Guide to the Guide to the Pre-primary Curriculum Pre-primary Curriculum

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Issued by The Curriculum Development Council Recommended for Use in Pre-primary Institutions by The Education Bureau HKSAR

Guide to the Guide to the

Pre-primary Curriculum Pre-primary Curriculum

Guide to the Pre-primary Curriculum



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

2.1 Aims of this Chapter 16

2.2 Curriculum Goals 18

2.3 Developmental Objectives for Young Children 18

2.4 Learning Areas – What to learn? 21

2.5 Learning Objectives and Principles of Teaching for

Different Learning Areas – What to learn? What to teach? 22

3.1 Self-evaluation – Conditions, strengths and limitations 38 3.2 Knowing the Stakeholders Well – Children and parents 39 3.3 Designing the Curriculum – Child-centred, comprehensive

and well-balanced, and adopting a play-based strategy 40 3.4 Establishing Mechanisms for Curriculum Review and Monitoring 41

1.1 Position of Pre-primary Education 6

1.2 Core Value of Pre-primary Education – Child-centredness 8

1.3 Aims of the Guide 10

1.4 Basic Principles of the Pre-primary Education Curriculum 10 1.5 Directions and Strategies for Curriculum Development 13

4.1 Key Factors in Learning and Teaching –

How to teach? How to learn? 44

4.2 Approaches to Learning and Teaching –

Learning through play 51

4.3 Catering for Special Needs and Learning Differences –

Respect children’s right to learn and tap their full potential 54 4.4 Making Use of Resources – Widen the learning space 56





Curriculum Planning


Learning and Teaching


Curriculum Framework



Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

5.1 Purposes of Assessment – To promote learning and

development 59

5.2 Principles of Implementing Assessment – How to assess? 60

5.3 Scope of Assessment – What to assess? 61

5.4 Modes of Assessment – Who should assess? 63 5.5 Records and Reports on the Progress of

Children’s Learning – Student Portfolios 65

6.1 Adaptation to School Life – From home to school 68 6.2 Interface between Kindergarten and Primary School –

From kindergarten to primary school 70

7.1 Modes of Home-School Co-operation 74

7.2 Principles of Implementation 76

7.3 References 77

Appendix 1: Developmental Characteristics of

Children from 0-2 Years Old 80

Appendix 2: Developmental Characteristics of Children

from 2-6 Years Old 86

Appendix 3: Brief Descriptions and Examples of Basic

Skills Applicable to Pre-primary Education 93 Appendix 4: A Proposed Set of Values and Attitudes for

Incorporation into the School Curriculum 94 Appendix 5: A Study on Chinese Handwriting at the

Kindergarten Level 95

Appendix 6: Activity Plan and Review 97

Appendix 7: Life-wide Learning 98

Appendix 8: Children’s Behaviours that Require Concern 99



Home-School Co-operation








Membership List


Settling in and Transition to Primary



Address: 13/F, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Fax: 25735299 / 25754318 Email:


This Curriculum Guide is prepared by the Curriculum Development Council (CDC) of Hong Kong for Pre-primary Institutions serving children aged from 2 to 6. The Curriculum Development Council is an advisory body giving recommendations to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government on all matters relating to curriculum development for the school system from kindergarten to sixth form. Its membership includes heads of schools, practising teachers, parents, employers, academics from tertiary institutions, professionals from related fields or related bodies, representatives from the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority and the Vocational Training Council, as well as officers from the Education Bureau.

Pre-primary institutions are encouraged to adopt the recommendations set out in this Curriculum Guide, where appropriate and with due consideration of their own circumstances and needs, to achieve the pre-primary education objectives.

Comments and suggestions on the Guide to the Pre-primary Curriculum are welcome and may be sent to the Secretary of the CDC Committee on Early Childhood Education by post, fax or email.


Chapter 1





Pre-primary education (Note1) is an important stage which lays the foundation for life-long learning and whole person development, and serves as the starting point of formal education. It articulates with primary, secondary and tertiary education to form an entire spectrum of education. The Guide to the Pre- primary Curriculum, endorsed by the Curriculum Development Council of Hong Kong, has been in use since its publication in 1996. Following the latest developments in education in the world as well as the momentum of the Hong Kong education system and curriculum reforms at the beginning of this century, pre-primary education in Hong Kong has undergone signifi cant changes.

Importance of early learning

Research into the human brain shows that the period from birth to the age of 8 is a critical phase for brain development and therefore the best time for learning. The influence of the external environment is crucial to brain development. If a safe and accepting environment with abundant sensory stimulation is available in early childhood, children will have positive brain development which is benefi cial to their future learning.

According to the theory of multiple intelligences, there are many aspects of human intelligence and every individual has varied strengths. Pre-primary institutions should provide a diversified learning environment for children to develop their different potentials.


Trends of Global Development in Early Childhood Education

Position of Pre-primary Education


Trends of Global Development

in Education

Hong Kong Education

System and Curriculum


Pre-primary Education

Primary Education

Secondary Education

Tertiary Education


Numerous studies on learning theory have shown that children learn gradually and construct knowledge with the assistance of adults. From the perspective of constructivist learning theory, children are active and self-motivated in their learning process. Teachers have to take up the roles of facilitator, motivator and supporter to help children learn and grow.

Laying the foundation for life-long learning and whole person development

Learning for Life, Learning through Life: Reform Proposals for the Education System in Hong Kong, published by the Hong Kong Education Commission in 2000, emphasised the importance of early childhood education as the foundation for life-long learning. It proposed initiatives for enhancing the professional standards of early childhood teachers, reinforcing quality assurance mechanisms, and improving the primary one admission system to prevent the tendency of inputting excessive anxiety in early childhood education. Subsequently, another curriculum reform paper, entitled Learning to Learn - The Way Forward in Curriculum Development, further elaborated on a learner-focused approach in the curriculum. Every student is capable of learning and should enjoy the basic and essential learning experiences. In this regard, the pre-primary curriculum should provide children with high quality and integrated pre-primary education and care service.

