Guide to the Pre-primary Curriculum

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Guide to the Pre-primary Curriculum

Endorsed by the

Curriculum Development Council

Issued by the

Curriculum Development Institute Education Department

Hong Kong 1996


Guide to the Pre-primary Curriculum

Endorsed by the

Curriculum Development Council

Recommended for Use in

Kindergartens and Day Nurseries by the Education Department and the

Social Welfare Department of Hong Kong


Education. Members of the Working Party, appointed by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, include experienced professionals from kindergartens, the child care sector and pre-primary training institutions, as well as representatives from the Education and Manpower Branch, the Health and Welfare Branch, the Social Welfare Department and the Education Department.



Foreword i

Chapter 1 Aims of Pre-primary Curriculum 1

1.1 General Aims 1

1.2 Specific Aims 2

Chapter 2 Developmental Characteristics and Learning 4 Objectives of Children Aged Between 2 and 6

2.1 General Introduction 4

2.2 Characteristics of 2-year-olds 6 2.3 Characteristics of 3-year-olds 9 2.4 Characteristics of 4-year-olds 11 2.5 Characteristics of 5-year-olds 14

2.6 Children’s Learning 16

Chapter 3 Principles of Curriculum Planning 19

3.1 General Introduction 19

3.2 Principles of Curriculum Planning 19

Chapter 4 Principles of Curriculum Implementation 26

4.1 General Introduction 26

4.2 The Role of the Pre-primary Educator 26

4.3 The Learning Environment 30


4.6 Evaluation 56

4.7 Parental Involvement 62

Chapter 5 The Curriculum 65

5.1 General Introduction 65

5.2 Care, Habits and Routine Training 65

5.3 Play Activities 80

5.4 Scope of Learning 121

5.5 Curriculum Model 162

Appendices (1) Curriculum Aims Across 1

(2) Chart Showing Developmental 5 Characteristics of Children Aged Between

2 and 6

(3) A Study on Chinese Handwriting at the 13 Kindergarten Level

(4) Examples of Teaching Plans based on the 15

“Thematic Approach”

(5) Guidelines on the Implementation of the 30

“Project Approach”


Reference materials published so far by the Government on the design of pre-primary curriculum and activities include the “Guide to the Kindergarten Curriculum” and the “Activity Guidelines for Day Nursery”.

The former was revised in 1993 by the Kindergarten Co-ordinating Committee of the Curriculum Development Council. It focuses on the principles of kindergarten curriculum design and implementation methods. The overall aim of kindergarten education is to provide children with a balanced development in the moral, intellectual, physical, social and aesthetic aspects. The kindergarten curriculum should take into account the developmental characteristics and individual needs of young children with due emphasis on sensory experience, observation and experiments to arouse children’s interest in learning. The curriculum should also be designed to include civic education elements to assist young children to adapt themselves to group life, and to understand the relationship between the individual and society.

The “Activity Guidelines for Day Nursery” was compiled by a Joint Working Group set up by the Social Welfare Department and the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (Joint SWD/HKCSS Working Group) in 1986. It provides child care staff with suggested activities which are in line with the developmental characteristics and needs of children aged between two and six.

The Guidelines further point out that through play and actual experience, young children can be nurtured to attain a balanced development in physical,


In May 1994, the Board of Education made a considerable number of recommendations on pre-primary education, one of which was the unification of pre-primary services provided by the Education Department and the Social Welfare Department. The Working Party on Kindergarten Education, reconstituted in February 1995, seriously examined the feasibility of unifying the curriculum design of the two types of pre-primary services mentioned. In April 1995, the Working Party proposed to amalgamate the “Guide to the Kindergarten Curriculum” and the “Activity Guidelines for Day Nursery”, as well as to set up an ad hoc working group with members drawn from the Education Department and Social Welfare Department. In preparing the draft of the amalgamated Guide mentioned above, the ad hoc working group consulted, in September 1995, experienced practitioners of kindergartens, child care centres and pre-primary training institutions.

The draft was completed and circulated to all pre-primary institutions for comments in February 1996. The guide was subsequently revised in the light of the suggestions given and was endorsed by the Curriculum Development Council. It is hoped that this guide will serve as a useful reference for all involved in pre-primary education.


Chapter 1

Aims of Pre-primary Curriculum

1.1 General Aims

1.1.1 The care and education services provided by pre-primary institutions in Hong Kong help to foster children’s balanced development in their physical, intellectual, language, social and emotional aspects. Such services also develop in children an interest in learning which helps to prepare them for future education.

1.1.2 Apart from the acquisition of academic knowledge, children should also equip themselves with other life skills, such as self-care skills, communicative skills, social skills, etc. so as to enable them to adapt to society. It is through direct life experiences, sensory perception and interesting activities that children develop good habits, establish confidence in themselves and in other people, comprehend things around them, as well as live up to social expectations. Factual knowledge obtained through stereotype textbook teaching or rote-learning is only superficial. These teaching methods will only curb the creativity and cognitive thinking of children, and do not guarantee that children can remember and make use of the knowledge acquired. Therefore, children should be educated in a natural and pleasant environment, and it is through various activities and life experiences that children attain a balanced development in different


1.2 Specific Aims

The general aims may be elaborated into specific ones to facilitate actual curriculum design. Some of the more important specific aims of pre-primary curriculum are:

1.2.1 Aims related to intellectual development

1. To cultivate in children positive attitudes towards the acquisition of knowledge and understanding of their surrounding environment.

2. To enable children to develop their concentration and observation, as well as their analytical, reasoning, judgment and problem solving skills.

3. To lay the foundations of basic numeracy and literacy.

1.2.2 Aims related to communicative development

1. To broaden and refine children’s innate and family-learned verbal and non-verbal interpersonal communication proficiency.

2. To encourage and help children identify and express their thoughts and emotions through language.

1.2.3 Aims related to social and moral development

1. To assist children to attain a socially acceptable balance between their personal interests and those of the community, to establish good interpersonal relationships, as well as to accept basic social values and norms.


