Why a play based curriculum?

At Saigon Kids ELC, our programme is driven by children’s curiosity and natural inclination to learn through play. Believing strongly in the importance of play in every child’s life, we will always advocate for every child’s right to play, and support each child’s ability to play within our early childhood environments. Our decision to provide a play based curriculum is informed by contemporary early childhood research and literature that continues to demonstrate the importance of play for children’s healthy development and wellbeing , and for providing meaningful contexts for developing skills and learning across all developmental domains. (Early Years Learning Framework for Australia, DWEER, 2009). 
For example, children’s immersion in open ended play experiences provides them with opportunities to:
- Think creatively and use their imagination
- Interact with others in ways that develop language and communication skills
- Connect with others and develop social skills
- Express ideas and thinking in diverse ways
- Explore individual and shared interests, and learn about the world
- Manipulate materials that develop coordination and motor skills
- Contribute and engage in their own way and at their own level of ability
Children’s cognitive development (the goal of academic work) is also approached playfully, utilizing materials and activities that children truly care about... writing a letter to a friend, signing their artworks, playing a sequencing game, building a symmetrical structure, counting out snacks. There are no worksheets at our school, as thinking, knowledge and skills are expanded daily in all areas of our curriculum.

What is emergent curriculum?

As children play and explore their interests in our beautiful learning environments, teachers observe and listen carefully to the theories, questions, and even conflicts  that arise.  Experiences are then planned to help children solve their problems, explore possibilities, or extend on their interests, ideas and thinking.
The curriculum therefore ‘emerges’ as teachers plan the environment, offer new experiences, and present new resources that support children in the processes of exploration, investigation, and discovery.  Teachers and children work together to find answers to their questions, and new lines of inquiry can often emerge that provoke further learning and investigation. 
As teachers support children to investigate and explore their interests, they will also be facilitating  their ability to express and share what they know and/or  imagine with others (Biermeier, 2015) . This can be verbally, through art, building, drama, and play in different areas of the curriculum.
An emergent curriculum is therefore a balance of child initiated play and inquiry, educator support, and intentional teaching practices. When possible, the investigation of an interest is extended into longer term project work, where parents and the wider community become involved. 
By creating a curriculum that focuses on exploration, discovery and learning alongside others, children are prepared to learn as they learn best... through the joy of experience itself.  Encouraging children to explore and investigate their interests, we endeavour to honor the competence and creativity of each child, and children learn that their ideas and thinking are valued. This supports children to see themselves as contributing members of their learning community, and helps them to develop positive dispositions for lifelong learning

Is your programme structured ?

Yes! We carefully structure time, space and materials to support children’s learning. We believe that it is important for children to become meaningfully engaged in their work and play. Providing large blocks of time where children can choose from a variety of play and learning experiences allows us to nurture attention span and demonstrates our respect for children's work and ideas. 
We balance these blocks of time for child-initiated play and project work with larger group experiences led by the teacher. As children mature, we expand the length of our group times. Even our youngest have opportunities to engage in group experiences, which can include music, circle games, sharing, group discussions and planning (older children), story book reading, and drama/dramatic play.
We believe our group times provide diverse and unique opportunities for learning, connecting with peers, and developing a sense of belonging to a group.
To see the way we organise time, space and materials we invite you to tour our indoor and outdoor learning environments. As you "look around" we hope you'll discover a setting that inspires creativity; encourages social interactions; invites open ended play and exploration; and supports autonomy and independence. 

Do you have a 'philosophy' about Discipline?

The principles of respect and caring for ourselves, others, and our environment, are at the heart of our policy for guiding children’s behaviour. Working with parents to help children acquire the tools of self-control and self regulation is another important aspect of our approach, as is helping children to recognise and manage their feelings in ways that support their social and emotional development.
We understand that children deserve the opportunity to solve their own conflicts at times, and that adults also need to model the strategies, language and skills children need to express their feelings in ways that are not harmful to themselves, the environment or others.
Being consistent about our expectations for respectful and fair behaviour provides children with guidelines that help them to think about, evaluate, and adjust their behaviours to social expectations and the rights of others. It also helps them learn to express their needs in peaceful ways, and helps us create an environment where every one feels safe, secure, respected and valued.
Each conflict in the preschool gives us a chance to help children learn acceptable ways to solve problems. Our job as teachers is to anticipate, whenever possible, and to react with a clear,understandable message when necessary.
With a beautifully planned and well resourced environment, a curriculum that allows children to play and explore the things they care most about, and consistent guidelines for behaviour, conflicts are kept to a minimum. Come visit us and see for yourself!

Settling-in period for new children. - How does this work ?

We suggest that the settling-in period be a gradual process. During the first two or three visits, we ask parents to accompany their child throughout the morning. You may even choose to stay for a shorter period of time, perhaps one hour. There will be an opportunity to meet the team of educators in the room, have a play and get a feel for the environment. Parents are encouraged to talk to staff, this enables your child to see there is a relationship developing between the adults. At the end of the morning parent & child will leave together.
When you feel ready to leave your child for a short period of time, we suggest that you spend a little time settling him/her into the room before leaving them to play. You might stay on the premise but try to stay somewhere your child cannot see you. If your child becomes too upset you can still come and be with them but we would suggest you try to leave them for approximately one hour.
In the middle of the second week, if both the parent and child are happy & ready, then your child can be left in their classroom. For this session we suggest you leave your child for around two hours. 
How long is the settling-in period ? We suggest to schedule a minimum of two to four weeks for children entering a setting for the first time if they are under three years of age. It may be a much shorter period for older children or children who have already been in care. This is a time we can get to know you and your child, establish relationships, and invite you for progressively longer try-out sessions. Resist any shortcuts. These sessions should cover every aspect of the day, not just the first half-hour. Use them to introduce your child to toileting, snack and meal times, play time, sleep time and more – in fact, anything your child might find difficult or upsetting on their own.
The above is a guide only. Some children settle into a new environment with ease, others children may need more reassurance. Sometimes it’s parents who benefit most from the settling-in visits. Whatever the case, please be reassured that staff will support and welcome your child and family to the Saigon Kids community.

What does it mean to be a Reggio Emilia-inspired school?

The Reggio Emilia approach to education began over 50 years ago in the city of Reggio Emilia in norther Italy. 
Through the strong influence of an important educator named Loris Malaguzzi, the Reggio Emilia Approach  has evolved and developed into a distinctive set of values, theories and philosophical ideas that continue to influence educational policy and practice all over the world. 
Rather then a model that can be replicated however, the  systems of education in Reggio Emilia provide us with a provocation and a challenge to the way we think about children, learning and teaching (Millikan and Giamminuti, 2005), 
With a world wide reputation for innovation and excellence in early childhood education, the schools of Reggio Emilia, and many of their global counterparts,  continue to have an important influence on our school and teaching practices . 
Our inspirations from Reggio Emilia include the importance of environmental design in education, the importance of developing a strong image of the child, and the importance of learning through social relationships and participation. We also aspire to teaching practices that value and support children’s creative development and self expression (see our link to Malaguzzi’s poem ‘The Hundred Languages of Children”), and to work in ways that guide open ended discovery, collaborative problem solving, and small group project work.
Please see the links provided with our school philosophy for more information