Teaching & Learning - Early Years
In the Early Years, we promote happy, positive relationships, so a child can communicate learning and make connections, growing in independence and self-confidence.
We engage each child’s sense of wonder and natural curiosity through play and differentiated learning opportunities. We believe that our carefully planned and resourced inquiry-learning environments inspire thinking, collaboration and applying conceptual understanding.
Early Years teachers at ISL understand the importance of play in a child’s development and design an appropriate curriculum, working with young children to encourage, motivate and develop positive attitudes. EYs teachers are aware of when it is appropriate to intervene and interact sensitively to extend the children’s learning and challenge their problem-solving and thinking skills, and when to allow the children to come to satisfactory conclusions on their own.
Teachers support/’scaffold’ children’s learning when they are struggling with an activity or when they will not succeed without practitioner intervention. Once the children have succeeded with the activity the teacher can then withdraw their support. Teachers plan for the different play/active learning activities for children and consider what role practitioners will play in these activities, as well as what questioning skills and interactions will take place.
The learning environment indoors and outdoors is organised to provide a wide range of differentiated play experiences daily. Teachers plan time for observing, monitoring, documenting and assessing children along with evaluating the structured play activities.
At ISL, we recognise and respect the diversity of our learners in terms of background, culture, language, gender, interests, readiness to learn, modes and rates of learning, confidence and independence as learners.
We believe that:
- The goal of learning is to gain lasting understanding
- Learning with understanding is enhanced by self-assessment, reflection and thinking about the way we think
- Learning with understanding is facilitated when students construct meaning around the major concepts and principles of a discipline, make connections among the disciplines and apply trans-disciplinary skills
- Learners benefit from continuous assessment that provides clear, thorough and individual feedback
- Learners learn most effectively when they take an active role through inquiry, analysis, problem solving and discovery
- Learners learn best when they are appropriately challenged, interested in the material, find it relevant and are confident that success is within their grasp
- Learners learn in many different ways, have diverse abilities which are most effectively addressed when teachers differentiate instructional opportunities
We recognise that students differ as learners in terms of background, culture, language, gender, interests, readiness to learn, modes of learning, speed of learning, support systems for learning, self-awareness as a learner, confidence as a learner and independence as a learner.
These differences profoundly impact how students learn and the support they will need at various points in the learning process. Teachers create flexible, rich learning environments and construct learning experiences based on what they know about each of their learners in order for each student to continue to develop further.
Play is learning in its purest form.
Throughout the Early Years there are opportunities for children to learn through:
- exploration of the physical and natural world
- using their senses to understand and learn about their environment/world
- activities that allow them to explore their emotions and feelings
- experiences that allow children to discover things for themselves.
Intentional play gives opportunities to choose and extend student learning according to their interests and knowledge. Planning for play/inquiry, involves consideration of the curriculum, the environment and student’s choice and agency.
Play-Based Learning in the Early Years
Lower School Curriculum
The curriculum at ISL is based on standards and benchmarks that the school has developed in all the major disciplines.
These standards and benchmarks define what we believe to be the most important understandings, knowledge and skills our students should attain at particular stages. In order to best meet the needs of our international student population, the curricula of several national systems have been researched and have become the basis for the creation of ISL's standards and benchmarks. The framework for student learning and development of units of study is informed by these standards and benchmarks, which articulate across all sectors of the school from Early Years 3 through to Grade 12.
Assessment is used as a powerful educational tool for improving student learning and the quality of our instructional programmes. Assessment helps students:
- Understand the level, depth and breadth of learning, and their ability to interpret and apply knowledge
- Identify their strengths, areas that need strengthening and their learning needs
- Identify the need to improve specific skills
- Set future goals for themselves
In keeping with the principle of differentiating the instruction to meet the needs of all learners, teachers provide a variety of different kinds of assessment tasks. In providing this variety, teachers ensure a cross-section of experiences that caters for the different learning styles and strengths of students. Assessment tasks might differ in format (visual, oral, written, dramatic); level of complexity (multi-step tasks or single, simple tasks); presentation requirements (spoken, written, constructed, role-play) and groupings (group, individual or paired tasks).