Our strengths

With increased in-service and pre-service training opportunities and upgraded academic qualifications of kindergarten teachers being required by the Government, the professional standards of Hong Kong kindergarten teachers are being systematically enhanced.

Following the reform of the primary one admission system, schools no longer enrol pupils on the basis of based on their ability. As a result, pre- primary institutions now have greater room to design their own curriculum and free children from unnecessary drilling and pressure. In addition, closer communication and co-ordination with primary schools help children adapt to primary school life.

In response to the recommendations on education reform, the Education Bureau has compiled a series of Performance Indicators (Pre-primary Institutions) as a tangible and effective tool for pre-primary institutions’

self-evaluation and external review. Furthermore, the Working Party on Harmonisation of Pre-primary Services has also co-ordinated the establishment of kindergartens and child-care centres. All these measures will contribute to the evolution of a quality culture in pre-primary institutions.

Hong Kong

Education System and Curriculum Reforms

The Ecology of Early Childhood Education in Hong Kong






Understanding and respecting children is an important principle of early childhood education.

Children’s learning and development are mainly influenced by family, school and society. Under the major premise of understanding and respecting children, appropriate co-ordination among the three parties will enable children to develop their potential and lead them to a healthy life. By developing good learning habits and interest in learning, children will be well prepared for life- long learning.

With the impact of global educational trends, institutions and academics have begun to attach significance to scientific research. They have also actively experimented with innovative learning and teaching strategies, home-school co-operation and different modes of institutional administration, with a view to enhancing the overall quality of teaching and pre-primary education.

Core Value of Pre-primary Education

Children are born to be learners and their development possesses specifi c patterns and characteristics.

Children’s development possesses specific patterns and characteristics. We have come to understand children’s characteristics and developmental needs from the perspective of child development psychology, as well as from the contexts of their families and social culture.

Children are at the core of the learning process. They are born to be learners and with the ability to construct knowledge. Their development and learning are greatly influenced by the people and things they encounter at home, at Children as Learners



School Family



Family Education 1.2.2

School Education

Social Environment 1.2.3


Parents are children’s fi rst teachers as well as school’s crucial partners for nurturing children.

Families are the key setting in which children’s characters are shaped.

Children’s development of personality, self-image, values and attitudes is greatly infl uenced by parents and other family members.

Parents’ knowledge of early childhood education, expectations and parenting style may influence children’s functioning in ways to be reflected later in life. These include, for instance, their self-care ability, social attitude and learning process in schools, as well as their compatibility with the community.

Therefore, the family is an important pillar of children’s development and family participation is essential for the success of early childhood education.

School is a miniature of society, and a bridge between family life and social life.

Pre-primary institutions need to (i) understand children’s family backgrounds, and establish partnership with parents and other key family members; (ii) understand the social environment and needs, and utilise community resources appropriately; (iii) grasp the current trends of early childhood education in order to defi ne their mission and plan the curriculum. Pre-primary institutions should also provide children with care and appropriate learning opportunities which cater for children’s developmental needs according to their potential, in order to stimulate their interest in learning and foster a balanced development in ethical, intellectual, physical, social and aesthetic aspects. By these means, children will be well-prepared for life and become proactive, self-motivated and responsible citizens as well as life-long learners.

Social needs affect pre-primary education policies, whereas social culture affects parents’ requirements for pre-primary education.

Pre-primary institutions must observe the social environment in order to help children develop their potential and prepare for future learning. Prior to the establishment of a pre-primary institution, the sponsoring body should understand holistically the needs of society in mapping out strategies that conform to Government policy while adhering to the child-centred principle.

Children are the leaders of tomorrow. The challenge ahead for early childhood education is how to proactively meet the demand for talent in our future society.

In a co-operative and harmonious environment, society, family and school can work together to build a bright future for children.


This Guide aims at developing, for young children aged from 2 to 6, a curriculum framework which is focused on whole person development and life-long learning, under the guiding principles described in Learning to Learn - The Way Forward in Curriculum Development and in line with the directions of Hong Kong’s educational reforms.

Every pre-primary institution has its own mission, resulting in different operation modes and teaching approaches in the curriculum adopted. The curriculum framework proposed by this Guide provides general directions for curriculum development for pre-primary practitioners: to widen the space for learning;

to be child-centred; to respect individual differences; to promote motivation for learning and to care for children’s needs. Pre-primary institutions need to formulate their own curriculum based on this Curriculum Guide and transform it into appropriate learning experiences for children.

Based on children’s developmental abilities and needs as well as the needs of society, this Guide sets out, for pre-primary institutions’ reference and adoption, the areas and objectives of learning and the principles of teaching.

The Pre-primary education curriculum should be formulated according to the basic principles of “children’s development” and “children’s learning”. Teachers’

understanding of these two aspects will directly affect curriculum planning and arrangements for learning and teaching. Teachers can draw on these two sources of knowledge as the basis for educating children.

How do children develop?

Children develop at varying rates, and have different interests and abilities.

Teachers should understand and respect the unique developmental pattern of every child, in order to foster children’s initiative in further developing and enhancing their knowledge and ability.





Aims of the Guide


Principles of the Pre-primary Education Curriculum

Children’s Development

1.4.1 1.4


i. Children’s development is mainly influenced by three factors: genetics, environment and education. While only limited change can be made to the genetic factor, the other two require good collaboration among the family, school and the whole of society in order to enable children to grow healthily.

ii. There are common principles in children’s growth and development. Pre- primary practitioners must understand the growing process of children and the developmental characteristics of different ages, so as to develop appropriate learning objectives and plan the curriculum according to children’s needs. For teachers’ reference, the appendix “Developmental Characteristics of Children” (Note2) in the Appendices of this Guide sets out the major developmental characteristics in physical, intellectual, linguistic, social and emotional aspects of children aged between 2 to 6. Moreover, a chart of the developmental characteristics of children from birth to the age of 2 has also been included in order to provide teachers with a comprehensive understanding of children’s development.

