Not only do young learners at Mills International Preschool enjoy a play-based, active learning environment delivered through the UK Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), they are also helped to discover how to cope with different types of emotions and stress young learners are likely to encounter. For instance, when young children come across the concept of sharing or views that differ from their own.
With research in the fields of psychology, education and neuroscience advocating the the value of cultivating students’ social and emotional development, Deirdre McCloskey, School Director at Mills International Preschool School believes the Preschool’s MindUp programme makes a beneficial contribution to the EYFS by helping children to deal with their emotions and the way they feel about themselves. Acknowledging that every child is different and each child has his or her distinct character and personality traits, Ms McCloskey says the preschool environment is usually one of the first places children learn to negotiate complex social relations with peers and have the opportunity to build the essential skills that will allow them to be productive members of society “Our MindUP exercises help our children to work through the stresses and emotional strains that every child encounters,” says Ms McCloskey who believes that Mills International Preschool is the only early learning school in Hong Kong that offers such a distinct programme. “Parents welcome the programme and are very supportive,” notes Ms McCloskey.
Developed by the Hawn Foundation in the US with collaboration from early childhood specialists, MindUP provides a set of social, emotional, and self-regulatory strategies and skills developed for pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students to cultivate well-being and emotional balance. University studies involving hundreds of educators in the US and Canada underpins that consistent classroom use of MindUP strategies create more optimistic classrooms, and foster positive cultures in schools. Exercises include strategies that help children to focus on their breathing, an age-old exercise in finding calm and balance. “MindUp strategies are not separate from learning, it is part of learning,” says Ms McColskey. She explains the underlying rationale behind MindUp is that happy, well-adjusted children have a more-enhanced ability to learn and flourish, and that once taught, and with regular practice, children are able to use MindUP exercises whenever they feel the need. She adds that parents are supportive and appreciate the benefits their children
Ms McCloskey also explains how Mills International Preschool is a strong advocate of the benefits of regular “brain breaks” for young learners. In simple terms, a brain break enables children to take a few minutes of “time-out” away from what they are doing. ” When you’re a child learning so many new things, even playing can be tiring, so a brain break help to keep things fresh and allows children to re-energise,” says Ms McCloskey.