Early childhood is a vital period in a child’s learning and holistic development, and it is through play and inquiry that children are able to develop cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally.
With over 22 years’ experience in education, Vanessa Ellison is a bona fide expert in the field. Beginning her teaching career in her native UK and moving into academic leadership positions, she then taught kindergarten and pre-kindergarten for six years in Beijing before joining ACG School Jakarta as Senior Teacher for Early Learning in 2019.
As an early childhood specialist, Vanessa firmly believes in the importance and advantages of effectual kindergarten programmes for our youngest learners.
“Early childhood is a vital period in a child’s learning and holistic development, and it is through play and inquiry that children are able to develop cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally,” she says.
“We place great emphasis on growing children’s conceptual understanding, along with important skills such as communication, innovation, problem-solving and self-management, to equip them with the tools they will need in later life.”
ACG School Jakarta’s Kindergarten promotes an inquiry and play-based learning environment which has been carefully designed to capture a child’s natural curiosity, creativity and sense of wonder.
“Students have uninterrupted blocks of play, hands-on exploration and investigation which engages them in stimulating and meaningful learning experiences,” Vanessa explains.
“There are endless opportunities for children to be creative and think innovatively through the use of different tools, equipment and open-ended materials. The children also explore the natural world through art and are encouraged to use their imagination and express their thoughts and feelings in many different ways.
“Every day, I observe my students solving problems all by themselves because they are in a safe and accepting space, where their efforts are valued and celebrated.”
Vanessa feels the success of the ACG Kindergarten curriculum lies in the way it incorporates the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) inquiry and high-quality play-based learning experiences as the method by which the programme is delivered. This allows children to be active participants and leaders of their own learning.
“Additionally, our pedagogy is inspired by Reggio Emilia and the Kathy Walker Learning Approach, where we create an evolving learning environment that empowers students’ curiosity and exploration,” she reveals.
“I work with a team of highly skilled, experienced and passionate educators who encourage the students to pursue their individual interests. In this way we can customise learning based on their unique needs and motivations.
“The children find it exciting because we are so responsive to their needs and interests. We encourage and fully support them with their self-initiated projects, providing all the materials and resources they need.”
The rewards of working with children are many for Vanessa who fosters strong relationships with her team, her students, their parents and caregivers.
“I often refer to us as a ‘kindergarten family’ because over time, that is what we become. For me, teaching early childhood is my greatest passion (apart from being a devoted mum of two young girls!) and the genuine care and affection I have for my students results in very strong relationships and highly successful partnerships with parents. It is so rewarding to work together to support children in becoming happy, secure and confident learners who love to come to school each and every day!”