Curriculum & Approach
We are committed to guided and spontaneous purposeful inquiry that actively engages students, alone and with others, in their learning. The teacher acts as facilitator and partner, designing conceptual and physical spaces of learning and creating many opportunities for generating questions.
The IB Primary Years Program (PYP), which continues in our elementary school through grade 5, provides the concrete framework of our academic program in the ELC. It is articulated in skills, concepts, knowledge, attitudes, learner profile, action and program of inquiry. Within this framework, we incorporate the principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach to learning, which has inspired and informed our way of thinking and working with children. We have learned not simply to cover the curriculum but to become researchers of children, to investigate and tackle the questions of: what will the children learn, how best will they learn, and how will we know what they have learned.
One of the most profound ways we do this is through the Reggio methodology of pedagogical documentation. 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 encourage children to wonder and to ask questions, and we strive to create an environment to support this way of thinking. We do not regard the child as an empty vessel that has to be filled with knowledge, but rather, wish to light fires in the children and their active minds.
Subject focuses on language arts, arts, science and social studies are woven into the transdisciplinary themes within the Program of Inquiry. Mathematics is viewed as a language used to describe the natural world through tools and symbols as ways of thinking, rather than dissembling mathematical knowledge into broken, unrelated skills based activities. Single subjects include:
- Physical education classes are held once a week with the PE teacher.
- Music program for the ELC1 and ELC2 classes are conducted once a week with the music teacher.
- Library time with the school librarian is held once a week.
In our approach we place particular value on:
Time - Unhurried time for the children to experience their hours at school
Space - Ample space for the children to leave unfinished work, to be continued the next day; space which inspires the children to work; space that fosters natural light, harmonious colors; space for comfortable, child-sized areas
Climate - A classroom atmosphere reflecting adult encouragement and acceptance of mistakes, risk-taking, along with certain amounts of mess, noise, and freedom
Occasions - For adventures
IT - Use of computers for creativity, and not only for functional purposes
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:
- The different rates at which children learn, and the wide range of normal variation which can occur in an age group.
- 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.
We consider parents as partners embarking on a journey together of reflecting on childhood and the crucial importance of the early years. Parent participation is therefore considered essential and takes many forms. The sharing, exchange of ideas and skills that parents bring to the school results in a collegiality and integration of differing wisdoms and it strengthens the connections 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 websites, and letters. The following are ways of communication which are embedded into the calendar:
- Parent-Teacher Conferences are scheduled two times per school year.
- Student-Led Conferences in the form of Student-Parent Interaction Days are also scheduled two times per school year.
- A portfolio is compiled for each child to show processes of learning as both individual learners and group learners.
- Action Portfolio classes for PE and music, which are action orientated, are held two times per year for parents to view a normal class session.
- Written reports are sent out two times per year.