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    "The Power of Play": Author Event Leaves Audience Awe-Inspired


    14 Mar, 2024

    13 : 38

    • On March 6, 2024, we had the immense pleasure of hosting an engaging book signing event and panel discussion on "The Power of Play-Based Learning" with Dr. Stephanie C. Sanders-Smith at the YCIS Beijing campus. The event was a huge success, attracting over 100 attendees, including parents, caregivers, educators and members of the media.


      Dr. Sanders-Smith, the Yew Chung - Bernard Spodek Scholar in Early Childhood Education and Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the College of Education, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, as well as the lead author of the book titled "The Yew Chung Approach to Early Childhood Education", shared her insights on the benefits of learning through play for young children. The Yew Chung Approach is not a set of discrete practices; instead, it is a philosophy that integrates Confucian teachings with John Dewey's Western Progressive Education theory, aiming to provide an inclusive learning environment that encompasses both Chinese and Western culture. At the core of the Yew Chung philosophy are 12 Values that underpin everyday practices and staff structure, elevating the education of young children from a mere instrumental activity to one that is a moral practice, as well as a guide for relationships between adults and children, and among peers. In this panel discussion, Dr. Sanders-Smith demonstrated how the innovative Yew Chung philosophy of early childhood development is founded on inquiry-based pedagogy and child-led play.


      Dr. Sanders-Smith shared with the audience that children learn best by engaging in new experiences with the guidance of a teacher acting as a co-learner. During early childhood, the foundations for lifelong learning are established, making it crucial for learning in ECE to be playful, joyful and authentic. This learning concept is based on the YCYW future-oriented approach. "We are preparing our children for a future that we have envisioned, providing them with skills for a world that we have imagined. It involves learning how to solve problems, being creative and collaborating with others who are different from oneself. This is what children are getting through a play-based approach," explained Dr. Sanders-Smith.


      After Dr. Sanders-Smith’s poignant introduction, the fireside chat featuring Ms Margaret Zhang, Head of ECE and Ms Tammy Adeniyi, Western Team Leader, further enriched and contextualised the discussion with examples from the perspectives of teachers and their young learners. They also dispelled misconceptions about children's play, clarifying that play-based learning within the YCYW context involves highly trained teachers observing and understanding children's activities, using play to integrate the academic skills that children will need later in school.


      The event concluded with questions from parents in the audience who delved into various topics, including the core values of YCYW and their impact, the skills children learn through play, and the extent to which the learning environment affects the children's ability to learn. Our panelists addressed all of these inquiries, with their responses reinforcing the importance of trust, respect, and the well-being of children in their development. In addition to academic abilities like numeracy and scientific reasoning, children also develop future-oriented skills such as collaboration, creativity, and confidence through play.


      After the event, numerous attendees seized the opportunity to obtain a signed copy of Dr. Sanders-Smith’s book, complete with a personal message for themselves and their children. Additionally, they took a tour of the ECE facilities to firsthand experience the implementation of the Yew Chung approach in the design of our learning spaces and play areas.


      We would like to express our gratitude to Dr. Sanders-Smith for captivating the audience with her wealth of knowledge and experience in early childhood education. Her insights into the benefits of play-based learning were invaluable and left a lasting impact on the attendees. We also wish to extend our appreciation to our panelists, Ms. Margaret Zhang and Ms. Tammy Adeniyi, for their engaging and valuable contributions to the panel discussion.


      Such events serve as a testament to the strength and depth of the YCYW educational philosophy. They foster invaluable connections and dialogue within our school community, bringing together parents, educators, and students in a shared commitment to excellence. We eagerly anticipate the continued exploration and celebration of the YCYW approach's profound impact on education in the future.


      Comments from our panellists and teachers:


                "I strongly agree with Dr. Sanders-Smith's viewpoint that playing is a form of learning for children. The environment in which they play is also crucial in their learning journey. We consider the environment the "third teacher" for children, and we aim to provide them with enriching and stimulating surroundings that encourage and support their learning. Additionally, adult companionship from teachers, parents, and other caregivers is essential in promoting a respectful and trustworthy environment for children. Together, we can ensure that our children grow up maintaining their curiosity about the world and having the courage to explore it." -Margaret Zhang, Head of ECE



                "Our panel discussion was a wonderful opportunity to share our knowledge, opinions and insights into play-based learning in YCIS ECE. Dr. Sanders-Smith shared her wisdom and provided expert insights of real value to our audience. I was touched by some of our parent’s insightful questions and comments as they sought to gain a deeper understanding of their child’s development and how they can support our educational approach at home." -Tammy Adeniyi, ECE Western Team Leader



    • Dr. Sanders-Smith, Yew Chung - Bernard Spodek Scholar in Early Childhood Education and Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the College of Education, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

    • Margaret Zhang, Head of ECE

    • Tammy Adeniyi, ECE Western Team Leader