Education News

What makes the Inter-Community School’s Zurich (ICS) pre-school and kindergarten special?

Known as the Early Years (EY) Programme, the ICS pre-school programme for 3-to-6-year-olds offers a wide array of opportunities in bilingual education, nature activities, creative explorations, field trips and academic school preparation. This multitude of educational and creative offerings combined with the school’s holistic child-centred approach and state-of-the-art facilities make the ICS Early Years Programme unique. 

Bilingual education

Many scientific studies have shown that participation in bilingual programmes at an early age gives children distinctive cognitive, social, and academic advantages throughout life. At the EY Centre children are introduced to German in age appropriate groups, through both immersion and structured teaching. As a result the German language is meaningful and it’s embedded alongside English in each aspect, every day in class.      

Activities include,  discussing children’s plans, projects and ideas, conversations with teachers about curricular subjects, listening to stories in German, playing games, learning German songs and attending German language theatre productions. “The idea is to make the German language a normal part of everyone’s day,” says Julian Edwards, Primary Principal. Both English and German are used throughout the day by mother-tongue English and German teachers respectively. Children flourish in this setting. The preschool teachers, experts in the field of early childhood education, challenge students by changing the environment, introducing new materials, asking questions and consistently assess for understanding.  New and challenging learning experiences are custom designed for each individual student to meet their needs for growth. Feedback from parents about the Bilingual strand has been extremely positive.

Vibrant ICS community’s advantage

The EY centre is located on ICS campus and benefits from an extraordinary abundance of ICS music, sport and cultural offerings. Parents and children of all ages attend campus concerts, theatre productions, art exhibitions and inspirational workshops. All community members participate in ICS organised festivals and events, use campus libraries, sport facilities, dance studio and experiment at the ICS Research Garden. In just the last few months, the EY students have enjoyed International Mother Language Day “Drop Everything and Read” event, ICS ArtsAlive! shows, Winter Concert and a memorable performance by a visiting Irish storyteller Niall de Búrca among many exciting activities taking place on campus. The EY Centre also benefits from a weekly collaboration with students in Grade 7. The older students read books to the younger children and participate in their learning experiences including construction, clay and gardening. The EY children enjoy those special relationships that help to build strong community bonds across grade levels.

Stimulating learning experiences and child-centred programme accredited by the International Baccalaureate ® Organisation

The child-centred and inquiry-based EY Programme is focused on fostering learning and development across a range of spheres – cognitive, social, emotional and physical.  The natural curiosity of children is nurtured through six transdisciplinary  global themes, called Units of Inquiry. These themes expose students to big ideas about the world and themselves which are the building blocks for academic understanding. This framework is developed and accredited by the International Baccalaureate ® (IB) organisation and is used by top (leading?)  international schools worldwide. The Units of Inquiry, including ‘Who We Are’, ‘How the World Works’ and ‘Where We Are in Place and Time’ among others, promote play,discovery and exploration. “As part of kindergarten’s first unit of inquiry, ‘Who We Are’, initial encounters between children and educators, as well as families, began with sharing information about ourselves, developing agreements and spending time together in the spaces of our learning community. The Arts are used as a natural entry point for a range of learning. ‘Dance, drama, music and visual arts have a long tradition of acting as outlets for personal, collective and historical narratives about different peoples in a broad social context,” explains Andrea Mills, ICS Early Years Teacher of the Arts. At the EY Centre children learn and develop through play, music, movement, art and other creative activities. They regularly go on trips to museums, theatres, parks and farms where the teachers promote curiosity and thinking. These opportunities also lead to students generating questions and investigations into other areas such as design, science or mathematics.  Such child-initiated explorations stimulate creativity, critical thinking and collaborative skills.

Forest time in any season

The Waldkinder (Children’s Forest) Programme is an integral part of the EY Curriculum. Children go out into the forest every week throughout the school year. The EY Centre teachers have undertaken training in the UK to become qualified Forest School leaders. Each forest session includes discussions, inquiries and investigations. Children write and draw their observations in journals and take iPads into the forest to film videos and take pictures. Recently the young explorers felt so invigorated by their outdoor expeditions that they put together an entire “Insects & Fashion Museum” event, where budding insect scientists and fashion designers exhibited their model of insects, paintings and displayed their self-created costumes inspired by nature. Parents and older ICS students were truly impressed that these young students could produce such an elaborate project.  “Amazing that the children have been given the platform to be so creative,” commented one of the parents.

Flexible schedule for busy parents

The school allows students to be dropped off as early as 7:30 at the Early Morning Care Programme. Children enjoy a nutritious breakfast before they are accompanied to the EY Centre. The popular After School Care Programme runs from 15:15 every afternoon offering additional sport, forest, learning and creative activities. Flexible and complimentary pick up arrangements are available until 18:00. Join the ICS Pre-school/Kindergarten! The multifaceted bilingual Early Years Programme greatly benefits children’s wellbeing, emotional development, academic preparation and intellectual growth, while fostering meaningful social connections and creating numerous happy moments for children and their parents. New families from all over the world are always warmly welcomed and supported!

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