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Ocean Park Young Explorers Club Launches “Nature Exploration with Oxford Path”


Close-up encounters with animals in an English-speaking environment together with multisensory learning activities will enhance children’s interest in learning

Ocean Park’s Young Explorers Club (YEC) proudly introduces the new “Nature Exploration with Oxford Path” programme starting this September. Jointly developed by Ocean Park with Oxford University Press, the playgroup features content that promotes whole-person development. Accompanied by parents or authorised persons, children aged between one-and-a-half and three-years-old will explore nature with native English-speaking instructors in the Park’s unique surroundings. Activities will include observing the daily routines of the likes of giant pandas and rare Chinese alligators. During the programme children will be able to acquire new knowledge, values and skills according to their preferred pace and interests. The children will also acquire important communication skills and develop their passion for reading, learning and nature by participating in a range of language activities stemming from the Oxford Path storybook series.
Janet Cheung, Ocean Park’s Senior Discovery and Education Manager, said, “Technology can help with learning but recent studies have indicated that children’s excessive exposure to electronic devices may affect their ability to concentrate, or even harm their eyesight and future affective development. The Park believes that it is crucial and beneficial for children to start establishing a bond with nature at an early stage, as early as below three-years-old. To cater for the needs of children in different age groups, we have now extended the Young Explorers Club’s offer to include children aged between one-and-a-half and three-years-old.”
Cheung added, “There will be different themes and content for each session in the Ocean Park ‘Nature Exploration with Oxford Path’ playgroup, which allows children to interact with programme instructors, parents and peers to observe various animals and plants up close. The children will learn what animals eat, how animals adapt to different environments and how they communicate with each other. Together with the fun storytelling of Oxford Path’s English storybook series designed for children aged zero to six, as well as singing, multisensory games and artwork creation, children can enjoy a personalised experience and progressively build self-confidence, self-expression and self-care, as well as develop positive attitudes and values.”
In addition, instructors will lead the children into Oxford Path’s world of imagination by, for example, encouraging the children to imitate the story characters in terms of the sounds that they make, their body language and the things that they say. At the same time, instructors will guide the children on a journey of self-exploration to help develop their enthusiasm for learning and self-discovery in the future.
Maisan Leung, Assistant Corporate Marketing Director of Oxford University Press (China), added, “Oxford University Press contributes to educational progress through the publication of materials of the highest quality standards. Co-developed by our professional editorial team and 12 English language experts of early childhood from renowned institutions all around the world, Oxford Path is the top-of-the-mind preference for parents with its rich and structured English-learning content, progressive teaching procedures and learning strategies. We are thrilled to collaborate with Ocean Park to introduce the new ‘Nature Exploration with Oxford Path’ programme which integrates our professional knowledge in English language education and the nature education facilities of Ocean Park, creating a series of fun, unique and engaging multisensory learning activities that cultivate young children’s passion for self-discovery and creativity.”
“In order to cherish something, it is necessary to understand what needs to be cherished first,” said Dr Richard Wong, Assistant Professor, Department of Early Childhood Education, The Education University of Hong Kong. “Close-up encounters with animals and plants at an early stage can help nurture children’s empathy for nature. Children can discover the similarities and differences between humans and animals, as well as the connection between us and nature. This early experience will help inspire children to think of ways that they can contribute to the animals and plants sharing the same planet as them.”
Dr Wong points out that modern theories on early childhood education put a strong emphasis on rich sensory stimulation, quality interaction with peers and adults, and child-oriented learning. However, a recent survey suggests that there is limited activity space for Hong Kong people in general, who only have an average open space of two square metres per person, which is lower than Singaporeans’ 7.5 square metres and Shanghainese’s four square metres. Dr Wong believes that when children go outdoors and explore nature, they are not only using at least four of the five senses – seeing with their eyes, smelling with their nose, hearing with their ears and touching with their hands – but are also learning to regulate their emotions and to solve problems. When children interact with nature along with their peers, their curiosity for nature is likely to increase and this in turn will prompt them to explore and learn more.  
Dr Wong continued, “The ‘Nature Exploration with Oxford Path’ programme launched by Ocean Park and Oxford University Press comprises a series of interconnected inquiry-based multisensory games that are centered upon animal observation, nursery rhymes and high-quality English storybooks. The programme aims to help children acquire the linguistic skills which enable them to express their feelings and thoughts about nature.”
Ocean Park’s “Nature Exploration with Oxford Path” trial experience programme is up and running and the response has been very enthusiastic. Regular programmes will begin this September and go until June next year (excluding December). Accompanied by parents or authorised persons, participants will attend a 90-minute session each week and four sessions a month. Application begins now and those who apply before 3:59pm on 23 August 2018 will enjoy an early bird discount of eight per cent. Animal observation sessions for September to November will cover animals such as the giant pandas, rare Chinese alligators, toco toucans, penguins, octopus, milkfish, pygmy marmosets and red-handed tamarins. With an instructor-participant ratio of one to six, each session revolves around a different theme to consolidate children’s observation and learning.
At the end of each month, Young Explorers Club will provide parents with a monthly journal documenting their children’s learning highlights. Attendees who successfully complete a three-month term with over 80% attendance will also be awarded with a certificate and a personalised learning journal by Ocean Park and Oxford University Press. For details and enrolment, please visit https://www.oceanpark.com.hk/en/park-experience/young-explorers-club.