The Early Childhood (EC) at ISKL starts with play-based learning, prioritising a child's educational and cognitive growth. Read on to learn about the Provocations program that is introduced in ISKL's EC.
At The International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL), in the Early Childhood (EC) program (Prep Reception, Prep Junior, and Prep Senior), learning is inspired by curiosity through play and where creative skills are developed to encourage students to become life-long learners.
Parents with young children often wonder to themselves how learning through play can benefit their child. Research suggests that it’s important to highlight progressive and forward-thinking classroom-based settings to empower children to be more creative and engaged learners. Socio-emotional, physical, creative, and cognitive abilities are deeply intertwined within play as it is just as critical to secure a child's wellbeing, learning, and growth.
The play-based approach uses guided inquiry to nurture a child's curiosity whilst providing learning opportunities to develop in all areas from social-emotional to cognitive to pre-academic skills. This approach is a powerful pedagogy to build the foundational skills our youngest learners in EC need to demonstrate the readiness skills that will ensure success in their transition into ES.
It is crucial, then, to nurture our student's creative abilities to best express themselves, understand others, and navigate through the early years so that they can be confident and spirited young individuals in an ever-changing world.
This process is exemplified through the EC program, Provocations, ISKL's educational terminology, which describes a learning journey where students in Prep Junior (PJ) and Prep Reception (PR) are invited to explore, create, and build using different materials that are open-ended and hands-on to encourage the students to think and wonder and to discover all the possibilities.
While Provocations are based on developing the child by cultivating social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and creative skills, it is also guided by principles of ‘The Melawati Way,’ which incorporates ISKL’s code of behavior that encourages students to focus on ‘Taking care of yourself, Taking care of others, and Taking care of this place.’
Elementary School (ES) Assistant Principal Azra Pathan explains that Provocations are set up in the classroom to provide students with intentional experiences to help inspire them to explore, wonder, talk to each other, and share different ideas. "During the process, our youngest learners participate in an investigation, inquiry, and discovery process and are encouraged to be inventive and creative while learning to negotiate and work collaboratively," she adds.
Azra Pathan, Elementary School (ES) Assistant Principal.
Group Provocations start at the beginning of the academic year with introductory videos created by ISKL's faculty that help provoke the students' sense of wonder, with the intention to immerse them in a learning exploration.
"When our youngest learners explore the classroom, we watch them and begin to notice their interests and document them. With this information, we provide more Provocations during the second semester which are geared towards their interests," says Azra.
Whole group Provocations and in-class engagements culminate with the young students voting on a particular interest that sparks each classroom’s creative spirits. Azra adds:
"Allowing students to vote themselves promotes self-advocacy, develops effective communication, and heightens critical reasoning skills."
Azra continues, "After completing their first semester, we identify three common child-led interests, which our EC faculty have observed throughout the school year - and this year this was buildings, animals, and imaginative identity play."
As the academic year came to a close in April, the students' efforts were recognized in a “Learning Celebration”, an exhibition that features each class's interest projects, self-portraits created by each student, and two self-selected individual pieces of artwork made during the school year.
'Learning Celebration' exhibition by ISKL's EC students.
"It is a beautiful opportunity to make visible all the student's wonderings, collaboration, and creativity through various art forms and media," Azra commends. "Each of the PR and PJ students reflected on what it was about their chosen topic that ignited their passion most. As a class, they then collaborated their ideas to deep dive into their particular interest topic," she continues.
An ISKL's EC student painting.
Azra explains that by inviting special guests via Zoom or ISKL specialists into their classes, the students experienced individual and collaborative work where they create imaginative handmade artwork, self-portraits, and unique artistic creations. Each class engages by working with various materials, such as loose parts, recycled materials, clays, and materials from the natural world.
Based on the students’ interests, here is what some of the classes created as part of their Provocations projects:
In a typical year, parents would be invited to attend the exhibition in person; however, due to the present circumstances of the pandemic, the Learning Celebration's best moments were captured in a video shared with the parents. "It all culminates into this fantastic Learning Celebration showcase being presented and exhibited for the student's families," Azra comments.
"I am always fascinated by how the student's thinking comes together in the work they produce in the exhibition. There's a whole lot of exploration which is inspired when children direct their learning. Even three to four-year-olds are encouraged to follow their interests and passions to produce high-quality demonstrations of their knowledge,” Azra says.
An ISKL EC student showing off their creativity with ribbons.
She expresses how ISKL's faculty are there to guide the students throughout the entire process - from ideation to creation, and exhibition. "Our faculty are here to support our student's learning process through these Provocations and we want our students to know and understand that not only can they make a difference and positively impact the world but also HOW to take action in order to do so”.
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