2. To develop in children a sense of responsibility and positive attitudes towards both work and people.

3. To cultivate in children an inclination to interact with and love their environment.

1.2.4 Aims related to personal and physical development

1. To foster in children good habits and self-care abilities.

2. To help children acquire the skills of expressing their feelings, both positive and negative.

3. To enable children to perceive the importance of self-control in leading a happy life in a pre-primary institution and to help them develop such a habit.

4. To nurture in children a sense of self-esteem, confidence and achievement

5. To enhance children’s development of their gross and fine motor skills.

6. To promote children’s sensory-perceptual development.

1.2.5 Aims related to aesthetic development

1. To stimulate children’s creative and imaginative powers.

2. To cultivate in children abilities to enjoy life and to appreciate various forms of beauty.

3. To encourage children to enjoy participating in creative work.


Chapter 2

Development Characteristics and Learning Objectives of Children Aged between 2 and 6

2.1 General Introduction

2.1.1 The pre-primary educator must have specialised knowledge about the characteristics of child development before they can be responsive to the needs of children, set reasonable learning objectives and design a curriculum which suits children’s abilities and interests. The developmental patterns of most children correspond in general to their age and the growth is gradual and predictable. The major developmental characteristics of each age level in the physical, intellectual, language, social and emotional aspects are outlined in this chapter as a general reference for pre-primary educators. The developmental characteristics are tabulated in Appendix 2 to help pre-primary educators to have a better understanding of the development of children aged between 2 and 6. It should be noted, however, that the age-related expectations in this chapter and Appendix 2 should be treated as a guide only, as child development progresses at varying rates within and among children. No two children are exactly alike and within every individual, the rate of various areas of development also differs. Educators are advised to use the information with flexibility and draw relevant verifications in the light of their daily observations.


2.1.2 Local pre-primary institutions assign children to various classes according to their age. In line with this practice, this Chapter provides some important learning objectives on nurturing children according to the developmental characteristics of each age level for the reference of pre-primary educators. In referring to the objectives suggested in this Chapter, pre-primary educators should pay attention to the following:

1. In daily operations, “play”, “learning” and “care” should be taken as a whole since all the three elements contribute to the overall development of a child and have a mutually stimulating effect.

2. The development of each age level has a bridging effect on another age level. A former developmental stage lays the foundation for the next. Therefore, the coherence and continuity of the learning objectives of each stage should be attended to in the course of implementation.

3. “Spoon-fed” teaching approach should be abandoned. Children should be given chances to acquire practical experience through direct participation. Their motivation to participate in activities and to learn should be reinforced.

4. While striving to achieve the learning objectives of each age level, adjustments should be made to take into account the characteristics of pre-primary institutions, the community as well as the cultural background of parents. The objectives set should not be too high to avoid overburdening children and subjecting them to


5. In the course of implementation, regular and timely evaluations should be made for the purpose of further improvement.

2.2 Characteristics of 2-year-olds

2.2.1 Physical Development – Although 2-year-old children can do all the basic movements, e.g. sitting, standing, walking, running, crawling and jumping, etc., they may not be able to master some newly-learned actions such as walking up and down stairs. Children of this age require most attention because they are usually very energetic but unaware of danger. As to the manipulation of fingers, their dexterity and good eye-hand co-ordination are fully reflected in their actions, such as piling up several toy blocks. Children at this stage show that they are more at ease with using the right hand or the left and are capable to twisting a cap off a bottle or turning a doorknob.

2.2.2 Intellectual Development – Though their attention span is rather short, children of this age begin to show that they have the power of memory and try to imitate others’ gestures and language. Basic concepts, such as matching, shapes, sizes, etc., are gradually built up.

Moreover, children of this age start to recognise their names and are capable of identifying themselves or their family members in mirrors or photos. They remember some names and functions of the five senses and four limbs. At play, they like to try new playthings and re-assemble toys after dismantling them.


2.2.3 Language Development – The emergence of memory and concepts contributes to the basic foundation of language development of 2-year-olds. They are able to look for objects by following instructions, and can understand some common nouns, verbs and adjectives. If adults want to stop them from doing something, they are able to say “no” in reply. They can also use limited vocabulary and short sentences to express their wishes. At this stage, their pronunciation may not be accurate and their language still includes some childish or self-created words and sounds. They also use one word to represent various meanings. For instance, “car” is used to signify all kinds of vehicles.

2.2.4 Emotional Development – 2-year-olds enjoy being praised and have a strong preference for beautiful clothes. If things go against their wish, they will easily get annoyed. However, they forget unhappy experience quickly as they are easily attracted by things and happenings around them. In everyday life, they tend to follow established rules and dislike changes. They are usually very lovely but rather self-centred. They are quite emotional and attached to adults.

2.2.5 Social Development – Children begin to extend their area of movement, respond to their surroundings, learn to get along with others, and show a certain degree of independence in their daily life.


etc. with the assistance of adults. However, 2-year-old children still do not understand the concept of sharing and therefore can only play on their own. Though they can wait for their turn and take part in simple play activities under the guidance of adults, they easily feel jealous and unhappy when their peers distract the attention of adults from them.

2.2.6 Learning objectives for 2-year-olds

1. To arouse children’s interest and curiosity in their surroundings by using concrete objects and examples in their daily life and to help children learn from adult models by making use of their imitative capabilities.

2. To nurture children’s wish to take part in play activities and to stimulate their interest in all kinds of activities.

3. To enhance children’s comprehension of language, enrich their vocabulary, and foster their interest in reading through interaction with adults and their environment.

4. To cultivate in children the concept of observing regulations and help them develop good habits with the assistance of adults.

5. To enable children to develop trust in others and to help them build up a sense of security as well as confidence in a new environment through love and care.

6. To promote children’s motor development and to provide conditions of free play for the further development of gross and fine motor skills.


2.3 Characteristics of 3-year-olds

2.3.1 Physical Development – Children’s fine motor skills develop at a later stage, but the ability in manipulating their hands enables them to look after themselves. 3-year-old children in general can eat with spoons and forks by themselves, drink with cups, dress and undress, do up and undo simple buttons, put on and take off shoes without shoe laces.

They can also draw a circle or a cross with a crayon. At this stage, children’s gross motor skills develop faster and their body co-ordination is better than before. Most children of this age like to run, jump and ride a tricycle. Some may still need to rest both feet on one step in mounting a flight of stairs. When they get to three and a half years old, most of them have no difficulty in climbing or descending stairs with alternate foot.

