning experiences

Teachers must be well prepared before conducting activities. This includes activity planning, collecting teaching materials, setting the environment for learning and preparing learning aids, so that children can learn in an enriched environment. When conducting project learning, teachers provide not only a suitable environment and the appropriate resources, but also opportunities for children to be active learners. Children are encouraged to interact with and learn from their peers. In response to possible changes in the learning environment or the interests of children, teachers should make good use of every opportunity to provide proper guidance in order to enrich children’s learning experiences.

v. Create a pleasurable learning atmosphere

Teachers should be optimistic, amiable and humorous. During activities, they must be observant, pay attention to children’s reactions and give appropriate responses, so as to create a pleasurable learning atmosphere that will enhance children’s initiative and active involvement in learning.

Such pleasurable learning experiences are conducive to the children’s healthy development.

vi. Promote the overall co-operation of staff in the institution

The concerted efforts of staff of every position in a pre-primary institution contribute to the smooth implementation of the pre-primary curriculum.

To improve the overall co-ordination work in a pre-primary institution, it is necessary for teachers to have mutual understanding and be collaborative through various communication channels such as meetings, newsletters and daily dialogues. It is desirable for the principal and teachers to share their working experiences, joys and sorrows, in order to help to establish a mutually supportive institutional culture. Teachers should also attach importance to professional development through continuous study, and strengthen their communication and co-operation with other teachers and fellow educators. This will help promote effective co-ordination within a pre-primary institution and foster the achievement of the aims of early childhood education.

A well-designed and richly decorated learning environment not only creates a relaxed and pleasurable atmosphere, but also promotes effective learning for young children. Teachers should pay attention to properly setting up the classroom with the help of a comprehensive and detailed plan of how the classroom can best be arranged. For instance, the use of space, passages between tables and chairs, the separation of “quiet” and “active” activity corners, the design of display boards and the overall layout should be in line with the teaching themes and children’s learning needs. These arrangements aim at providing an environment with adequate space for free movement and easy access to toys and learning materials, and serve the purpose of stimulating children to learn.

i. Safety and health

Pre-primary institutions should observe the safety regulations and health guidelines issued by the Government (Note9) to ensure that children learn in a safe and healthy environment. The fl oor surface must be fl at and non-slippery. All exits and staircases are to be kept free from obstruction.

The Learning Environment


Furniture and equipment should not have protruding corners, nails or splinters. All toys and articles used should be non-toxic and free from lead.

Broken articles should be repaired or discarded. First aid kits should be easily accessible. To prevent accidents, children’s safety should always be the top priority when designing the classroom layout and planning the activities.

ii. Arrangement of the environment

Classrooms should be spacious and have adequate lighting, good ventilation, enough space for activities and appropriate facilities. It is advisable to paint the wall with a soft colour to give a natural and comfortable feeling. The use of bright coloured paints, on the other hand, can arouse children’s pleasurable feelings. Walls which are within easy reach of children can be covered with plastic boards or ceramic tiles to facilitate easy cleaning or the display of children’s work. The fl oor surface must be kept clean and dry at all times. The materials used for covering the fl oor should be of a more durable nature, easy to clean, able to absorb sound and suitable for sitting on, for example, rubber tiles, rubber mats, etc. In addition, mirrors should be installed in suitable places or on walls to offer children more opportunities to examine their own images.

iii. Layout of activity centres

To prepare an activity centre which caters for children’s interests, pre-primary institutions must observe specified requirements in size and capacity. “Active” and “quiet” activity corners should be separated to avoid groups of children disturbing each other. In order to enhance children’s interest in learning, interest corners, toys and facilities for creative activities should be diversifi ed and changed periodically according to the developmental needs of children. Toys should be provided in the activity centres for individual or group activities. For reading and in family corners, soft mats or cushions can be placed to create a cozy environment for children. An individual child should also be allowed to have a quiet place to calm down his/her emotions when necessary. All in all, teachers must be fl exible in using activity spaces.

iv. Arrangement of furniture

The height of classroom furniture or partitioning boards should be adjusted to children’s height. The furniture should not be centralised in one specifi c spot but be appropriately placed. Toy cabinets and arts racks should be stable and safe, and equipped with locking wheels so that they can be easily moved and used as partitions. The backs of cabinets can also be

used for the display of children’s work. It is advisable to arrange tables and chairs fl exibly in groups to facilitate more interaction among children.

v. Decoration in the environment

The layout of the classroom can be periodically changed according to the curriculum plan so as to give children a fresh impression all the time.

This will provide children with more opportunities and serve as a means of arousing their interest in learning. There should be display boards and strings for displaying children’s work. Display of children’s work can serve as an encouragement to children in general rather than just a means of exhibiting a small number of outstanding items. Every child should have a chance to exhibit his/her work, or help in mounting displays and arranging decorations under safe conditions. Exhibits should be changed periodically and displayed at children’s eye level. In addition, well-placed potted plants can beautify the classroom as well as enable children to learn more about plants.

Beginning at birth, no matter where and when, children learn through making sense of every experience in every minute and second. Hence the arrangements in institutions will have direct or indirect effects on children’s learning. To help children achieve a balanced development, institutions should avoid subject teaching or mere delivery of academic knowledge. When organising the timetable, the use of time should be flexible and appropriate activities should be arranged to meet the developmental needs of children, especially for 2- or 3-year-olds. Generally speaking, the younger the children:

 the more physical activities they need to acquire an understanding of their surroundings;

 the more self-motivated activities they need to learn the skills of self-control and self-care;

 the more real and concrete objects they need in the course of learning and exploration;

 the more freedom they need for making their own choices. If fewer rules are imposed, there is more space for learning and growth; and

 the less suitable it is for them to participate in competitions and activities that require a long waiting time.

Below are some principles for pre-primary institutions to consider in the overall planning, design and use of timetables:

Arrangement of Activities and Timetabling


i. Arrange balanced activities

A pre-primary curriculum generally includes the following five kinds of activities:

 indoor and outdoor activities;

 gross and fi ne motor activities;

 “quiet” and “active” activities;

 individual, group and class activities; and

 activities initiated by children and organised by teachers.

Teachers should organise different but well-balanced activities based on realistic conditions which suit children’s learning progress, so as to make learning more effective. The table below sets out the recommended activities and schedules for full-day and half-day kindergartens and child care centres.

Pre-primary institutions are advised to make reference to it.


Appropriate Time Allocation (minutes)

Full-day Half-day

Welcoming / Whole-class Activities

(health inspections, conversation and sharing of everyday life experiences)

15-30 15-30

Free Choice Activities

(e.g. play involving construction, creation, exploration, manipulation, social interaction

and language)

95-145 75-95

Physical Fitness/Music/Arts 60-105 45-60

*Toilet Time *40-60 *20-30


(tidying up, lunch time, snack time ) 60 15-20

**Afternoon Nap / Break *80-105 —

Tidying-up Activities and Getting Ready to Go Home

(conclusion of the day’s activities, conversation and nursery rhymes)

20-30 10-15

In document Guide to the Guide to the Pre-primary Curriculum Pre-primary Curriculum (Page 44-49)