Early Childhood Education students schooled in Chinese culture



Ten TAFE Western Early Childhood Education students have returned from a successful trip to China, overcoming several obstacles to learn important work practices and skills that will enable them to better care for Australian children.

TAFE Western Dubbo College Children’s Services Teacher Sally Devenish was pleased to report that the students had flourished during their brief stint working at Wuxi International Childcare Centre in China.

“The experience was a success despite participants facing several challenges including homesickness, communication and translation difficulties and upset stomachs,” Ms Devenish said.

“Despite all of this, the students were able to adapt their programming ideas to meet the outcomes of the centre, while also demonstrating how programming and play environments were used in Australia.

“There were some beneficial relationships developed between staff, children, families and students.

“Students enjoyed teaching the children about Australia and I loved visiting the classrooms and watching the children learn the dance/song “The Wombat Wobble” by Johnny Huckle and Helen Moran, which encourages the children to imitate the movements of various Australian animals.

“Students involved in this program have developed skills that they would never have developed while working in Australia. Until you are immersed in a culture that is predominately non-English speaking, you cannot imagine what it is like.

“I believe students will have a deeper understanding of their own professional pedagogy, which includes how they work with children, the environments they create for the children, the structure of the child’s day and how they teach.

“All of those who travelled to China now have experiences that they can draw on to help support families they may have in their care in Australia and from other cultures.”

TAFE Western students, Tahlia Sense from Forbes Good Start Early Learning and Samantha Murphy from Coolah Pre School, both described the trip as a once in a lifetime experience that has opened their eyes to new and improved teaching methods.

“The whole experience was amazing. It was very different and very real, but it gave me a really good idea of which direction I want to take with my teaching,” Ms Sense said.

“It was my first time overseas and the entire trip was amazing – I was very sad to leave,” Ms Murphy added.

“I loved being at the pre school, getting to know the kids and experiencing their different teaching strategies. It taught me the importance of play-based activities.”

As part of their 17-day trip, students also took the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Chinese culture, spending three days with a host family learning more about the Chinese language, family life and enjoying some sightseeing.

“One of the highlights for me was the home stay. I really enjoyed learning and experiencing the Chinese culture,” Ms Sense said.

“I was really lucky I got to stay with a very wealthy family so I got to enjoy all of China’s luxuries,” Ms Murphy added.

“I absolutely loved the shopping, learning how to barter and getting bargains was great fun.”