Few decisions are as overwhelming as choosing the right school, but parents are increasingly wondering about choosing the right age for children to begin their education in the first place, too. Blue House Nursery & International Preschool is one of Singapore’s Reggio Emilia approach pioneers and a community of incredibly dedicated, innovative & loving early education experts who keep thinking outside of the box to give the tiniest learners the tools & approaches that will open the world up to them, and them to the world.
As Blue House offers a Nursery program for children as young as 18 months to 2 years and has Infant & Toddler Ateliers for babes and toddlers from 6 to 36 months, they’re regularly met with a common set of questions, so they’ve come to speak to us from their vast experience & even bigger hearts. They let us in on some tips for choosing the right educational environment for your child & on the innumerable benefits of starting early!
Want to learn more? There’s an upcoming Open House on May 26, 2018 at 10:30am or 2pm. Click here for more information and to register!
The kind of environment for early education that Blue House advocates and, naturally, provides, is what all diamonds in the rough need to shine their brightest, in their own unique colors! Here are some of the key things that make an early education environment an easy transition for your youngsters and fun too!
1. Uniforms: Nursery is most likely your child's first home away from home, so the environment should feel like its extension, not like a different environment all together—Blue House’s uniforms are therefore encouraged to be the children's favorite clothes (agreed upon by parents!). Something that supports children in respecting their identities and appropriate for the rigours of their day!
2. Environment: Think intimate, calm and warm in terms both of the physical space & the community that fills it. A place where trust, reassurance, support & affection nurture curiosity, openness & self-expression and vice versa.
3. Flexibility: A place that understands the importance of a warm welcome and flexibility when needed. Spending substantial amounts of time away from their care givers for the first time is a big ask for little ones. At Blue House, kiddos can first visit for 45 minutes to 1 hour and increase the time of their stays gradually to a couple of days a week and so on.
5. High Teacher/Child Ratio: Developing this familiarity and building trust requires small groups and high teacher/child ratios. For under 3's, Blue House has a maximum of 14 children to 2 educators and 1 teaching assistant, so 5:1. This is especially important at the beginning, when trust is just being established alongside a sense of belonging.
The Reggio Emilia approach has strong principles surrounding language, socialization and independence. Let’s break them down:
1. Language: Children ages 18 months to 2 years immensely benefit from language- and expression-rich environments. Children are supported in their voices and ideas being heard, and also to freely express themselves through drawing, clay, music, technology, photography and so on what they cannot yet find words for. The intentional language that educators use when engaging with the kiddos motivates them to ask questions, consider different answers and draw linguistic connections.
2. Socialization: This particular age is when children typically go from solitary or parallel play to feeling the desire to form connections with their peers. Blue House emphasizes the inspirational and enlightening beauty of diversity. Children develop respect for one another’s and their own uniqueness and learn to learn from it. The educators are co-learners too, as the knowledge circulates within the school community through active engagement with other members. Children benefit greatly through collaboration and teamwork, of acknowledging that everyone in their community has something of value to share.
3. Independence: When children are 18 months or so, they realize that their world stretches beyond their parents and they desire to connect with all the world has to offer. When they join Nursery, children are offered the opportunity to take on small responsibilities and tasks which give them a sense of accomplishment, confidence and trust.
The Blue House Infant & Toddler Ateliers beautifully exemplify Blue House’s passion for the early years.
1. Aiding Development: Parent-accompanied programs such as these are developed to ease the transition to nursery or preschool, but they are so much more than a preparation for the next educational stage. It’s all about maximizing their unlimited capacity for understanding and expressing their unique tiny selves through amazing resources, sensory play, dialogue, storytelling, song, self-driven exploration, good company and more.
2. Creating Support Networks: By sharing a unique, intentional space, resources and enriching experiences with tiny peers, caregivers and educators while importantly strengthening the bond with parents, babies & toddlers intuitively learn about the importance of community. They grow in confidence, but also in motivation for learning, experiences and other people, big and small. It’s the perfect first little step on the epic journey of lifelong learning.