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In accordance with the British curriculum, children enter Year 1 from the age of 5, accordingly, preparatory classes teach children from the age of 4. It helps children to prepare thoroughly for the school curriculum and to lay the foundation for inclusive quality education.
The lessons place particular emphasis on play-based learning, because children of this age are easily distracted and get tired easily, thus they need a quality well-conceived programme. However, in this case, it is not just an entertaining format – in fact, every game reflects the developments of professional teaching methodology experts. The teachers engage pupils and endeavor to give them important basic knowledge, and none of them could be required to sit still at their desks and perform complex written tasks. Everything is much simpler, and at the same time more interesting and elaborate!
Our maximum class size of 20, allows teachers to provide individual support in pursuing the curriculum. An experienced class teacher from the UK and three pedagogically trained support teachers lead the Reception Class.
Teaching hours take the first part of the day, from 8.00am to 2.00pm, while in a kindergarten children learn from morning until evening. During this time, a child receives far greater knowledge, compared with the usual educational games in a kindergarten. Engaging and play-based learning covers English, Literacy, Maths, Understanding the World and pays attention to the physical development of a child. Adaptation is very important. Special methodologies have been developed to teach children how to integrate into the society, as well as to form and express their opinion. It would appear that the programme is difficult for 4-year-olds, however after you visit even one lesson, you will see that every child is able to accomplish it.
Lessons in the Reception Class are more than ordinary. The teachers recognize that 4-year-olds can’t keep their focus throughout the lesson, therefore, 15 minutes at the beginning of the lesson and 10 minutes at the end are devoted to a carpet time for watching videos, completing activities on an interactive whiteboard, games and discussions.
Pupils gain knowledge from colorful books or educational video content. For example, this format is used in the educational shopping games. First, children watch a video, and then together with a teacher try to form a role of a buyer or a seller. They try to sell or exchange “goods”, pay and even give change! They come up with price tags, analyzing the popularity of products on the shelf. Also, this interaction is useful for the development of speech and communication; kids try to negotiate and agree on a price, they don’t resent in case of a refusal, but, on the other hand, are looking for alternative options for purchases. If you specify the correct format of games, children will learn much more!
Children also like individual tasks based on a “chili pepper” practice: all classroom tasks are divided according to the “pungency” (complexity) on 1, 2 and 3 chili. Before starting the lesson, the teacher asks children what “pungency” they prefer today, and based on the results they are divided into 2 groups with tasks of appropriate complexity. Interestingly, on some days and on different subjects, children can choose different “pungency”, so they are not afraid to speak explicitly about the complexity of a particular topic.
The teacher, in turn, acts in accordance with the best practice by helping the first group to consider a topic in depth, the second group to clarify and master their knowledge, and the third group to start working on more difficult tasks. This helps the first group, if necessary, to revise the material, while children from third group will not be bored because of the repeated review of a topic.
Learning English is central to our Lower School at Haileybury. All lessons are taught in English, except for Kazakh, Russian and foreign languages (Mandarin, French). From an early age, pupils get acquainted with the peculiarities of the language. After Lower School, they show amazing results that exceed the average figures of British children of the same age whose first language is English.
For example, children learn English through a game called “The Queen”. Children speak in English and try to copy the majestic style of speech of the royal person and speak with a special expression. Gradually, children develop as competent and enthusiastic speakers, use appropriate vocabulary and correct pronunciation.
The main message for every learner is the importance of doing your best, which will be enough to get a good grade.
Periodically, the administration organizes special meetings for a child, teacher and parents to assess the pupil’s progress. The first 10 minutes are allocated to a pupil him/herself, so that a child can tell about his/her results, show the work and analyze achievements and areas for development. Thus, a child does not feel criticized, but independently concludes that there are areas that need improvement.