2.3.2 Intellectual Development – Children’s life experience will directly affect the formation of concepts. At this stage, most children know their own names, their sexes and the names of the major parts of the body. They can also understand the meaning of such concepts as

“above” and “below”, “front” and “back”, “beside”, “big” and “small”,

“long” and “short”. They are able to tell whether things are the same or different and are capable of identifying several colours.

Sometimes they can use words related to time and quantity, but cannot manage to grasp such concepts fully.


2.3.3 Language Development – The language skills of children develop rapidly at this stage. Basically, they can understand adults’

instructions and use simple language to express their feelings and needs. They can concentrate on listening to simple stories and like to sing simple songs or nursery rhymes. They also like to imitate words and phrases used by adults and can formulate a short sentence.

2.3.4 Emotional Development – Though some 3-year-olds still hold on to their views, most are already quite receptive to adults’ advice. On one hand, children of this age often experience fear and anxiety and need to get a sense of security from adults, on the other, they are very imaginative and keep talking to their toys or animals to express their feelings.

2.3.5 Social Development – Children of this age are not as self-centred as when they were 2 years old. They understand that they are required to observe regulations and have just begun to expand their social circle outside their family. They tend to play by themselves at the beginning but gradually get into the habit of sharing toys with other children and following simple rules of games through learning.

Some children, however, remain “egocentric” and often want others to do what they say, resulting in frequent antagonistic behaviour.

Therefore, adults need to guide them patiently.


2.3.6 Learning objectives for 3-year-olds

1. To enrich children’s daily experience and to develop their interest in their surroundings.

2. To provide children with learning opportunities to improve their comprehension and expression, thus enabling them to express their needs, feelings and wishes through language.

3. To teach children to listen to others attentively.

4. To guide children to understand the consequence of their behaviour so that they will learn to observe regulations, accept others and experience the fun of playing with their mates.

5. To encourage children to act independently and to develop basic self-care skills.

6. To help children enjoy the pleasure of physical play and grasp some basic motor skills.

7. To develop children’s imagination through different kinds of games, and to provide opportunities for them to apply their imagination and creativity in various games.

2.4 Characteristics of 4-year-olds

2.4.1 Physical Development – Children of this age can move their fingers dextrously and are able to draw simple pictures and do simple paper cutting and paste work. They can also construct “buildings” with toy blocks. They are also capable of dressing, undressing, buttoning up,


this age also have a stronger physique and can walk for quite a long distance. They are quick in action and their basic movements are more dextrous. Not only are they able to run, jump, climb, or stand on one foot, but they are also more skilful in catching, throwing or riding a tricycle.

2.4.2 Intellectual Development – They have a better understanding of their surroundings. For example, their concept of time already enables them to tell what they usually do in the morning, afternoon and evening. For spatial concepts, they can distinguish positions such as

“front”, “back”, “middle”, “first and last”, etc.. They are also able to count from one to ten. They have a preliminary concept of classification of objects, and are able to distinguish between what is light and heavy, thick and thin, and long and short. Some of them can even tell the right from the left.

2.4.3 Language Development – Children can speak clearly and speak out whatever they think of. They like to ask questions and can give brief descriptions of everyday life and pictures. They are also able to read simple words and phrases and use opposites.

2.4.4 Emotional Development – Their emotions may fluctuate occasionally, and they show strong affection or dislike. They are very imaginative and may confuse reality with imagination at times. 4-year-old children, in general, can observe simple rules and sometimes manage


2.4.5 Social Development – They have become more self-disciplined and are willing to observe the rules of games. They show politeness towards people and have learned to say “Thank you”, “Sorry”, etc..

They also know how to get along with strangers. But they still have very vague concepts of right and wrong, and only know that actions resulted in punishment are bad and those resulted in praise are good.

2.4.6 Learning objectives for 4-year-olds

1. To develop in children an interest in acquiring the knowledge of society and nature so as to enhance their concern and spirit of enquiry into their surroundings.

2. To develop in children some early mathematical concepts.

3. To provide children with communication opportunities and to enrich the content of conversations so that they are able to make use of language in enhancing their thinking, analysing, judgement and problem-solving skills.

4. To arouse children’s interest in reading and encourage them to start learning the written language.

5. To promote co-operation among children and to provide them with opportunities to assume responsibility so as to give them the sense of achievement.

6. To foster children’s good behaviour and habits.

7. To guide children to express their feelings appropriately and to control their emotions.


9. To familiarise children with basic motor skills and to help them master more complicated motor skills.

2.5 Characteristics of 5-year-olds

2.5.1 Physical Development – They can fully control the movement of their wrists to fold paper and use the scissors. They use the pencil and painting brush skilfully and can produce simple art and craft work.

In taking care of themselves, they know how to eat and pick up food with chopsticks or comb their hair by themselves. Children of this age are able to walk at fast as adults. They can easily walk on a narrow path and are rather skilful in climbing, crawling, sliding and swinging. They can also dance to the music and do physical games.

2.5.2 Intellectual Development – They have acquired the basic concepts and skills of reading, writing and early mathematics. They can understand fairly well the concepts of time, space, quantity and classification of objects. They can put objects of different lengths, heights widths and sizes in correct order and are able to count from one to twenty. They can also describe the contents of pictures shown to them.

2.5.3 Language Development – The grammar and structure of children’s language at this stage are more or less the same as adults. They can communicate with family members or other children and are able to


talk in turn without digressing from the subject. They can give a logical account of what has happened recently. They can also transmit simple messages and enjoy telling stories.

2.5.4 Emotional Development – Being emotionally more stable, they begin to express their emotions by means of language, have better self-control and are willing to accept constructive comments from adults. Occasionally, however, they still need to be reminded by adults.

2.5.5 Social Development – In terms of self-care ability, they have become more independent. They can choose suitable clothes, bathe by themselves and do some simple housework. As regards social behaviour, they begin to choose the playmates they like. They also participate in co-operative games involving several peers and are willing to abide by the rules of the game. Besides, they have also learnt to protect the weak and to console others.

2.5.6 Learning objectives for 5-year-olds

1. To develop an awareness of the community so as to enhance children’s knowledge and concern in things which are closely related to daily life.

