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ARIS Early Years Parent Orientation

Aug 16, 2019

Welcome back to the new 2019-20 Academic Year! This morning ARIS held the Early Years Orientation for parents with wards in Playgroup, Nursery, and Reception to give them an overview of our Early Years Foundation program and what lies in the year ahead.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said that “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood, and don’t assign them to tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” According to our Director, Dr. Fatma, this line perfectly describes the environment among the teacher community within ARIS. Altogether, we are a diverse community of learners aiming to inspire, empower and transform for a better world, and uphold the core values of collaboration, finding greatness in everyone and more.

The PYP, as well as the ARIS Model, puts the student at the center of the learning model. The pillars of new “Enhanced PYP” Model are the learner, learning and teaching and the learning community, with emphasis put on the learners’ voice, choice and agency. The Early Years program, as detailed by our Early Years coordinator, Madam Evon, covers the PYP Units of Inquiry a little differently than the rest of the classes.

Out of the six transdisciplinary units of inquiry, Playgroup (2-3 y.o) covers only four - “Who We Are”; “How We Express Ourselves”; “How We Organize Ourselves” and “Sharing the Planet” where they cover topics of “Family”, “Feelings”, “School” and “Animals”. The nursery also covers the same four units, but the topics of inquiry differ, for example, “We are Unique”, “Play”, “Community Helpers” and “Animal Kingdom.” Reception also covers four units but they are slightly different - “Who We Are”; “Where We Are in Place and Time”; “How We Express Ourselves” and “How the World Works” with topics such as “Friends”, “Our Country”, “Stories” and “Materials”. The only thing different would be that each of the four units is covered over an 8 weeks inquiry process instead of the stipulated 6 weeks. Year 1 goes on to cover all of the six transdisciplinary units prescribing 6-week inquiry cycles per unit.

Madam Evon explained to the parents that the Early Years follows the “John Dewey Inquiry Cycle” which is - Ask - Investigate - Create - Discuss - Reflect and then back to Ask. The way of learning in the Early Years is also more rooted in the child’s surroundings, for example, Play-based learning, Montessori Approach, Reggio-Emilia Approach, and all of these are put in place to promote a strong literacy and numeracy foundation. Altogether, the Early Years Curriculum Framework looks at how students learn and who they are as learners.

Learning at ARIS is also facilitated by our various avenues of ICT Integration; to name a few - SeeSaw, Mathseeds, Google for Education, Pamoja, Accessit and more. These software and apps are applied across the whole school. Mental Health and Wellbeing is also a big topic now within ARIS, across the student and teacher community. We want students to want to learn, and we want to make sure that they prioritize their mental health and wellbeing in doing so. Dr. Funke, our Head of Counseling and Support, has also designed the ARIS Wellbeing Model that has been presented at the British Council International Conference and has been approved for presentation in various international forums. Moreover, gearing to the fact that children may not always be able to express themselves verbally as well as adults, ARIS also has an Art Therapist in the Counseling and Support Department arsenal, whereby students can also express themselves and focus on their wellbeing through and with art!

A few monumental developments ahead this year, Dr. Fatma mentions, are our upcoming CIS (Council of International Schools) Accreditation as well as our IBCP Authorization, making us the first school in Africa to offer all four IB Programmes. Here’s to a great year ahead!