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PLAYSCHOOL: A New Early Childhood Education and Care Paradigm for the 21st Century – Play for Life

Robin T. Giang


As our society moves from the Industrial Age in the eighteen hundreds to the Information Age in the twenty-first century, our educational paradigms have the opportunity to shift and transform to reflect and serve children, families and humanity more adequately, and authentically at this time. One of the main challenges of today’s early childhood education and care (ECEC) is the pressing down of the “schooling” echelon to an earlier and quicker pace. Amid the need to succeed and achieve competitively, the rapid ingestion of information is creating a sensory overload for stressed and anxious children and parents globally, particularly in Hong Kong. Family relationships, the quality of family life, health and well-being, are challenged and sacrificed as a result of the “real-time-always on-always busy” mentality and schedule. This challenge is coupled with the demand on children to grow and develop faster than they are emotionally ready for in the world of academic performance and achievement test requirements. Fortunately these challenges also pose as opportunities for leaders and educators to finally slow down and awaken to the challenges by examining the past for wisdom and connect the dots to invent new solutions for the field of ECEC. Firstly this thesis explores a new ECEC paradigm called playschool for early learners from zero to six, their parents and caregivers. The Evergreen Playschool pilot is implemented to successfully demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of unifying the kindergarten, nursery and preschool models into one seamless child-centered, psychosocial play-based framework to holistically educate children and families. Secondly it also explores the history of the kindergarten, nursery school and preschool models from the perspective of their creators and examines the new playschool model, in retrospect to earlier models, to provide a coherent and realistic solution to meet today’s needs in childhood and parenting education.