2. To arouse children’s interest in learning and to impart to them some basic knowledge in mathematical concepts, simple calculations,


3. To strengthen children’s abilities and interests in reading, and to improve their writing skills and language proficiency.

4. To encourage children to develop co-operative attitudes towards active participation in various activities so as to promote their social development.

5. To guide children to appreciate the pleasure of group life and to develop correct concepts of their roles and responsibilities in a group.

6. To help children cultivate good character and good behaviour, as well as to teach them how to accept and appreciate themselves and other people.

7. To strengthen children’s aesthetic appreciation and to stimulate their creative potentials.

2.6 Children’s Learning 2.6.1 The Meaning of Learning

Learning is a self-motivated psychological activity which leads to modifications in children’s knowledge, skills, habits and attitudes, both in terms of quality and quantity, resulting in a change of behaviour which will persist.

Learning also originates from external “stimulus” experienced by children. Responding to such stimulus, their innate learning motives would be aroused, resulting in behavioural changes.


2.6.2 Conditions for Learning

Learning is in fact affected by internal and external conditions.

Internal conditions refer to certain pre-requisites that children should possess for learning. These include physical fitness, mental maturity, comprehensive power and stable emotions, etc.. External condition refers to the living environment of children, including suitable learning opportunities and interesting learning materials, etc.. The acceptance and encouragement by adults are of course very important as well.

2.6.3 Elements of Learning

The elements of learning comprise knowledge, skills and attitude which are developed in children through participating in learning activities.

a. Knowledge : Knowledge means the understanding of things. It is generally acquired through the memorisation and 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 specific concepts.

The pre-primary educator should take into consideration the interests and comprehensive power of children in the selection of teaching materials. To young children, it is of primary importance to have knowledge about oneself. As they gradually grow up,


make use of things in daily life as examples and guide them to learn through appropriate means.

b. Skills : Skills refer to the various abilities acquired from learning, e.g. language proficiency, social skills, self-care abilities, motor skills, etc.. Skills training is attained through diversified activities and the provision of a suitable environment for children so that they can master different skills through repeated practices.

c. Attitudes : Attitude refers to value judgement, power of appreciation and a person’s orientation in behaviour. A child’s attitude is directly affected by his/her degree of maturity and his family background. The behaviour of pre-primary educators, as well as the objectives and nature of activities also have a positive effect on the development of the child’s attitude.

While one of the elements of learning mentioned above may be more prominent in certain learning activities, these elements of learning should be integrated in most circumstances. For example, in introducing the topic “Rabbits”, children can learn about the appearance and behaviour of rabbits by observation.

Children can also be given the opportunity to feed and take care of rabbits, and eventually develop a caring attitude towards small animals. They will understand that like human beings, rabbits also need food and rest, and that both rabbits and human beings are animals. In so doing, the concept of “animal” is gradually formed.


Chapter 3

Principles of Curriculum Planning

3.1 General Introduction

Broadly speaking, the pre-primary curriculum refers to all the programmes which take place in the pre-primary institution, including health inspections, toiletting, meals, rest, music activities, story telling, art and craft, group learning, games, and all kinds of indoor and outdoor activities. These programmes should be well planned by the pre-primary educator, and should meet the needs and interests of young children. Children should be encouraged to participate actively in all learning programmes that cater for the all-round development in all aspects.

3.2 Principles of Curriculum Planning

The planning of pre-primary curriculum should be based on the following principles :

3.2.1 Catering for the overall physical, intellectual, language, emotional and social development of children.

Children’s physical, intellectual, language, emotional and social developments are all interrelated. Therefore, in curriculum planning, the emphasis should not be placed solely on the acquisition of knowledge and skills, but also on children’s physical development,


3.2.2 Meeting the developmental needs and abilities of children

Children have to acquire certain basic knowledge, skills and social behaviours at different age level. In planning the curriculum, educators should make the best use of children’s motivation to learn with due respect to their needs and abilities. For instance, while the self-care abilities of 2 or 3-year-olds are limited and are emotionally dependent on adults, they begin to develop the concept of independence. Therefore, in curriculum planning, due consideration should be given to the development of self-care abilities and the building up of the sense of security and confidence through routine training and diversified free play activities. The acquisition of knowledge on academic subjects should not be over-emphasised.

When children are forced to learn at inappropriate times, they will experience frustration and failures, and in turn develop negative attitude towards learning. On the other hand, if children’s ability is under-estimated and their learning is delayed, they are deprived of the opportunity to be stimulated and to develop. However, as children differ in character and ability, flexibility should be exercised in designing the curriculum to ensure that the needs of individual children are met and that every child can fully develop his/her potentials and strengths, and enhance his/her self-confidence.

3.2.3 Relating to the experiences and interests of children

Children’s previous experiences are a vital source of knowledge acquisition. Therefore, curriculum planning should be based on the


which they live. Learning proceeds from the known to the unknown, form the surface to the underlying, from the near to the far away, and from the simple to the complicated. In this manner, children’s horizons could be broadened gradually. Moreover, the contents of the curriculum should be of interest to children so that they are self-motivated to take an active role in learning. As children’s interests change with their age, it is imperative to follow their interests and make use of the best opportunity to engage their interest in activities and learning.

3.2.4 Motivating children’s curiosity and thirst for knowledge, and encouraging interactions and independent thinking

The curriculum should offer children opportunities to discover, experiment and explore. Children first learn from their sensory experiences. Children are curious and active by nature and they learn about people, events and objects in the physical world by looking, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. Children need to learn through interaction with pre-primary educators in the course of various activities. Through mutual support from peers, imitation, co-operation and collaboration, children will learn to think, assume, provide and conclude. The whole learning process is an expanding and continuing process. When adults have everything planned and teach children solely through words and pictures, or they ask them to learn the teaching materials by heart, they deter children from thinking


3.2.5 Fostering knowledge, skills and attitudes in different areas of learning.

A balanced curriculum is required for the all-round development of children. To design a balanced curriculum, the contents covered should include the learning of knowledge, concepts and skills, as well as the acquisition of proper attitudes in language activities, early mathematics, natural science and social studies. At the pre-primary stage, children should be helped to develop proper attitudes towards themselves, other people and the physical world. This is just as important as the mastering of concrete knowledge and concepts of the environment, the application of knowledge and life skills.