These skills are developed throughout the Lower School and woven into all areas of the curriculum, providing students with opportunities to apply them, regardless of the subject. All teachers and staff members, regardless of grade level, subject areas or role in the Lower School are responsible for the development of these skills.
- Social – accepting responsibility, respecting others, cooperating, resolving conflict, group decision making, adopting a variety of group roles
- Inquiry/ Critical Thinking – questioning, exploring concepts, creatively approaching complex problems, acquiring knowledge, researching, applying, analysing, synthesising, evaluating, reflecting and taking action
- Self-Management- demonstrating gross motor, fine motor, spatial awareness, organization, time management, safety, healthy lifestyle, making informed choices
Units of Learning
All units of learning are integrated where possible and are based on the ISL student profile and transferable skills. Our student profile is the embodiment of who are learners a striving to become as they move through the school. The transferable skills are important skills that students need to develop in order to become effective life-long learners. These skills are developed throughout the Lower School and woven into all areas of the curriculum, providing students with opportunities to apply them, regardless of the subject.
In the Lower School, our units of learning aim to develop breadth depth and insight into 7 key concepts, developed from the Mission Statement, that lead to lasting understanding and the application of knowledge and skills.
The seven key concepts in Lower School are:
These units require students to ask questions, investigate, communicate and present their findings, work collaboratively, solve problems, make decisions, apply thinking skills at a variety of levels, respond creatively, use technology, demonstrate flexibility, adaptability, initiative, self-direction and responsibility.
Whilst many of our units begin with science or social studies concepts, the knowledge, skills and understandings that many other learning areas bring to these units naturally integrate into the learning. These areas can also include Literacy, Mathematics, Art, Music, PE, Health and Scientific inquiry.
Our goal is to enable students to become skilled and confident oral, written and visual communicators and imaginative, productive and empathetic members of a changing, information-rich global society.
At ISL Students will:
- Understand and use the power of language and literature to inspire, inform, persuade, evoke and entertain, for the benefit of themselves and others
- Develop the capacity to examine ideas and arguments critically and to respond to them in a clear and increasingly sophisticated manner
- Use language as one of the essential tools for creative expression
- Recognise and work with a wide variety of texts and media; understanding function, content and purpose
- Develop awareness of different cultural contexts and experiences, and of the capacity of language to reflect and explore these
- Develop the proficiency in English necessary to achieve success across the curriculum
In the Lower School, students are provided with the opportunity to build skills, understanding and knowledge of reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing and media literacy as well as opportunities to create, construct and communicate meaning in a variety of different forms. Students build understanding through application of the skills they learn through all areas of the curriculum.
It is the goal of the International School of Luxembourg to equip each student with the skills, knowledge, and understanding of Mathematics and to see the importance of Mathematics in the real world. We seek to teach the fundamental concepts of Mathematics as well as the critical thinking skills necessary to use that knowledge wisely. AT ISL, we believe that:
- Mathematics is accessible to all students
- Students learn in a variety of ways necessitating experience with a range of instructional strategies
- Students learn more effectively when they communicate and explain their mathematical thinking and understanding verbally, in writing, through diagrams and practical demonstrations
- The development of Mathematical ability involves the learning of procedural skills, reasoning, understanding and problem solving, with an emphasis on real world situations
- Students learn through questioning, exploration and investigation of mathematical concepts using a range of strategies
Our Early Years 3 to Grade 12 programme recognises the following as key instructional practices in teaching Mathematics:
- Teachers challenge students to continually develop and demonstrate their understanding
- Teachers develop student understanding when they move from the concrete to the abstract using a wide range of manipulative and visual materials
- Teachers enhance knowledge by providing regular practice of key concepts and skills, including mental mathematical skills
- Teachers provide a consistent mathematical vocabulary that recognises the universal nature of mathematics. Teachers give students opportunities in mathematics to develop and use language widely in classroom activities
- Teachers integrate appropriate use of technology
- Teachers provide a wide variety of assessment experiences to measure and improve student understanding
At ISL, students communicate thought and experience through the acquisition of languages in a multilingual, multicultural community. Students learn languages in a safe and caring environment supported by a relevant and challenging learning programme. Acquiring other languages develops transferable skills that enable students to become life-long learners.
