Preschool and Kindergarten children at 3e spend half a day immersed in a Mandarin-speaking setting and the other half in an English-speaking environment. The teachers in these classrooms speak to children only in the language they want them to learn, even though it may be difficult at the beginning for children who are unfamiliar with that language. The children will also be encouraged to attempt the language and to speak as much as they are capable of doing.
Preschool and Kindergarten classrooms are kept at maximum of 16 students with 2 teachers in both the Chinese and English classroom. The purpose is to provide maximum support for each student.
Scaffolded instruction is provided to move children from where they are currently operating independently toward the continual building of new skills and concepts. In the preschool, a typical 3-hour period will include an hour of free choice of thoughtfully structured center-base activity, large group experiences of approximately 15 minutes, and a small group experience of 10-15 minutes where teachers will more directly teach a learning skill or concept. Other aspects of the program include outdoor time, snack, music, art, and physical education. All activities are designed to further children's abilities in terms of desired outcomes stated in the curriculum, and they are simplified for children who are having more difficulty because of development, lack of language, or experience. Similarly, they can be extended and made more challenging for the child who is further ahead, skill-wise or conceptually.
In our Kindergarten classes, there is slightly more emphasis on teacher-directed skill building in both the Chinese and Western classrooms. Exploration and play are still important parts of the learning process, but children's ability to demonstrate their understanding of phenomenon and their competence in ways to express that understanding becomes much more sophisticated. Their attention span has increased markedly by this age, so expanded time is allocated to teacher-directed tasks that will develop their reading, writing, and mathematics skills. Children's ability to work well and collaboratively with one another is more expected, and they are encouraged to function as a team to act as information seekers and problem solvers.