iii. A child’s development is a gradual process. The developmental patterns of most children are congruent with their age. However, as growth rates differ, children also have different abilities and varying performance in different aspects. In addition, because of children’s curiosity, self-motivation and ability to construct knowledge, their learning ability may, when given an appropriate environment in which to develop, even exceed the expectations of teachers. Therefore, when referring to the Appendices on children’s developmental characteristics, teachers are advised to make flexible use of the information and draw relevant verification in light of their everyday observations, in order to provide appropriate and suffi cient opportunities for children’s development. As mentioned in the Performance Indicators (Pre- primary Institutions): Domain on Children’s Development, it is not necessary to set out specifi c performance indicators for each age level.

iv. Discrepancies are at times discerned among the requirements of society, the expectations of parents and the physical and mental development of children. If such discrepancies can be reduced to an acceptable level, education can function as a facilitating factor for development. Teachers’

grasp of professional knowledge in the field of pre-primary education is necessary. In addition, a good mastery of basic knowledge of all areas of learning allows teachers to adapt to children’s diverse learning needs and develop their multi-intelligence.


How do Children Learn?




“Learning by doing” , “Learning through play”, Interest is the driving force for learning;

Play is happy learning experience;

Sensory activities are the media of learning.

Observation, exploration, thinking and imagination are the essential learning approaches.

A sense of achievement reinforces further learning.

i. Children are active learners who are curious and interested in exploration.

Given proper resources and adults’ assistance, children can construct knowledge on their own. A safe, comfortable, enjoyable and challenging environment is conducive to children’s learning.

ii. Children’s learning is infl uenced by the factor of growth. They are not able to learn far beyond their ability. Children can learn well provided that the learning experience matches their development.

iii. Children learn through their life experiences, sensory stimulation and interesting activities. Through play, they can learn in a self-motivated, committed, pleasurable, relaxing and effective manner.

Teachers need to be familiar with children’s development and learning, in order to:

i. understand children’s behaviour;

ii. have appropriate expectations and requirements towards children, which in turn helps them to formulate reasonable school rules and policies;

iii. organise learning activities, taking into account the appropriate level of diffi culty and meeting children’s interests, needs and abilities;

iv. understand children’s individual differences, and both the generality and uniqueness of children’s development, in order to cater for each individual’s needs.

This Guide provides directions and principles for the pre-primary education curriculum. It gives pre-primary practitioners sufficient room to bring their professional knowledge into full play, and enables them to design the curriculum according to children’s needs within an open and fl exible framework.


Following the rising standard of professionalism in the field of pre-primary education, pre-primary institutions are encouraged to develop a curriculum tailored to their own needs. They are advised to use the fundamental concepts and principles set out in this Guide as a base, to follow the directions below, and to adopt appropriate strategies. The Education Bureau will also provide support, where appropriate.

In designing their curriculum, institutions have to take into account their background, characteristics and mission, as well as children’s abilities and developmental needs, and be in line with the framework provided in Chapter 2 of this Guide. Institutions should also adopt appropriate teaching approaches and collaborate closely with parents.

Pre-primary institutions should develop children’s learning abilities and potential through informal learning which is integrated, open, fl exible and appropriate to catering for children’s developmental needs and interests. Children’s abilities should be developed through play activities that are inspiring and fun.

Pre-primary institutions should design appropriate learning activities in different learning areas to develop children’s basic skills and foster the development of positive values and attitudes.

Pre-primary institutions and tertiary institutions should work together in experience sharing or the exchange of teaching and learning experiences for the benefi t of the profession, by doing research or collaborative projects and collecting exemplars of good practice.

Directions and Strategies for Curriculum Development




1.5.4 1.5


Chapter 2





The fi rst Chapter of this Guide introduced the basic rationale of early childhood education and the key principles of the pre-primary curriculum. Based on this rationale and these principles, the present Chapter further sets out the pre- primary curriculum framework. This serves as an overall guideline for pre- primary institutions to develop their own curriculum, including the specific learning contents and learning and teaching strategies tailored for children of different ages, with a view to providing children with appropriate care and guidance.

The aim of early childhood education is to foster children’s whole person development. In light of this, the core of the curriculum framework is the four developmental objectives for young children, namely “Physical Development”,

“Cognitive and Language Development”, “Affective and Social Development”

and “Aesthetic Development”. These objectives need to be achieved through six learning areas, which are “Physical Fitness and Health”, “Language”, “Early Mathematics”, “Science and Technology”, “Self and Society” and “Arts”.

All kinds of learning include the three key elements, namely “knowledge”, “skills”

and “attitudes”, and these are also emphasised in the pre-primary curriculum.

It should be noted, however, that in the early childhood stage, knowledge acquisition involves mainly the development of basic concepts, rather than the study of specifi c subjects. The above objectives and learning areas align with the curriculum goals of “Balanced Development” and “Learning to Learn”.

Pre-primary institutions may refer to Chapter 3 – “Curriculum Planning” and Chapter 4 – “Learning and Teaching” for instructions on using this central framework in implementing their curricula. “Assessment” will then be discussed in Chapter 5.

Curriculum Framework


Aims of this




To nurture children to attain all-round development in the domains of ethics, intellect, physique, social skills and aesthetics, so as to prepare them for life.

To stimulate children’s interest in learning and cultivate in them positive learning attitudes, in order to lay the foundation for their future learning.

Pre-primary Curriculum Framework

Principles of Curriculum Planning

Appropriate Plan for Learning, Learning and Teaching Strategies and Assessment Appropriate to Children’s

Developmental Needs

Whole Person Development Pleasurable & Effective Learning

Developmental Objectives

Physical Development Cognitive and Language Development

Affective and Social Development Aesthetic Development

Developmental Objectives & Learning Areas for Children


Physical Development


Curriculum Goals

Developmental Objectives for Young Children



The overall aims of education set out by the Education Commission in 2000 are:

“To enable every person to attain all-round development in the domains of ethics, intellect, physique, social skills and aesthetics according to his/her own attributes, so that he/she is capable of life-long learning, critical and exploratory thinking, innovating and adapting to change”

Since early childhood education is the foundation for whole person development and life-long learning, the curriculum goals of this stage are summarised as:

To nurture children to attain all-round development in the domains of ethics, intellect, physique, social skills and aesthetics, and to develop good habits, so as to prepare them for life; and

To stimulate children’s interest in learning and cultivate in them positive learning attitudes, in order to lay the foundation for their future learning.

