Today is my 3rd day of the practicum in a private childcare centre. One of the different practices here is the strict policy of having to disinfect tables & chairs about 3-4 times a day. This is normally done after meal times, activity time and depending on what the activity that has taken place.
There are 3 different coloured table cloth for that very purpose of differentiating whether it is just to
a) disinfect the equipment,
b) to clean the equipment, &
c) whether it is to clean equipment which comes into contact with food bits.
My friend said that it is a common policy here. The thing I am wondering is that is it that the practice almost the same in most childcare centres/ preschools? Well, maybe it is. I just am not sure how it is done as obviously I have not been to other centres before.
I am used to the rationale of having to "just" cleaning tables with soap and water. "Disinfecting" is really a new terminology which I have yet to internalize yet, and I probably would not be able to do so within such a short period of time.
The assistant of the group said that we aren't supposed to write the children's name on the paintings, because some of the older ones could write theirs. She also said that if the adults wanted to write their names, it had to be at the back of the painting, and if we wrote their names when they could write theirs, it was a sign that we disrespected their work...
What do I think? I basically think that there's really no point in writing the children's name in front of the paper because the paint would cover the name anyway! I also think that the practice probably differs from centre to centre, because this was the first time I heard anyone mentioning it!
Another practice I am also not used to are the long hours of outdoor play I have seen at the childcare centre which is part of the normal curriculum in most learning centres. In theory, I have read and learnt about it. In practice, the opportunity to observe this in action is almost a rarity in Malaysia, like how one could find a 1000 dollar note on a pavement. Which is almost close to zero. In practice as well, most Asian parents I have come across disapprove of their children having so much outdoor play as in contrast to book learning and writing activities as well.
There are different stations set up with different activities. The "permanent learning stations" are the home corner (dress-ups), book corner & block corner. The other stations which are rotated around depending on what the group leader plans could be 'mobilo' manipulatives, play dough, cardboard blocks, collage making, cutting magazines, baking, and puzzles.
I'd say that the set-up cost to provide so many different kinds of manipulatives in one place is not cheap, and especially in Asian countries, it would be costly if all these materials are imported and not hand made. It also requires a lot of resources in order for the success of the program to be realized.
Going through the practicums has enabled me to have a feel of how the running of a learning program in an Australian childcare centre goes. It is important for teachers in training to know what goes on, but even more important for those who come from a totally different culture so that they could compare and contrast, as well as understand and celebrate the similarities of how different learning programs take place.
It is probably unsettling for me to experience some of the subtle culture shocks that I am experiencing now, but that's probably how counsellors would term it: "something which is temporary to go through, but once I get used to it and have got it out of the way, would enable me to look at the learning environment in a more objective manner".