At St Thomas's we believe quality education in the early years lays the foundations of a life-long love of learning. Our aim is to provide a child-centered, play-based learning program that is Reggio Inspired and that goes hand in hand with the early years stages of the Primary Years Program, whose main elements form the backbone of our school's curriculum.
The aim of our teaching team is to meet the needs of the children in EC classes by thoughtfully planning and reflecting together. We aspire to create enabling environments that stimulate and challenge our children's thinking whilst recognizing the value of creating safe and supportive relationships that make this possible.
Close collaboration with parents, carers and the community allow us to build on the knowledge and experience our children bring into the classroom as learners. We regularly meet and communicate with parents to ensure we are all sharing in each child’s exciting individual learning journey.
Our Early Childhood consist of three grades: Nursery, Reception and Prep. During the year we spend time inside and outside ensuring children have time to explore, reflect, think and act on their own.
In Early Childhood, children develop language skills through interactions with adults and other children, engagement with materials, and instructional experiences. EC experiences provide the foundation for later reading success which is directly correlated to the interaction of children with books.
Students will be given daily opportunities to communicate effectively either independently, in small groups or with the whole class:
By using various media, such as pencils, paint, play dough, clay and other natural materials students will:
Mathematical instruction in EC builds on children’s natural curiosity and desire to make order in the surrounding world. Mathematics is addressed in contexts that promote problem solving, reasoning, communication, making connections, and designing and analyzing representations. The experience of developing math concepts using hands-on materials, lays the foundation for later abstract mathematical thinking.
Number and Operations
Students will develop an understanding of whole numbers by:
Engaging in counting activities that are built into the daily routine
Working on activities to reinforce one-to-one correspondence
Developing the concept of “more” and “less” with concrete objects
Recognizing and duplicating simple sequential patterns e.g., square, circle, square, …
Students will begin to identify measurable attributes and compare objects by using these attributes by:
Identifying measurable attributes such as length and weight
Using non-standard and standard means to measure real objects
Identifying objects as “the same” or “different” and then “more” or “less” on the basis of measurable attributes
Students will begin to identify shapes and describe spatial relationships:
Develop an understanding of patterns and predictability
Find shapes in the environment and describe in their own words
Build pictures and designs combining two- and three-dimensional shapes
Children in EC are naturally curious about their world. EC science activities encourage the student to explore, investigate, observe and record changes in the environment. Deeper understanding is gained through units of inquiry. Through these students will:
Develop their observational skills by using their senses to gather and record information
Use their observations to identify simple patterns
Make predictions and discuss their ideas
Explore the ways object and phenomena function
Recognize basic cause and effect relationships
Examine change over time
Be aware of different perspectives and show care and respect for themselves, other living things and the environment
Communicate their idea or provide explanations using their own scientific experience and vocabulary
They will also gain a sense of time, and recognize important events in their own lives, and how time and change affect people. Children will also learn how to contribute to the successful functioning of the classroom.
They will become aware of the similarities and differences among people and how each person is an important member of the community. The content areas will directly relate to units of inquiry.
At our school we have a room called the Atelier which offers children a space to extend and support projects and experiences in the classroom and to explore and combine many types of materials, tools, and techniques. It conducts an educational path marked by the method of Reggio Children and the method "Playing with art" by Bruno Munari, the Italian artist and designer of international renown, offering the student an essential and direct art experience.
The Atelier also provides students with a musical education based on the methods of Carl Orff and E. J. Dalcroze. It is led by our Atelierista, Ms. Saskia Menting, an artist who has a background in Early Childhood education and visual arts. Her role is to support teachers and work with children to develop projects summarizing learning experiences using a variety of visual art mediums such as wire, clay, paint and recycled materials as well music based explorations.
The Atelierista is also intimately involved in the process of documentation and is responsible for developing and maintaining the Atelier as a beautiful, practical, creative space.
St. Thomas’s International School provides a unique education fostering bilingualism and international-mindedness. Our curriculum reflects the inquiry based learning model of the Primary Years Program and strives to reinforce all learning through English and Italian. Subjects are taught in a transdisciplinary way, through ‘Units of Inquiry’, which explore enduring concepts through central ideas. Below are the curriculum strands separated into subjects, as they are structured in our scope and sequence documents. The central idea of a unit of inquiry is usually taught through a variety or all of the following subjects:
Students develop their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills through a wide variety of learning activities. Through class discussions, group work and individual presentations children become more confident at communicating their ideas and expressing their feelings. Students are introduced to new grammar and spelling rules regularly, which they become confident at applying in written work. In creative writing students are encouraged to be imaginative and flourish in a structured learning environment. Non-fiction writing ranges from reflective prose to observational pieces related to science. This in turn is stimulated by exposure to a wide range of literature. Students are expected to read regularly at school and at home to become fluent readers who can infer information and above learn to enjoy the pleasures of reading.
Students develop their understanding of mathematical concepts through practical activities that are related to the real world around us. They are required to demonstrate their understanding not only in written form but also by explaining their reasoning clearly in words. Mathematics at St. Thomas’s is aligned with the objectives of the Italian state mathematics curriculum but our child-centered approach renders learning activities interactive, engaging and relevant.
Students use manipulatives to support their investigations and are encouraged to explore strategies that are logical and efficient. Students become increasingly knowledgeable of number facts through mental math games in pairs, group or whole class situations.
