At the pre-primary and primary levels, the curriculum is an amalgam of best practices from Montessori and Reggio Emilia philosophies supporting content based on the UK National Curriculum. This is a curriculum that the founders have implemented with astounding success at Jigyasa The School since 2013.
At the Shishya Jigyasa Academy, we understand that little children’s education is not so much about teaching, as it is about providing limitless opportunities to learn. The curriculum has been carefully designed over many years of experience with little children, and has won numerous accolades. It is based on the UK Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework, and covers the following seven areas of development:
- Physical development
- Personal, social and emotional development
- Communication and Language development
- Development of the mathematical mind and reasoning skills
- Knowledge and Understanding of the World
- Development of Creative Thinking
These seven areas of learning are richly supported by a few uniquely designed programmes:
- Multi-Sensory Explorers: Children learn through their senses and therefore refining their senses through scientifically planned sensory experiences promotes learning.
- Eager Listeners: Development of keen listening skills through a variety of activities sensitize children to very fine differences in sounds which enhances language development and musicality. We have a strong Phonics programme which gives children a sound foundation for early development of reading skills.
- Free Flow: Children are all born with natural instincts and the best learning happens when they are allowed to follow these instincts. Learning thus acquired gets embedded for life. Free Flow gives them the opportunity to choose activities which satisfy their natural inclinations.
- Eurhythmics: A form of education which uses music and movement not only for development of balance and coordination but to give a deeper understanding of concepts.
- World Travellers: Developing an understanding of the world and its people…learning to enjoy similarities and accept differences…thereby becoming global citizens.
- Little Entrepreneurs: The most enjoyable experiences which develop economic awareness through role play!
- Exploration and Discovery: The wondrous enchantment that children experience as they discover truths about their world…extending their thinking to realms beyond here and now.
The curriculum has been designed keeping in mind the 21st Century Learner. It has a harmonious blend of best practices currently being used in early years settings, with pedagogical support of Reggio Emilia and Montessori Principles. The philosophy of both these systems is based on the following fundamentals of child development:
- Each of our children come into this world with an inbuilt learning programme provided by nature and therefore need some control over the direction of their learning.
- An effective learning environment will support the unfolding of this programme. In order to make this possible, children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing and hearing.
- Children have a relationship with other children and with different physical material in their environment which they must be allowed to explore.
- Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.
A carefully planned learning environment is crucial to both Reggio Emilia and Montessori pedagogy and is often referred to as ‘the third teacher’. The classrooms are extended learning spaces, which we, the educators, plan and equip in order to enable the children to work at skills required to reach their developmental goals with a minimum of adult imposition. The focus is also on creating opportunities to ignite children’s curiosity and inspire them to ask questions. Lessons thus learnt are never forgotten.
The curriculum content at the Primary level (Grades 1– 6) is drawn form the UK National Curriculum, implemented effectively using Montessori and Reggio inspired practices and transitions into IGCSE after that. The curriculum is implemented through projects and thematic units which integrate cross curricular learning and provide opportunity to revisit and apply concepts and skills to real life situations.
Significant aspects of the curriculum are as follows:
Art and Design: The Art and Design curriculum gives children the opportunity to experience the creation process of objects that they see and use in their everyday lives. The objective is to nurture creativity and innovation such that children are prepared to take an active part in tomorrow’s rapidly changing world.
The focus here is on enabling children to talk about how things function and delve into their own ideas to give them concrete shape and form. These opportunities give students the physical and mental tools to model their ideas.
Experiential Learning: Experiential Learning is one of the maxims which helps bring the world alive for children. It is learning through actions, learning by doing, learning through experience and learning through exploration and discovery. The environment is equipped with plenty of material which allows students and educators to engage in activities which help in the application of knowledge, not just its acquisition.
The significance of experiential learning is that learning situations are semi-structured and planned such that they provide scope for development of vital skills such as collaboration, communication and teamwork with rich outcomes in terms of peer learning with students taking charge of their own learning targets.
Emphasis on Expression: Expression is important as the world today values and encourages expression in all its forms. Expression in this sense includes being able to express oneself through words, actions, visual arts, music and drama.
At The Shishya Jigyasa Academy, children have plenty of opportunity to develop their skills in a number of areas through specially designed programmes which promote creativity and expression.
Free Movement: Research shows that movement helps children learn, assimilate and innovate more effectively.
Keeping this in mind, the ‘classrooms’ at Shishya Jigyasa Academy are designed as extended learning spaces, which allow the students freedom to move around and work on their skills through self initiated activities. We consider this important as it also allows the teachers to plan group work, which provides opportunity for collaborative learning as well as personal attention.
The quality of learning is enhanced more through peer learning rather than from adult instruction. The learning spaces are designed so as to make this possible.
Use of Technology: Technology is integral to our everyday life and as such, can and should be used in education. While we would like to maximize on the benefits of using it, we are deeply aware of the need for caution and mindfulness while using it.
At The Shishya Jigyasa Academy technology is used positively to enhance and support children’s learning. The school is equipped with smart boards and computers for children, and they have the freedom to use the same as and when they feel the need to — supported by educators. And while technology holds an important place in education as a learning aid, it must be clearly understood that it can never replace the human touch of a teacher which by far is all important in significance in its role in the entire learning process. We are proud to say that we also have parents who support this aspect of our curriculum with their expertise!
Project Work: Each theme culminates in a class project. This is time for children to apply what they have learnt through the 4- 6 week period. Projects may be planned as group or as individual projects, and all work is done by students in school facilitated by teachers. Teachers understand the need to give support while remaining in the background as the students use their skills for innovation and actualization of ideas. A key skill gained during projects is the ability to work cohesively with other people, a skill which is integral for success in the modern workplace.