There are more options to a child’s education than ever before – especially in early childhood. Increasingly educational philosophies tend towards a holistic approach which gives equal weight to artistic, physical and emotional endeavours as well as the traditional three Rs of reading, writing and arithmetic. This trend is borne of a greater understanding of a child’s needs and a response to an ever changing world where self-reliance and emotional intelligence are key skills.
One of the more popular educational movements is Reggio Emilia. Originally from the Italian region which bears its namesake, this teaching philosophy commenced after the Second World War as a way to start afresh. Since then it has evolved and spread globally. Most recently, here in Singapore, the Australian International School invested in a new early years campus which extends the principles beyond the curriculum to the built environment.
Fundamentally, Reggio Emilia espouses a multidisciplinary learning environment where children explore their own ‘languages’ through movement, touching, observing and listening to develop their educational direction and personality. The teacher-student hierarchy is minimised and parents are encouraged to be heavily involved in the school environment and continue the teachings at home.
Speaking with the Director of Early Childhood at the Australian International School, it was clear this philosophy was integral to the new facility.
“We undertook a great deal of consultation from early childhood professionals to architects and of course, parents and teachers. Subsequently, we have a facility where the inside and outside are relatively indistinguishable. It is like a small community where the students lead the interactions with each other, the staff and the environment learning by doing and interacting,” explained an AIS spokesperson.
For those living in a multicultural and diverse society such as Singapore, the virtues of providing young children with the facilities to navigate relationships and problem solve are perhaps critical.
“At ANZA we support all of our partners who invest into education as we feel it is the key to the success of the broader Australian and New Zealand community in Singapore. Who knows, perhaps the future Prime Ministers our two great countries may be in the ANZA community and their formative experiences abroad could make them more emphatic and globally-oriented,” theorised ANZA General Manager, Kerry Low.