With regard to children’s developmental needs, the objectives for the physical, cognitive and language, affective and social, and aesthetic development of children are described below. Pre-primary institutions should take into account the interrelations among these four domains as well as their own situations in curriculum planning.

Children use their fi ve senses and their body to perceive and interact with the outside world. These serve also as tools to receive and deliver messages.

Therefore, all learning and communication rely very much on body control ability, the development of gross and fine motor skills and the application of sensory ability. The following developmental objectives should be considered for pre-primary curriculum planning:

i. To develop children’s sensory perception and abilities of concentration and observation.

ii. To cultivate in children good habits, self-care ability and a healthy life-style.


iii. To facilitate the development of children’s gross and fi ne motor skills.

iv. To enable children to understand the limits of their physical capability and develop awareness for self-protection.

The cognitive development of children begins in infancy. They construct knowledge of the world through physical activity and sensory experience.

The sensory-perceptual ability of children, as well as the use of language and symbols, marks the beginning of the preliminary stage of children’s learning. These abilities enable children to construct knowledge and develop their intelligence through real-life situations and experiences. The relevant developmental objectives of this domain include:

i. to arouse and fulfill the curiosity of children, and to cultivate in them an inquisitive and proactive attitude towards things and people around them.

ii. to develop children’s simple logical concepts in mathematical literacy, so as to help them in analysis, reasoning, judgement and problem-solving.

iii. to develop children’s abilities in language and thinking.

Everyone has his/her own thoughts, emotions, senses and imagination, which make an individual unique. These personal traits, together with other learning elements such as cognition, skills and attitudes, that an individual acquires in later learning, lead to a more comprehensive, whole person development.

The sensory-perceptual ability of children makes them inquisitive and active learners. If coupled with positive reinforcement, these attributes lead to pleasurable learning. Furthermore, the experience of social interaction gives them a sense of identity, self-confi dence and self-esteem. It also encourages them to be more proactive and self-motivated in learning and in establishing social interaction with others. This developmental cycle is conducive to whole person development, which is the ultimate aim of education. The relevant developmental objectives of this domain include:

i. to encourage and help children understand their thinking and emotions, and express their feelings and needs through appropriate use of language and non-linguistic means.

ii. to help children develop a positive self-concept and build up self-esteem, self-confi dence, a sense of achievement and an optimistic attitude.

Cognitive and Language Development

Affective and Social Development




iii. to enrich children’s life experiences and strengthen their interpersonal and communication skills.

iv. to assist children to attain a balance between their personal interests and those of the community, to learn to establish good interpersonal relationships through negotiation and co-operation, and to accept basic social values and behaviourial norms.

v. to foster in children positive attitudes towards people and an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of individuals in the family, school, society and country.

vi. to cultivate children’s care for society, awareness with respect to environmental protection and respect for different cultures.

Aesthetic sensitivity is cultivated through observation and feelings. Imagination is stimulated when one observes the environment with one’s senses and compares the forms of different things. Children express their inner thoughts, feelings, emotions and imagination through the language of different media.

The objectives of arts education for early childhood include:

i. to allow children to explore different art media and symbols in an aesthetically rich and diversifi ed environment.

ii. to enrich children’s sensory experiences and encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings.

iii. to stimulate children’s creative and imaginative powers, and encourage them to enjoy participating in creative works.

iv. to enhance children’s quality of life and foster their interests in life by guiding them to appreciate the surrounding environment.

Aesthetic Development



The lear ning areas are components of the curriculum. They address developmental objectives for young children in different curriculum domains, and provide a framework for reviewing different learning elements. They are designed for the construction of knowledge and to provide children with contexts for the development and application of basic skills, values and attitudes. The classification into different learning areas is not intended to promote teaching by subjects or to prepare for this practice which will be adopted in primary schools. Rather, it is used as a means for providing easy reference for teachers in curriculum planning and review, and to ensure a comprehensive and balanced implementation. In terms of pre-primary curriculum planning, an integrated curriculum across different learning areas offers both education and care for young children. It also allows teachers greater flexibility in devising learning and teaching strategies. This enhances the comprehensiveness, fl exibility and diversity of children’s learning.

Knowledge refers to understanding of the world around us. It is generally acquired through memorization or comprehension of facts and information.

Another effective way of acquiring knowledge is through organising and grouping together things or events with similar characteristics to form specifi c concepts. Teachers should take into consideration children’s interests and comprehension abilities when deciding the teaching content and appropriate learning strategies.

Learning Areas


What to learn?

The objectives of children’s development can be achieved through the following six learning areas:

1. Physical Fitness and Health 2. Language

3. Early Mathematics 4. Science and Technology 5. Self and Society

6. Arts

Knowledge 2.4.1

Knowledge Basic


Values and Attitudes

Learning Areas


Basic skills 2.4.2

Values and Attitudes 2.4.3

Children’s basic skills can be developed through learning activities and experiences in different learning areas (Note3). These skills are fundamental to learning and living. They help children acquire and construct knowledge and can be applied in problem-solving. Pre-primary institutions should design a suitable learning environment in which children’s abilities can be developed according to their developmental characteristics and learning features.

Values and attitudes are interrelated with each other – the former refer to standards of human behaviour and moral judgement, while the latter are essential personal qualities in dealing with people and situations. For example, courtesy, self-discipline, perseverance, respect and responsibility (Note4) are positive values and attitudes. Values and attitudes are developed through: (i) learning in school; (ii) family life and (iii) social contact. Therefore, when implementing the curriculum, pre-primary institutions should adopt suitable teaching materials and provide children with an appropriate learning environment and, whenever necessary, guidance. Teachers and those who have frequent contact with children should act as good examples for children.

