Early Year Stages
To introduce this section, we would like to quote from the National Curriculum Framework: 2005. ‘Learning for the sake of being examined in a mechanical manner takes away the joy of being young, and delinks knowledge from everyday experience’.
For the curriculum to serve its noble purpose, it must become a facilitator of curiosity and enthusiasm. After capturing a child’s attention it must accelerate knowledge gaining. It should provide the child with questions to ask, with pursuits to follow and act as an interface between individual experience and theoretical assimilation. By doing so, such a curriculum will then breathe new life into the educational process. Children will then understand the importance of arranging and rearranging concepts so as to gain a stronger grasp on studied matter…and reject information that was memorised without any conceivable use in mind.
Let us now offer you a detailed insight of the curriculum.
The early childhood curriculum at Universal is designed to satisfy the needs, interests and abilities of the young child as well as the demands of the 21st century. Our curriculum draws inspiration from the theory of constructivism, the Reggio Approach Learning and the theory of multiple intelligences.
Young children are by nature curious, active learners who learn best from direct firsthand experience. With the help and support of their co-learner, the teacher, they are able to construct meaning and reflect on their own learning. Such an approach prepares the ground for the young child to develop into an independent learner; such an approach also demonstrates the need for critical thinking and problem-solving throughout the day.
Play is at the centre of our early childhood curriculum as research has shown time and again the benefits of play for young children. Play not only clarifies concepts, facilitates social development and provides emotional relief but also provides sheer joy to the young learner!
THE WHOLE CHILD
- Our curriculum lays emphasis on developing all the aspects of the child: cognitive, physical, social and emotional. We resonate with the theory of Multiple Intelligences that focuses on the development of the whole child.
Linguistic: The capacity to use words effectively, whether orally (e.g., as a storyteller) or in writing (e.g., as a poet)
- Logical-mathematical: The capacity to use numbers effectively (e.g., as a mathematician, tax accountant, or statistician) and to reason well (e.g., as a scientist, computer programmer, or logician).
- Spatial: The ability to perceive the visual-spatial world accurately (e.g., as a hunter, scout, or guide) and to perform transformations upon those perceptions (e.g., as an interior decorator, architect, artist, or inventor).
- Bodily-kinesthetic: Expertise in using one’s whole body to express ideas and feelings (e.g., as an actor, a mime, an athlete, or a dancer) and facility in using one’s hands to produce or transform things (e.g., as a craftsperson, sculptor, mechanic, or surgeon).
- Musical: The capacity to perceive (e.g., as a music aficionado), discriminate (e.g., as a music critic), transform (e.g., as a composer), and express (e.g., as a performer) musical forms.
- Interpersonal: The ability to perceive and make distinctions in the moods, intentions, motivations, and feelings of other people.
- Intrapersonal: Self-knowledge and the ability to act adaptively on the basis of that knowledge.
- Naturalistic: Expertise in the recognition and classification of the numerous species—the flora and fauna—of an individual’s environment and the capacity to discriminate among inanimate objects such as cars, sneakers, and CD covers.
RESPECT FOR DIVERSITY
Our curriculum is socially and culturally appropriate. We respect diversity and impress upon the young child an awareness and appreciation of cultures other than one’s own through the celebration of festivals.
THE PROJECT APPROACH
The Project Approach as developed by Lillian Katz and Sylvia Chard is one of the unique aspects of education at our institute. Through this approach the child and the teacher become co-investigators as they embark upon the study of a topic of significance. Field trips, interviewing resource persons, reading books, watching audio-visual content and most importantly documentation of the learning process, form parts of the process leading to the culmination of the topic. In this approach, our objective is that young children learn critical thinking and problem solving, important aspects of ‘the learning to learn’ phenomenon.
The child at Universal also learns about the other 3 R’s – responsibility, respect and the importance of relationships, through the life skills programme specially integrated into the curriculum.
THE LEARNING PROGRAM
- Arousing the curiosity of the child thereby creating joy in learning
- Learning through doing, observing, reasoning and most importantly first hand experience
- Creating a healthy and holistic learning environment by enhancing non-formal learning
- Giving greater impetus to child centred, child directed activities as opposed to teacher directed activity
- Teaching aids like story books, picture books, films, worksheets, activity sheets, puppets, slides and other audio visual representations form a part of the process of learning
- In the first year, the activities conducted aim at increasing the child’s trust in the learning place i.e. the new environment, the new teacher, the new set of children that are present. Play is the primary medium of education. Age appropriate toys and learning tools are provided to children.
- In the second year, games, music and play activities increase the interpersonal contact between the children. At this stage, appropriate attention is paid to strengthening pre-reading and pre-writing attributes of each child.
- In the third year, motor and speech skills are improved through games, scribbling, colouring, recitation, music, drama. Enhancing the linguistic abilities of the children assumes great priority.
