HiMama is improving learning outcomes for children zero to five. We support early childhood education because the sector is the most challenging teaching environment. Low wages, lack of professional development and long days; HiMama’s aim is to ease childcare management and support early childhood professionals.
The HiMama team firmly believes that early childhood professionals deserve to be celebrated and that recognition is important. Our Educator Spotlight is one way we are shining a light on the important and undervalued work of childcare professionals.
Working in early childhood education had never been an early goal for me. I had been teaching and instructing various ages of children in the UK before I came to China, one was a teaching position in a primary school and after that in a outdoor activity centre. Both settings didn’t involve teaching the little ones. When I came to China, my first 3 years I was teaching english in state schools and international schools. In the 3rd year my wife was pregnant and I began reminiscing back to my childhood days of my life as a child and thinking of what brought me happiness and development (as I was thinking how to be a good dad)! I remembered a place that I used to go to when I was about 5 years old, and it involved practising basic gymnastics, singing songs, playing games, socialising with other children etc. I loved it! I realised this kind of establishment wasn’t around where I was living in Shanghai, and so I took the time to research and draw up a business plan. After deciding that it could be a business opportunity and also could provide my future child with a place to learn and develop I took the plunge into opening ‘Can Cubs’! Compared to the centre I went to as a child, I decided to develop a richer curriculum and more suited to parents who want their child to be emerged in an English speaking environment from a young age.
CHALLENGES IN EARLY EDUCATION
When running a business, there’s always challenges to contend with. I welcome challenges though, as they keep me on my toes!
Matthew reflected on three challenges he faces in early learning environments:
Difference in Mentality
Getting the average Chinese parent to understand what we do and the benefits of sending their child to learn with us. I.e, actually selling our service! The Chinese can often have a different mentality when it comes to children ‘learning’. They don’t often connect ‘fun’ with ‘learn’. In their eyes, children must be serious when learning, and not running around, playing games and generally having fun. This is a culture issue and it can require lengthy discussions on why actually children learn better when they are having fun. See the studies!
Differences in outlook with my business partner. I have one idea, and they may have another. It can be difficult getting things done when met with stubbornness and unwillingness to put ideas into action.
Creating New Habits
Getting children into good habits, such as being polite, not shouting, etc. Some parenting skills are lacking sometimes at home when some children come to us, so it can make our jobs a little more difficult at times…
WHAT DO YOU THINK COULD BE BETTER ABOUT YOUR WORK?
As my work is quite varied due to not just being a teacher, I’m always trying to better myself in my other responsibilities. One particular task recently that is keeping me busy, is designing and editing videos, in particular using final cut pro x. As multimedia is becoming essential to a good functioning website, it’s important to be proficient in these skills. The skills are easily transferable to the classroom also, such as designing keynote lessons, art and crafts etc.
One particular element of joy comes from seeing the children grow and develop as they learn with us. The children see you not only as a teacher, but a role model and a friend. The other element of joy is seeing the business itself grow, both in terms of our centre provisions and resources and our online presence, such as the website, story time and the blog. This is perhaps some measurement of success, and gives some peace of mind that I’m on the right track…
It’s important to get feedback and take in possible suggestions when ever able from your customers. As such, we often communicate regularly with our members parents, both informally and formally. Asking them to fill out surveys is another good way of collecting feedback and acting on that accordingly. Parents always have plenty of advice and ideas, some good and some bad!
MATTHEW’S CAREER GOALS
I certainly have career goals, small goals and big goals. The small goes help me get through week to week, and the yearly goals are there to remind me there is always something to work on. In particular, opening more of our centres, and possibly going down the franchise route with Can Cubs. So you could say the long term goal is to expand and provide our style of learning to as many children as possible.
WHY THE NAME ‘CAN CUBS’?
‘Can’ I believe to be a positive word (We Can is our motto) and ‘Cubs’, small young cute cuddly animals, just like children! It’s also quite catchy!
You can find more information on Matthew and Can Cubs at his blog linked here!
Do you have an educator you think should be in our Educator Spotlight? Contact us today and let us know!