Hi Madam Chloe Khor, thank you for agreeing to chat with us. Describe your journey as an educator. What initially drew you to working in early childhood education sector?
I’ve always been interested in human behaviour since I was young. When I was doing my Bachelor in Psychology, child development was naturally the subject I was best at. Even though this may sound like a cliché, the reason I did early childhood education was because I wanted to offer the best start to a child’s life, and provide them the opportunity to build a strong foundation in their interaction with the world and other people.
Little Urban Forest is Kuala Lumpur’s first urban forest preschool for children, and the preschool was founded on the belief that Mother Nature is the greatest teacher on earth. Can you describe more about it? Like, why is it important to introduce children to nature?
Children are born with an inherent curiosity about nature. Children become more connected to Mother Nature when we expose them at an early age and letting them know that it’s okay to put your hands in wet soil or dig for some earthworms. There are so many questions we can ask about nature, such as why do leaves come in different shapes and sizes and why are most of the fruits round?
Everything in nature has a purpose to fulfill. There are so much to discover about the wonders of nature. If we deprive children of nature at a young age, they will gradually fear nature, such as rain, spiders and plants.
What about your curriculum and learning approach, can we go through them in more detail? Are all your classes conducted outdoors?
Our learning approach is based on the principles of Forest School, which are play-based, inquiry-based, place-based, experiential learning and we spend most of our time outdoors. Place-based meaning children explore in the same outdoor space, on-site and off-site (we go on weekly forest excursion), so that they become familiar with the particular place and is able to witness and identify the changes and processes of nature. Our curriculum is based on Permaculture education which promotes sustainable resource management. We teach children the basics of Permaculture which includes different types of soil, wind, water, animals and plants.
Yes, we try to spend as much time outdoors as possible. In the morning, we spend 3 hours outdoor, whether rain or shine. We do have indoor time as well when the sun is too hot in the afternoon.
What do you think children should learn from their time in early years care? I mean, what should parents look for to choose the preschool suitable for their child?
It is important for children to learn to be confident, creative, problem solve on their own, stay curious and have empathy. Parents should look for a preschool which provides opportunity for their child to develop their interest in learning instead of relying on teacher directed learning. A place where their child’s voices are heard and ideas are embraced. This way, the child will grow to be more confident in making decisions and solving problems.
What do you want everyone to know about being an early childhood educator?
Being an early childhood educator is not as easy as it may seem. It requires a different level of patience to manage a group of children with various personality traits, interests and milestones. You have to constantly be on your toes to ensure every child’s needs are met, and possess the eccentricity to maintain their interest in learning. The advice I always give the teachers are to speak like a Disney Princess.
Last question, could you suggest any parenting books every parent should read and why.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish.
Any close relationships will experience conflict, especially when it is between parent and child. Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s book is packed with a variety of scenarios and practical steps parents can take to resolve conflict and improve cooperation from children.
It’s painful to see our children struggle in life and we often over-function and fix things for children. However, when we aren’t able to let our children to work through obstacles on their own, we take away their opportunities to build life skills (e.g. patience, problem-solving, resourcefulness, responsibility, self-discipline, etc.). Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s book aims to help and guide parents to raise kids to take responsibility for their own actions, emotions and behaviour.