- In the fourth or final year, physical and mental co-ordination is further accelerated by way of specially supervised activities like cutting with safety scissors, puzzle solving and building blocks. Increased self reliance is encouraged while the training imparted ensures that each child is proficient and ready for formal learning.
At Universal, we do not necessarily view assessments as the sole measure of a child’s potential. In a rapidly evolving educational environment, methods and techniques need to match the need of the hour. To achieve our greater goals, we prefer an approach that considers both sides of the coin.
At this tender age careful attention is paid to a child’s likes and dislikes.
This minute observation is recorded in detail and provided as a report to parents on a term wise basis.
The assessment serves a dual purpose:
- Offers an indication of the strengths and weaknesses of each child to the teacher so that she may further fine tune the instructional programme
- Offers you feedback about your child’s abilities, likes and dislikes
- Our assessment includes a formal written document that traces minute details across all the areas of development. This is shared with you twice a year.
- In order to arrive at this assessment, the teacher makes detailed observation on a regular and periodic basis.
- This kind of assessment recognizes the uniqueness of each learner and allows for differences in styles and rates of learning.
- This assessment utilizes an array of tools and a variety of processes including, collections of representative work [artwork, stories], records of systematic observation by teachers, records of conversation and interviews with children.
Universal’s primary years (Grades 1 to 6) programme is built around the Cambridge Primary which provides a framework to develop Math, English & Science knowledge in young children. During these years, we motivate a learner to be increasingly curious & discover information about the surrounding world. Cambridge Primary’s advantages are:
International curriculum: Appropriate and relevant internationally, the Primary Programme has been designed to be culturally sensitive. It includes top–quality teaching & assessment resources appropriate for teaching and learning in international schools.
Foundation for secondary education: The Primary programme aids identification of a learner’s strengths & weaknesses to support learning & development. The Primary programme progresses learners seamlessly into the Cambridge Secondary 1 programme.
External benchmark: As an international programme, the Primary programme provides teachers with an external benchmark to easily measure learners’ progress over time.
Flexibility: Cambridge Primary complements a range of teaching methods & curricula. Other than Math, English and Science, Universal has included subjects like ICT, Arts, Humanities, Design & Technology and an additional language.
Cambridge Secondary 1
The Cambridge Primary is followed by the middle years (Grades 7 & 8) based on the Cambridge Secondary 1. The Cambridge Secondary 1 is a flexible programme that builds on and seamlessly connects with the Cambridge Primary through careful progression tests monitoring progress from Cambridge Primary to Cambridge Secondary 1. It further enhances the knowledge and skills acquired by the learner in English, Mathematics and Science during the primary years.
While the primary years establish a solid platform of enquiry and create a thirst for knowledge, the middle years shift the emphasis of enquiry. During these 3 years, understanding the prescribed academic concepts is of prime importance. Students continue to question and learn through active experience but in the middle years, great focus and attention is paid to the facts and principles underlying each subject. Extensive participation in co-curricular activities is mandatory while special age appropriate programmes also form part of the educational milieu.
The Cambridge Secondary 1 provides an excellent preparation for the next stage of education – the IGCSE. Apart from English, Math & Science, the middle years also includes ICT, Arts, Humanities & one more Language. The Cambridge Secondary 1 provides opportunities for research, self-exploration & peer-feedback.
Cambridge Secondary 2
For the Secondary years (Grades 9 & 10), Universal has built a core curriculum around the IGCSE, extended it to suit learners and introduced cross-curricular perspectives.
IGCSE is the world’s most popular 10th-level international curriculum. IGCSE is a comprehensive 2-year international curriculum (for Grades 9 & 10) that develops students’ skills in creative thinking, enquiry & problem solving, and gives them excellent preparation for the next stage in their education. At the beginning of the Universal’s 2-year IGCSE programme, learners are guided to choose subjects from 5 core subject groups. Each subject is certificated separately. Many subject choices are available, offering a variety of routes for learners of different abilities.
It lays an excellent foundation for learners who wish to continue with the Cambridge A/AS or the IB at the pre-university level.
IGCSE has world wide recognition from higher education institutions & employers as evidence of academic ability. Grading is on an 8-point scale (A*–G). Grade C in English satisfies the English proficiency requirements of universities in English speaking countries.
Cambridge Advanced, typically for 16-19 year olds, helps learners to develop deep understanding and independent learning and critical thinking skills which universities value highly. It builds on the foundations of Cambridge Secondary 2 and leads to entry to universities worldwide. Cambridge Advanced includes Cambridge International AS and A Level and Cambridge Pre-U qualifications; both focus on equipping learners with skills they need to succeed at university, and as such, are recognised by universities and employers worldwide.