Nexus International School (Singapore)
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Nexus International School (Singapore): Providing the best foundation for a child’s education

Thinking back to childhood, it is the laughter and fun that we remember most fondly. Not many realise that these are the moments that play a large role in forming who we are later in life. A Nexus International School (Singapore) education creates those impactful moments — especially its Early Years programme where cultivating a love for learning and creativity is inspired by a play-based approach. “Research tells us that learning through play is an extremely powerful tool; it is more than just fun,” says Kindergarten Classroom Teacher & Year Leader Karen Orlowski.

“Play is a means of enriching and developing key skills in a learner. As the children play together, they practise being a good communicator, they look at a problem and are given agency to come up with solutions, they learn how to form good questions and are encouraged to keep questioning as they learn and play. Our learners will refine and carry these skills and more through their journey at school and beyond.”

Orlowski is the go-to person for the 13 educators and five classes in the Early Years department, keeping an eagle eye over the curriculum, organisation and pastoral care of the young learners. To her, there are two things that make the school’s Early Years programme stand out. The first is how the class comes together as a community. “There is agency in how the learners move, learn and work in the classroom spaces,” she says.

“The team that we have and the easy collaboration that occurs means that we bring the best of our experience and knowledge into all that we do each day. We focus on building relationships in our classes and value making connections with our Nursery and Kindergarten families. Parents are the experts on their child. We want to work in partnership with families to get to know how best to work with the individual child. It’s a wonderful way to work together and really foster a community across all of our classes.”

Nexus International School (Singapore)

Kindergarten Classroom Teacher & Year Leader Karen Orlowski oversees the curriculum, organisation, and pastoral care of young learners. Source: Nexus International School (Singapore)

The second stand-out feature has to do with the flexible learning spaces and clever use of furniture. “The open plan concept that Nexus has, which is unique in Singapore, has enabled us to have distinct areas within the larger space that are all about the child and their learning,” says Orlowski. “In these areas, we have child-sized furniture and fittings. We co-construct these with the learners which helps us to ensure that all resources are accessible for the children to use.”

The environment helps them stay focused on one area at a time with dedicated areas, indoor and outdoor spaces that include pods for collaborative play, and flexible classrooms that can be turned into music rooms, art studios, and more. Spaces can be easily transformed — the sand kitchen became a pizzeria while crates were turned into an ice cream shop. “They can go from a mat space where stories, discussions, learning and discovery take place throughout the day to a hard floor area for messy play, painting and creating to the outdoors,” says Orlowski. Specialist teachers lead Nexus’s Early Years lessons with passion and dedication, backed by years of international experience. All support staff are highly experienced in working with young children and 61% of the classroom assistants have degrees. The Early Years specialist educators are trained by Elklan for Speech and Language Support. Weekly classes include swimming lessons in the beginner’s pool with dedicated coaches, as well as music, art and PHE lessons, the latter being age-specific sessions run by specialist educators. With a lot of fun going on, these sessions let children build strong foundations in reading, writing, as well as numerical and scientific understandings – sometimes, all at the same time — in the most organic ways possible.

Nexus International School (Singapore)

Nexus International School (Singapore) Early Years students play music, create art, discover the outdoors, swim, and so much more. Source: Nexus International School (Singapore)

“The Kindergarten learners recently co-constructed an airport during our unit for How the World Works, Journeys,” says Orlowski. “They worked on maths and numbers for the timings of flights and costs. They organised people and created passports for travel which involved reading and writing. They asked questions, took turns and organised themselves into different roles throughout the process. This is how we work in a transdisciplinary way in an Early Years setting in the IB, by making authentic connections through play to real-life situations.”

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