Helping kindergarten children in Hong Kong to understand issues of death

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This study examines how 5-year-old Chinese children can develop a better understanding of issues related to death, when they talk about death with teachers at kindergartens. Nine Chinese teachers and their children were recruited from eight kindergartens that had implemented a socioemotional programme (Zippy’s Friends, 2018) for 5-year-old children in Hong Kong. This programme is the only school programme that had included a discussion of issues associated with death for preschool children in Hong Kong. This study focused on collection of data during the teaching of module five, Dealing with change and loss, when preschool teachers were conducting it. Each Zippy’s module started with a story about how the main character coped with different daily stresses. Zippy was the pet of the main character in Zippy’s stories. In module 5, Zippy died in the story. Strategies helping the main character to cope with Zippy’s death were discussed during the lessons. Data from this study were collected by using multiple qualitative methods: children’s drawings; observations and field notes of child-child and teacher-child dialogues during the Zippy’s lessons (including a visit to a graveyard), and teachers’ sharing of their teaching experiences. Findings indicate that children shared many personal experiences and much information about issues related to death, including children’s emotional reactions, coping, sociocultural practices, causality and metaphysical death. Implications for educators and government policy are discussed at the end of the paper. Copyright © 2019 Twenty-sixth International Conference on Learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


Wong, M. (2019, July). Helping kindergarten children in Hong Kong to understand issues of death. Paper presented at the Twenty-sixth International Conference on Learning: Learning to Make a Social Difference, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK.


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