Furthermore, the knowledge and concepts of different areas of learning imparted to children should be accurate, based on evidence and appropriate to children’s abilities.

3.2.6 Using themes for the purpose of flexible curriculum integration

The thematic approach is the prevalent curriculum model in pre-primary education nowadays. Pre-primary educators should choose those themes appropriate to children’s experiences and interests and design a series of learning activities based on the concept of the spiral curriculum. This approach should complement the principle of balanced curriculum planning, and aims at helping children to acquire knowledge and skills in different areas and foster proper attitudes through various activities. It goes without saying that, detailed planning is needed for this approach, under which clearly defined teaching objectives, contents and activities have to be


flexibility, hence ignoring children’s tendency to learn freely and spontaneously. Thus, when designing the outline of thematic teaching, allowance should be made for children to offer inputs, or flexibility should be built in to adjust and revise the activities so as to accommodate to the instant responses and interests of children.

3.2.7 Promoting the unique values and functions of different kinds of play activities

Play is an important part in the development of children. Different kinds of play activities have their unique educational purposes and values to enhance the holistic development of children. To achieve the maximum effectiveness, each activity in the curriculum programme should have clearly defined objectives.

3.2.8 Providing children with opportunities to express themselves, to be creative and to enjoy the fun of activities

Play promotes initiative, independence, entertainment and creativity.

Consideration should be given to these features in the design of play activities, and suitable opportunities and counselling should be provided to let children choose at their own will, to express themselves freely, to exercise their creativity and to enjoy activities in a joyous atmosphere. Through observation, experiencing and imagination, children’s creativity is stimulated. Their sense of aesthetic appreciation, achievement and confidence is also enhanced.


3.2.9 Giving due consideration to children’s family background and their experiences gained in the family

Children are nurtured in their respective families. Their growth and development are, therefore, closely related to their family background.

In designing the curriculum, the pre-primary educator should take into account parents’ ways of bringing up their children, their habits, and education and economic backgrounds. In so doing, there will be co-ordination and mutual understanding between the institution and family life, and both parties can play their roles more effectively.

The pre-primary educator should help parents understand the needs of their children and familiarise them with the activities carried out in the institution so that the nurturing method of the family is in line with the institution.

3.2.10 Meeting the needs and development of society

“Children’ is a part of our society. Curriculum planning should be in line with the needs and development of society. When the pattern of daily living in our society changes, various life skills required by children will also change. The contents of the curriculum should, therefore, be updated and revised in response to the prevailing developments in society. Furthermore, children’s neighbourhood should also be taken into account. Children should be guided to keep abreast with the progress of the community and be informed of the available community facilities, services and activities. In this manner, children’s social and civic awareness, and their relationship with the


public transport is introduced to children, the Mass Transit Railway should also be included in addition to the traditional modes of transport like the car, bus, train and ferry. If the pre-primary institution is located near the Light Rail Transport, the theme chosen can also be based on this means of transport.


Chapter 4

Principles of Curriculum Implementation

4.1 General Introduction

While an ideal curriculum is based on the principles mentioned in the previous chapter, other factors also contribute to the success of curriculum implementation. Firstly, effective curriculum implementation depends on the professional knowledge of pre-primary educators, their attitudes and skills of implementation, and the availability of a well-prepared learning environment and facilities. Secondly, the daily schedule of activities of the pre-primary institution should cater for the developmental needs of different age groups, and group work needs to the flexibly designed to ensure the effective use of both time and space. Furthermore, objective and systematic evaluation is also an integral part of curriculum implementation as it helps pre-primary educators to evaluate the effectiveness of activities and identify areas for improvement.

Finally, children’s development stems from the family and, therefore, parental involvement has an important role on the implementation of the pre-primary curriculum. This chapter will give a detailed account of the factors mentioned above.

4.2 The Role of the Pre-primary Educator

The pre-primary educator is a key factor contributing to the success of the implementation of the pre-primary curriculum. Her mastery of principles and rationale of curriculum planning, her preparation before lessons, as well as her


attitudes and skills in conducting activities will directly affect the effectiveness of children’s learning. In short the pre-primary educator should attend to the following important points:

4.2.1 Understand the characteristics of child development

The pre-primary educator should understand the temperament of children, the characteristics of their development, their style of living, cultural background as well as their experiences and abilities to ensure that the curriculum provided for children meets their developmental needs.

4.2.2 Establish good relationship with children

The pre-primary educator should adopt a caring, receptive and open attitude towards children. She should listen to children patiently and encourage them to express their feelings, raise questions and voice their opinions. While conducting activities, she should use simple sentences, open-ended questions as well as simple instructions to help children understand the learning contents. She can also use eye contact, smile, nods or other body language to show children her appreciation, encouragement and consolation. When children begin to feel that they are respected and accepted, and when they begin to trust the pre-primary educators, they will be more confident to make new attempts in the learning process.


should make ample preparation, e.g. preparation of lesson plans, collection of teaching materials, arrangement of the learning environment, production of teaching aids, etc. so as to provide a rich and well-arranged learning environment. The pre-primary educator should encourage active participation and interaction among children during the activities. At the same time, she should make the most of children’s learning opportunities to enrich their experiences. Besides, she should be responsive to changes in the learning environment as well as children’s interest, and give children appropriate guidance whenever necessary.

4.2.4 Create pleasurable learning atmosphere

The pre-primary educator should be optimistic, amiable and humorous.

These personal qualities, together with the active participation of the pre-primary educator in activities, can create a pleasurable learning environment which will enhance children’s initiative and involvement in learning, as well as stimulate their creative and imaginative power.

4.2.5 Set a model for children

Children learn by imitation. The pre-primary educator should pay special attention to her behaviour and attitude which will directly or indirectly affect the development of children. She should set good examples to children and behave properly including attending to her personal hygiene, social manners, and transmitting positive social values such as “concern”, “friendliness”, “willingness to share”,


demonstrate compliance with a code of ethics in word and deed in all activities in the course of delivering the curriculum. As children regard their pre-primary educators as role models, they learn desirable attitudes and behaviours from them, thus developing their potentials in all areas.

