Video: Excerpt from Mark Renie’s Webinar with Parents of Early Childhood Students

In February, 2022, Mark Renie, Head of School, OWIS, held a virtual meeting with parents of our Early Childhood students at OWIS Nanyang, where he introduced himself and laid out his vision and commitment for developing the programme at the school. He also listened to concerns of parents and assured them that he will find solutions for them in the course of the coming month.

Watch this edited excerpt from the webinar where Mr. Renie lays out his vision for the Early Childhood programme. The transcript of the video is below.

Text of the video:

“I think it’s also important that I share my perspective on education with you all. I have taught a range of students – from as young as EC 2 to Theory of Knowledge for IB DP, but my main specialisms are in Primary and Early Childhood. I do have a keen understanding of the needs of our EC students. For me, a play-based education is very important at that age. I believe the key skills that are needed for success in Primary and Secondary are developed in EC through play, by modelling behaviour and by developing a healthy socio-emotional understanding of themselves, their classmates and teachers.

Safety and security are also critical. A safe and supportive environment is essential for children to be able to play in a positive way. I believe in the Reggio Emilia approach to EC, where we use our spaces to encourage exploration and discovery. If you have ever been to our EC classrooms, you will see that there are many centres in the classrooms, so we can support free-flow learning. Children are empowered regarding their own learning and they are encouraged to go to different centres and play with a variety of sensory tools and learning support materials.

Inculcating a growth mindset at a young age is also important to me. Children should learn to develop resilience and the understanding that if they haven’t mastered something, such as drawing the picture of a tree or a house, they simply haven’t done it “yet” and they should keep trying. With resilience, the power of “yet” and trial and error, they can achieve. By inculcating that at a young age, we ensure that when they get to Primary and they start facing more challenges, they know that they can overcome all situations. And that also lends itself well to their Secondary education.

Of course, coupled with all this is having a strong foundation in literacy and numeracy. As educators, we need to ensure that we are fostering a love of learning, reading and counting from a very young age. And they can use their imagination to help with that.

So those are some of the key things that I think are valuable, and I look forward to all of these happening at the Early Childhood level at OWIS.

Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to meet with the EC teachers. I have been impressed by how outstanding and passionate they are, and how much their views on education are aligned with mine. OWIS is at a very good place when it comes to our teachers.

I’ve had the chance to come in and read to the children, and I really enjoy the time I spend with them. I would like to make that a regular part of my monthly schedule. I’ve asked them if they all will be happy with that and they said they would be. I’ve really benefited from walking around EC and talking to the children and the teachers.

I’d like to conclude by saying I firmly believe in being transparent in my communication with parents. I also start my daily walk around the school in the EC building. They are the youngest and I have to make sure they are getting the most support. So please be assured that I am there and I am very visible.”