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"The play-based learning approach my daughter experiences at Collegiate International School has been a wonderful way for her to develop core learning skills while being able to follow her own curiosity in an engaging and creative learning environment"

- Ibrahim Ghunaim (Parent at CIS) 


Successfully aligned to the philosophy of the IB Primary Years Programme and the New York State Standards, the Early Years Prgramme at Collegiate International School is inter-disciplinary with a focus on play-based learning through hands-on inquiry experiences that allow students to be active participants in their learning. Pre-Kindergarten to Kindergarten 2 students openly explore into engaging learning environments that promote students to follow their personal ideas and interests to understand the world around them. Through this, students make connections across subjects, skills and concepts through subjects which include Literacy, Math, Science, Humanities, Arabic, the Arts, Physical Education and Personal Social and Emotional Education. Students inquire into challenging concepts connected to sustainability, community and cultures which are integrated into a balanced curriculum that promotes innovation and enterprise to enable students to use their learning to make a difference in the communities they are a part of. This is facilitated by expert teachers who encourage students to make connections between core learning skills and real-world concepts by guiding students through authentic learning experiences in environments that engage students though play. 


Our Early Years teachers a trained, qualified and experienced specialist teachers with a background in Early Childhood education. They use modern classroom and teaching practices from English speaking counties. They are supported by Teaching Assistants who support students in exploring their ideas, imagination and learning in creative ways. This is all done in a safe environment that ensures all students have their needs met throughout the learning day.  

Early Years students develop research, thinking, social, communication, and self-management skills to find answers to their questions while building curiosity and responsibility in learning. This is supported with a strong belief in play-based learning. Students learn core subject skills while developing critical thinking skills, problem-solving strategies and collaborative attitudes.  


How do our Students Learn in the Early Years? 

The achievement and success of Early Years students at CIS are supported by four main approaches to learning and teaching: 


  • Collaborative Learning: Collaborative learning in early years at CIS is a dynamic approach where children actively engage with their peers and educators to explore concepts, solve problems, and construct knowledge together. It fosters teamwork, communication, and critical thinking skills as children share ideas, perspectives, and experiences. They participate in group projects, discussions, and interactive activities that promote cooperation, empathy, and respect for diverse opinions. Collaborative learning environments often include group workstations, interactive play areas, and cooperative learning strategies that encourage peer-to-peer interaction, fostering a sense of belonging and a positive learning community. Through collaboration, children develop social-emotional skills, build confidence, and learn from one another, enhancing their overall cognitive, emotional, and social development. 


  • Play-Based Learning: CIS Students are encouraged to follow their own curiosities to engage in the dynamic learning environments organized by our Early Years teachers. Play-based learning approaches often combine different types of play to create a rich and engaging learning environment that caters to children's diverse interests and developmental needs. Play-based learning can include: 


  • Imaginative/Role Play: Children engage in pretend play, taking on different roles and acting out scenarios. This type of play encourages creativity, problem-solving, language development, and social skills as children interact with others. 

  • Constructive/Building Play: This involves using blocks, Legos, or other building materials to create structures and designs. Constructive play develops spatial reasoning, fine motor skills, problem-solving, and an understanding of basic principles of engineering and architecture. 

  • Sensory Play: This type of play involves exploring materials that stimulate the senses, such as sand, water, playdough, or sensory bins. Sensory play promotes sensory integration, fine motor skills, language development, and scientific exploration. 

  • Outdoor/Nature Play: Outdoor play allows children to explore and interact with the natural environment. It includes activities like climbing, running, exploring nature, gardening, and playing in open spaces. Outdoor play enhances physical development, gross motor skills, problem-solving, and an appreciation for nature. 

  • Creative/Artistic Play: This involves activities like drawing, painting, sculpting, and crafting. Creative play allows children to express themselves, develop fine motor skills, enhance imagination, and explore colors, shapes, and textures. 

