Please excuse the quoting, I still haven't figured out how to do this right...
asiababy wrote:Public kindergartens in Taiwan and NZ don't have this daily communication book. In Taiwan, it's a short weekly report. In NZ, if there is something to report, they put a star by the child's name on the sign-up sheet and you find the teacher before you leave.
Oh, I assumed it was Taiwanese because I vaguely recall my Taiwanese co-teachers scribbling away at lian luo bu in the back of the classroom during most of my sessions. Maybe it's used in the older grades?
I know that kindergartens attached to the cram school use this daily communication book. I always found it took valuable time away from actually caring for the kids when done on a daily basis and if more than a "check-the-box" approach was taken. However, I taught kindergarten and my kids didn't start school until age four, so if I had my kids in care very young, I might have appreciated knowing about toilet training issues, eating habits etc.
So to summarize, there's basically no phonics in public KG. Which implies very little formal direct instruction of Mandarin language. Mandarin language is just learned through all the activities in KG. That's actually pretty amazing. My two year old in daycare is getting phonics and alphabet instruction, although that's mainly because it's a startup daycare near our place, so it's mixed age right now and the phonics/alphabet stuff is for the older kids. Is any character recognition taught in KG? Of course I'm sure verbal fluency is still emphasized, but basically it is assumed that no visual literacy of any form is important in KG?
I think we have to be careful here. Teachers ideally choose songs and rhymes that develop vocabulary and books that foster a love of reading. They also create a language-rich environment. For example, at my daughter's school, they asked the kids what words they liked and they taught the kids about those words. The kids wanted to learn about family names. The teachers found rhymes with the characters in, posted the characters prominently in the classroom, gave them large copies of the words to color, and showed them how the phonics sounds made up the word they said. I have to say my daughter's teachers are particularly skilled at this, and all the kids are coming out of kindergarten recognising some characters, able to distinguish sounds and so on. They just haven't sat through lots of direct instruction. They are not hidden from literacy, but they are not forced into it too early, either.
(BTW, both the public kindergartens we attended in Taiwan and NZ do not separate age groups once the children are over three. So 3-7 year olds can be in the same class in Taiwan, due to birthday differences. They divide up for small group work during the day, though.)
What about math in public KG? Is there lots of counting of objects? Are games like Chutes and Ladders played that involve counting? What about building block activities like Lego blocks where kids are exposed to shapes and spatial relations? My daycare has zero math-related stuff, formally at least. It might be woven into activities, but I'd have to sit there all day to witness it. They never talk about math when I talk to them, so I suspect the teachers don't think about it as a teachable category.
Again, in my experience (others feel free to chime in!), math skills have been developed mostly through play, games, and rhymes. There's lots of counting, counting in two's and fives, stuff the kids can do verbally for a few minutes at nap time. There is a lot of Lego block building going on. My daughter's school recently had a month of construction activities with blocks, including building domino tracks, and even competed with a neighboring school to see who could make the longest track. They have a lot of discussion after each session where kids discuss how they could build a better robot, make a better tower, why they should put round wheels on a car, that kind of thing. They have also had a shop set up where the kids sell each other the daily snack. They use play money and give change, they "write" their own menus, and have a work schedule. Now my daughter is in her final year of kindergarten, they have small-group session with a math kit twice a week.