Curriculum & Approach

ELC students playing

The ELC program supports young children in all aspects of their learning. Our curriculum is guided by the framework of the IB Primary Years Program (PYP) and influenced by the philosophy of Reggio Emilia. The PYP framework supports a play-based curriculum for early learning, creating an environment for children to develop social, communication, research, thinking, physical and self-management skills. It is a center where play, wonder, joy, curiosity and creativity are the ways in which children learn with a strong image of the child, working from the perspective of what children can do as reflected by the philosophy of Reggio Emilia.

Through play, children develop attitudes of the IB Learner Profile by collaborating, making judgements, learning how to learn and developing independence and autonomy with the support of teachers. Early Childhood is an important time when children are developing their view of themselves as learners, their sense of autonomy and identity and developing confidence in making decisions. Play is the vehicle by which the children develop skills of initiating, negotiating, working as group members by working through group projects, exploring through imagination, asking questions and reflecting.

Inquiry in the ELC is connected to the children’s development of their understanding of the world by exploring, discovering, questioning and interacting with the physical and social world. Play is essential for young children’s cognitive, social, emotional, physical and brain development. Through play, children construct meaning and define themselves as members of a learning community.

Through listening and observing the children closely, and documenting the process of their thinking and understanding, teachers work and learn collaboratively through discussion, reflection, and interpretation of the documentation, putting forward their own theories of how children respond to challenges and provocations. The philosophy of both the PYP and the Reggio Emilia Approach encourages children to wonder and to ask questions, and we strive to create an environment to support this way of thinking.

Subject focus is viewed through the lens of a transdisciplinary program. Subjects such as language, mathematics, science, social studies, art etc are woven into the transdisciplinary themes within the Program of Inquiry.

There are single subject teachers who work collaboratively with teachers through:

  • Physical education classes held once a week with the PE teacher.
  • The music program held once a week with the music teacher.
  • The librarian who visits the ELC and the children also have times when they may visit the library.


In our approach we place particular value on:

The image of the child - The child is rich with potential

Time/Flow - Unhurried time for the children to experience their hours at school

Space - Space for the children to leave unfinished work to be continued the next day; space which inspires the children to learn; space that fosters natural light, harmonious colors; space for comfortable, child-sized areas and aesthetics

Climate - A classroom atmosphere reflecting adult encouragement, respect and acceptance of mistakes, risk-taking, along with certain amounts of mess, noise, and freedom

Possibilities - For adventures, curiosity, exploration, joy

Technology - Use of technology for creativity, exploration, creating, imagination

Natural Resources - Provide the children with recycled goods and natural resources from the environment, whenever possible.

Our approach also takes into account the following principles:

  • Children learn at different rates.
  • Learning is a balance between the intellectual, the social, and the personal; each is important and each is interlinked with others.
  • Children must be given the opportunity to speak and be listened to in all the many languages – art, music, physical activity, dramatic play are woven into the daily experiences of learning with and through others.




ELC Students in Music Class

Do you offer any specialist classes for ELC students?

Physical Education lessons are more than just student participation in sports and games. Its purpose is to develop a combination of transferable skills promoting physical, intellectual, emotional and social development; to encourage present and future choices that contribute to long-term healthy living; and to understand the cultural significance of physical activities for individuals and communities. Therefore, in the Physical Education, there is specific opportunities for learning about movement and through movement in a range of contexts.

Music lessons offer children opportunities to discover a broad range of music experiences in creating and responding through singing, playing instruments, listening and composing. Music is both an active and reflective process when making and listening to it. Students draw on a wide range of sources in their music learning from their own imaginations to real-life experiences and music composed by themselves and others.


ELC students reading a book

What does library time look like in ELC?

At YIS, we’re working to build a community of readers. Regular librarian visits to the ELC ensure that our students read what they love and love what they read: the first steps towards a lifetime of reading for pleasure. The ELC has a rotating collection of books from our main library, selected by students, teachers and the librarians collaboratively, in response to individual interest and curriculum needs. ELC students and parents can use the self-checkout station in the ELC and families are also welcome to use the main library.


ELC students participating in a Japanese tea ceremony

Our aim is to enhance the curriculum with special hands-on learning experiences which build an appreciation and respect for Japanese culture. These could include Japanese printmaking, visual art and construction, drama, music and cooking.

Special classes include Japanese dance, music (13-string koto, singing and taiko drumming) and Japanese tea making. Our parents often help enhance these experiences by working with the ELC students.


ELC Students learning about fire

Why is outside time part of the program?

Learning takes place best when it is in meaningful, real-life contexts. Students gain a great deal of learning through the experience  of outside play, which includes academic learning across the subject areas, as well as social and emotional aspects.


ELC student using an ipad to take photos

What role does technology play in the ELC? 

We believe the thoughtful use of technology in an early childhood setting offers a set of powerful tools for the documentation of sustained in-depth inquiry. This documentation is a celebration of creativity and learning together. Technology and documentation are tools for reflection and the sharing of ideas between children, teachers and their families. This network challenges and extends current understanding, inviting all involved  to engage with new perspectives. It is an extension of the social process of learning.


ELC students planting at the local part

What is Service Learning? 

Service learning in the ELC is about building reciprocal relationships overtime. It can be best summarized as, we give to others. From these acts of giving we receive intrinsic reward and feelings of happiness. This connects us to other people. We learn about ourselves and others from these acts. We host visits for children from a local children’s home and with with and from each other.

Parent Participation

We consider parents as partners in the education the ELC children. Parent participation is therefore considered essential and takes many forms. The sharing, exchange of ideas and skills that parents bring to the ELC is important in fostering the connections between home and school. Connections to home and family are integral to learning in the early years. We use these powerful connections to authentically involve families and build on the links between home and school.

Communication between parents and teachers occurs in both informal and formal ways, such as in our daily greetings at arrival and dismissal times, through class emails and the school website. Parents are able to meet with teachers throughout the year to discuss their child. The following are ways of communication which are embedded into the calendar:

  • Parent/Teacher Conferences are scheduled once year.
  • Student-Led Conferences are scheduled once during the school year.
  • A learning journal is compiled for each child to show processes of learning as both individual learners and group learners.
  • Action Portfolios are held once a year for parents to view learning in PE and music.
  • Written reports are sent out two times per year.