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Early Years

In the PYP, it is acknowledged that experiences during the early years lay the foundations for all future learning. Research indicates that the rapid rate of development that occurs in the physical, social, emotional, intellectual and aesthetic domains is particularly significant. Although development usually occurs in recognizable and predictable directions, it is unique in each child, occurring at varying rates for each child. For many children, these early years also mark the first transition from home to group experiences outside of the family and to new physical environments. At VIS, we strive to make this adjustment as successful as possible by encouraging the development of secure and trusting relationships with new adults and peers.

We aim to support students’ interests, build up their self-esteem and confidence, as well as support the development of skills in all cognitive areas in relevant ways. Children, from birth, are full of curiosity, and the PYP provides a framework in our Early Years Centre which gives crucial support for them to be active inquirers and lifelong learners.

The PYP curriculum framework is unique in focusing on both how children learn as well as who they are as learners. It presents students as powerful agents of their own learning and competent partners in the learning process. Students’ needs, interests and competencies form the basis of the curriculum, which, in turn, guides students to acquire knowledge and skills, develop conceptual understanding, demonstrate positive attitudes and take responsible action. To ensure equal and balanced investment in each of these outcomes, emphasis is placed on the five essential elements of the PYP curriculum: knowledge, skills, concepts, attitudes and action.

Children are keen observers and explorers. Through their experiences of the world around them, they naturally develop intricate, multilayered perceptions of it. To complement and nurture these complex and rapidly growing abilities of children, the teaching process in the early years includes collaboration among children and the significant adults in their lives. It also includes guidance to enable our youngest learners to build on their natural capacities to question, observe and connect their understandings to construct new meaning.

The PYP, as a curriculum framework for early years teaching and learning, is particularly appropriate for young learners because of its inquiry-based learning approach and endorsement of the transdisciplinary nature of all learning experience.

Rather than delivering information to them, educators co-construct meaning with students and guide them to develop their own understandings. In the early years, teachers and students discover the curriculum together and document their learning as they experience it. These high-quality interactions between adults and children during the early years are essential for a meaningful learning experience.

“Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.” (Froebel 1896)

At VIS we aim to create the conditions for young children to orient themselves to the emotional and creative aspects of learning. These elements are central to the development of attitudes and approaches to learning such as social, communication, research, thinking and self-management skills. Through play-based learning, young learners develop attributes of the IB learner profile by collaborating, making judgments, learning how to learn and becoming increasingly autonomous with the support of VIS educators who understand the educational potential of play.

Early childhood is an important time when children lay the foundation for their view of themselves as learners and their ability to decide the course to take within learning groups. They develop their sense of autonomy and identity and their ability to make informed decisions within environments that offer opportunities for them to actively interact and reflect. Because play offers these opportunities, it is essential in the lives of young children for cognitive, social, emotional, physical and brain development.

Inquiry in the early years is intimately connected with the development of children's understanding of the world and acknowledges children's competencies to explore, discover and interact with the physical and social world around them. Through play, children become increasingly skilled at being group members, initiating and working through projects, asking questions and exploring possible worlds through imagination.

Over time, children define, construct and negotiate meaning and identity, situating themselves as members of a learning community. Play is essential for young children’s cognitive, social, emotional, physical and brain development.

Students in the Early Years Centre at VIS complete four units of inquiry each year. Two transdisciplinary themes are considered fundamentally relevant to all young students and are included each year: Who we are and How we express ourselves. Due to the nature of development and learning for this age group, some of the units may be designed to be ongoing throughout the school year and any one unit may be revisited during the year.

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