Whole Child Education

Huaer Collegiate Preschool: A Place that Nurtures the Hearts and Minds of its Young Learners

Jacqueline Speer, Principal of Preschool


I picked up the following three Chinese words: gan dong(感动),  yong xin(用心), and zi ran(自然), before I even knew how to pronounce my Chinese name.

I was reminded of these three powerful words when our Associate Principal, Sharon Wan and I met with families during the school tour. I was impressed at the commitment (yong xin用心的) families had towards early education, and it inspired me to know that parents understand the transformative impact a high-quality early education can have on their child’s life.

Classroom tour


There is so much disparity in the field of early education globally, and sadly some schools get stuck in a way of practice that reflects a specific time in the history of early education. As teachers and leaders, we have to yong xin(用心), because the easy way, quick way, or “just because” isn’t good enough!

Together, Sharon and I have 40 years of experience in the field, and as thought leaders, we passionately believe early education has to include vision, up-to-date research, and it must ensure all stakeholders understand the importance of this critical time in a young child’s life— every moment matters! This brings me to the next word: zi ran(自然).

Children deserve a place that can live up to the word “zi ran(自然)”. Harsh environments with primary colors and ceilings clouded with crafts of every shape and description are not ideal. On the other hand, lacklustre settings with a primary focus on independence and repetition also fall short.

Nursery classroom with open access to the outside


If we want children to think, concentrate, and build respectful relationships, we need to provide an optimal learning environment that mimics the feeling of an oasis.

Thus, in our learning environments, we have lots of light-colored carpets that we intentionally chose to enhance the room’s natural aesthetic. On top of that, light colors ensure dirt and germs are not camouflaged by dark or primary-colored mats and posters. In our oasis, there are no messy shelving areas or teacher desks/areas that are out of bounds for children.

View from our kindergarten classroom located on the second floor


Lastly, we have the word “gandong(感动)”. Both Sharon and I were moved (gandong感动) recently when a parent shared her journey from an inquisitive child to a successful business leader and mother.

We were delighted when we found out that she accepted a place in our preschool for her child. The photo of us (below) shows our excitement meeting the same mother on the school tour.

Welcoming families to the classroom last Sunday was delightful, but what we are most looking forward to is the day we stand at the entrance and welcome our founding families and children to this inaugural year at Huaer Preschool!