The key objectives of the ISL Language Acquisition Programme are:
- use target languages as a tool for communicating in a variety of authentic settings
- develop insight into languages, leading to a greater understanding of self and other cultures
- actively participate in a learning environment that is challenging, intellectually relevant and emotionally safe
- participate in the local and global community
The Lower School French programme (Early Years 4 – Grade 5) provides opportunities for children to develop basic communication skills as they learn to appreciate other languages and cultures. We respect the developmental aspects of the child by concentrating on oral and aural competency in the early years and introducing reading and writing as first-language literacy becomes established. We believe that a developmentally sound approach to language learning will ensure that our students attain competence and confidence in their ability to communicate in French.
Students participate in a variety of activities that support different learning styles and rates. These might include role-playing, “Total Physical Response”, rhymes, songs, games, reading stories or factual texts, filming, recording, dictations, puzzles, projects, videos, computer-based learning or interactive white board lessons. Many of these same techniques are also used to assess student progress in the skill areas of speaking and listening, reading, writing, research skills and cultural development.
French instruction begins in Early Years 4 beginning in an exposure model with classes grouped by ability beginning in Grade 1. Although ours is a foreign language programme, we do our best to accommodate native speakers.
At ISL we believe the Arts positively stimulate, inform and empower human development. Engagement in the Arts promotes creativity, self-expression, self-discipline, problem-solving, social interaction and an understanding of the human condition. We aim to inspire all students to develop their artistic literacies in positive learning environments through exploration, application, analysis and critical reflection. We encourage a lifelong appreciation for the relevance of the Arts in our lives.
Art is an integral part of the Lower School curriculum. Within our programme Lower School students are encouraged to experiment with a variety of media, techniques and processes in order to learn skills for self-realisation through visual expression. The art program leads increasingly to an interdisciplinary study where inquiry in art is woven, when applicable, into the class Units of Learning. Our art programme aims to develop visual awareness and creative expression providing the students with an opportunity to talk and write about art in the manner of artists, art critics and art historians.
Creativity and skills development are at the heart of our programme. Students learn to coordinate their hands and minds in explorations of the visual world as well as to evaluate the merits of their efforts. They learn to make choices that enhance communication of their ideas. Their natural inquisitiveness is promoted, also the value of perseverance. Students are further encouraged to express their sense of joy and their continued desire to learn as they make and share their works of art with others. Students from grade one to grade five attend art classes taught by specialist teachers. Art is integrated into the Early Years Program by the classroom teachers.
From as early as Early Years 3, Lower School Students participate in regular music classes. All students are encouraged to sing, dance, improvise and perform through a sequential music curriculum. Students participate in concerts, musicals and other performances at least twice during the school year. Students begin to learn the recorder in Grade 2, learning to read music in preparation for the Beginner Band Programme which the students can opt to take part in from Grade 4. Creative intelligence is developed through projects and compositions.
Physical Education (PE) is an integral part of a student’s education. It makes a great contribution to the health, growth and physical development of the student by teaching skills and concepts for everyday living. Through specific activities, individual, team and life sports PE assists students in developing physical qualities, motor skills and health related fitness.
In Preschool through to Grade 2, students have the opportunity to explore basic body actions to help them understand their body’s movements. They are introduced to social games to extend their vocabulary and practice control and coordination of their body.
In Grades 3-5, students have the opportunity to participate in a mix of activities that develop gross motor skills in; striking and fielding, net games, invasion games and life skills. The Physical Education programme aims to encourage students to become lifelong physically educated learners. Swimming lesson within the PE classes are provided for students in Grades 3-5.