Some of you may have read my previous posts about my son’s school. After a couple intense meetings, I think the school is getting back on track and getting more exposure to this diverse community we live in. The Mulberry Tree is surely a very special school in Hong Kong. Located in Tai Po in the the New Territories, it currently occupies a little village home with a very big outdoor space which is not very common in Hong Kong. There are 3 teachers: Allison is Montessori trained; Mabo is Reggio Emilia trained; and Erika who has just officially started as an assistant to Mabo with the older children and also teaches drama and dance to the kids twice a week.
Most of the children range between 2-5, but the school can accommodate from about 18 months to 6 years old. Children can attend 3, 4, 0r 5 days a week and can do 2 hours starting at 10, 3 hours starting at 9 which ends at 12 or even do the full day program which includes lunch. The younger children will have a nap after lunch and then continue til about 330. There is also a Saturday program available.
My son attends 5 days a week for the half day program. The day starts at 9 and the kids have some free time before they have their morning meeting time to decide the day’s activities. Once that is determined, there is about 45min to do that activity and then there is some outdoor play that is self-initiated. Some kids play on the climbing structures or the little play house. There’s a sandbox and also some water play activities. Around 1145, the kids gather again together to talk about what they have done and say their goodbyes. The other children who stay will have lunch at 12. On Mondays and Tuesdays, Teacher Erika does some movement, dance and art activities at 11. On Wednesdays, there is usually a field trip to go outdoors into the village the school is in or even out to the community. This past week we went to the market in Tai Po to see the Chinese New Year decorations and foods. On Fridays, the kids help with cleaning and fixing some of the broken toys.
When we first started, my son was going 3 days a week for 2 hours. I liked that I could sit in the stairwell until “A” was comfortable playing on his own. At first I would just go upstairs to an empty room to sit for short amounts of time and then eventually I could leave him at the school on his own. It meant less tears and less separation anxiety for my son and me. I still remember the tears from my daughter when I had to leave her at her school after a week of me going with her. It took much longer for “A”, but it was much less traumatic.
We started that in April, then took the summer off. When we started again in September with 5 days per week for the half day program, it only took a week for him to be okay with me leaving him on his own at school. At the start, he played a lot on his own and then suddenly he was socializing at participating with the teachers. It was so wonderful to see him enjoying his school day. What drew us to this school was that there was a joint Montessori/Reggio approach. Before Mulberry, I didn’t know anything about Reggio but since we started at this school, I can see how great Montessori works with Reggio to help develop these mini people into whole persons…fostering independence but at the same time guiding children to be able to work with others in their environments.
I forgot to add an important unique feature of Mulberry Tree! The kids are encouraged to communicate in their language they are most comfortable with so this exposes the other children to different languages too! The teachers use Cantonese, Putonghua, English and Japanese in the school. There’s no force in this and the kids don’t sit and get language lessons, just use in everyday communication.
I’m writing this post to help people understand Mulberry Tree a bit more and let people know that this place exists in Hong Kong and families need to check this place out as a potential learning environment for their children in the early years. Please contact Mulberry Tree for more information. Email Allison@mulberrytree.es or call +85223140181 for information.