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Controversy flares over research of tot teachers

By Luo Wangshu (China Daily)

13:21, August 31, 2012

Two 4-year-olds wearing apple and banana costumes sing and dance to a nursery rhyme in an animated impersonation of fruit they are dressed as.

"I helped them dress like fruit for a role-play game," said Liu Fang, a 28-year-old teacher at a major kindergarten in Beijing.

"It's not just a game, I want to teach them to recognize different fruit."

The game is also part of her ongoing research in how to involve role-playing into children's cognitive development. The kindergarten encourages its teachers to conduct academic research as part of their daily work. Topics can include classroom strategies, or specific case studies of children with special needs.

"One of my colleagues is researching how to demonstrate scientific experiments to children. They love to see fuzzy flames in their classroom," Liu said.

Many kindergartens have requirements that encourage teachers to carry out educational research as part of their work, said Deng Yi, assistant professor at Hunan First Normal University, who specializes in early childhood education.

"These kindergartens are mostly labeled model kindergartens," Deng said.

Li Jing, vice-president of Sunny Kids Garden, a bilingual kindergarten in Beijing, said it is a bonus for their kindergarten when the teachers carry out research.

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