Learning health and wellness from a young age

Education | 22 Apr 2021

The holistic health and wellness initiative at Korean International School Hong Kong helps children develop skills that they can later leverage in their adult years.

The most crucial period in a child’s educational life is the time spent in school building a solid foundation in lifelong health and wellness. Although this aspect of education is often overlooked in the Hong Kong system, Korean International School Hong Kong (KIS) is seeking to be at the forefront of a quiet revolution.

“We go beyond the physical notion of health to encompass what’s appropriate for students to learn about holistic well-being,” says Andrew Lin, Primary PE Coordinator at KIS. The approach leads the school to consider the whole person and how children interact with the environment.

A holistic approach

A through-train school offering two separate streams – the International Section and the Korean Section – KIS accommodates students from Reception to Year 13, and the emphasis on holistic wellness is demonstrated throughout the progression. 

The school is teaching all students how to get the most of their PE lessons, by using creative. non-contact games like rock paper scissors, jumping jacks and equipment like hula hoops to enforce compliance with social-distancing rules.

Lin points to the special setups and procedures in the Physical Education (PE) lessons to ensure hygiene and the well-being of children and staff. “There is a limited amount of equipment accessible only by staff, and they are thoroughly sanitised before use. There’s no physical contact and everyone has to keep their masks on during the classes.” 

In addition to training up the body, belly breathing is taught to prepare children as they return to their classrooms after the PE lessons, says Ni Si Nixon, a PE Teacher at KIS. The school addresses the need for upper secondary students to exercise by providing workout sessions that focuses on a wider concept of health, like guided meditation that directs the focus on different senses so that children become more aware of themselves and their surroundings.

“Learning how to manage oneself is especially important in the context of Hong Kong, taking into account the distress that arises in the community due to the social unrest – there is a new level of stress in addition to home life and studies,” explains Lin. “What we’re doing is teaching kids to be self-reliant in terms of health.”

Stretching the definitions of PE, the school has promoted a number of initiatives within the school community, with themes ranging from yoga, mindfulness, dancing, cooking to nutrition. “They allow children to go out of the classroom and learn about the importance of being physically active. The experience equips them with the skills and tools that are useful for life,” says Nixon.

Promoting socio-emotional balance

Given the rise in stress amidst Covid-19, students’ emotional health is another major concern in the school’s wellness initiative. “We empower children to communicate their emotions to their peers, teachers and parents, so that they are aware of how they feel in different situations,” says Anson Lam, Head of Counselling at KIS.

The school’s counselling sessions, Lam says, apply positive psychology and encourage kids to help others in need. “We want KIS to be a happy and healthy school, and the counselling department, which is newly established, is committed to this goal.”

The focus on wellness extends to everyone in the school community, including parents and staff. There are future plans to invite external clinical psychologists to provide workshops for parents on topics such as parental burnout. 

“With Covid-19, many parents are struggling to work, what with children staying at home most of the time, so we teach them to reclaim some ‘me’ time. With staff, we provide personal development, workshops and a variety of support,” explains Lam.

Christopher Chadwick, the Principal of the International Section at KIS, says the school is strengthening its communications with parents amidst the pandemic via weekly updates and online events such as the “Parent’s Information Evening”. Parents are constantly updated on how the school is moving forward through the crisis and gain a better understanding of the school philosophy through these sessions. 

Chadwick expresses the hope of establishing KIS as a school in Hong Kong that others look on as an example. “It’s important to help everyone as much as possible in this testing time. For our children, we aim to be a lighthouse that leads their way out of the fog, so that they can embark on a bright and sunny future.”

 

Korean International School – International Section

Address: 55 Lei King Road, Sai Wan Ho, Hong Kong

Tel: 2569 5500

Website: www.kis.edu.hk/is



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