Letter from Principal
Early Years Principal
Dear Early Years Families,
In Early Years at the Western International School of Shanghai (WISS), teachers and students shape the learning environment together to transform each learning experience. Our Early Years Team nurtures each child’s holistic development by building a strong foundation for continuous learning and respectful relationships. We offer a safe environment where children are encouraged to feel valued as members of a diverse community. Children learn English and Chinese in a natural way that is supported by our units of inquiry.
We foster each child’s natural curiosity by encompassing the students’ individual interests along with opportunities for playful inquiry supported by the IB PYP framework. Every step of a child’s learning journey is important; students are able to build upon their previous experiences through explorations, inquiry, questions, and discoveries. We inspire our students to challenge and learn more about themselves and their community. This learning doesn’t stop in school, and we develop strong home-school partnerships that help students to connect their learning to experiences at home and beyond!
Every step of a child’s learning journey is important, and we cultivate each child’s future pathway by building their foundations as lifelong learners.
We look forward to welcoming you to the WISS community very soon!
The Early Years building at the Western International School of Shanghai is home to students in Pre-Nursery, Nursery, Pre-Kindergarten, and Kindergarten. Our bright, spacious, and inspiring Early Years building provides the perfect environment for your young child’s introduction to education. Those fascinating first steps in a classroom are integral to starting a healthy, exciting, and fun learning journey.
Here at the Western International School of Shanghai, we place the student at the center of learning. Developing a curriculum that supports the natural curiosities of this stage of development and meeting the child where they are in their holistic development, we build an effective learning community that honors and supports the well-being of all its members.
We see children as unique and agentic individuals, with the capacity to be a partner in their learning, as they respond to their teachers, peers, physical environment, and resources that surround them. Engaging in authentic experiences that value their prior learning and constructs and build upon this, children develop in a natural, organic, and exciting way.
Our daily interactions as a community focus on building secure and confident communicators who have a growing realization of their agency as they interact with the world around them. Using purposeful play as a vehicle for learning, we enable students to make personal connections to inquiries organically and authentically, building on existing knowledge and understandings as they develop transferrable skills in a facilitative environment.
Children engage in a balanced curriculum in the Early Years, which meets the IB Primary Years Programme‘s standards and practices. Through carefully planned units of inquiry, children engage with big ideas in science and social studies, enabling them to develop transferable conceptual understandings. This foundation of knowledge and understanding is the platform on which they continue to grow as they build upon their learning from year to year and beyond the Early Years building.
The ib learner
The IB Learner Profile is of paramount importance as a focus for developing the essential attributes of an internationally-minded global citizen. In Early Years, children engage with the learner profile in a developmentally appropriate way, understanding how their behaviors and choices affect and impact their communities as well as creating opportunities to model themselves as effective contributors to the world around them.
Students in Early Years have the opportunity to work with Art, Music, Physical Education, and Library specialist teachers as part of their weekly schedule. All areas of learning are planned in a transdisciplinary way to ensure strong connections between all learning experiences and disciplines. As language learners, our Early Years students are immersed in an English language environment, and at WISS, we value translanguaging – the use of different languages together.
Early Years students also use our spacious outdoor environment, engaging in outdoor learning experiences designed to expand their learning.
We have open blocks of time that enable in-depth inquiry and allow children to engage in sustained play. These experiences are essential to learning and development for our youngest learners. The Pre-Nursery and Nursery children’s timetable includes a daily nap as part of a balanced sleep schedule.
The best classroom and the richest cupboard are roofed only by the sky.
Our custom-built lofts are the result of an idea that came from a group of kindergarten students who were exploring what classrooms around the world look like. Looking beyond the novelty of a raised platform, students then started making suggestions on the versatility of such a space, as well as highlighting the benefits of these spaces to learning. The Early Years Leadership Team then took these ideas and designed them to suit the appropriate developmental stages in each grade level, offering additional motor skill development opportunities using these unique learning spaces.
Small details, such as wheels on each piece of furniture, were also considered. For learning spaces to truly support learning, then they need to be adaptable. Furniture can easily be moved around to create opportunities for small groups to work or pushed out to create space for movement. Colors and textiles were considered, as was the use of light, creating harmonious and warm spaces for our younger learners. Display boards were dropped down to children’s height so that students can also contribute to developing the displays.
Taking inspiration from Early Years pedagogy from around the world, such as Reggio Emilia and Forest School, our learning and teaching is facilitated by all areas of the campus. We have access to a vast outdoor area that supports our connections with the natural world, have recently renovated flexible and adaptable learning spaces, and a wide selection of resources that pique every learner’s interest.
WISS is one of the few schools in Shanghai where learning in natural environments is integrated into the curriculum, especially in the Early Years. When planning inquiries, teachers consider how the outdoors can be used as a resource to support learning. Children access the gardening and forest areas in all seasons, learning life-long skills that also develop their role as global citizens as they learn to care for our earth.
Our Early Years learning spaces were renovated in 2019, after a year of consultation between leadership, teachers, and the students themselves. In the role of the researcher, teachers explored how learning spaces were utilized, what was needed to provide flexibility and adaptability, as well as looking at the spaces through a child’s lens to understand what and how the student perceives in the learning space. This inquiry led to a complete rethink of how the physical environment supports learning and teaching and provided an opportunity for student voice to be acknowledged and actioned.
There are three teachers of children: Adults, other children, and their physical environment.
