Singapore’s ongoing safety measurements mean that schools have to be adaptable in how they teach students. It’s why Australian International School (AIS) has adopted a collaborative approach in encouraging learning in its international preschool students. Here, we meet the Head of Early Years (EY), EROMIE DASSANAYAKE; she shares how the AIS Early Years programme works for students, teachers and families alike.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m from Sri Lanka; I grew up on a tea estate with my mum, dad and two siblings. My professional journey started there and continued across countries that enriched my teaching practice and highlighted the importance of being a global citizen.
I was passionate about teaching from a young age; I’ve completed an associates degree in Montessori (AMI), a Degree in Childhood Studies Guidance and Counselling from Northumbria University, and also a Masters in Early Childhood Education and Teaching from the University of Monash. I’ve been with AIS for seven and a half years.
How has COVID-19 impacted life for students and teachers at AIS? What challenges have you overcome at your international preschool?
It’s impacted how we build and sustain relationships, and community engagement. We’re still a culturally diverse community, we still go to playgrounds and we definitely still connect with each other regularly. We’ve just become creative about how we do it!
Collaboration is very much still happening between teachers, families, other stakeholders of the school and neighbouring schools. Our educators have embraced technologies and strategies to offer our students the international experience; this also creates the feeling of connectedness even in these times. It’s a great testimony to how forward-thinking and flexible we’ve all become.
How do you bring the school’s Early Learning Village philosophy to life?
The EY’s philosophy is love, care and respect. We uphold this when we build trusting relationships with our learners, educators, parents and community.
We recognise children as unique individuals by celebrating their voices and interests. Concurrently, we make learning visible and meaningful through authentic documentation and collaboration with our community.
The child is the heart of the learning process in our early years programme. Teachers create an interactive and inspiring environment that encourages the child to take risks and explore, while also being in control of their own learning.
How do you prepare Early Years students for the ‘Big School’?
During the transition period, the EY children are involved in making decisions. The P3 and P4 children conduct a mini Unit of Inquiry around their questions and wonderings.
They also have three pre-planned visits to the new classrooms and time allocated to meet the teachers. The teachers for each year level will have handover meetings to get to know the children better. They can then prepare the classroom and the teaching resources to meet the needs of the children.
The physical environment itself supports the transitions with the pod layout, which children are familiar with. There may be a new teacher in the classroom, but many friends and the surroundings stay the same!
What does it mean to be part of an international school?
It means access to a diverse student population, each with their unique background and culture. The people we interact with daily are both an inspiration and a source for cultural immersion. How wonderful that we can continue to grow in international mindedness even in a time when travel is limited and human contact is restricted!
Being a part of the AIS community also means that children are treated as unique, wondrous individuals who contribute unique thinking, strategies and experiences.
The teachers have a mindset of individualised practice and deliver curriculum that never looks the same from one class to another, year to year.
What can EY parents look forward to in the near future from the Early Years programme?
We’re finding new and exciting ways to compensate for what the global situation is currently taking away from the children: social interactions, experiencing cultural diversity, collaboration, community engagement, global thinking and more.
Our teachers are also currently being trained in the art of self-regulation. This helps children meet and conquer their challenges. Beyond this point, we’re looking forward to resuming our wonderful community engagements, events and celebrations.
Get to know the Early Years programme at AIS international preschool:
To speak with their EY team about the curriculum or schedule a visit to the Early Years Village, reach out to the school at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written in collaboration with:
Australian International School Singapore
1 Lorong Chuan
6883 8127 | ais.edu.sg
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