Nurturing Inquisitive Cubs into Independent Lions

By Ailan Gates 2020-08-06 14:50:55

Parent and teacher of Harrow Shanghai discuss how the school’s new Early Years programme, Harrow Cubs, provides the perfect introduction to learning

Every school has its own unique environment, teaching styles, and philosophies, so choosing the right place does take time. Educational experts advise parents to spend time carefully researching the ideal school that will fit perfectly with their children's academic, social, and emotional needs. School visits are a must and Harrow Shanghai certainly encourages all parents to have a personal tour to help them become better acquainted with their comprehensive programmes and extraordinary learning environment.

Founded by John Lyon in 1572 under the Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I of England, Harrow has a tradition of over 450 years of academic excellence that instils core values of courage, honour, humility, and fellowship. Harrow Shanghai is the fourth institution in Harrow’s prestigious family of schools in Asia and features an environment and curriculum that combines a symbiotic synergy between traditional and educational approaches.

Offering an independent and enriching education, from its Early Years Harrow Cubs programme to the Upper Sixth, Harrow Shanghai provides its pupils with a smooth educational journey while nurturing a strong sense of identity. Kelly Marie Wailes, Deputy Head, believes that ‘in order to capitalise on the innate curiosity of children, educators need to continually ensure an open, independent and nurturing curriculum where teachers are facilitators of learning and simply help direct, shape and form a pupil’s learning through verbal, creative, cognitive and social play’.

Harrow Cubs

Harrow Cubs, the school’s new, community-inspired Early Years programme, uses thoughtfully constructed routines and play-based, inquiry-led learning approaches to provide children aged between 18 months to 24 months with the perfect introduction to a school learning environment.

Catherine, a Cubs mother at Harrow Shanghai, believes that starting school early is beneficial to a child’s social and emotional development. Before coming to Shanghai, Catherine’s daughter began preschool in Canada at the age of 18 months, helping her acquire new language and confidence as well as lots of new friendships. As a result, she felt it was important that her son was also able to have this same experience.

After comparing multiple schools in her search to find a place that would enrol a pupil as young as her son, Catherine quickly realised during a Harrow Shanghai open day that it was the perfect option; from its vast, brightly lit spaces, high ceilings, expansive indoor and outdoor play areas , and excellent safety protocols, to the fun, social, and organic pupil-led learning happening in its classrooms.

Since joining Harrow Cubs, Catherine has noticed significant improvements in her son’s independence, particularly during mealtimes, self-confidence, and sleeping patterns as well as a dramatic decrease in his egocentric perceptions. As Harrow Shanghai places strong emphasis on identifying pupils’ interests early on, Catherine recognises the remarkable development in her son’s learning comes largely down to how well her children’s teachers have come to know them. ‘One day when I picked my son up from school, his teacher told me that they had just been to the library and he had this big smile on his face… both my children love books.’

Purpose and Benefits

Heather Chimbani, a Harrow Cubs teacher from the UK that specialises in Early Years education, explains that the focus in Harrow Cubs falls into the prime areas of physical development, personal, social, and emotional development, and language and communication. These areas are fundamental and crucial for not only igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning and building their capacity to form relationships, but also to help cultivate early linguistic, perceptual, and conceptual skills.

Thanks to her extensive background in speech and language, Heather is able to establish what a child is trying to communicate and then help them identify the right words to express themselves. Techniques such as repeating what a child has said back to them helps to model the correct language and reinforce what they are trying to communicate.

Inside the classroom, pupils have plenty of opportunities to explore, experiment, discover and initiate their own activities through various play stations and multi-sensory areas, while teachers observe changes in habits and personal development. In one observation, Heather explains that one child independently discovered the concept of size by repeatedly organising a collection of toy animals. This pattern of behaviour then led to a new inquiry into the sounds that different animals make.

As our world continues to change and evolve, so too should our children’s education. By establishing a unique programme, dedicated to helping Shanghai’s youngest members of society get the best start in life, Harrow Shanghai has set a new standard in international early years education.