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Early Years Program

Merlins, Pre-K 1, Pre-K 2, Kindergarten (approx. 2 - 6 years old)

Our Early Years (EY) program lays all the essential foundations that each student needs to begin his/her lifelong learning experience. It is structured with the full understanding that this is a child’s first step outside the home in a structured learning environment.

In their early years children learn through loving, trusting and respectful relationships, and through discussion, exploration and play. They learn about languages and how and when to use them; they learn to think and to interact with others and the environment. They learn to be creative and adventurous, to develop working theories about their world, and to make decisions about themselves as learners.

Our EY program celebrates early childhood as a time of being, and of enjoying and learning from experiences as they unfold. This early learning also lays important foundations for later learning, marking the beginning of children’s lifelong learning journeys.

Teaching and learning in EY focuses on six core domains of development. To address these core domains, content is integrated into a specific theme that is explored with children around essential questions, learning objectives and articulated skills. Each domain is related to and influences the others. For example, as our children’s working memory develops (a component of Approaches to Learning), their ability to follow multi-step instruction improves, and their ability to learn complex math concepts increases.

6 Core Domains of Development

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED) are three building blocks of future success in life. They are closely linked to each other and often bracketed together as one area of learning and development, and they attest to the belief that every individual can and should make a difference.

Health and Physical Development

Early health habits lay the foundation for lifelong healthy living. Equally important, physical well-being, health, and motor development are foundational to young children’s learning. With an emphasis on health, movement, and physical development in the Early Years, children improve their balance and their general gross motor skills. They also acquire manipulative skills, and they are given numerous opportunities to develop fine motor skills (painting, writing implements, scissors, playdough, etc.) Health and physical development is attended to through twice weekly PE classes with a specialized PE teacher and with facilitated structured and unstructured play.

Communication and Language

The ability to communicate is at the very heart of early learning and development. Effective communication helps children learn to think about and make sense of their world. They communicate from birth using many different ways of giving and receiving information. Each of these ways is important in its own right. Learning to communicate in early childhood is shaped by two main factors: children’s own ability and their environment.

As an international school in France, language development and communication also includes daily French instruction (PK1-KG) and twice weekly for the Merlins.

In the EY, the following programs are used to structure language development:

  • The Read, Write, Inc. Phonics (PK1, PK2, KG) is a program that uses systematic phonics to teach all children to read. The sounds are taught in a specific order; then children learn to blend those sounds together in order to read words in matched storybooks. Each storybook is carefully matched to the sounds the children can already read – setting them up for success.
  • Words Their Way (KG) is a developmental spelling, phonics, and vocabulary program. This program is intended to be a part of a balanced literacy plan that includes fluency, comprehension and writing. Word study is implemented as a small component of the literacy plan but it is also interwoven in actual reading and writing texts. This program is the perfect addition to our phonics program, harmonizing with it.
  • The Writing Workshop from Teachers’ College, Columbia University, NY (KG) helps children become avid and skilled writers and inquirers. This program accomplishes this goal through research, curriculum development, and through working shoulder-to-shoulder with students, teachers, and school leaders.

Making Sense of the World

As a child of the RSHM global network of schools, our youngest learners are taking the first steps to understanding that they have the right and responsibility to contribute to their world. The development of conscientious global citizens and principled agents in the global community are important concepts at Marymount International School, Paris, and these concepts find root in the EY program.

In order to make sense of the world, the ideas of cause and effect, action and reaction, initiative and consequence are explored in EY. Given the developmental stage of our learners, it is essential that these concepts find expression in everyday life to be accessible to their understanding. For that reason, hands on activities and real world applications are used through the Math, Science, Social Studies and Technology. These four areas are included in this Making Sense of the World domain.

A crucial element of helping our students in their development is an integrated approach to Technology. At Marymount we are able to provide our EY students with ready access to tablet technology, helping them gain confidence in using these tools for their learning. Children are encouraged to use technology to suit their learning purposes. In EY children develop their digital learning portfolios, which we believe contribute to the children’s better understanding of their development and performance in the different areas.

Creative Development

Much of children’s early learning and development takes place through play and hands-on experiences. Through these, children explore social, physical and imaginary worlds. These experiences help them to manage their feelings, develop as thinkers and language users, develop socially, be creative and imaginative, and lay the foundations for becoming effective communicators and creative problem-solvers.

In the EY program, the students have twice weekly music lessons with a specialized teacher. In addition to these classes, songs, chants, and finger plays are used throughout the day to structure class activities, ignite the students’ curiosity, and develop a love of language. Movement activities (dance) and performances (drama) accompany much of the music program. The concerts and performances are community-building moments that are demonstrations of the learning and achievements of our EY learners.

Visual arts are a primary means of expression in pre-literacy years. Art projects develop an appreciation of beauty, craftsmanship, and self-expression while also developing a child’s fine motor skills. In EY Art is integrated across the learning program and is taught by the EY classroom teacher. Children are encouraged to be involved in both making their own art and enjoying the art of others, as we believe that we are creating opportunities to the development of the whole child. Art is a joyful activity for children that allows discovery and exploration, active and engaged learning.

Approaches to Learning

Approaches to learning focuses on how children learn. It refers to the skills and behaviors that children use to engage in learning.

The Approaches to Learning domain incorporates emotional, behavioral, and cognitive self-regulation under a single umbrella to guide teaching practices that support the development of these skills. This domain also includes initiative, curiosity, and creativity. Supporting children’s skills in this domain helps children acquire knowledge, learn new skills, and set and achieve goals. They learn to successfully navigate learning experiences that are challenging, frustrating, or simply take time to accomplish. How children engage in learning influences development in all domains and directly contributes to success in school.