4.2.6 Promote the overall co-ordination of the pre-primary institution

The concerted effort of staff of every rank in a pre-primary institution contributes to the smooth implementation of the pre-primary curriculum. To improve the overall co-ordination work in the pre-primary institution, it is necessary for pre-primary educators to promote mutual understanding and co-operation among themselves through communication channels within the institutions such as meetings, newsletters and daily conversations. It is more desirable if educators can share their working experiences, achievements and failures, joys and sorrows so as to establish a mutually supporting system. They should also attach importance to professional enrichment and try to take up different responsibilities to enhance their professional knowledge. Through effective co-ordination of the pre-primary institution, the aims of pre-primary education will be achieved.


4.3 The Learning Environment 4.3.1 General Introduction

The classroom is an important learning venue for children. A well-designed and decorated classroom not only creates a delightful atmosphere but also promotes effective learning. Therefore, the pre-primary educator should prepare a comprehensive and detailed plan when arranging the classroom. The allocation of space, e.g.

passages between tables and chairs, the separation of “quiet” and

“active” activity centres, the design of display boards and the overall layout should be in line with the teaching themes. These arrangements aim at providing an environment with adequate space for free movement, easy access to toys and learning materials, and serve the purpose of stimulating children to learn.

4.3.2 Safety

Pre-primary institutions should observe the safety regulations and guidelines issued by the Government to ensure that children learn in a safe environment. The floor surfaces must be flat and non-slippery.

All exits and staircases are to be kept free from obstruction.

Furniture and equipment should not have protruding corners, nails or splinters. Moreover, all toys and articles used should be non-toxic and free from lead. Pre-primary educators should also prevent children from playing small articles such as beads and buttons.

Broken articles should be repaired or discarded. Moreover, first aid kits should be easily accessible. To minimise accidents, children’s


safety should always be the top priority when designing the classroom layout and planning activities.

4.3.3 Wall and floor

Classrooms should be spacious. Narrow and elongated rooms or rooms with large pillars should be avoided. The rooms should have suitable facilities and space for activities, adequate lighting and good ventilation. 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 will help to arouse children’s pleasant and exciting feelings. Walls which are within easy reach of children can be covered with plastic boards or ceramic tiles to facilitate easy cleaning or posting of children’s work. The floor surface must be kept clean and dry at all times. The materials used for covering the floor should be of a more durable nature, easy to clean, able to absorb sound, and suitable for sitting, e.g. rubber tiles, rubber mats, etc.

4.3.4 Layout of activity centres

To prepare an activity centre which caters for children’s interests, the pre-primary educator must observe specified requirements in size and capacity. “Active” and “quiet” activity centres should be separated to avoid groups of children disturbing each other. Interest corners, toys and facilities for creative activities should be diversified and changed periodically according to the developmental needs of children.


be placed so that children can take a rest there. Individual child should also be allowed to go inside alone to calm down his/her emotion when necessary. If the room is too small due to physical constraints, special installations could be used e.g. movable shelves, sand boxes, water tanks, etc..

4.3.5 Arrangement of furniture

To ensure effective supervision, the height of classroom furniture or partitioning boards should not block the view of the pre-primary educator. The furniture should not be centralised in one specific learning centre but should be placed evenly and fully utilised for partitioning purposes. The height of toy and art cabinets or racks should be within easy reach of children. Cabinets should be sufficiently heavy to be stable and equipped with locking wheels so they can be easily moved or used as partitions. The back of cabinets can also be used for display of children’s work. It is advisable to arrange tables and chairs in groups due to the following advantages :

1. More space could be spared for activity centres.

2. Toys and teaching aids may be used effectively and flexibly so that children may have more fun.

3. Children, when seated in groups, will have more chances to interact with one another and it is also easier to swap activities.

4. Such arrangement will help the pre-primary educator to give individual care and attention to children, build up a cordial and friendly relationship with children, and help to make the


Tables can be arranged in different combinations. The height of tables and chairs should be of the height that children can rest their forearms when they sit down. The height of chairs should be such that the feet of children can reach the ground when they are sitting.

Desks should be placed near cabinets that store learning materials on condition that there is sufficient space for children to move around.

4.3.6 Displays inside the classroom

Display boards and strings can be used inside the classroom to display children’s work. Potted-plants can also be used to beautify the classroom. The layout of the classroom can be periodically changed according to the curriculum so as to give children a fresh impression all the time. The display on boards can also motivate children to learn. Displaying children’s work should serve as an encouragement to children rather than an exhibition of a small number of outstanding work. Each child should have a chance to exhibit his/her work, and participate in mounting displays and hanging decorations. Exhibits should be changed periodically and mounted within the eye level of children.

4.3.7 Arrangement for physical activities

Factors such as safety, space, floor materials, etc., should not be overlooked when arranging a suitable physical play area. For


without outdoor areas, the indoor play area should be spacious, ad the noise problem should also be taken into consideration. Pre-primary educators can occasionally take children in groups to nearby parks or sitting-out areas, provided that there is sufficient manpower to look after the children. Equipment for physical play should be in varied forms. This can help to promote children’s interest in climbing, crawling, balancing, jumping, etc.. Physical play can also be integrated with role play. For instance, traffic signs, roadblocks, and petrol stations, etc., can be placed in cycling areas to enable children to have more fun in playing. If activities take place outdoors, careful planning and preparation must be made before the outdoor activities take place to ensure that sufficient manpower will be deployed to take care of children to minimise the possibility of accidents. As to outdoor/indoor physical play, pre-primary educators should train children to observe rules and help them know what they should do to ensure their own safety and that of other children. Moreover, special attention should be paid to the suitability of the venue as well as the safety standards of play equipment. Carpets or rubber mats should be placed under the equipment. Regular checking of all play facilities is required to make sure that nothing has been damaged.

The joints of iron or wooden equipment are liable to damage and wear and tear. When damage or defects are detected, repair work should be done immediately. To ensure safety, pre-primary educators should double check the apparatus and equipment before using them.


4.3.8 Classroom Layout

Classroom is the place where various activities of children take place.