The collaborative efforts of pre-primary institutions and family are crucial in helping children develop positive values and attitudes.

What to learn? What to teach?

All domains of children’s development interact with each other. Similarly, the six learning areas are interrelated. In particular, there is a crucial link between language development and other learning areas, as most knowledge originates with language. Children use language in everyday life and during play activities.

Language also plays an important role in creative work and social interaction.

“Language is a key to full participation in life” (Note5) and also a key to knowledge acquisition.

The following learning objectives and principles of teaching for the learning areas cover the three basic elements, namely knowledge, skills and attitudes.

In addition, these recommendations are prepared with reference to the professional knowledge of different subjects and based on the “Developmental Characteristics of Children” set out in Appendices 1 and 2.


Objectives and Principles of Teaching for Different

Learning Areas



Physical Fitness and Health


Strong physical fi tness and good habits are the foundation of healthy growth.

Children grow healthily by participating in activities structured in line with their physical and mental developmental needs, and by learning to maintain healthy practices throughout their lifetime.

Physical activities enable children to experience the capabilities of their body and develop a sense of space. Sensory experiences help children understand the relationship between themselves and the environment. Appropriate training helps children develop gross and fine motor skills and effectively develop their concentration and observation abilities. Most of all, their self-confi dence is enhanced. As such, physical activities play an important role in children’s learning.

Physical activities promote children’s fitness, cultivate their will-power and enable them to channel their emotions. They can also improve children’s adaptation to the environment. For older children, physical play in groups can further cultivate team spirit and help them learn the principle of fair play. As a result, interpersonal and social skills can be enhanced.

I. Knowledge of Health

i. Learning Objectives: Children are enabled to -

a. develop a healthy life-style by cultivating good habits and awareness in matters of personal and public hygiene;

b. develop self-care ability;

c. develop interest in and the habit of participating in physical activities;


d. know how to protect themselves by understanding basic health and safety issues.

ii. Principles of Teaching

a. Teachers should pay attention to children’s health conditions when arranging teaching and learning activities. They should ensure that children are in good health, fit enough to do exercises, have no symptoms of infectious diseases and are suitable for participating in group activities.

b. Based on children’s developmental characteristics and needs, teachers should design suitable activities for children to learn how to look after themselves and to acquire knowledge of self-care, hygiene, table manners, safety, etc.


c. Teachers should set a good example by maintaining habits of good hygiene.

d. Teachers should help children develop habits of good eating and good hygiene through daily routines at snack time and in toileting.

Good habits should be part of their everyday living.

e. Teachers should keep in touch with parents to learn about children’s habits at home and guide children with patience in accordance with their abilities.

f. Teachers should arouse children’s awareness in matters of health and safety, and strengthen their ability of self-protection through daily activities, so as to reduce or prevent child abuse or sexual abuse.

II. Sensory Development

i. Learning Objectives: Children are enabled to -

a. identify the functions of the five senses, i.e. sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, and know more about their body;

b. concentrate, observe and co-ordinate their sensory functions in enhancing their sensitivity to the environment; and

c. use their sensory ability to explore and appreciate the environment.

ii. Principles of Teaching

a. All activities involve the use of sensory functions. Teachers may help children understand their sensory functions through daily teaching arrangements. Teachers may also design special activities to help children experience the applications and know the importance of various sensory functions in everyday life.

b. Teachers should design activities which require the use of multiple sensory-perceptual abilities to help children learn to co-ordinate their sensory functions and use them appropriately.

c. Teachers should provide opportunities for children to experience nature and observe things around them, and give children suffi cient stimulation in various situations to develop their sensory-perceptual ability.


III. Development of gross and fi ne motor skills i. Learning Objectives: Children are enabled to -

a. identify the characteristics and functions of different parts of the body;

b. develop body co-ordination and sensory-perceptual abilities, as well as sensitivity to the environment;

c. develop good physique, sensory functions and physical competence;

d. develop will-power, confi dence and courage; and

e. arouse awareness for their self-protection and learn the relevant skills.

ii. Principles of Teaching

a. Teachers should develop children’s fi ne motor skills in daily self-care routine.

b. Teachers should enable children to learn and master the skills and concepts of basic body actions, including balancing, moving and body control.

c. Teachers should adopt a variety of physical activities to help children learn the right postures, develop co-ordination, flexibility, sensitivity, strength, sense of rhythm, imagination and powers of imitation, co-ordinate their senses, and make good use of them to gain knowledge of space and direction.

d. Teachers should provide sufficient exercise time for children to develop their gross and fi ne motor skills.

e. Prolonged and intense exercise should be avoided to prevent exhaustion and avoid risk.

f. Flexibility should be exercised when designing the scope and content of activities, and factors such as time, season and venue (indoor and outdoor) should be duly considered. Space should be fully utilised to allow children to engage in physical activities with suffi cient safety precautions.

g. Teachers should arrange gross and fine motor activities that also require the use of sensory functions to enable children to use their imagination and creativity in different activities with fun.


Language 2.5.2

h. Teachers should pay attention to children’s health. If children are found to be unfi t for physical activities, they should be allowed to take a rest.

Children are born with innate powers of communication. Before they acquire language skills, they use body language or facial expressions to communicate with parents or caretakers. Early childhood is the golden period for language learning. There is a close relationship between the development of language ability and thinking. Children can learn and think effectively if they are profi cient in language communication.

It is suggested that language learning should be facilitated naturally and based on life experience. Children can learn more effectively in meaningful and authentic situations. Thus, a pre-primary language curriculum should aim at creating a language-rich learning environment, in which children can develop their language proficiency through try-outs, exploration and interpersonal interaction.

Teachers need to provide children with integrated language learning experience based on their language ability and developmental needs. In a meaningful language learning environment, children can practise the four language skills -listening, speaking, reading and writing. In doing so, children can be guided to use the spoken and written languages appropriately. Children’s natural developmental sequence is that they acquire listening and speaking abilities before they learn how to read and write. To give teachers a better understanding of the developmental objectives in respect of children’s basic language skills, the learning objectives and principles of teaching in listening, speaking, reading and writing are shown below.

