Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Date of this Version

April 2007


A lecture delivered at the Early Childhood Education Conference for Peace, World Association of Early Childhood Educators (WAECE), Albacete, Spain, April 20 – 22, 2007. Copyright 2007 Half the Sky Foundation


As the number of the world’s orphaned and abandoned children continues to increase, worry escalates among those concerned about their rights and welfare. Yet, people are finding some helpful solutions. This paper describes an international foundation called Half the Sky’s success in providing infant nurture and preschool enrichment programs, in partnership with Chinese national and provincial governments, through a coherent blend of cultural practices in curriculum and program operation. Both programs foster emotional intelligence and self-esteem, in a way that promotes peace education. Half the Sky opened two pilot programs in 2000 and today operates in 30 institutions in 12 municipalities and provinces across China, serving over 3,500 orphaned children. This presentation focuses on curriculum and the methods of nanny and teacher training. The infant nurture programs demonstrate that infants and toddlers in large institutional nurseries can begin to thrive from nanny care and attention in a stimulating playroom where the babies receive responsive attention that follows their actions, interests, and initiatives. Likewise, the preschool enrichment programs show that children aged 2 to 6 can become curious, eager, competent learners given the chance to participate in education led by teachers trained to provide child-centered play and learning activities based on the Italian Reggio Emilia approach.