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EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTRE

Our Early Childhood Centre (ECC) is made up of our Nursury, preschool and kindergarten classes. Our ECC firmly believes in the IB-Primary Years Programme (PYP) curriculum framework, which is created with current research and best practices in early childhood education in mind. In the PYP, children learn through questions, ideas, and observations (called inquiry); in the ECC, play and authentic exploration are the main vehicles that drive this learning and development. Our ECC programme first seeks to understand the physical, social, emotional, cognitive and spiritual needs of each child. We listen intently to the needs, interests and experiences of our learners and act to create environments for each child to become the best versions of themselves while embodying the IB Learner Profile. We value fun and curiosity -- we know that in many cases, the ECC is the first educational experience for our young learners and we know that students “who feel good, also do good.”

Overview

At UWCT, we believe that children are capable and curious learners who — when given the opportunity — will act with agency to naturally question how the world works around them and test their theories through playful inquiry and research. Following the principles of the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), we construct learning opportunities and provocations that are hands-on, authentic and developmentally appropriate.

Through play, children actively construct meaning from their interactions with their physical and social worlds. It is our belief that building opportunities for agency and self-efficacy are fundamental to learning; at UWCT children of all ages are given voice, choice and ownership over their learning. You will see students of all ages negotiating, problem-solving, being creative and contributing to our UWCT family in their own passionate ways. Even our youngest students know they have agency over their learning and have been known to take meaningful action around campus.

In the past we have seen a variety of forms of action including students advocating for and physically setting up tire swings on various playgrounds for all to enjoy, re-organizing our recycling center, creating kindness campaigns, teaching each other phrases in different languages to making others feel welcome to seeking ways to take care of the bugs and insects on our outdoor campus.

Central features of our Early Childhood Center are:

Play:

As an IB school, UWCT values play as the primary driver for inquiry in the early years. Through a combination of structured and unstructured play opportunities, we believe that children build life-long skills (these are called ‘Approaches to Learning’ in the PYP) and attitudes for successful lives.

At UWCT, we know that learning to use a paint brush on tree bark, filling containers with sand and lifting heavy rocks is a developmental precursor to writing with a pencil, understanding capacity or realizing the scientific principles of how gravity works. 

Relationships:

Children’s first experience of a sense of belonging is at home with family, the foundations of which expand significantly when they enter school. Our priority is to foster positive relationships between home, family and school to create confident and self-assured children.

At UWCT, we are fortunate to have amazing educators in the ECC and also access to a variety of educational leaders across the school who build relationships with each child. This could take the form of our Head of Mindfulness teaching the Nursery children to regulate their emotions through breathing techniques to our Head of Outdoor Education leading Preschool students to build a dam in the National Park beside our school or our school gardeners supporting Kindergarten about plants around our campus.

Learning Spaces:

The creation of safe, stimulating and inviting learning spaces that promote exploration, wonder, creativity, risk-taking and learning through play is central to effective early years learning. Teachers develop deliberate provocations using time and space to push their students’ thinking. Students are actively encouraged to make these spaces relevant to their questions and wonderings. This merger between inquiry and play is the essence of our ECC programme.

At UWCT, Outdoor Education is one of our five pillars. Learning outside, in addition to inside, allows our learners to develop an appreciation for the natural world in the hopes that they will personally want to care for it. We are fortunate to have a large grassy campus to explore, a National Park in close proximity and local experts at our disposal.

Symbolic exploration and expression:

Effective language and mathematics learning and teaching is based on students’ developing ability to listen to and speak with others, and to understand and use symbols. The importance of expanding these skills by transferring learning and experiences to other contexts allows students to explore new connections and consolidate their understandings. We create language and mathematics rich environments through rhymes, poems, stories, games, play, conversations, mark-making, drawing, problem-solving, reasoning, counting, patterning, and sequencing in order to build a strong foundation for future learning. 

At UWCT, our students are musicians, artists, story-tellers, poets, activists, actors, scientists and mathematicians. Instead of our students learning about a subject like ‘transportation’ you will see them exploring the concepts of movement through role-play as well as authentic — and timely — learning engagements. During an inquiry like this, you will see students of all ages and abilities contributing to deepening the knowledge and understanding of their classmates through personal story-telling, map exploration, flag curiosity, writing passports and tickets and financial literacy.

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