See how children play to learn at ISHCMC

Creativity, the role of play and an inquiry-based approach to learning give the Early Explorers programme at International School Ho Chi Minh City its distinctive identity. Children aged 2 to 5 learn by playing games, making things and storytelling. They do research, reflect on their learning and form conclusions with guidance from the teachers.

There is a strong emphasis on enabling children to learn by exploring their own interests. “We have a unit based around ‘making’ in which students work towards creating something of their choosing, it can be a purse or a hat – anything,” explains the Primary Principal, Kurtis Peterson. “They will have already explored similar tasks with some guidance and now it’s up to them to apply that knowledge to something new. The whole philosophy is that the unit isn’t something that’s owned by the teacher.” The Early Years facilities were co-designed by teaching staff to support creative learning. The space includes three classrooms with learning zones and flexible palettes which children can sit on, build on, adapt to make into a stage and move around the room. “Flexibility is essential in furniture, as it is in learning, to allow for creativity,” Kurtis says, adding that he thinks educators can be too quick to dismiss play as ‘only for younger children’. “Play is not just recreation. Children are learning all the time; observing and facilitating play in diverse settings is an extremely important lens through which we can better understand student needs and set targets for their growth.”

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