The Start of Our Partnership
Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGHs) where it began as a small temple in 1851 before evolving to be the first hospital in Hong Kong and finally, over a hundred and fifty years later, becoming a well-established charitable organisation in Hong Kong.
TWGHs operates a range of services outside the hospital including running 17 kindergartens, primary schools, high schools and special schools. The schools aim to equip young people with the necessary skills, nurturing them to become good citizens with a genuine concern for social affairs.
In 2018, Reach & Match was invited to conduct a multi-day Reach & Match Inclusive Learning training course for 40 teachers to implement to their kindergartens and special schools. As a result of our successful outcome of the training, we were invited back in 2019 to conduct training to other staff members and advanced training for previous participants where we evaluated the current use of the Reach & Match program in their classrooms, provide further consultation and design the program around their curriculum.
What Reach & Match Training Course Contains
The course was designed to improve the competencies of teachers working with children with and without disabilities in their classrooms to provide the best inclusive learning environment for students.
The Reach & Match inclusive education training course involved 9 sessions tailored to the needs of the participants. It focused on 3 major areas:
1.Inclusive Education Practice & Research behind Reach & Match
- Child Development Domains & 7 Learning Outcomes (aligning with the Early Years Learning Framework)
- Hands-on practice of over 40 activities and games
- Activity modifications for children with different learning difficulties
2. Co-designing an Early Intervention Program & Implementation Strategies
- Case studies on inclusive learning practices, formal and informal learnings
- Co-designing early intervention program and curriculum integration
- On-site practise with children, play-station design and role play observation
- Application discussion and roll-out plan
3. Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E)
- Onsite consultation
- Implementation challenges and steps towards improvement
- M&E tools including Head-teacher key informant interview, Teacher self-assessments, Lesson observations and Focus Group Discussions (FGD)
Practising with Children
When two days of training were completed, we arranged a session for participants to practise with children, teachers took turns to instruct the activities, to observe and take notes. Children who participated included those with autism, developmental delays, ADHD and behavioural issues.
The teachers’ training went into full swing once they began practicing with their children. Storytelling was used to introduce children to different games and spark their imagination, with some teachers enjoying the games as much as their younger counterparts. During the practice, there was a child who was very anxious at the beginning of the activity but slowly gained confidence through positive feedback and was able to share his thoughts at the end.
Challenges and Observations
Initially, some teachers found it difficult to give certain children a little agency to explore the learning kits for themselves instead of directing them straight away. However, they learnt to modify games according to students with different needs and were impressed by the variety and flexibility of the inclusive program.
In Hong Kong, training for teachers is a rare and valuable opportunity. They relished having a forum to contribute ideas to group discussions and brainstorming ways to use Reach & Match in their curriculum. Allowing teachers to practise with their teachers was a reminder that the Reach & Match inclusive learning program was simply a tool in their arsenal to bring out their creativity as ultimately they are the catalyst in motivating children to learn.
These are some findings we received from our post-training survey:
- 100% had a better understanding of facilitating interactions between children with and without disabilities
- 63% found Reach & Match extremely useful to apply in their class, while 30% found it very useful to apply in their class and the rest 7% found it quite useful
- 90% found the exercises to practise were excellent.
- 100% would recommend the Reach & Match to others
Here is a testimonial from one participant:
“The Reach & Match training delivered by Mandy is amazing, I personally attended it last year, and was so encouraged to see more of our teachers attending this year. Many of my colleagues love the Reach & Match materials, especially when they learnt how to let the children explore the materials instead of “teaching” them straightaway how to play. We have applied the learning kits in different school programs for children with additional needs, there are quite a few challenges but when we see the children are learning effectively, the sense of satisfaction is indescribable!”
Ms.Tam, Principal – Nursery School, Hong Kong
Currently, TWGH’s kindergartens and special education schools are using the Reach & Match inclusive learning program in their day-to-day activities as part of their standard curriculum. This involves using the program to teach literacy, mathematics, physical education, communication and motor skills across various classrooms. In total, we trained 80 educators and professionals, including teachers, social workers, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists, special education coordinators throughout their network.
If your school or organisation is interested in our training and program design course please contact Mandy Lau (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.