Zhu Jun’s first semester as a kindergarten principal has come to an end, leaving him feeling exhausted yet enlightened.
“The semester was really rewarding, because I accumulated a great deal of experience. But I feel a bit tired,” the 29-year-old says.
Zhu, who is Shanghai’s first male graduate of preschool education studies, has also become the city’s first male kindergarten principal with a professional education background.
“When I was a teacher, I only needed to take care of my class,” he says.
“But now, I’m responsible for every aspect of the kindergarten and have to address all the parents’ needs. It’s a fundamental change.”
Zhu, who designed the courses himself, found most parents have a different understanding of preschool education compared with professional teachers.
Parents require him to have additional English and handwriting classes, which Zhu believes are unnecessary.
“I understand parents hope their children can learn as much as possible so they will survive the competition after entering primary school,” he says.
“But it’s too early for children to spend too much time learning English and studying Chinese characters. They should be enjoying their childhoods.”
Zhu believes the teachers and parents should help the children cultivate good manners and learning habits, which will benefit their studies in the future.
He established a group on the QQ instant messaging service through which he can communicate with parents and explain his educational philosophy.
“I’m really thankful they finally accepted my suggestion and have extended their support to me,” he says.
This year, Zhu started to bring together the male kindergarten teachers in Pudong New District, where his kindergarten is located, to form a club.
“We can discuss problems we encounter in our daily work and share experiences,” Zhu says.
“I also plan to invite some preschool education specialists to provide regular guidance.”
In addition, Zhu is still working on his dream of having one male teacher for every class in the kindergarten.
“I maintain a good relationship with the preschool education department of East China Normal University – my alma mater – so I’ve asked them to recommend male graduates for my kindergarten,” he says.
The kindergarten will sign on another male teacher this year, and two others will become interns.
“I do hope more male teachers can join us, because I’ve always believed male kindergarten teachers will undergo great development as a group,” Zhu says.