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The Early Childhood Development (ECD) Center at the American International School of Cape Town (AISCT) is where our Grizzly Cub students (aged two to four years old) and our Kindergarten 1 students (aged four to five years old) begin their learning journey.

The ECD follows the Reggio Emilia approach, which emphasizes a holistic, child-centered learning style that nurtures relationships, creativity, and critical thinking.

Principles of Reggio Emilia

This unique approach is inspired by the philosophy and practice of the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and centers around six core principles:

  1. The Image of the Child: Every child is strong, curious, and eager to grow.
  2. The 100 Languages of Children: Children communicate in countless ways, each valuable.
  3. The Project Approach: Through collaborative projects, children explore, problem-solve, and build academic foundations.
  4. Collaboration: Collaboration and cooperation are intentional, and the children, families, teachers, and administration at AISCT are all co-constructors of the learning in our school community.
  5. Documentation: Classrooms showcase children’s learning through transcripts, photographs, and exhibits, emphasizing the value of their work.
  6. Environment as the Third Teacher: The environment itself is a teacher, inviting participation in thought-provoking encounters.

These principles guide our approach, nurturing a love for learning and fostering each child’s growth.

Approach to Learning

Learning is focused on long and short-term projects. These begin with teachers’ observing and questioning children to find a key topic that is of interest to them. They then introduce materials, questions, and activities that provoke children to explore this topic. The projects are well-structured to guide learning but they allow for students’ investigations to lead the learning in often unanticipated directions. This student-led approach makes learning more interesting and engaging for these young learners. This project-based approach allows students to make connections between prior and new knowledge and experiences within facilitated learning with authentic tasks and measurable outcomes.

Reggio Emelia recognizes that each child has a unique learning journey, and the project-based approach allows students to explore their ideas through hands-on experience. These encounters and activities are done with a range of different materials and polysensorial experiences. This new knowledge is constructed and interconnected across the domains of art, music, and science.

The ECD is the beginning of a student’s journey at AISCT, which sees learning as a lifelong, dynamic process of acquiring and reflecting on knowledge and skills to make meaning in novel and authentic situations. The curriculum across the school is rigorous, using research-based standards and benchmarks out of the United States that are aligned to meet the school curricular programs at each learning level.

Daily Life for Early Childhood Students

AISCT early childhood students start and end their day with a community meeting, when they engage, connect, and share. Over the day, there is an abundance and a variety of activities in which students participate. These focus on project work in specialized subjects, such as visual art, music, drama, physical education, storytime, and reading in the AISCT library!

Their health and wellness are prioritized with fruit snacks in the morning, a well-balanced hot lunch from the school cafeteria, and regular time outside on the green and spacious campus grounds. There is also ample time for play, in purpose-built facilities for this age group, which are fun and promote independent exploration and learning in a safe environment. There are also regular excursions both on and off campus to offer real-life experiences to all of our learners.

Whether it’s engaging in a collective art project, watering plants in the vegetable garden, building courage on the playground equipment, or developing social skills, our Grizzly cubs love their school day and are supported in their learning in an inspiring, close-knit, dynamic environment.

Interested to see if the AISCT ECD is the right place for your child? Set up a visit with our Admission team here.