AIS parent review: How the Early Learning Village executes the Reggio Emilia approach beautifully

Parent Dawn Tan loves the Australian International School's Reggio Emilia-inspired curriculum for turning her daughter into the confident, curious and determined little girl she is today...

Parents, we know you agree with us when we say nothing makes us happier than seeing our kids learning and growing. In order for them to do so, they need to be in an environment that both inspires and nurtures them to their fullest potential. For parent Dawn Tan, Australian International School’s (AIS) thoughtfully-designed campus and Reggio Emilia-inspired approach have helped her daughter Kimberlyn flourish in so many ways. Here’s what they had to say…

Tell us more about your child who’s attending AIS ?
My 3-year-old daughter, Kimberlyn Chia, attends nursery at the Early Learning Village at AIS. She has been there for the past 9 months and we have witnessed her grow from a shy and timid “baby” to the confident, curious and determined little girl she is today.

What were the most important factors for you when selecting a school?
There were 3 critical factors that shaped my decision:
Environment: I wanted my child to be challenged in a nurturing environment that also built resilience, fearlessness and curiosity.
Quality of teaching: The qualifications, experience and attitude of the school’s leadership team and its teachers were important to me.
Campus: I preferred a large campus integrated with facilities for sports, outdoor play and extra-curricular activities.

What sort of curriculum does this school offer?
The AIS curriculum draws on the principles of the Reggio Emilia philosophy, with the inquiry-based approach of the IB Primary Years Programme introduced from 3 years old. I had my initial reservations about the Reggio Emilia approach as it was one that was foreign to us. However, through AIS’s beautiful execution of this much lauded, but complex approach, I am much more convinced of its merits. It has inspired me to change my “East Asian tiger mom” mentality and approach Kimberlyn’s learning with the same philosophy at home. 

“I love how they treat each child as a unique individual,” says AIS parent Dawn Tan.

How has the school lived up to your expectations?
The AIS Early Learning Village has not just lived up to my expectations, but also surpassed them. At AIS, Kimberlyn’s teachers are listeners, co-learners and collaborators. They empower and encourage her to be a problem solver and a risk taker within boundaries. The classrooms, all of which are flooded with natural light, are constantly updated with creative displays, with the materials and the subject matter adapted to suit the current interests of the children. The campus, with its excellent facilities and set beautifully in nature, is also perfect for Kimberlyn to get active and play with her friends.

What does Kimberlyn like most about attending this school?
She loves the beautiful campus, her friends who come from different nationalities and backgrounds, and especially her teachers. She feels a great sense of belonging to the school. It truly is her home away from home. One of her favourite activities is playing at the giant “green” playground with her friends after school.

What do you value most about the school?
I love how they treat each child as a unique individual. The teachers observe each child’s strengths and passions, to discover how these can be further stimulated and developed. A child is never compared to his or her peers but reflections are made on his or her own progress and growth.

Are you satisfied with the level of communication you receive from the school and how they engage parents?
Yes, I am very satisfied. Parents are the heart of the AIS community. It is not uncommon for them to come by to read to the kids or share something interesting. Parents also come together to organize external playdates for the children. This fosters and deepens the relationship between the children and their families. The teachers are always open for an informal chat before and after class. The school also uses  ‘StoryPark’, an app which allows both teachers and parents to document the child’s experiences in and outside of school. This is a great tool for engaging families in the child’s development and support their learning together.

What advice would you give other parents trying to choose a school?
Nothing beats observing an actual day at the preschools of your choice. Seeing how the teachers interact with the children and the children amongst themselves speaks volumes.

This post is sponsored by Australian International School.