Schools of Early Learning are a family business offering high quality education and care services for children aged six months to six years for families in Perth, Western Australia which has been operating for more than 40 years.
Schools of Early Learning have incorporated an inquiry-based approach to learning for many, many years. Our values of Integrity, Curiosity, Mindfulness, Resilience and Leadership are manifest in our belief in providing spaces for capable, competent children learning in beautiful, inspiring and inviting environments, being supported by reflective practitioners who work collaboratively with each other and the children as co-learners.
Our kindy children have long been active citizens, mentoring other children, contributing to community gardens, building relationships with schools and organisations in other countries, writing to local councils, contributing to a food bank, fundraising for charities and visiting seniors in retirement homes.
The International Baccalaureate offers us an opportunity to add an aspect of international validity to our already mature and sophisticated practice, strengthening our positions as leaders in the Australian Early Learning sector and strong advocates for children.
The articulation of concepts, dispositions, communication and thinking skills, personal and social skills, inquiry skills and actions has strengthened educators’ intentions in their planning for each inquiry.
Alignment with IB transdisciplinary units has given more substance to some elements of SOEL practice:
- Previous focuses on ‘rules and limits’ are now ‘Agreements’ leading children to think about ‘how we organise ourselves’
- Previous focuses on social interactions are now investigations into ‘Relationships and Connections’, leading children to think about ‘how we share the planet’
- Our rich ‘Images of Me’ investigation has been supported by thinking of it as ‘who we are’.
- Our focus on Agency has supported educators to listen to children’s voices, support their choices and increase their ownership over each part of the programme.
Our professional learning programme is now underpinned by the same elements as the children’s investigations.
All SOEL staff and Directors have not only applied the IB Learner Profile to the attitudes and behaviours of children but have thought deeply and seriously about how they display these attributes themselves.
The International Baccalaureate provides SOEL with an international link to schools with similar educational philosophies, to educators researching children’s learning and to tools that strengthen educators’ abilities to listen to children, respect their dignity and rights, support their agency, nurture their curiosity, develop their resilience and enable them to take responsible, thoughtful action.