Children from birth to six years display distinct characteristics of social, emotional and intellectual crucial to the fundamentals of early human development. On that basis, children at these ages should be given a proper education that can prepare them for the real world. As parents are becoming more aware of the importance of early age education, a number of preschools in Jakarta are providing unique learning approaches.
High/Scope Institute Indonesia, for instance, has since its establishment in 1996 been promoting the High/Scope approach, which is based on the ideas of Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist who was known for his theory of cognitive development and genetic epistemology. First developed in the United States, High/Scope’s approach focuses on teaching children to be able to do new things, not repeating what the previous generations have done.
“A preschool needs to develop a curriculum that can build a strong foundation for the next generation to be more innovative individuals,” Antarina S.F. Amir, managing director of High/Scope Institute Indonesia, advised. The presence of High/Scope in Indonesia has truly become a breakthrough in the way that the school’s effective learning approach is designed to nurture children toward becoming internationally innovative citizens.
Antarina added that one’s quality of life could be traced to his or her first years of life. Children at a young age are in the phase that their experiences determine their language proficiency, motor skills, adaptive abilities and social emotional functions.
“We are aware of this condition. So, our curriculum is uniquely designed to nurture healthy development from the early years as a means of preparing students for a bright future. Without support during their early years, children are more likely to fail in their future academic lives and to face obstacles in integrating into society,” she observed.
High/Scope’s early childhood curriculum allows High/Scope’s skilled teachers to nurture young children with more than just academic excellence. No less importantly, they are naturally exposed to different cultures, which promotes open-mindedness and tolerance.
In order to achieve an outcome-based learning progress, Antarina said that active learning at High/Scope was pictured as a “wheel rotating on a hub” that directs students through hands-on involvement with people, materials and events.
“Our teachers actively guide our preschoolers toward achieving their personal goals. The teachers encourage the children to actively participate in a two-way interactive class. While these children explore, ask and answer questions and interact with peers and teachers, they engage in key experiences that allow them to develop their skills and abilities,” she explained.
There are 58 key experiences in child development at High/Scope, which are grouped into 10 categories: creative representation, language and literacy, social and relations and initiative, movement, music, classification, seriation, numbers, space and time. “All of these are incorporated into an outcome-based curriculum program that provides the transition from preschool in ways of honing their maximum potential and strengthening the skills needed for success in the later grades,” she added.
At British International School (BIS), there are six areas of development that construct an activity-based preschool curriculum, which focuses on children’s multi-sensory and kinesthetic.
The six areas are language development, creative development, mathematical development, physical development, personal social and emotional development and knowledge and understanding of the world.
Also included in the curriculum are activities such as story time, singing and other related group activities, which BIS believes are vital for children to establish effective daily routines and close bond with teachers.
Christian Barkei, BIS principal, said that playing was the most relevant context for preschoolers. “So, we implement the six areas through a variety of play-based learning activities. As young children are active learners, they develop their motoric skills through their firsthand experiences.”
In the endeavor to provide the best preschool education, BIS inculcates in its students not only knowledge and skills, but also values such as integrity, respect, responsibility and empathy, all of which have the potential to nurture students to be open-minded and tolerant individuals.
Jenti Martono, the principal and academic manager at Hope For Kids bilingual preschool, raised her concern that in spite of splendid programs a preschool has to offer, parents play a big role in raising children. It is getting more common nowadays, however, that both the father and mother work.
Consequently, 50 to 75 percent of the time that should ideally be spent with their children sees them substituted by nannies or maids. In many cases, though not always, these nannies or maids have significant influence on a child’s growth.
“The concern is that a child may pick up plenty of knowledge and skills from school, but his or her nanny or maid may not be able to support the child’s intellectual and spiritual growth,” Jenti averred.
Using both English and Indonesian as the language of instruction, Hope For Kids has since July 2007 provided the Caregiver Class Program for nannies and maids covering subjects such as English, Mandarin, basic childhood development, embroidering, handicraft skills and knowledge in hygiene and sanitation.
Published in The Jakarta Post on Nov. 11, 2010.
Photos courtesy of Binus Simprug and thepioneerwoman.com