Throughout learning at St. Thomas’s, students develop a variety of skills which lead to greater conceptual understanding. Usually these skills are related, as one leads to a further step in the inquiry cycle. For example, scientific investigations often being with observation. Students observe carefully, examining living and non-living things to find out more about them. Next, students are encouraged to pose questions and identify problems to be explored. Scientific investigations require planning and carrying out of experiments, and through structured activities in which scientific tools are provided, students are able to obtain results in practical activities. They are able to compare these results to their predictions and are often encouraged to generate new questions which can lead to further inquiry. Through individual, paired, and group work, students refine their understanding of the physical, chemical and biological world. Our science curriculum is aligned with the Italian ministerial objectives in terms of content, but the focus is on deep understanding of concepts with the significant benefit that learners explore concepts which they can transfer to other areas of learning.
Learning about where we are in place and time at St. Thomas’s begins by exploring history and geography within a personal context. By the time they are in Grade 5, students have deepened their understanding of perspective, change and form by investigating ancient civilizations, and have become knowledgeable about regional, national and global climate and topography. At St. Thomas’s, students develop an understanding of the importance of caring for our environment and protecting it. They also find out how people influence, and are influenced by, the places in their environment. Students develop their understanding of time, recognizing important events in people’s lives, and how the past is recorded and remembered in different ways. They investigate how and why groups are organized within communities, the ways in which communities reflect the cultures and customs of their people, and how participation within groups involves both rights and responsibilities. They broaden their understanding of the impact of advances in technology over time, on individuals, society and the environment. While the aim of the social studies program is to provide learners with an enduring understanding of big ideas, its content is aligned with that of the Italian state curriculum.
As with English, learning Italian at St. Thomas’s consists of learning the language itself, as well as learning through the language. Hence, students strengthen their linguistic skills by using it in the context of all other subject areas. Students learn to express themselves with accurate grammar and vocabulary, how to adapt their expression to suit the audience, and how to use work with others and explore their feelings.
During the first years of school, children develop their Italian language skills through play, hands on activities, and explore letter sounds and shapes.
Throughout Primary, student learning is organized in three areas:
1. Development of spoken and written language
2. Reflecting on language and its structure
3. Exploring a variety of texts
By the end of Grade 5 students will have:
Become confident in comprehension and use of language
Aware of the way language is continually changing through history
Able to communicate accurately when speaking and engage attentively as listeners
Enriched their vocabulary
Become confident at using a wide variety of texts to develop knowledge, cultural awareness and pursue individual literary interests
Developed critical and inferring skills
In Drama at St. Thomas’s, students explore how we express ourselves physically and vocally. Students explore the use of facial expressions, gestures, movement, posture and vocal techniques to convey emotional or cultural meaning to both characters and stories. Children are exposed to a variety of dramatic forms including creative movement, impersonation, improvisation, mask work, mime, musical, role play, pantomime, puppetry, re-enactment, scripted drama, and skit. They find out about different cultures through stories from different times and places. They have the opportunity to present their creative work to their peers as well as families at special performances once or twice a year. Through their experiences in drama at St. Thomas’s students develop confidence and empathy and learn to collaborate and take on the responsibility required for a theatrical production.
The Visual Arts program at St. Thomas’s enables students to explore art, craft and design. Students are exposed to a broad range of experiences including architecture, ceramics, collage, costume design, drawing, illustration, jewelry, mask making, painting, printmaking, sculpture, set design, textiles and woodwork. Students begin to appreciate the visual arts by observing and responding to works created by diverse artists — from local and global, now and in the past, women and men, and by people of different backgrounds. Students develop their skills in an environment which is positive and constructive, and thereby also conducive to the creative experience.
At St. Thomas’s students are given opportunities to discover a broad range of music experiences including classifying and analyzing sounds, composing, exploring body music, harmonizing, listening, playing instruments, singing, notation, reading music, songwriting and recording. Students are supported to use their imagination and musical experiences to collaboratively organize sounds into compositions that communicate specific ideas or moods. They are also given the opportunity to respond to different styles of music, as well as to music from different times and cultures.
Physical education at St. Thomas’s is more than just student participation in sports and games. Its purpose is to develop a combination of transferable skills promoting physical, intellectual, emotional and social development and to encourage present and future choices that contribute to long-term healthy living. Students develop locomotor and manipulative skills through games and develop critical-thinking skills through adventure challenges. They recognize and appreciate the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle through discussions about the positive effect of exercise and a balanced diet. Students explore the aesthetic qualities of movement through dance and gymnastic related activities. By playing creative and traditional games students develop teamwork skills, recognize the importance of rules and become more confident at specific movements and strategies.
Students at St. Thomas’s use ICT at school in the context of other curriculum subject areas. In this way, ICT functions as a tool that enables students to extend their learning. Students primarily use ICT to research information, to communicate their ideas and to express feelings creatively. Students use and experience a variety of technological instruments in variety of situations. For example: individually by students when working on laptops, in pairs when taking photos, in whole class situations with electronic white boards. Students develop an understanding of the social and ethical responsibilities towards technology, while also becoming confident in the characteristics and uses of a variety of software programs. In Grade 5 students participate in a tablet/ipad program in which they produce and share work via an online platform.