At the ISUtrecht, early years encompasses kindergarten and grade 1 (students from 4 to 7 years old); a periode of huge emotional, social, physical and cognitive development.
Students can start kindergarten at the age of four which means, depending on the student’s birthday, they will be in kindergarten for two to two and half years. Students transition from kindergarten to grade 1 when they are 6 years old.
In the early years, students are beginning to build their awareness of numbers and letters. In kindergarten, students explore letters, the form and sounds, and numbers through different play provocations. In grade one, students take the phoneme, grapheme and numeric awareness that was fostered in kindergarten and are introduced to guided reading and more in-depth math and language units of inquiry.
In the early years we focus comprehensively on the developmental needs of each student, creating a conducive environment that not only promotes our students’ academic growth, but also their emotional, social and physical development, establishing a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing.
Play based learning
We believe that play based learning is the best way to teach and support the whole child physically, socially, emotionally, personally, spiritually, creatively, cognitively and linguistically. Through play the children are in charge of their own learning, which helps them develop autonomy, self-confidence and independence.
While children are engrossed in play, they use their research skills to organise the information gathered by sorting it, making their own connections with the topic discussed in class and their prior knowledge, and formulating their own questions. Furthermore, when playing, children are encountering problems they need to solve on their own, which develops their self-management skills and perseverance. They are trying things out, making mistakes and coming to a conclusion of what went wrong, so they can fix it, which develops their thinking and creative skills.
Playing is the first level of collaboration and how children learn all basic social skills. While playing with others, children are making decisions, listening to other’s perspectives and voicing their own opinion practicing their communication skills.
All the kindergarten and grade 1 classrooms are along the same corridor. Each classroom has its own outside door, providing access to the primary playground for outside learning or the school gardens in which our students grow their own flowers, fruit and vegetables.
At the end of the corridor housing the kindergarten and grade 1 classrooms, you can find a fenced off early years playground. This space has been specifically designed for our youngest student and includes a variety of terrains for them to explore. There is a wooden climbing frame in the centre of a large sandpit which the children love to think of as a ‘castle’. There are ample buckets and shovels used to dig and build things in the sand, as well as excavating mud to play in the mud kitchens. Tunes can be heard coming from the wood-chip area which hosts the ‘music wall’, while other children are wizzing along the tarmac on the various bikes and scooters that are available to them.