  • Social Play: Social play includes cooperative games, group activities, and interactions with peers. Through social play, children learn to share, take turns, negotiate, communicate, and develop important social skills like empathy, teamwork, and conflict resolution. 

  • Games and Rule-Based Play: This type of play involves playing games with rules, such as board games or organized sports. Rule-based play promotes cognitive skills like following instructions, strategizing, problem-solving, and understanding concepts like fairness, competition, and cooperation. 

  • Inquiry-Based Play: Inquiry-based play encourages children to ask questions, explore, investigate, and discover answers independently. It fosters curiosity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills while nurturing a love for learning and a sense of discovery. 


  • Focused and Personalized Learning: At CIS, personalized learning involves tailoring educational experiences to meet each child's unique needs, interests, and developmental stage. It includes individualized instruction, flexible learning environments, and differentiated activities that support various learning styles. Personalized learning in early years may involve hands-on exploration, play-based activities, and small group instruction to promote active engagement, foster curiosity, and support each child's holistic development. Teachers closely observe and assess each child's progress to adapt instruction and provide targeted support, ensuring optimal learning outcomes. 


  • Holistic Learning: At CIS, holistic learning in the early years focuses on nurturing all aspects of a child's development—physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and creative. It involves providing a well-rounded educational experience that integrates various domains of learning. Holistic learning in early years may include activities that promote physical development and coordination, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, social interactions and cooperation, emotional intelligence and self-regulation, and creative expression through arts and imaginative play. It recognizes the interconnectedness of these domains and aims to foster the overall growth and well-being of the child. 


How do We Assess Student Progress and Achievement in the Early Years? 

Assessing students in the early years involves using a variety of methods to gather information about their learning and development. All assessments are focused on each individual students developmental goals and used to support student progress, identify next steps in learning and quantify student achievement. These assessment strategies may include: 


  • Observations: Teachers carefully observe students during their activities, interactions, and play to gain insights into their abilities, interests, and progress. Observations can be informal or structured, focusing on specific skills or behaviors. 

  • Portfolios: Portfolios are collections of students' work samples, including artwork, written pieces, projects, and photographs. Portfolios provide a comprehensive view of a child's progress and growth over time, showcasing their learning journey. 

  • Checklists and Rubrics: Checklists and rubrics help teachers assess specific skills or behaviors based on predefined criteria. They provide a structured way to document and track individual progress in areas such as communication, problem-solving, fine motor skills, or social-emotional development. 

  • Formative Assessments: Formative assessments are ongoing, informal assessments that occur during daily classroom activities. They provide feedback on students' understanding, allowing teachers to adapt instruction and support individual needs. 

  • Self-assessment and Reflection: Encouraging young learners to reflect on their own learning and set goals supports metacognition. Tools like learning journals or reflection sheets can help students self-assess their progress, identify strengths and areas for improvement, and develop a sense of ownership over their learning. 

  • Collaborative Projects: Group projects and collaborative activities provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and ability to work cooperatively. Assessing their participation, contribution, and ability to collaborate effectively encourages teamwork and communication skills. 

  • Performance-Based Assessments: Performance-based assessments involve students showcasing their understanding through creative presentations, demonstrations, or performances. For example, they might create a play, give a speech, or conduct an experiment, allowing for a more authentic and holistic assessment. 

  • Summative Assessments: Summative assessments occur at the end of a learning unit or period to evaluate students' overall understanding and mastery of concepts. They may include quizzes, tests, or projects that assess specific learning objectives. 


It is through effective assessment strategies that students in the Early Years at CIS continue to show outstanding progress and attainment in all core subject areas of learning.  


"The Early Years Program at Collegiate International School goes beyond students developing their understanding of phonics and numbers by fostering a love for learning in students through engaging environments and learning experiences that allow them to inquire into questions they are excited about, while as the teacher, I act as a guide for students to find answers and make real connections in their learning"

- Ms. Linda (Kindergarten 2 Teacher) 

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