Choosing a “big school” when your kiddos are still small can be tricky. Hearing about the International Baccalaureate and American curriculums is fascinating, but it’s light years away from your current priority of raising fun-loving little folks more concerned with colouring and playing and making friends than the serious business of education. Thankfully Stamford American International School (Stamford) understands that parents need to feel comfortable with how a school sets the stage for future academic endeavours, with its Early Years programme.
We sat down for a chat with Stamford’s Early Years Principal Michael Day, a super-experienced teacher with more than 10 years in leadership positions at a wide variety of schools. Pssst… he also happens to be married to Heather, an Elementary teacher, and Dad to two young kiddos who also attend Stamford!
Can you tell us what’s special about the Early Years programme at Stamford?
Our ultimate goal is to create enthusiastic, lifelong learners. So our teachers build safe and happy environments where the students have time for individual play and begin to work cooperatively in small groups to learn to listen to and respect others. Experiences with sand, water, building blocks, dramatic play, table toys, art materials, music, outdoor play, games and computers are integral to a child’s development. Play activities encourage exploration and experimentation, spark curiosity and imagination, and build children’s abilities to solve problems.
We hear Stamford kiddos learn about music from a really early age – can you tell us more about this?
Yes, we start using the Suzuki Method for learning to play the violin with our Pre-K class (taught by specialist teachers), though even our nursery students have dedicated music lessons each week. The Suzuki method is very successful, with little ones often able to play music before they can read. It’s all about listening and repeating, skills we hope they’ll use at home too!
As parents, we can really tell when kids have been run around enough at school – how does Physical Education feature in your Early Years programme?
We implement Smart Steps and the Perceptual Motor Program (PMP) for the Pre-K and KG1 PE classes. These systems really instill strong coordination and teamwork in the students. Our specialist PE teachers work on motor function and development, and parents are encouraged to practice specific skills with their kids at home. Some of the sports our Early Years kids try out are soccer, swimming, badminton, rugby and dance.
Stamford places a higher importance on healthy eating than most schools – how are you getting good habits started early?
Stamford is proud to be in partnership with the Emmanuel Stroobant Group for the food services at school. In Early Years, the students are prepared healthy food and taught to make balanced choices. Starting in Nursery, they learn to set the table, wash their hands and learn how eating contributes to a healthy lifestyle. Emmanuel is integrally involved with promoting “Healthy food, healthy kids and a healthy planet” at Stamford.
How do you approach language learning with your younger students?
Daily foreign language lessons begin at the Nursery level (age 2) by learning songs and playing games to help familiarize these young students with new language and its sounds. As students move up in grade level, the daily language exposure continues but lessons increase in length and degree of difficulty.
During this time, the language teachers focus on listening and speaking, while the teaching and learning takes place in Spanish or Mandarin.
Register now to visit the Stamford campus and see the dedicated Early Years’ learning space at the next Open House on November 7, 2014 at 9am, mark your calendar! You’ll be able to meet Michael in person and ask questions, while also seeing classrooms and all that the $300m Stamford campus has to offer!
Stamford American International School
1 Woodleigh Lane (off Upper Serangoon Road), Singapore 357684