Taking into account the local context of language learning, spoken language normally refers to the mother-tongue (Cantonese) and Putonghua, whereas there is only one type of written language. In this connection, institutions should arrange for teachers to attain the relevant language proficiency to facilitate suitable language learning opportunities for children. The following learning objectives and principles of teaching with respect to listening, speaking, reading and writing are applicable to both mother-tongue and Putonghua learning.

Listening and Speaking

l. Learning Objectives: Children are enabled to -

a. listen to and understand conversations and stories which enrich their everyday vocabulary;


b. use the vocabulary and short phrases they have learnt in order to express their ideas and needs;

c. speak politely, clearly and fl uently in dialogues with others;

d. ask and answer questions, make simple inferences, solve problems and predict the outcomes of events; and

e. share with others what they experience and encounter in everyday life.

II. Principles of Teaching

a. Listening and speaking skills are prerequisites for verbal communication.

Teachers should motivate children by using everyday experiences and objects that interest them, and encourage them to listen, describe, report, ask questions and express opinions.

b. Teachers should initiate casual conversations with children at appropriate moments such as during morning assembly, play time and snack time, and allow children to engage in conversation with others.

c. When talking to children, teachers should use words and phrases easily understood by children, then gradually increase the choice of vocabulary as appropriate. They should also encourage children to accumulate and expand their vocabulary.

d. Teachers should listen to children with patience, allow children suffi cient time to think, and give feedback appropriately.

e. Conversation should be carried out in a relaxed and pleasurable atmosphere. If children have any difficulty in expressing their ideas, teachers should give them guidance and encouragement to build up their confi dence in speaking.

f. Open-ended questions should be employed to stimulate children to develop their thinking ability.

g. Children should be allowed to express different views and have different responses. Generally speaking, it is not necessary to insist on a consensus or defi nite answer.

h. If teachers encounter errors in children’s speech, they may demonstrate the right pronunciation or correct sentence structure in a friendly and natural manner during conversation with the children, to act as a model for their imitation.


i. Listening to stories can develop children’s abilities of concentration and imagination. During story-telling activities, children should be encouraged to raise questions and have discussion, so as to promote critical thinking skills. Children should also be encouraged to create stories verbally in order to develop creativity.


I. Learning Objectives: Children are enabled to - a. master preliminary reading techniques;

b. develop interest in reading and form reading habits;

c. understand stories;

d. recognise common words and those they encounter in different learning themes in curriculum planning; and

e. learn through reading.

II. Principles of Teaching

a. Teachers should organise reading activities through reading aloud, story-telling and play activities.

b. Teachers should encourage children to read books and other printed text that interest them, such as posters, advertisements, magazines, pictures, etc.

c. Teachers should provide children with quality books suitable for their age, ability and experience.

d. Books provided for children can be either purchased or produced by teachers themselves.

e. Books should be selected according to the following criteria:

 the story should be interesting with a healthy theme;

 the plot should be simple with repetitive sentence structures;

 story should have simple and vivid characterisation which helps children understand the story, stimulates their imagination and satisfi es their curiosity;

 the illustrations should be simple, colourful and attractive; and

 the language and vocabulary should be relevant to children’s everyday life and refl ect their interests.


6 See Appendix 5

Writing (Note6)

I. Learning Objectives: Children are enabled to -

a. communicate with others using paper and pencils/pens by expressing what they see, hear and feel in the form of pictures or words;

b. master fi ne motor skills and form a right-handed or left-handed habit through developing their sense of touch, eye-hand co-ordination, and knowledge of space and direction;

c. enjoy reading aloud or sharing their scribbles or writings with others;


d. explore the use of different writing equipment.

II. Principles of Teaching

a. Teachers may make use of words in everyday life contexts to arouse children’s interest in writing.

b. Teachers should cultivate children’s interest and ability in expressing their ideas and experiences through pictures and words.

c. Teachers should not force children to write with pencils/pens if they are not ready. They can train their basic skills through a variety of play activities involving fi ne motor skills and eye-hand co-ordination. When children start to have writing practice, they should not be restricted to using lined paper or exercise books.

d. Teachers should guide children to pay attention to characters/words, especially their structure, that appear in their surrounding environment.

They may design a variety of play activities that deal with the structure of characters/words, such as strokes or components, to promote children’s writing skills.

e. Teachers should encourage children to build up their self-confi dence by providing them with opportunities to share their writing with others.

Second Language (English)

During early childhood, developing proficiency in the mother-tongue is of primary importance. Cantonese is most Hong Kong children’s mother-tongue and should also be the medium used in pre-primary settings. However, more opportunities for learning other languages can enrich children’s language experience and provide exposure and understanding of other cultures associated with the languages learnt.


As models of language learning for children, teachers must speak with accurate pronunciation and use language correctly. Therefore, if children are to be introduced to English, teachers should possess good profi ciency in spoken English and design an effective language environment according to children’s abilities, interests and needs.

Generally speaking, most of the principles of teaching the mother-tongue are applicable to both the mother-tongue and the second language. Teachers can refer to the learning objectives and principles of teaching with regard to listening, speaking, reading and writing. Children can develop their strengths and grasp the basic skills in learning English, provided that an appropriate teaching approach is adopted.

I. Learning Objectives: Children are enabled to - a. develop interest in learning English:

listen to and read stories and nursery rhymes; and

recognise and make use of vocabulary related to their everyday life or what interests them.

b. listen to and understand simple conversations in everyday life; and c. sing or recite nursery rhymes and employ simple words used in

everyday life.

II. Principles of Teaching

a. Teachers should cultivate children’s interest in English and motivate them to learn by using authentic materials to create a language-rich and interesting environment.

b. Teachers should let children learn through pleasurable activities such as singing nursery rhymes, play, story-telling, etc.

c. Teachers should provide children with opportunities to listen to and speak in English through conversations, reading stories aloud and play.

d. Language activities have to meet children’s developmental needs. Any teaching approach that is overly bound by chosen texts or strenuous written exercises should be avoided. Rote-learning or dictation should not be adopted. Otherwise, children’s interest in learning English will be weakened because of the pressure.


