At KIS, we have 3 Early Years or EY (formerly called Early Learning) classrooms. We follow the IB PYP framework. We are inspired by the work of the educators in Reggio Emillia, and enact a play based curriculum, alongside developing core academic skills.
EY 1 - 3-4 year olds (Pre-school)
EY 2 - 4-5 year olds (Pre-Kindergarten)
EY 3 - 5-6 year olds (Kindergarten)
Our View of Children
At KIS, all Learning and Teaching starts with the children. We believe that children are:
- OPEN MINDED
These fundamental beliefs inform all of our interactions and engagements with children. The Central Idea of the Early Learning program is “to allow a space for the child to construct his or her own powers of thinking through all of their expressive, communicative and cognitive languages”
What is play based learning?
“Play is the work of the child.” -- Maria Montessori
“Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.” - Friedrich Fröbel
Play is essential for young children’s cognitive, social, emotional, physical and brain development. Through play-based learning, young learners develop attributes of the IB learner profile, practice and build skills, understand concepts, and acquire new knowledge. They also develop the academic skills necessary to succeed in the world today.
Teachers support this through ongoing, intentional planning for a careful balance of child-initiated play and adult-supported learning. In this way, students are given specific time to practice and learn foundation skills and to apply them to their own play:
We define PLAY as being purposeful, intentional, and complex.
How do we learn in a play based environment?
PEDAGOGY OF LISTENING
We practice a Pedagogy of Listening (Forman and Fyfe, 2011). In this philosophy, learning is child-originated and teacher framed. It is emergent. The children bring out ideas from their play and questions, and the teacher reframes those ideas into more achievable and specific goals. Within the framework of the PYP, we plan four very broad conceptual units each year. This is done through three components; design, discourse, and documentation.
Design. Children and teachers are encouraged to design their thinking and ideas by making artefacts or plans.This may look like a drawing, a clay figure, a photograph, or other media. The designer (child or adult) is aware that their design is going to be read and interpreted by an audience.
Discourse. This is the ongoing conversation of learning and understanding. Children and teachers engage in dialogue to grow understanding, increase knowledge, and improve skills.
Documentation. This refers to an artefact that helps others understand the learning. It includes an interpretation or description. These interpretations are evaluated and reevaluated and act as a point of future discourse and learning.
An Example. A child asks a question. They discuss their theories (discourse) and create a drawing (design) that explains their idea to others. The drawing is then interpreted by the teacher and parents (documentation) which leads to further questions from the teacher (discourse) to help them grow their understanding of the idea. The children take the new questions and wonder (discourse) and then revisit their previous drawings and re-evaluate them (design). The teacher records the process (documentation) and reflects (discourse) on how the children have grown and changed.
How do we teach in a play based environment?
TEACHER AS PARTICIPANT
The teacher may be a full participant in the action, fully invited by the children to join in the play. Other times the teacher may be guiding the play by changing dynamics to encourage children to think differently. They may do this by introducing new materials or elements, setting different rules, asking questions, or modelling behaviour or actions. They may simply be observing, taking notes and pictures, documenting learning, and allowing students the freedom for independent inquiry.
TEACHER AS ARCHITECT
The physical environment of the classroom is vital to learning, and functions as another teacher. Teachers have control over designing the classroom environment, with the materials, furniture arrangement, student access, and various tools.
TEACHER AS DESIGNER
The teacher is also responsible for choosing and setting up developmentally appropriate tasks, investigations, provocations, routines and projects. These tasks must be thought provoking and engaging, and they must have a clear purpose and learning outcomes. Once the task is introduced, the children can respond in a variety of ways, with multiple children expressing themselves in different cognitive languages. The learning process is more important than the final product, and the teacher designs tasks that encourage children to focus on the process of learning.
TEACHER AS RESEARCHER
The teacher is always a researcher. We research how children learn, individually and in groups. We research how we, as teachers, learn with each other as professionals. We research how we teach, and our teaching helps our students learn. And we research how we learn from and with children.
How is the program structured?
IB PYP UNITS of INQUIRY (see Program of Inquiry for more details)
As an IB PYP School, students will undertake four Units of Inquiry each year. These units of inquiry will fit into one of the IB’s six Transdisciplinary Themes. The themes are broad, conceptual, and allow for entry into many different types of inquiries. These units will run concurrently throughout the whole year. This allows teachers and students to dip in and out of the units as the interest emerges. It also teachers and students to make connections between units.
These units, in coordination with the Learning Expectations found at the back of this guide, make up the core curriculum at KIS.
EARLY YEARS BLOCKS
These four blocks will become part of the daily routine and pattern for students in EY, and the language will become part of their vocabulary. At some point each day, they will engage in one of these four blocks.
At the center of each block is SHARING time. Students and teachers are expected to reflect, discuss and share their learning as a group to build metacognitive awareness of learning in our young learners.
This structure allows us to shift easily through our play continuum.