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Bangkok Faces: Robert Kappelle, Head Teacher, Prep International Kindergarten

Your Name: Robert Kappelle

Job Title: Head Teacher, Prep International Kindergarten (Prep)

What is your nationality and background?

I was born and grew up in rural New Zealand although I have been living and working in Thailand for many years now. I have studied both pure science and social science at university level, which gives me very broad interests across the fields of education and child development.

What is your profession?

I have been working as a kindergarten teacher for more than 15 years, teaching all across the curriculum. During that time I’ve also been developing the program at Prep and creating activities and spaces where young children can direct their own learning by working and playing joyfully. More recently I’ve moved into the position of full-time head teacher at both our original campus in Sutthisan and a new campus in Ladprao.

What are the key skills and responsibilities of this role?

I see my primary role as inspiring my teachers to provide various and stimulating learning opportunities to the children and to take advantage of every interaction they have with the children. Each teacher brings their own teaching style and strengths into the kindergarten and I want to make sure the children get the best that each teacher has to offer. I also continue to develop the learning program and curriculum, always looking for opportunities to bring in new learning activities and maintain the overall quality.

How did you get involved in your profession?

As the kindergarten grew and expanded into a new campus it was a practical step for me to move into the head teacher role, where I could continue to work towards my vision of early years learning and share my teaching experience with others.

How does your role enhance the wellbeing or experience of children?

Through my support of the teachers and the direction I give to the learning program I am able to have a positive influence on all aspects of the children’s development. I also have the pleasure of engaging directly and constructively with the children as I move through the learning areas and play spaces.

What challenges do your face in this role?

Promoting hands-on and age-appropriate learning methods to parents is challenging in modern urban society where focus has fallen too heavily on memorization and rote-learning in early-years classrooms. Similarly, there is a perception that the parent’s role is to ensure their young child’s needs are completely met, which sometimes occurs to the detriment of child independence and self-confidence. However by working together with parents, through regular communications, meetings and seminars, I’m able to help our parents understand the need for children to learn through open-ended and sensorial activities, where children take on responsibility, make their own decisions and learn from their own investigation and experience.

What do you hope to achieve within your industry?

I hope to continue to provide learning environments where young children can be joyful at school, take some control of their own learning, and develop both the core learning skills and the soft personal and emotional skills that will prepare them best for their elementary education and beyond.

Who or what inspires you?

My greatest inspiration over the years has been the children I have taught. Playing and learning with them led me to think like a child again and helped me develop new activities most appealing and beneficial for young children.

Only a Bangkok local would know…

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