In everyday life, children have many opportunities to learn preliminary mathematical concepts. As children become better acquainted with the mathematical concepts in their everyday life experiences, they gradually build up a good foundation for cognitive development. Through a variety of activities such as hands-on experiment and play, they are also able to grasp basic mathematical concepts. These activities and experiences are essential for children to develop their interest, positive attitude, necessary communication skills and thinking abilities for learning mathematics.

I. Learning Objectives: Children are enabled to -

a. develop interest in mathematics and cognitive ability through a variety of activities including play and experiment with objects, as well as everyday life experiences;

b. apply simple preliminary mathematical concepts such as counting, ordering, sequencing, sorting, comparing, etc.;

c. learn to identify the properties of objects such as their colour, size, weight, shape, etc., and build up basic concepts of space and time through a wide range of activities; and

d. develop thinking and problem-solving abilities through activities and observation, analysis and discussion.

II. Principles of Teaching

a. Teaching must correspond to children’s development and thinking ability. Teachers should help children understand simple and basic mathematical language and foster their sensitivity to numbers and space with the use of real objects.

b. Teachers should make use of every opportunity to introduce and consolidate mathematical concepts through play and learning activities. The introduction of mathematical concepts should be simple and tangible, concentrating on one attribute at a time and progressing gradually.

c. The activities should be interesting and should match children’s interests. Teachers should carefully select activities which are suitable for children. To promote children’s learning interest and self-confi dence, teachers can make use of real objects and encourage children’s active participation.

Early Mathematics 2.5.3


d. T h i n k i n g a n d l a n g u a g e a re c l o s e l y re l a t e d . T h e d e v e l o p m e n t of language and the formation of mathematical concepts are complementary to each other. Children should be encouraged to discuss the things they encounter in their everyday life. They should also be given opportunities to communicate among themselves and think from various perspectives.

e. Teachers should provide opportunities for children to explore and discover ideas on their own. One-way teaching and repetitive drilling should be avoided for fear that it might weaken children’s interest in learning mathematics and provoke resistance to learning in general.

Natural phenomena and objects such as wind, rain, thunder, lightning, fl owers, birds, worms and fi sh, which children encounter in their everyday life, can all be topics of natural science. These fascinating science topics are excellent learning material for children, who are curious by nature. Children will gain a deeper understanding of the things and phenomena around them, and experience the joy of science, through observation, exploration, questioning and verifi cation. Many modern inventions, such as I.T. products (e.g. television, video recorders and computers), advanced means of transportation and objects that are easily accessible to children (e.g. electric fans and toys), are applications of science in everyday life. Through contact and manipulation, children can learn and experience the close relationship between science, technology and living. Under proper guidance, children will also develop their awareness of the environment and quality of life.

I. Learning Objectives: Children are enabled to - a. develop curiosity about the environment;

b. gain interest in exploring the physical world;

c. master basic exploration techniques such as observation, questioning and making assumptions;

d. maintain an objective and open attitude;

e. develop problem-solving ability;

f. care for animals and plants, and develop concern for environmental protection;

g. understand the relationship between humans and nature, and explore the relationship between technology and living; and

h. have initial understanding of technology.

Science and Technology



Self and Society 2.5.5

II. Principles of Teaching

a. Teachers should encourage children to be conscious of their surroundings and learn through observation, analysis and inference.

b. When organising science activities, teachers should note the following points:

The learning activities which they arrange should be easy to observe, with immediate results and conspicuous changes.

The procedures of the activities should be simple. Teachers should conduct trial experiments before asking children to do them, to ensure that the activities are feasible and safe, and can meet children’s developmental needs and achieve the learning objectives.

Teachers should encourage children to try things out and learn from mistakes. The aim is to help children develop an inquisitive attitude, and the process of observation is far more important than the outcome. Therefore, teachers should not stick to any “standard answer” or disclose the result too early.

Teachers should encourage children to observe attentively during the activities and to report their observations afterwards.

Children can share and discuss the outcome in groups or with the whole class. Meanwhile, the teacher can also help them make hypothesis, guess, ask questions and make records.

c. Teachers should discuss the applications of technology (such as radios, telephones, computers, etc.) with children by relating them to their everyday life, so that they develop a basic understanding of the benefi ts brought about by technology to society as well as relevant concerns about using it.

d. Time spent on using technological products (e.g. computers) as teaching aids should not be too long, so as not to hinder the overall teaching arrangements. Over-dependence on technology will deprive children of the opportunities to learn from reality.

Children’s affective and social development begins with understanding their own emotions and the formation of their self-image, identifying family members and having contact with other communities. Through participating in activities, children gain experiences which enable them to understand the value of individuals, appropriate attitudes towards interpersonal relationships and other social skills.


Teachers and parents exert significant influence on children’s personal and social development. Adults’ behaviour, attitudes and values will directly or indirectly affect children’s physical and mental development. A respectful, accommodating and safe environment is conducive to children’s healthy physical and mental development. In addition, children can learn about the value of their existence and understand others’ feelings and needs through interaction with peers. This will also enhance their interpersonal and communication skills.

Social interaction is a source of learning. Children form their own values and ideas about social morality gradually, through internalising the behaviours, habits, thinking and language they encounter.

I. Learning Objectives: Children are enabled to -

a. know about themselves and appreciate their uniqueness, so as to enhance their self-concept;

b. build up self-confi dence and a sense of responsibility;

c. understand and express their own needs and feelings;

d. develop communication and interaction abilities and enjoy the pleasure of social life through cultivating proper attitudes towards people and the physical world;

e. expand their social circle, understand themselves and the social environment, learn about the close relationship between themselves and society, and develop civic awareness; and

f. develop national identity through an understanding of the Chinese culture.