The pre-primary educator should be aware of the importance of the learning environment. A well-planned and well-prepared learning environment when flexibly used, will provide a fruitful and stimulating setting and maximise opportunities for children’s learning.

Three sample classroom layout plans are given below:


Classroom layout plan* - Sample 1

*The arrangement of the classroom layout plan should vary according to the resources of each individual classroom.


Classroom layout plan* - Sample 2


Classroom layout plan* - Sample 3

*The arrangement of the classroom layout plan should vary according to the resources of each individual classroom.


4.4 Schedule of a Day and Use of Time

4.4.1 Beginning at birth, children learn through making sense of every physical experience and they accumulate these repeated and frequent experiences that may have positive or negative effects on their development. Likewise, the curriculum offered and every minute spent in the pre-primary institution have direct or indirect effects on their learning. To help children achieve a balanced development, subject teaching or the sheer delivery of academic knowledge should be avoided in organising the schedule of the day. Activities should be geared to children’s developmental needs and their behavioural characteristics of different stages. Furthermore, the use of time should also be flexible. Some of the principles for drawing up and use of time-tables are as follows:

1. Keep the balance of “active” and “quiet” activities :

Children need “quiet” activities to replenish their energy exerted in strenuous activities in the same way as they need some relaxing activities to regulate their body and mind after taking part in academic learning. Maintaining a balance in the “active” and the

“quiet” activities not only meets children’s need of physical activity but also enables them to calm down their excitement through quiet activities. Activities should be so arranged that

“active” activities are followed by “quiet” ones, or vice versa, as shown below :

Physical play

Conversation / Story-telling

group activities

music activities


2. Provide opportunities to explore independently and develop social relationship :

While pre-primary children are self-centred, active and curious, they are rather weak in concentration. They need social life, but have difficulty in co-operating with others. Therefore, they should be given opportunities to work in groups and to co-operate with other children so that they can learn the proper ways of dealing with people and handling problems. The pre-primary educator should allocate time for group learning and physical play, prepare a flexible and free indoor and outdoor learning environment, and provide children with opportunities to explore individually, in small groups or as a whole class. Given the stimulating learning environment, children should be allowed to move freely and happily and exercise a degree of choice of activities. They may work or stay alone at one activity centre to enjoy the privacy with their toys, or they can participate in exploratory, creative or entertaining activities with two or three friends or the entire group. Such an arrangement will be conducive to children’s social development. Group activities such as play activities and certain routine activities help children learn to observe discipline and get along with others.

3. Motivate children to learn and provide opportunities to explore and investigate :

Children have to learn through their sensory perception. To meet their special needs, the schedule of activities should include art and


satisfied and build up their self-confidence through observation, investigation and practice.

4. Planning varied activities to gear to children’s abilities and interests :

Ideally, activities for children should be planned to gear to their interests and needs. Thus, in organising activities, the amount of time allocated for various activities should reflect age, needs, interests and abilities of children. Younger children require more time to take food and wash their hands because their self-care ability is limited. Moreover, as the concentration span is short, the duration of those activities that call for a high degree of concentration, such as listening to stories and music, should be kept as short as possible. Adequate resources should be provided for small group learning. Free choice activities should be varied in content and the time spent on each of these activities should not be too long.

4.4.2 In drawing up the daily routine, the pre-primary educator should observe the following:

1. Children’s toilet time should be flexibly arranged, depending on the environment and conditions of the institution.

2. The organisation of daily group activities requires the pre-primary educator to provide a number of varied free choice activities for children. Arrangements should also be made so that they can


each day but each child should have a chance to finish all the activities over the week.

3. Class teaching and group activities should be taken as a whole, serving to achieve the learning objectives. Therefore, the duration of each period in the timetable need not be strictly adhered to.

4.4.3 Since kindergartens and day nurseries have different service hours, the arrangement of time-tables will be different. The time-tables for half-day/full-day kindergartens and day nurseries are listed below for reference of pre-primary educators to enable them to have a general idea of the arrangement of activities of pre-primary institutions.


Sample Time-table for Half-day Day Nurseries

Day of the Week Time



8:30 – 9:00 12:45 – 1:00

Admission (health inspections, conversation : Including general knowledge, sharing of everyday

experience and news)

9:00 – 9:45 1:00 – 1:45

Physical Play

9:45 – 10:15 1:45 – 2:15


10:15 – 11:15 2:15 – 3:15

Small Group Learning, Learning Activities and Free Choice Activities

11:15 – 12:00 3:15 – 4:00

Music/art and Craft Activities/Story-telling/

Interest Activities/Group Games

12:00 – 12:30 4:00 – 4:30

Free Choice Activities/Discharge


Sample Time-table for Full-day Day Nurseries

Day of the Week



8:00 – 8:45 am Admission, Health Inspections, Free-Choice Activities

8:45 – 9:15 Breakfast

9:15 – 9:30 Conversation : including General Knowledge, Sharing of Everyday Experience and News

9:30 – 10:30

Small Group Learning, Learning Activities and Free

Choice Activities

Free Choice Activities and Interest Activities

10:30 – 10:45 Snacks

10:45 – 11:30 Physical Play

11:30 – 12:15

Music / Rhythmic movement / Story-telling / Sharing of

Everyday Experience


12:15 – 1:00 pm Lunch Free Choice Activities / Discharge

1:00 – 3:00 Afternoon Nap 3:00 – 3:45 Physical Play

3:45 – 4:15 Snacks

4:15 – 4:45

Music / Rhythmic Movement / Interest Activities / Games /

Free Choice Activities 4:45 – 6:00 Free Choice Activities /



Sample Time-table for Half-day Kindergartens

Day of the Week Time



9:00 – 9:30

9:30 – 1:30

Welcome / Whole-class Learning (health inspections, conversation : general knowledge, story-telling,

sharing of everyday experience)

9:30 – 10:15

1:30 – 2:15

Small Group Learning, Learning Activities and Free Choice Activities

10:15 – 10:30

2:15 – 2:30


10:30 – 11:45

2:30 – 3:45

Physical Play

Interest Activities / Art and Craft Activities Music Activities


11:45 – 12:00

3:45 – 4:00

Tidying up, Getting Ready to Go Home


Sample Time-table for Full-day Kindergartens

Day of the Week


9:00 – 9:30 am

Welcome / Whole-class Learning (health inspections, conversation : general knowledge, story-telling,

sharing of everyday experience)

