“A well planned, open ended learning environment is essential for a child’s development,” explains Karen Cornelius, Deputy Head at British International School, Phuket. She’s referring to the major design changes in the school’s two early year areas: Little Ducks and the Early Years Unit that incorporates Nursery and Reception.
Over the recent summer holidays, workers came in to open up the Early Years Unit, changing it from 6 distinct classrooms to a large learning space where the children have access to a range of areas, including puzzles and block play, sand play, water play, investigation and home corner, and music.
Little Ducks has been expanded to increase the flexibility and learning opportunities for children 18 months to 3 years. With more work scheduled in December, this space also provides a wide number of learning areas.
Both the Early Years Unit and Little Ducks have new break and lunch spaces, with a focus on healthy eating habits.
Since the change, “teachers have seen a significant increase in interaction between children, and much more independent and cooperative interaction and exploration of learning opportunities,” says Ms Cornelius, adding that teachers have also appreciated the increased collaboration within the more open environment.
The new look and feel for Early Years has been coupled with consistently applied processes for children from 18 months to 5 years of age. Evidence of the success of our individual plans for each child can be seen in the ease of transition for Little Ducks moving into Nursery.
“Since day one, there’s been a positive impact from the changes,” says Ms Cornelius, who adds, “The teachers are enjoying it as much as the children; they are problem-solving and coming up with the best ways to address each child’s learning needs.”