BETTER Early Childhood Holistic Education
HundrED shortlisted this innovation
What is BETTER
Founded in 2011 by Dr. Magdalena Lee, BETTER has three centers in China today. We have had eight years to put our innovative theories and evidence-based insights to the test, and we (the educators and parents) have been positively shocked by the power of our educational model to facilitate a child’s development in becoming independent, self-assured, highly intelligent, as well as human beings who care for others and the environment. In fact, our children regularly, spontaneously and successfully facilitate communication imbued with a spirit of harmony at home and in school. Our children express their empathy, compassion, and heartfelt understanding of their friends, parents, and teachers without being taught or told to do it.
While what we do is special and impactful, it can be difficult to describe because we do not rely on one technique or practice to achieve the incredible results we have seen. Rather, we begin by addressing the adults who impact the children. Yes, our main task is actually to help adults become aware of, and put aside, their misconceived notions of the limitations of the child, and help them accurately perceive a child’s unique needs and strengths, so that they (the adults) are able to guide and educate the child in the most suitable way possible.
In order to do this, BETTER teachers (whom in fact act as counselors and facilitators rather than “teach”) have to pass a stringent qualification process, and undergo professional psychological supervision. In addition, our “teachers” also benefit from a comprehensive training curriculum and counseling support system which ensure their continuous development and optimal readiness. We understand that any educational technique or model is necessarily constrained by the level of development the teacher themselves are able to attain.
So how is what we do innovative?
First, our educational model is designed to integrate and interlock the growth of children, teachers, parents and communities. The moral character, psychological, and intellectual growth of the parents and teachers support the same growth in the child, and vice versa. The positive and mutual reinforcement form a virtuous cycle. Workshops and educational programs which cater to parents and teachers help make this happen.
Second, our educational model addresses the foundational building blocks of human development. The moral character, psychological, and intellectual (read: cognitive) education are given equal weight in our approach.
Moral character education at BETTER includes the core values of gratitude, respect, responsibility and care for oneself, others and the environment.
Psychological education at BETTER is comprised of developing one’s emotional intelligence (i.e. recognition, expression and regulation of emotions, delaying of gratification), concentration, independence, self-direction, etc., so as to form a stable self-concept.
Our language and math learning materials are designed to facilitate independent learning, as well as be commensurate with each child's cognitive abilities and characteristics. The child may learn through visual, auditory, kinesthetic means.
We constantly seek ways to support the child’s intrinsic motivation to learn and build up the child’s ability for self-management and self-direction.
Third, we have regular feedback and tracking of the development of the child, the teachers, and the parents. In fact, our quarterly assessment tracks five areas: lifestyle, autonomy, relationships, emotional management, and mindfulness. Over the course of nine years, we have gathered data which show that teachers, parents, and children's scores improve at impressive rates while they are at BETTER. In our assessment of the children, for example, it takes just six months for most of the children's development to reach the pass mark of 6 (some have even 7 to 8, with the maximum being 9). After the first year of a BETTER life, the children's ability within the above five aspects are stabilized at 7 points or above, and the few children with weak ability development require 1.5 or even 2 years to reach 7 points or above.
The fulfillment of one’s potential is spontaneous and inevitable if the environment and actors within that environment are reliable, nurturing, and open to growth. BETTER is a pioneer in the synthesis of educational and psychological practices which acknowledge, protect, and cultivate that which is best within the human being.