A vital part of a child’s development is learning to regulate emotions and build relationships: often called ‘socioemotional competence’. To encourage this life-long learning, The Education University of Hong Kong, with the support of the Simon K. Y. Lee Foundation, has created the 3Es project. The project is in its sixth year and its name represents the goals of early prevention, early identification and early intervention, where local children encounter difficulties in reading and arithmetic (hard skills), and in managing emotions and behaviour (soft skills).
The University launched this evidence-based intervention programme in 2015 and it was initially operated in 24 kindergartens, benefiting some 1,400 children and their parents and teachers. Professor Kevin Chung Kien-hoa, Dr Ian Lam Chun-bun at the Department of Early Childhood Education and the 3Es team conducted a study during the programme’s four-year term to measure its effectiveness.
Based on both qualitative and quantitative data collected from the children, results showed that 3Es helped the children’s cognitive control, emotional understanding, emotional expressiveness, empathy and other behaviours intended to help others. These are skills which experts consider crucial for subsistence and success in the 21st century.
The study was published in one top-five% and six top-10-15% ranked academic journals, and the team further expanded the reach of its outcomes by developing several in-service teacher-training programmes. The scholars also shared their work in the form of newsletters, teaching aids and learning activities for parents and children. The learning materials can be downloaded through the 3Es website and social media platforms.
Following on from this success, the 3Es programme was extended in 2019 to reach kindergartens located in economically disadvantaged areas. The Education Bureau has since invited all kindergartens in Hong Kong to participate, using two formats. The first is school-based teacher training, provided by educational psychologists and school development officers. The second format comprises joint school workshops and sharing sessions, enabling kindergartens to learn from each other’s experiences. Both will begin in September 2021 and will run for two years.
“With the right support, children from any background can have a better future,” said project leader, Professor Chung. “We want to provide such support in the early years, together with parents and teachers,” he added.