Collaboration with Venus Kindergarten in Beijing

Beijing Venus Kindergarten

From 2020-2023, The National Center for Science in Early Childhood has collaborated with teachers of Venus Kindergarten in Beijing, China. There are a total of 11 Venus schools, consisting of nearly 800 teachers and serving roughly 3000 children, ages 3-6 years old. We have been working most closely with 24 teacher-leaders at Venus's Zhujiang (Pearl River) campus. In our work, we have helped teachers to appreciate that promoting a child's Sense of Wonder, along with helping to develop their science investigation skills, are the most important goals for early childhood science.

To support lesson planning that represents these goals, we introduced teachers to the three-phase model for science inquiry described in our book, A Head Start on Life Science: Encouraging a Sense of Wonder. In this model, lessons begin by encouraging children's open-ended play with science materials and by listening to children’s questions and interests. Teachers then build on these interests to create science investigations that focus on developing children's science skills, such as: observing, describing, comparing, measuring, sorting, and experimenting. Lessons conclude with opportunities for children to share and apply what they’ve learned during their investigations and to express their curiosity about the topic, which, of course, leads us to our next science investigation.

This children-led, inquiry method of instruction was new to our teachers in Beijing. Many struggled initially with wanting to provide direct instruction about pre-determined topics and to tell children science facts, emphasizing science information over science interest and investigation. However, with practice teachers have excelled in their ability to write, and make real-time adaptations to, lesson plans that discover and then follow children's interests, and emphasize children’s science skills as they investigate. Their children have had opportunities to joyfully explore topics as varied as engineering a chicken coop and adopting a tree.

We are so grateful to have this meaningful collaboration with the amazing teachers and leaders of Venus Kindergarten. If you'd like to know more about this collaboration, please contact us.