When the pieces of an early childhood education come together well, they lay the foundation for a successful school career for the child. They will be able to enter their later school years confidently and ready to tackle the challenges that lie before them. They will have a passion for education, an inquisitive mind and a love of learning. Children will also have developed their emotional and social skills that they will carry for the rest of their lives.
At OWIS, our preschool teachers remain the foundation for this education. They understand how to immerse students in our material, guiding them to explore and learn about their world in exciting new ways each day. They are highly skilled in creating the best learning environment possible. They teach children how to problem-solve, critique and analyse. They use play-based learning to do this and allow children to develop their own path to find out answers to questions. Our students finish their kindergarten education ready to succeed in their primary education.
Here are just a few ways that our preschool teachers demonstrate their expertise and the things that make OWIS unique.
Building and Growing a Community
Building a nurturing community around the child helps them become more integrated and confident within the school environment. They feel confident and happy. They know that there is always someone there to help them or to talk to and most of all, they enjoy their preschool experience. That is why OWIS’ early childhood teachers work to foster this community.
The sudden introduction into an intensely socialising environment can be unsettling for a young child. Some students may never have had the experience of being in large groups or being away from their parents for longer than a few hours. Our young students need to be wisely shepherded through this transition stage with the minimum of disturbance, and with the pleasures of collaborative interaction maximised. They need to feel part of the community and realise how much fun preschool can be. At this early stage of their education creating a passion for learning alongside the confidence to work with others is essential, and our teachers are the perfect support system for this. At the same time, parents need to be assured that their own child is benefitting from the one-to-one attention. We ensure that children get to spend 1:1 time with teachers and teaching assistants every day, to check-in, practise their literacy and numeracy skills or spend time playing and learning together.
Our kindergarten teachers continually and proactively communicate with parents and offer updates about the child’s individual learning journey every week. Parents are informed as to where their child’s strengths lie, as well as what the teachers are engaged in, to help enhance their learning processes. They can then make a plan to help the child with any areas they are finding difficult, to ensure there is constant progression. The child feels supported in their activities and studies, both at home and at school.
The teachers also work collaboratively with their colleagues within the preschool. They understand the importance of working in consultation with other primary school teachers and team leaders so that the children are prepared as they progress through their school career. They are able to ask for advice from colleagues who may have strengths in different areas or who may have a focus on a specialist subject. They can also prepare the teacher who will be taking on their students by giving them information and advice about each child’s specific needs. This structured awareness helps to provide a smooth transition for the children as they advance in grade-level and ability. The community approach builds a safe, consistent learning environment for the child.
In the early years, our youngest ‘students’ learn mainly through play. Individually, and in small groups working together, their integration and confidence become noticeably greater. Often children don’t feel that they are ‘studying’, but they are in fact, taking on a huge amount of information and building their skill set. This play-based learning helps to build confidence, create intuitive learners and also progresses their fine motor skills. Their core skills – those of verbal self-expression and numeracy – develop steadily.
Through repetition of the key numeracy and literacy skills that are the building blocks for their future education, children gain essential skills and have a better understanding of letters, words and numbers. Teachers are also able to constantly monitor each child’s progress to ensure they are on track. The STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) are introduced by means of games and interactive projects which are designed to stimulate critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities. This gives them their first insight into these different subjects and creates excitement around the topics. At this point children may develop a love for certain subjects and a desire to learn more.
Students’ structured introduction to the purposeful use of iPads and other computer-related technology provides them with a broader awareness, further strengthening their preparations to become citizens of the future. As technology is part and parcel of daily life, ensuring that children pick up skills from a young age is essential. This ensures that it becomes second nature and gives them the foundations for the rest of their education and on to their careers.
The community approach builds a safe, consistent learning environment for the child. They learn compassion and understand that in turn, there is always someone to talk to and to support them. They are surrounded by other children from hugely diverse backgrounds, some of whom may not speak English as a first language or who may have different cultural traditions. This creates an inclusive, multicultural community with kindness and empathy at the heart.
Students who work with outstanding teachers in their earliest years have the exposure and experience they need to begin their school career with a strong start. Our teachers are trained in the PYP programme and participate in regular IB training sessions to ensure they are prepared to present students with the most effective learning. They are at the forefront of their game and are passionate about education.
Our preschool teachers establish and nurture relationships with all of their students, helping them feel recognised and valued. By incorporating the students’ interests into their lessons, they encourage engagement and give them a sense of ownership over their learning. A positive learning environment encourages every student to continue to strive for their success.
Nurturing, to Integrate and Adjust
Our experienced kindergarten teachers know how to strike a balance between allowing students to learn and discover through play, and the more formal school procedures which are to come. Whilst in their care, a child’s natural freedom and imagination continue to be stimulated, but he or she also learns how to become a student as a part of the wider school environment. They are offered a range of different opportunities and are always supported through their learning. Teachers ensure that they integrate into this new world of education quickly and seamlessly.
In addition to this, OWIS teachers work carefully to involve the students in a variety of school activities, including assemblies, exhibitions, and events. This process smoothes the children’s transition into primary schooling and onwards, and such cohesiveness allows them to adjust more quickly, and feel at ease within the larger OWIS community.
Teachers in Early Childhood provide our children with a future-proof foundation. Our educators have the training and experience necessary to create that highly-nurturing environment which stimulates each child to develop and grow. This ensures your child is continually cared for and integrated into the family that is OWIS.
We encourage you to book a virtual tour and get to know more about the Early Childhood Programme at our international school campuses in Singapore.
(This blog was originally written in collaboration with Ms Dawn Ross, former Senior Coordinator – Early Childhood, OWIS Nanyang.)