The early years, or early childhood has multiple definitions. At ISUtrecht we define our early years as the period to, and including, seven years old. This means that our early years department consists of kindergarten and grade 1. Grade 1 is seen as a transitional year from the more play-based learning, so important for early development, to more academic learning, typical in primary school.
Early childhood education is designed to improve later school performance. Children’s learning is dynamic, complex and holistic. Physical, social, emotional, personal, spiritual, creative, cognitive and linguistic aspects of learning are all intricately interwoven and interrelated. Therefore, the early years is more than a preparatory stage assisting the child’s transition to formal schooling. It places emphasis on developing the whole child – attending to his or her social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs – to establish a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing. Positive culture starts here.
Sense of belonging
In early childhood settings, children develop a sense of belonging when they feel accepted, develop attachments and trust those that care for them. In order to fully support this, ISUtrecht has chosen to have a kindergarten period that normally lasts at least two years; this means in kindergarten we have students aged four, five and six-years old. This way the student can develop a relationship with their classroom teacher and other students. When children feel safe, secure and supported they grow in confidence to explore and learn.
The ISUtrecht curriculum reflects our holistic beliefs regarding child development. In kindergarten and grade 1, you can expect that we challenge each individual in the areas in which they are developing, at the pace they need to develop best. Children in the early years learn both academic and social-based lessons. They prepare for primary school by learning number concepts, how to organise an experiment, and how to manipulate writing instruments. They also learn sharing, cooperation, taking turns, and operating within a structured environment. This means that if a child is academically apt, but struggles socially, they can be challenged and supported appropriately.