We have a holistic, authentic, child-centered approach to learning.
The EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT (ECD) CENTER of AISCT consists of Grizzly Cubs and Kindergarten 1. The Grizzly Cubs classrooms are home to our 2–4 year olds. Each class has a target of 14 students with a maximum of 16. Our Kindergarten 1 welcomes 4-5 year olds. Each class has a target enrollment of 16 with a maximum of 18 students. All ECD classes have a qualified teacher as well as a learning assistant.
Our ECD Center is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. We have a holistic, authentic, child-centered approach to learning that promotes meaningful relationships, creativity, and critical thinking skills in children. This unique approach is inspired by the philosophy and practice of the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy.
6 MAIN PRINCIPLES OF THE REGGIO EMILIA APPROACH
The child is viewed as strong, powerful, curious, and capable. The child is eager to grow and should be nurtured by adults who take this drive towards growth seriously.
Children communicate and represent their ideas and intelligence in a myriad of ways. All channels are tremendously valuable forms of expression.
Teachers ask questions and work to discover the children’s curiosities, ideas, and theories. Through short and long term projects, children explore interests, problem solve, make connections, and think critically to strengthen academic foundations.
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.
Each classroom tells the story of the children’s learning through transcripts of the children’s remarks and discussions. The teachers carefully arrange the photographs and representations of the children’s thinking and learning into learning stories and exhibits. This demonstrates to students that their work is valued.
Our beautiful, organized, carefully designed classrooms provide relaxing and inspiring spaces that promote communication, relationships, creativity, and exploration. Through conscious use of space, color, light, displays of children’s work, and attention to nature and detail, the environment serves as another teacher and an invitation to enter and participate in thought-provoking encounters.
Every school day begins and ends with a community meeting (Morning Meeting & Afternoon Meeting). Students participate in activities such as project work, specials (art, music, drama, PE), exploration, storytime, rest time, and sensory play. A healthy fruit snack is offered in the morning and a hot lunch is provided by the school’s cafeteria. Teachers take their students outside as often as possible to use nature as their classroom. Play areas are set-up to promote learning and exploration. Excursions both on and off campus enrich our program at AISCT and offer real-life experiences to all of our learners.
Long and short term projects begin with teachers observing and questioning children about a topic or interest. Based on children’s responses, teachers introduce materials, questions, and opportunities that provoke children to further explore the topic. While some of these teacher provocations are anticipated, projects often move in unanticipated directions as a result of investigations. All of the topics of interest are given by the children. Within the project approach, children are given opportunities to make connections between prior and new knowledge while engaging in learning authentic tasks.
The atelier is a place of research, invention, and infinite possibilities offered through the hundred languages of children. Each child is the protagonist of their unique learning journey, deeply exploring their ideas and theories through hands-on encounters with many materials and polysensorial experiences. This studio space provides children an opportunity to construct new knowledge in the domains of art, music, and science.
Teachers use the Teaching Strategies Gold Assessment System to closely monitor students’ progress in the learning objectives. Data is collected using ongoing anecdotal notes and formal assessments throughout the year. Teachers communicate about the student progress to families through four report cards, parent teacher conferences, and ongoing conversations throughout the year.
Grizzly Cub students can choose from several additional activities (ballet, tennis, soccer, gymnastics) to participate in during the school day. Kindergarten 1 students can participate in the AISCT after-school activities program, also offering an array of activities, which runs from 15:00-16:00 daily.
SERVICE LEARNING AT AISCT
AISCT’s Service Learning program provides students the opportunities and confidence to positively impact the world through genuine engagement in collaborative, meaningful action with local partners.
AISCT has targeted specific social causes and selected partner organizations appropriate for students in ECD to Grade 5. Students also work within their grade level groups with various organizations to include South African Riding for the Disabled Association (SARDA), Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS), Two Oceans Aquarium, Miracle Kids, and Greenpop.