In the ‘Wofoo Asian Award for Advancing Family Well-Being 2022’ (Wofoo 3A Project), our Early Childhood Education Service (ECES) and Caritas Family Service won the Bronze Award and Best Collaborative Award for the Jockey Club Interactive Wonder Box. Kwok Pui Wai, Bonnie, the centre-in-charge of the Pario Education Centres (Tsim Sha Tsui and Kwun Tong), shared, ‘this award is a recognition of our service. We have always emphasized innovation, and this box is a kind of innovation.’
The Jockey Club Interactive Wonder Box aimed at promoting quality parent-child interaction for the children and their parents who were stuck at home during the pandemic. It also supported the continuous learning and growth of the children through games, benefiting over 100,000 families across Hong Kong. The first box features six Hong Kong landmarks, including Tai O and Stanley, while the second set focuses on positive character traits such as hope, gratitude, and joy. Both sets of boxes include stories and parent-child games tailored to children's development, and are enriched with multimedia technology such as augmented reality (AR). This project provided over 20 training sessions for teachers and parents, with over 110,000 participants.
Regarding the box winning the Best Collaborative Award, Bonnie said it was well-deserved, ‘It's rare for a big project to be handled by two major organisations, and to be completed in a short period of time with such high efficiency, while responding to the needs of families and students during the pandemic, and meeting the requirements of the Wofoo 3A Project.’
Bonnie said that the two organisations are making use of their respective strengths while maintaining their unique characteristics. ‘For example, Caritas is stronger in emotional and moral education, so their social workers are responsible for that aspect, while we are stronger in teaching, including our speech therapists and kindergarten teachers, so we are responsible for that aspect.’
We have always emphasised excellence and innovation in service to meet the needs of society. Bonnie stated that the box reflects this innovative spirit. ‘During the pandemic, parents and children were confined to their homes, so we had to use different media to help them. For example, in addition to text, the game instructions in the box also include “voice navigation”. Parents can scan the QR code to listen to the explanation. The second box also incorporates AR technology to enhance the fun of the game. New ways of playing provide new experiences.’ She added, ‘the most important message we want to convey is that it's not about what you play, but about enjoying the process together as parents and children. Only then can we help children develop.’ Bonnie said that ECES has always emphasised a game-based approach focusing on children, which is also a key message brought by the box.
The use of AR technology in the box is important for the service and education sector. Bonnie thought that the AR technology in the box sets an example that can be applied to schools in the future, making classroom teaching more vivid and visual. ‘Not only our schools, but also ther schools are recognising this direction. In fact, the new generation of kindergarten teachers are familiar with digital technology and have quickly mastered it. This box can be seen as a demonstration, inspiring teachers to think and apply it,’ she said.
Our Pario Education Centre has been a pioneer in promoting parenting education since the 1980s, and after more than 40 years, what are the changes in the demand for parenting education? And how is Pario responding? Bonnie said that with different generations come different needs. ‘Firstly, parents are getting younger, and they are mostly proficient in using technology and have a lot of knowledge about parenting, but still lack experience in practical application. Some may misuse methods and damage the parent-child relationship.’ She explained another change is that most children nowadays are well-protected and assertive, and parents may not know how to discipline them. ‘Each child is unique and needs to be raised according to their individual characteristics, and the needs of the new generation of parents are different from the previous generation. What kind of services can we provide for them? These are the problems that Pario needs to think about and solve.’
To respond to the new demand for services, Bonnie said that Pario has been actively taking the initiative in recent years. ‘We no longer wait for parents to sign up for courses, but actively go to schools to hold parent lectures and activities, hoping to bring parenting skills to school parents.’ For parent members, Pario uses different channels to contact and support them. ‘In addition, we are considering how to cooperate with the business sector to provide parenting education services for their employees with children.’ She said that in simple terms, it is about changing from passive to active, and making efforts to reach out to different groups of parents and promote parenting education.
Bonnie shared that Pario will have two main development focuses: teaching parents about Montessori and baby massage. ‘From 0 to 3 years old is a critical period for child development. We hope to promote baby massage for parents of infants aged 0 to 1 year old to strengthen their parent-child relationship and promote a sense of harmony. For parents of children aged 1 to 3 years old, we will introduce the Montessori teaching method.’ She said.
Currently, the activity room of Pario Education Centre (Tsimshatsui) has been transformed into a Montessori classroom, allowing parents to learn to observe their children's strengths. ‘Montessori allows children to learn independently, but at the same time, parents must learn to let go. Excessive help from parents will only deprive children of learning opportunities. We hope to let parents understand the benefits of Montessori and help children grow better.’ Bonnie said.