II. Principles of Teaching

a. Children can understand their own abilities and strengths through various kinds of learning activities or free choice activities.

b. Teachers should provide children with opportunities to make decisions on their own, so as to enhance their critical thinking skills, and self- confi dence and independence.

c. Children are encouraged to participate actively in group and class activities; and they should be given suffi cient time and opportunities to interact with people and the environment, and to experience the social norms.


d. Teachers should make good use of the natural environment and community resources to organise suitable activities which allow children to obtain fi rst-hand experience and know more about society.

This will also foster children’s awareness with respect to environmental protection and appreciation of the cultural and historical features of the community.

Arts can extend children’s sensory experiences, and help them explore and perceive the world through different media. Children can also use their senses of sight, hearing and touch, as well as their body actions, to express their emotions and feelings, and to appreciate different things in the world around us. Through arts, which are also media of expression, children can communicate with others happily as this gives them a sense of satisfaction.

The appreciation and creation of arts, as well as participation in interesting, balanced and diversified arts activities such as music, drama, dance and visual arts, can cultivate children’s aesthetic sensitivity, imagination, creativity and communication skills. Children can have an enjoyable experience in art appreciation and performance, in turn, it will arouse their interest in arts and develop an attitude of life-long learning.

I. Learning Objectives: Children are enabled to -

a. enjoy the fun of different creative works through their senses and bodies;

b. enhance their expression and powers of communication through imagination and association;

c. express themselves through different media and materials;

d. appreciate the beauty of nature and works of art;

e. experience different cultures and develop diversifi ed visions; and f. develop creativity.

II. Principles of Teaching

a. In order to cultivate children’s aesthetic sensitivity and appreciation capability, the teaching environment should have embrace a creative and artistic atmosphere. Children’s artistic works can be used for classroom decoration.

b. Diversifi ed activities which focus on the learning process rather than the acquisition of skills and knowledge are recommended, as children will fi nd them enjoyable.

Arts 2.5.6


c. Teachers should encourage children to use different senses, especially their sense of touch, and their gross and fine motor skills to explore and try things out, so as to develop their creativity and enhance the fun of creative activities.

d. Teachers should guide children to take the initiative to learn, and give them sufficient time and freedom to choose different art activities to express their life experiences, thoughts and feelings.

e. More opportunities should be provided for children to appreciate diversifi ed arts, so as to broaden their knowledge of art and cultivate their appreciation ability.


Chapter 3




Curriculum Planning




Pre-primary institutions can follow these four recommended steps when applying the pre-primary curriculum framework described in Chapter 2 to the task of curriculum planning: (i) conduct a self-evaluation, including an examination of conditions, strengths and limitations; (ii) know the stakeholders well, including children and parents; (iii) design the curriculum; and (iv) establish mechanisms for curriculum review and monitoring. These measures will ensure that children are provided with quality education and care services

Conditions, strengths and limitations

Different sponsoring bodies have their own history and varied missions, teacher qualifications, leadership and community environment. They should examine their own conditions, and analyse their own strengths and limitations. Through systematic planning, the institutions develop their own curriculum to achieve the prescribed objectives. Pre-primary institutions can refer to the following items for reviewing their own situations (Note7):

 Institutional culture: including the historical background, mission,


Designing the curriculum

Establishing mechanisms for curriculum review &


Knowing the

stakeholders well


Knowing the

Stakeholders Well


educational goals, aspirations and beliefs of the institution, and the interpersonal relations within the institution and with external bodies, such as the relations among staff members, among children, between children and staff members, and the liaison with parents, external parties, etc.

 Administrative and management structure: the administrative system and developmental plans which are set up according to the mission and goal of the institution, including the deployment of financial, human and other resources, the establishment of evaluation mechanisms and the routine management.

 Staff management: including staff development and training, job allocation, appraisal of staff members, the co-ordination and communication system.

 Utilisation of resources: the allocation and utilisation of all resources within and outside the pre-primary institution, including institutional resources such as the setting, facilities, teaching aids, books, etc.; human resources such as teachers and parents; community resources such as parks, public libraries, etc.

Children and parents

The growth of children is closely related to their family environment. In order to co-ordinate children’s school life with their family life, pre-primary institutions should understand children’s family background and work closely with parents so as to adopt a consistent approach to guidance. The curriculum designed by the institution should cater for children’s needs, as well as gain support and appropriate co-operation from parents.

Institutions may understand children better through interviews with their parents, and through observation and analysis of contacts with children.

Throughout the process, the institution may know more about children’s family structure, position among siblings, health conditions, aptitude, temperament and developmental abilities (including intelligence, language competence, social skills, etc.).

Parents are both the key partners and human resources of a pre-primary institution. Through different communication channels such as home visits, contacts during class or after school and other forms of communication, an institution may establish a close relationship for home-school collaboration, and understand parents’ expectations towards the institution and their educational expectations for their children.


Child-centred, comprehensive and well-balanced, and adopting a play-based strategy

Pre-primary institutions should adopt the following principles for designing the curriculum:

All children are capable of learning. The curriculum should be designed with a child-centred approach and from the children’s perspective. It should be geared to meet their abilities, needs, learning styles, experiences and interests.

i. Meet children’s developmental needs and abilities

When designing the curriculum, institutions should identify children’s best learning moments to meet their developmental needs and abilities, and provide them with suffi cient space for a balanced development.

ii. Relate to children’s experiences and interests

Children’s previous experiences infl uence their present learning. Curriculum planning should therefore be based on children’s experiences and should be related to the environment in which they live. In addition, the contents of the curriculum should be of interest to children, so that they are self- motivated and ready to take an active role in learning.

i. Cater for children’s holistic development in the cognitive, language, physical, affective, social and aesthetic aspects

Cognitive, language, physical, affective, social and aesthetic developments are interrelated and interwoven. Therefore, in the process of curriculum planning, due consideration should be given to children’s overall development, so that individual developmental needs will be met in a comprehensive and well-balanced manner.

ii. Foster children’s knowledge, skills and attitudes in different learning areas

A pre-primary curriculum should take into account all six learning areas and the relevant concepts, skills and attitudes.


the Curriculum


Be child-centred 3.3.1

Be comprehensive and well-balanced





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