Transitioning to primary school is a big step for young children and their parents. For many families, the change can be a stressful one. Fortunately, it is possible to navigate this journey with a minimum of stress and worry. Children who already have experience with a positive preschool classroom environment are better-prepared for Grade 1 than children who do not. Young learners benefit most when early childhood programmes provide a supportive environment that nurtures their curiosity, develops their skill sets and equips them with confidence.
At One World International School, our Early Childhood Programme is a “school within a school” that is designed as a bridge to the primary years.
Here are some of the ways our programme prepares preschool students for a successful transition to Grade 1:
Early Years Curriculum
At OWIS, we follow the IB PYP, a challenging, highly-engaging curriculum for students between the age of 3 to 11. For our youngest learners, we use the PYP framework’s “Early Years” component that is designed for preschool-aged children. This early learning approach instils a love of learning by encouraging children’s natural curiosity. Our preschool students build concepts by asking questions to delve deeper into topics, primarily through play and other activities centred on children’s interests. Through exploration and inquiry, children begin to take ownership of their learning, setting the stage for success throughout the rest of their school years.
Our knowledgeable preschool teachers are attentive to all aspects of students’ development — intellectual, physical, social and emotional. They know how to provide support while fostering independence. Furthermore, our Early Childhood 3 teachers are familiar with the expectations for students entering Grade 1. They align the learning objectives in EC3 to allow smooth progression to Primary School.
Familiarity with the School Environment
Another advantage of attending our preschool programme is that it enables children to enter Grade 1 already familiar with the school environment. Our Early Childhood section in our Nanyang campus is like “a school within a school.” Yet, children will regularly see some other parts of the school from time to time, and hence, this will make the transition to the next grade more seamless.
To ensure a well-rounded education, our Early Childhood students participate in Music, Art, Mandarin, PE and Library lessons (in addition to their other subjects). Preschool students have their own learning spaces at OWIS, but they use primary classrooms for some of these specialised subjects**. Specialist teachers work across different grades and many of them work with both our Early Childhood and Primary students. By the time children reach Grade 1, they’re already acquainted with the primary school environment, as well as some of their teachers.
Our Early Childhood students participate in school-wide events, such as International Day, Book Week, Kindness Week and cultural days and festivals. During these activities, they interact with older students and see them perform. Our Early Childhood students also take to the stage during their class assemblies and our EC school production at the end of the year. This gives our youngest learners confidence and even more to look forward to in primary school when they can continue these activities and performances.
During whole-school events, some of our Grade 5 Kindness Leaders and Secondary students come into Early Childhood classrooms** to serve as buddies and mentors to guide preschoolers through activities. Both groups benefit from these opportunities to connect, and for younger children, this bonding time makes the prospect of transitioning to primary school much less intimidating.
At certain times during the year, Early Childhood and Primary students attend class together. For the duration of the shared class time, younger students are paired with older ones. Hence, preschool children get to experience what it’s like to be in a primary class and have opportunities to interact with older children.
Service to others is an integral part of student life at OWIS, and we include our youngest students in community projects. During seasonal celebrations or year-end festivities, like Christmas time last year, our Early Childhood students visited a home for the elderly to present gifts and bring residents some holiday cheer. Volunteering at an early age raises children’s awareness of the needs of others and teaches them to respond with compassion and kindness. Involving Early Childhood students in community projects fosters early character development, equipping them with habits and traits that will stand them in good stead in primary school and beyond.
Grade 1 is the class that has the highest number of students seeking admission each year. Enrolling your child in our Early childhood programme ensures a place in our primary school programme well ahead of time.
To learn more about early learning at OWIS, contact us to book a tour and talk to our friendly admissions team.
* Please note: All the images in this blog were taken in pre-Covid times.
(This blog was originally written in collaboration with Ms Niki Wallis, former Senior Coordinator – Early Childhood, OWIS Nanyang.)