The Kindergarden Day
The kindergarden day has been structured to follow a routine pattern, so children know what to expect, and can relax into a rhythmic pace. The week is split by a Wednesday, where children will do an active sport for the first half of the day (for example swimming or rock climbing). There are set periods of activity and rest, so that children can learn effectively.
When the children arrive, they hang up their coats, change into indoor shoes and say goodbye to their parents. The teacher will welcome each child as they enter the class. The day will start with some music and free play time. The music will either be in the English language or in the language that is being learnt in Language classes. The free play time is a period where teachers will help children with effective socialization techniques. They will learn to share, express their wishes, and regulate their emotions to effectively assess what they want and need.
On some days a specialist will arrive to teach dance or yoga. On others the teacher will begin cooking or crafts (for example preparing dough for bread or making drawers from recycled wood). This method helps children learn by example, finding their own interest.
The teacher will then begin to tidy things away, and the children are welcome to join in – sorting each item into its place. This is done in imitation of adults and the older children, so does not occur as a chore, or something that spoils the fun. Tidying is incorporated into the rhythm of each day.
Children help to lay out a snack, and the first few mouthfuls are eaten in a mindful way, concentrating on the texture, smell, flavor, appearance, temperature of the food. Mindfulness helps develop a healthy mindset towards food. It also improves resilience, attention, and self-regulation whilst at school and in life.
In our kindergarden, academics means movement, fun, and engagement.
Children do science experiments (put balloons on top of bottles with yeast and sugar inside to watch the balloon expand, make rockets with household items, time how long pendula of different lengths take to slow down, make kaleidoscopes etc). Often these experiments will be relevant to the theme of the quarter. We do experiments with a clear method, the children make a hypothesis (expectation), and verbally state their findings. Children are encouraged to think critically about the reason for their findings, but they are not given an “answer” or told what is “correct”.  As children build a wealth of experimental experience they are asked whether what they have found agrees with their previous findings.   Again, they are never taught that there is a right or wrong answer.
The scientific method uses observations to develop theories that have predictive power (can predict the outcome of other experiments), and this is exactly what is taught to children in our kindergarden. They will learn university-level scientific method from the outset, without any requirement on them to learn any ‘knowledge’, or read any textbook. Fundamentals covered include waves, light, particles, mechanics, magnetism, exothermic and endothermic reactions, gas liquid and solid, phase transitions (e.g water to ice), growth, space etc. They will start school at 6 years old with an intrinsic understanding of the scientific method, and many observations from basic experiments, that far surpass their peers.
Our maths curriculum is based on the Singapore Method, the most successful, and well researched method worldwide. This is also the method that is being adopted by many British schools, with an impressive success rate. We teach concepts such as ‘bigger than’, ‘smaller than’ and the same by building towers of blocks. Permutations (the order things are in) are taught by children lining up and swapping position in the line. Shape is taught with blocks and cut-outs – we don’t limit children to a 2D representation, but rather deal with 2D and 3D shapes as contrast – for example identifying a circle, cylinder, and sphere (a cut-out circle, a hockey puck cylinder, and a ball as a sphere). Children also deal with the concept of ‘perfect’ shapes as opposed to irregular ‘real-world’ shapes. Counting is done with objects and occurs in every lesson, not just maths lessons. See our full maths curriculum here.
Children learn a foreign language both in the first part of the day where music is played, and in language lessons. Language is taught with oral stories, object identification, song and dance, games in foreign language, and conversations. Language is taught immersively, the teacher speaks only in the foreign language. This language depends on the teacher, as all our teachers are bilingual. The language learnt will be consistent for the child. If a parent wishes their child to learn a language other than that of their teacher, it is possible for them to swap class for this session.
In nature walks, gardening, and nature studies children will practically learn about biological mechanisms and instinct (the advantages of living underground, that plants move their leaves towards the sun, protection mechanisms of animals). They will grow produce, which they will eat in snack time. The plants kept inside are grown in gardening sessions, improving the air that students breathe.
Recycling is a strong part of our ethos, with both garden waste and school waste like bottles being recycled by the children. Children develop a great appreciation for their environment, and have the opportunity to compost, recognise natural habitats, and see the abundant forests and parks Lviv has to offer.
A three minute mindfulness is also incorporated into the time spent outside.
In good weather the lunch and academic subject are also spent outside.
Some parents need the extra time for their children to be at nursery, or wish their child to only attend in the afternoon. So some children may arrive with, or be picked up by their parents at this point.
A healthy lunch is provided, and children help with the cleaning the eating area after eating. Food from around the world is eaten, as part of an international perspective. Students are encouraged to bring in samples of food from their home country, to share with other students.
A piano instructor visits to give lessons to the children. Instruction is given in a fun exciting way. Research shows incredible academic benefit from music; learning an instrument improves literacy, numeracy and memory. It can also reduce stress and improve socialisation. The younger children begin learning an instrument, the more successful they are likely to be in future. Our lessons set children up with a fantastic skill that will last a lifetime, and cross all borders.
Chess / Games
Children start playing strategic games, and when their competency and aptitude improve they move onto learning and playing chess. They are encouraged to see loss as an opportunity to improve, and encouraged to help their opponent (in this way the game being purely a fun activity). They will gain forward-thinking and strategic planning from these sessions – something that is built upon in their projects. A variety of games are provided, so if a child is not interested in one they have the opportunity to try others.
An entire session is dedicated to spoken poetry, in both English and foreign language, as it greatly improves a child’s language acquisition and creativity. Classic and modern poetry will be introduced, each poem being repeated over the year, to build familiarity. Examples include “If” by Rudyard Kipling; “The Stolen Child” by William Butler Yeats; “The road not Taken” by Robert Frost. Children are then encouraged to create their own poems, which teachers will write down for them.
Children are encouraged to join in a current philanthropic project. This could include growing plants for those who cannot afford food, raising money for the homeless by baking cakes or selling artwork, donating old clothes to a local orphanage, or making natural water filters for those who are not fortunate enough to afford one (as examples). This participation in greater society builds a positive connection between children and their community. They learn to take responsibility for their actions, and that a small amount of help can greatly increase the quality of other’s lives.
We educate sustainability through entrepreneurial projects. Our student-guided approach inspires the ecological leaders of tomorrow. We can only improve the world together, and through these projects we encourage each of the children to lead purposeful lives together.
The environmental project is an integral part of teaching children to care for their environment, and that their actions can have a big impact. We will build solar water heaters, natural water filtration systems, learn about animals and endangered environments – with the plan that a definite goal can be achieved (e.g a solar water heater for one school sink) within a specific time period (e.g two months). They decide as a group how their art, craft, or nature studies can be used best to achieve this goal.
Students over the course of their time at our kindergarden learn to manage their time and activities to achieve their goals, how to work as a team, and ask for help when needed. They achieve real progress and see the achievements from their participation.
Music / Drama
Each week children work together to make a dramatic production provided with natural and recycled materials, and a variety of instruments. The thematic topic of each study period (usually 3 months) culminates in a dramatic production, with music from the children – which is open to the parents.