Foundations for the modern child
At Nexus, for example, the IPC is combined with the Problem Solving ( Mathematics) and Communication ( Literacy) strands of the EYFS.
“We chose the IPC as we believe learning happens when developmentally appropriate experiences are planned for and scaffolded by experienced teachers. The combination of the best of IPC and EYFS allows us to ensure that learners are challenged socially, emotionally and academically,” says Edwards.
The Montessori approach was brought to Malaysia almost 30 years ago by Nan Civel, founder of The children’s house preschool chain.
Characterised by individual learning and development through freedom within limits, this method shifted the role of teachers from instructors to facilitators in the classroom.
The approach recognises that children have their own milestones and must be given space in the right environment with tools and materials that help them achieve these.
Besides The children’s house, preschools such as Brainy Bunch International Islamic Montessori and Modern Montessori International apply this unique preschool design.
This philosophy has inspired the Reggio Emilia method, which is named after the Italian town in which it originated.
It is adapted at Odyssey, The Global Preschool, where children are encouraged to be involved and immersed in learning by engaging, experiencing and manipulating with their hands.
Patrick Terence Lim, programme specialist at Odyssey, says that the montessori method develops children to be curious, participative and interested by involving them in the planning process, the engaging activities and creative expressions.
“For example, our Little Chef lessons help to make mathematical concepts and scientific skills more applicable to children – as they mix ingredients they measure and apply heat to dough they create, they learn to build on skills and concepts in everyday situations. Learning in context is the key to learning in children,” he says.
There are also other play- based methods that nurture skills through sensory activities such as the Beaconhouse and Waldorf approaches.
In the 2013 study Preschool Education in Malaysia: Emerging Trends and Implications for the Future, an upward trend was observed among parents opting for private and international facilities for their child’s first years of education.
At this stage, the National Preschool Curriculum emphasises communication skills, social skills and other skills to prepare them for formal education beginning in primary school.
In these early years, learning takes on a very fluid meaning as children are not yet involved in formal education.
Several circumstances affect parents’ decision on when and where to enrol their young ones in preschool, including the skills or experiences they want their children to pick up.
For example, there are centres with language immersion courses for children to learn a language such as Bahasa Malaysia or Mandarin while they are in the prime period for language acquisition.
In recent times, religious preschools ( particularly Islamic in Muslim- majority Malaysia) that focus on fundamental teachings and values have also cropped up to cater to parents who want faith education incorporated in their child’s early years.
Islamic preschools such as Genius Aulad and Nuh’s Ark Islamic Montessori, for instance, offer Arabic and Quranic lessons. exposing him to social norms, cues and interactions.
Two months into his time at kindergarten, Nitha says her son is not only mingling with others his age, but also learning how to be more considerate of others.
“There were some things that were harder to teach an only child at home, such as waiting for his turn in a queue or sitting down with everyone else for a fuss- free meal.
“At school with other children, he is learning to make friends and be more understanding,” she says.
The priorities and objectives of preschool education are definitely evolving to match current needs, which Lim says is important for 21st century children.
“Children these days are bombarded with an imbalance of visual stimulation via mobile devices over the development of other aspects such as physical development, problem- solving skills, social interactions and verbal communication, which are sorely neglected,” he says, implying the necessity of handson experiences that engage children to think, reason, interact, communicate and negotiate.
“We are preparing children for a future we know little about, thus instilling the dispositions and attributes of self- motivated lifelong learners is integral.”