At KPIS, we strive to spark curiosity in children that leads to a lifelong love of learning. We model and foster the attitude of loving to learn ― we are ALL still learning at KPIS ― the teachers, the children and the parents. We believe that when children develop the skills and competencies for learning to learn in their early years, they will become motivated to remain lifelong learners who also perform well academically in the future.
When children learn and play outdoors during their early childhood years, they develop skills such as confidence, independence, creativity, increased attention and focus, perseverance and resilience. These skills play a crucial role in later academic learning.
According to current research on Early Childhood Development, children learn best when they feel safe and are in trusting, reliable relationships. At KPIS, we highly value the relationships we build with children and their families.
We are committed to maintaining these relationships over time. We know that the best teachers for young children are teachers who are knowledgeable and highly trained early childhood professionals who care deeply about the children and their families and who are attuned to the needs of individual students.
Young children learn best when their curiosity is triggered and when they try to figure things out for themselves. This happens most often through play.
Play in nature is embedded into nearly all aspects of the curriculum at KPIS. According to the researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, “Play is central to how children learn: the way they make sense of their world; the way they form and explore friendships; the way they shape and test hypotheses about their intellectual, social, emotional, and physical environments,” and the three essential indicators of play are choice, wonder and delight.
Our teachers recognize that children need autonomy in making choices throughout their school day, that they need to be interested and invested in what they are doing with a sense of wonder, and that they need to enjoy the activities and find them delightful to participate in.
We strive to provide long blocks of uninterrupted play time for children to maximize their engagement and learning, and much of our school days are spent outdoors. Our location next to Komazawa Olympic Park offers us the opportunity to spend quality time outdoors for extended periods of time in natural settings on a daily basis. We are also fortunate to have a private grass yard and a wooden deck (outdoor classroom) on our campus with direct access to a number of classrooms.
We walk to Komazawa Park on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. While there, the children enjoy two hours of self-directed free play time in a forested area. At the park, the teachers have a detailed protocol for providing supervision and ensuring safety. Park activities typically include climbing, running, digging, collecting small natural items such as leaves, acorns and sticks, catching insects, dramatic pretend play scenarios and also throwing, catching, kicking and otherwise playing with balls among other options.
When we give children the time and opportunity to learn outdoors, we broaden their experience base and expose them to the wider world. Learning and playing outdoors helps children develop confidence and independence as well as helping them to build their stamina and develop strength and endurance.
We believe that by spending time in nature, the children will learn to appreciate being outside, will develop a strong connection to nature and will gain a greater understanding of the importance of the natural world and our human responsibility to care for it.
There is no question that age-appropriate activities are best for children. As children develop, they move from concrete to symbolic understanding. Early childhood experiences should be all about concrete, authentic experiences within the context of caring, loving and trusting relationships in a safe environment with predictable, consistent routines and boundaries.
When children are pushed to accomplish tasks that their minds and bodies are not yet ready for, they tend to miss out on learning the skills that they should be learning at that age such as the social skills that are largely learned through play. These skills include negotiating, problem-solving, listening, taking turns, patience and consideration of others, and gaining these skills is highly prioritized at KPIS.
We structure our routines to be clear, consistent and age-appropriate, slowly adjusting them over time as the children develop the ability to sustain their attention to listen and engage in group activities for longer periods of time at their own pace.
As children grow and their interests develop, we gradually introduce age-appropriate skills, tools and concepts. Children are given the opportunity to practice their skills over time. It is a marvelous thing to see children develop confidence as readers, writers, thinkers, scientists, mathematicians and engineers!
When children graduate from KPIS, we know they have will have acquired the both the interpersonal and academic skills needed in order to be successful in their future academic endeavors.
Language is best learned through communication in genuine conversations, meaningful storytelling and reading books aloud. Children’s vocabulary develops when we talk with them about the things, actions, feelings and ideas that are relevant to them within their surroundings.
Reading and writing are skills to be enjoyed and acquired as a means to communicate with others in an expressive way and to share the delight of books and stories.
Numeracy must be acquired through hands-on experiences before children can competently transfer their knowledge to symbolic representation with pencils on paper. Young children may be able to repeat facts and information based on repetitive practice and rote memorization, but without first gaining real world experiences, they miss out on deeper understanding and learning.
At KPIS, we intentionally plan experiences that give the children an opportunity to actively engage with objects, ideas and concepts in order to learn mathematical concepts in deep and meaningful ways.