9:30 – 10:15 Small Group Learning, Learning Activities and Free Choice Activities

10:15 – 10:30 Snacks

Physical Play / Interest 10:30 – 12:00 noon

Activities / Story-telling / Nursery Rhymes

Tidying up, Getting Ready to Go Home

12:00 – 1:00 pm Lunch (including preparation, lunch time and tidying up) 1:00 – 3:00 Afternoon Nap 3:00 – 3:30 Interest Activities /

Physical Play

3:30 – 3:45 Snacks

3:45 – 4:15 Music Activities

4:15 – 430 Tidying up, Getting Ready to Go Home

The above samples are for reference only. Individual pre-primary institutions should plan their daily schedule in the light of circumstances and needs, and


The approximate time allocation for each activity is outlined below:

Time Allocation of Activities in Day Nurseries

Approximate Time Allocation (minutes) Activities

Full-day Half-day


(health inspections, breakfast, free choice activities, conversation : including general knowledge, sharing

of everyday experience and news)

75 – 90 15 – 30

(excluding breakfast time)

Group Activities (small group learning, learning activities and free choice activities)

60 – 75 40 – 60

Physical Play 45 – 90 30 – 45

Creative Activities

(e.g. music, rhythmic movement, art and craft activities, etc.)

40 – 60 20 – 30

Language activities (e.g. story-telling / conversation /

sharing of news, etc.)

20 – 40 20 – 30

Interest Activities

(e.g. group games / making simple snacks / science experiments, etc.)

30 – 40 20 – 30


(tidying up, lunch time, snack time) 45 – 60 15 – 20

Afternoon Nap 120 – 135 -

Toilet Time * 50 – 75 20 – 30

Discharge 30 – 90 15 – 30

* Note : “Toilet Time” should be arranged according to the individual needs of children.

They may also go to toilet in groups before or after breakfast, snack or lunch time, afternoon nap and physical play, under different classroom situations.


Time Allocation of Activities in Day Kindergartens

Approximate Time Allocation (minutes) Activities

Full-day Half-day

Welcome / Whole class Learning

(health inspections, conversation : general knowledge, story-telling,

sharing of everyday experience, etc.)

15 – 30 15 – 30

Group Activities 40 – 60 40 – 60

Physical Play 45 – 90 30 – 45

Creative Activities (e.g. music, art and craft

activities, etc.)

40 – 60 30

Interest Activities (e.g. group games / making

simple snacks / science experiments, etc.)

30 – 40 20 – 30


(tidying up, lunch time, snack time)

60 15 – 20

Afternoon Nap 90 – 120 -


4.5 Grouping

4.5.1 The daily schedule of learning activities should be arranged with flexibility for the purpose of making effective use of available resources, increasing children’s concentration and promoting learning through personal experience. Suggestion on grouping, group activities and the role of the pre-primary educator are briefly introduced below:

1. Grouping

In general, learning activities can be in the form of whole class learning, small group learning and individual learning. (In small group learning, children may be grouped according to the same age or mixed ages.) In grouping children, the pre-primary educator should consider factors such as the needs of children and classroom management.

a. Whole class learning

Whole class learning can be used to present the content of the theme, and conducting activities in music, story-telling, sharing experience and nursery rhymes. Gathering children on a whole-class basis provides them with opportunities to share and express their views and develop their language skills.

This will enhance their concentration and help calm them emotionally, thus helping them to switch from one activity to another smoothly.


b. Small group learning

The pre-primary educator may design different curricular and a variety of learning activities according to the age, interests and abilities of children. Children are divided into small groups and are taught by turns. The pre-primary educator can observe children’s progress and attend to individual needs, thus developing a closer relationship between the pre-primary educator and children. Small group learning provides children with ample opportunities to try and experiment on their own. This helps to build up their self-confidence, satisfy their curiosity and motivate self-initiated learning.

c. Individual learning

Individual learning should include both planned and incidental learning. When children are given the choice of free activities or individual learning, the pre-primary educator should direct their attention to them regularly, conduct incidental learning activities whenever appropriate and provide individual guidance to children according to their interests.

2. Planning of Activities

During group activities, children are divided into several small groups. While the majority of children will be allowed to learn on their own in an orderly manner, one group will be led by the pre-primary educator in their learning. To begin the day, the pre-primary educator may gather children together and talk to them


they have finished one activity, they should tidy up before starting another activity. To achieve the best learning effects, appropriate arrangements should be made to fully utilise space and resources.

Some suggestions regarding grouping, activity programmes, content of activities and time allocation are listed below for reference :

a. Grouping

Though the pre-primary educator is expected to follow some established principles in grouping children, a certain degree of flexibility should be allowed, e.g. :

i. In view of individual differences, children may be divided into 3 to 4 groups according to different abilities.

ii. The number of children to be allocated in a group should depend on the age of children and the content to be taught.

For instance, the size of a group for 2-year-olds or 3-year-olds should be smaller. If the content to be taught requires more time and individual practice, e.g. pouring water, fastening buttons and wiping table, etc., it is advisable to teach children individually or in groups of two.

iii. Individual guidance should be given to children of relatively slow learning ability.

b. Activity Schedule

The pre-primary educator should consider the abilities and needs of children before drawing up the activity programme.


flexible for 2-year-olds or 3-year-olds, who have shorter spans of concentration and are not able to follow established procedures on their own. In this case, children should be allowed to choose their activities freely except for one compulsory activity specified by the pre-primary educator.

For children who are 4 or 5 years old, different activities may be conducted according to established procedures because they have better concentration and are capable of following established procedures. These activities can be scheduled in such a way that each group of children will participate in some individual activities in accordance with the programme. To enable children to carry out group activities in an orderly manner, it is suggested that the pre-primary educator should divide the activities into “group learning”, “learning activities”

and “free choice activities”. Activities should be well co-ordinated and picture cards may be used to familiarise children with the activity programme. For example :

Activity Programme Group

Activity Programme

1. Small group activity 1 4 3 2

2. Learning activity (1) 2 1 4 3

3. Learning activity (2) 3 2 1 4




Related subjects :