A strong early childhood education prepares children to be lifelong learners. Through the guidance of their preschool teachers and their own exploration, they are introduced to the wonders of the world. They are encouraged to play, to problem solve and to ponder how the universe works. With an age-appropriate preschool curriculum, the children should be introduced to various academic concepts through hands-on, play-based activities that fully engage them. School should be fun; it should be an outlet for thoughts and ideas, and nurture children into becoming passionate about furthering their knowledge and skills.
At OWIS, our early childhood curriculum focuses on developing the child from the inside-out, including their emotional, physical and cognitive development. We teach them life long skills and make them feel confident in their actions, adjusting activities and class plans to suit the needs of each individual child. Through careful incorporation of play and sensory activities, we help our young ones, starting from nursery school level or Early Childhood 1, to learn and grow in a loving environment. Here is what a week in one of our kindergarten classrooms looks like.
HOW WE PREPARE OUR CHILDREN TO BECOME LEADERS THROUGH PLAY
Each morning at our preschool campuses in Singapore, our children begin outside with time to laugh and play with friends before coming in to join their teachers and classmates. This gives them time to let off steam, start the day with a positive experience and to chat with their friends. The lessons begin with interactive phonics activities, helping the children better understand how language and sounds work. This is an important basis for their continued development yet taught in a way that does not make them lose focus. By having these interactive lessons, children focus on the enjoyable aspects of their education while developing these essential skills.
Throughout the week, our children explore more phonics-based activities. These carefully balance repetition (to help the children remember the sound) with growth, allowing them to apply what they have learnt. They are also able to see how learning can take on many different forms and does not need to feel monotonous or repetitive.
After phonics, the children have time to engage on a sensory level with educational activities. This gives them another opportunity to learn through play and to develop skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, dexterity and coordination. During the week, they have the chance to explore activities such as painting, playing in a mud kitchen, building with blocks and role-playing. This varied range of activities may look like play; however, this time is essential in building well-rounded children who are inquisitive and innovative.
After some time for free play, the teachers bring the children together for a maths lesson. At this age, our main focus is on counting and helping our students understand what numbers are and how they work. Teachers make children feel confident in their counting and offer a range of different learning techniques to suit each individual child. Once a concept is introduced at the beginning of the week, our children are able to explore it more, both independently and with guidance. They are able to put their skills into practice, whether this is by using numbers in play, practising their writing, singing or repeating what they’ve learnt as a class.
We also have a Programme of Inquiry, a theme that we carry throughout the week. After mathematics, children have time to share and discuss the latest ideas related to the programme, helping them delve deeper into the idea and better understand how it impacts their world. They learn how the facts and topics intertwine together, that nothing happens on its own and that it is important to look at the bigger picture.
After inquiry, children explore through play-based learning. They engage in activities that emphasise skills such as fine motor abilities or measuring. They are able to learn through trial and error while simultaneously having fun. This play-based learning puts what the children have learnt during other parts of the day into a real-world context. For instance, if they have been practising their counting skills and are then playing in their ‘shop’, they may need to count out money or items. During these sessions, teachers take time to do pull-outs with small groups of children to help them practice more phonics and reading, progressing throughout the week based on the child’s skill level.
Following lunch, children participate in specialised Mandarin, Music, Arts or PE classes, varying throughout the week so that they have opportunities to experience each class and nurture their skills.
This is followed by more opportunities to explore and discuss the Programme of Inquiry. During the week, the child will explore the concept from a variety of angles.
As we approach the end of the day, the children have more time for free play, allowing them to stretch their legs and engage again with their friends.
The children then help to clean up the classroom, and eagerly gather all of their projects that reflect their hard work, proud to show their parents what they accomplished at school that day. We encourage them to be proud of the work that they have completed and suggest that they spend time explaining what they have done during the day once they get home. This again helps to solidify the knowledge, understanding and skills that they have gathered during their day in class. They then proceed out to their waiting parents/care-givers or to the school bus after enjoying another exciting day of learning.
Our preschool education programme in Singapore helps children explore concepts in an age-appropriate way, encouraging them to learn and engage with their peers and the world around them. Our carefully constructed kindergarten curriculum nurtures the mind and body of each student, preparing them for the global, world-class learning they receive in primary grades at OWIS.
(This blog was originally written in collaboration with Ms Dawn Ross, former Senior Coordinator – Early Childhood, OWIS Nanyang.)