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How Children Benefit from Differentiated Learning in an Early Childhood Environment

When your child enters an Early Childhood classroom, they will quickly discover the types of activities and lessons that spark their interest.

Children exhibit unique learning styles from the outset, highlighting the need for differentiated instruction in preschool. In this critical phase, your child will need time to explore the formal preschool classroom setting and should be given an opportunity to develop their own learning pace. 

As such, it’s imperative that you select a good preschool in Singapore for your child, in which teachers will differentiate learning to accommodate different learning styles, levels of learning and speed of learning in the early childhood setting.

What is Differentiated Learning?

Differentiated learning is an educational approach where instruction is adapted to meet the diverse needs of students. It revolves around four key aspects—content (what is taught), process (how it’s taught), product (the outcome of learning), and affect/learning environment (the impact of students’ emotions and feelings on their learning). 

Examples of differentiation in early years might include grouping students by skill or adapting how students engage with content to match their preferred learning style. This approach fosters inclusivity and engagement. 

By addressing various learning styles and paces, differentiated learning in preschool and other early school settings ensures all students feel valued and are poised for success in a dynamic classroom setting.

Benefits of Differentiated Instruction for Early Childhood Students

Most preschool students are walking into a school setting for the first time in their lives and are just beginning to understand what learning looks and feels like. 

Here are a few of the benefits and advantages of differentiated instruction:

  • Your child will enjoy various experiences within their preschool classroom and learn more about their interests.
  • Your child will have the chance to make choices, giving them the confidence to try new things.
  • Your child will be supported by their teachers individually and will be given the tools they need to reach the next milestone.

Key Strategies for Differentiated Instruction

At One World International School (OWIS), we implement several key strategies to ensure successful differentiated learning across our early childhood programmes:

  • Flexible grouping: Children are grouped and regrouped based on specific objectives, interests, and individual learning progress. This dynamic grouping method allows for more personalised interaction and instruction, accommodating differentiated levels of ability and understanding.
  • Learning centres: Our preschool classrooms feature various learning centres equipped with activities that cater to differentiated educational needs. Each centre offers unique materials and challenges tailored to develop specific skills, allowing children to engage at their own pace and according to their personal learning style.
  • Multi-sensory approaches: Recognising that young children learn best through experience, our teaching incorporates tactile, auditory, and visual activities. This sensory-rich environment helps accommodate diverse learning styles and ensures more effective absorption of information.

Curriculum Adaptations for Differentiated Learning

Here is how we apply differentiated learning to customise our educational approach, catering to each child’s unique developmental needs.

  • Individualised learning targets: Each child at OWIS has set learning targets tailored to their specific developmental stage and abilities. Teachers frequently assess these targets and adapt them as children grow and their needs change.
  • Modified instructions: Depending on a child’s comprehension and engagement level, instructions are modified to ensure clarity and accessibility. Simplified explanations or enhanced challenges are provided to suit individual capabilities.

Role of Teachers in Differentiated Instruction

Teachers at OWIS act as facilitators and guides in the learning process. They observe and interact with students to understand their preferences and needs, adjusting their teaching methods and materials accordingly.

Our commitment to continuous professional development is fundamental to our approach. OWIS educators regularly participate in training sessions that keep them at the forefront of educational methodologies, particularly in differentiated learning. 

This dedication to professional growth ensures that our teaching strategies are up-to-date and effectively meet our preschoolers diverse needs. 

Through these efforts, we strive to maintain an inclusive learning environment, promoting the benefits of differentiated instruction at every stage of your child’s early educational journey.

Parental Involvement in Differentiated Learning

We believe that parents play a critical role in reinforcing the differentiated learning that occurs in the classroom. To support this, OWIS provides parents with regular updates and guidance on how they can extend this learning at home, offering activities and strategies that are consistent with classroom teachings.

Additionally, we ensure open lines of communication through various platforms such as apps, newsletters, and parent-teacher meetings. This approach keeps parents well-informed about their child’s progress and provides them with the necessary tools to effectively contribute to their learning journey.

Key Practices at OWIS to Bring Differentiated Learning into Preschool Classrooms

At OWIS, we believe that play-based learning is best for your early childhood student. As this is their first experience in a classroom setting, we know that it’s important that your child has an opportunity to explore the room, socialise with their new friends and play in a safe, productive and fun way.

With play at the centre of our kindergarten programme, we have adopted these best practices to differentiate learning in the early childhood setting:

Engaging Through Open-Ended Resources

Our early childhood teachers provide open-ended resources and provocations. Provocations are open-minded exercises that are used frequently at OWIS. These exercises are designed to provide students with an immersive and stimulating experience that will help them form connections to the topic they are studying.

Promoting Student Agency

Our preschool educators promote student agency as part of our differentiated learning by giving our youngest learners a voice and choice in their classroom experiences. In the Early Childhood classrooms, students can visit various centres and themed areas that often relate to the unit they are working on. For example, during a unit on ocean life, students may be able to visit a sensory tub table filled with water and seashells, pebbles, fish toys and sea creatures to explore and role-play with.

Personalised Learning Goals for Individual Growth

Our preschool teachers differentiate targets and challenges for each child. Students exhibit a wide range of abilities and strengths during these formative years, and teachers will create targets for children based on their unique needs.

Learning-Enriched Classroom Setting

Each Early Childhood classroom has a teacher and teaching assistant, but the classroom itself serves as the third teacher. The kindergarten classroom is designed to be a place where students can explore, play and engage in self-guided learning.

Guided Learning Through Observation

Our teachers play the role of observers in the Early Childhood classrooms. They closely watch as students choose the activities and toys they like the best, designing differentiated learning experiences that appeal to their interests. During this time, teachers also assess where students are in their learning journey and plan for the next step.

Embracing Holistic Development Through Differentiated Learning

Differentiation allows your young learner to develop and grow according to their own interests, abilities and strengths. By differentiating learning in preschool classrooms, OWIS teachers offer students a positive first experience in school and help them feel confident as they head into primary school. 

At OWIS, our international preschool and other Early Childhood programmes adopt all the best practices in differentiated learning to help our young learners succeed.

Furthermore, OWIS offers two campuses in Singapore: one is a Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) school at Nanyang, and the other is a Kindergarten to Grade 5 campus.

To learn more about our Early Childhood programme, contact us at [email protected] or schedule a virtual tour.

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