Special Programs/ Activities
At WISS, we believe in providing opportunities to grow in a variety of ways, far beyond the experiences that take place in the classroom. Our programs also provide the opportunity to connect with many other children beyond those in their homeroom. Students acquire interpersonal skills that encourage them to cultivate meaningful and diverse relationships. Participating in various activities helps develop confidence and self-motivation, enhancing students’ abilities to work as a team, problem-solve, and think critically and creatively. Developing in young children provides a strong foundation for a future of health and well-being.
Students in Early Years have plentiful opportunities to explore their passions from a young age and try new activities, from optional after school activities to afternoon activities during the school day.
Wednesday Afternoon Activities
Afternoon activities are a mandatory part of the school day for students in Pre-Nursery through Kindergarten at WISS. Activities are teacher-driven and based on our teachers sharing their hobbies, passions, and expertise with our students. Various activities are offered and led by our teachers ranging from yoga to rock-climbing to Cake Boss.
These activities are built into the school day to allow students to try new activities and encourage them to embrace the IB learner attribute of being a risk-taker in trying something new. Early Years students do their afternoon activities on Wednesdays.
The activities run on a 6-week block schedule giving students the chance to sample 4 different activities throughout the year. We offer a variety of different activities that provide an opportunity to experience activities beyond the classroom. These include:
After School Activities
After school activities are intended to extend the students’ opportunities to develop their passions and skills further. These activities are student-driven and represent a cross-section of local and school-based providers. You can find a list of the Early Years after school activities below:
**The activities listed are just a sampling of our after school activities at the Western International School of Shanghai. The after school activities offered may change throughout the year.
|Art Club||This will be a class where children can explore and utilize various arts and materials to express and develop their creativity.|
|LEGO Discovery||Everyone loves LEGO. We will explore the possibilities of what we can create with Lego using initial provocation and open-ended play opportunities.|
|Fun Math||During the time of this activity, the children will be encouraged to explore Math and have fun.|
|Paper Cutting||Paper cutting is the art of bringing a piece of paper to life! In this creative process of drawing, folding, and cutting, kids will develop their spatial awareness, sequential thinking ability, and fine motor skills.|
|Clay/Playdough||Playdough club will develop children's fine motor skills by constructing different shapes as well as their imagination. The children could make some created and interesting ideas into their invention. Also, children learn how to cooperate with their peers to build things. It is very beneficial for kids to develop social skills.|
|Pre-K Swimming||Kids will learn water safety and basic swim skills and have fun in the water. (Pre-K ONLY)|
|Mini Masterchef||We will be building up a skill base that will lead us on a Michelin star journey as we learn how to bake and make different snacks and foods from around the world. From smoothies to pancakes, we shall be exploring how healthy food can be FUN as well as learning about hygiene and safety in the kitchen. Hats on… aprons tied… let's get COOKING!|
|Tiger Cubs Football||Footballis a team sport that teaches us valuable skills. During Tiger Cubs Football, your child will learn some of the important skills required to play football They will also develop communication and cooperation as well as thinking skills.|
|Oracle Characters||Some Chinese characters will be introduced in their baby faces --- oracle characters. Using playdough, painting, natural materials, and different mediums, we will experience this unique Chinese culture.|
|Amazing Mazes||Children will learn about what mazes are and make their own in various ways using cardboard, pipe cleaners, straws, paper, clay, and more. We will use stories to inspire mazes, such as the Gingerbread Man running from people and animals. We can also explore Rube Goldberg machines, domino runs, and more! It is a fun way to learn how to plan and create a game using problem-solving and critical thinking skills.|
|Little scientists||Using everyday household kitchen items, children will be able to try their hand at engaging with different science experiments each week, such as seeing a "volcano" erupt in front of their eyes and forming a "tornado" in a bottle.|
|Book Club||From Goldilocks to Jack and the Beanstalk, we will be exploring traditional tales and learning about story elements through shared reading, dramatic play, and hands-on activities.|
|Dance||Students will explore different movement activities in an open-ended play environment.|
|Weather Watchers||Students will watch different weather and present their observations in their own way. Design symbols; make a weather report; use different words to describe the weather on the Weather Channel, even make "weather cupcakes".|
|Stoke Pint-sized Potters Football||Gives players a chance to learn new skills and apply them in small-sided games.|
|CSU 360˚ Swimming||Swimming is not only good for a child's health; it is a skill that could ultimately save their lives. It is vital that every child has the opportunity to learn to swim and gain core knowledge of water safety. With every new stroke a child learns, they will be developing self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment. Learning to swim at a young age can reduce a child's fear of water and boost self-esteem. Our coaches make this experience fun and enjoyable for the students while teaching them a very important life skill. For more information, please visit www.chinasportsunited.com.|
|sportED Rainbow Tennis||This tennis program is designed for children aged 3-6 with the aim of introducing the basics of tennis to the youngest of players. Limited to 12 players with two coaches, this is the perfect opportunity to have a go, learn the fundamentals, and have lots of fun! For more information, please visit www.sportedlive.com.|
|Lego & Coding||In this course, students will get to know what simple machines are (gears, pulleys, axles, and levers, etc.) and how simple machines work. In addition to Lego, students will be introduced to coding fundamentals and concepts through OSMO coding blocks. For more information, please visit www.futurekeys.net.|
|Capital Sportz Basketball||Capital Sportz Basketball Curriculum is a fundamentally sound, team-oriented approach to learning the game of basketball. Open to all skill levels, our high intensity, multi-faceted training concepts are based on the simultaneous integration of basic motor skills and solid basketball fundamentals. With a curriculum designed by Coach Leo Stanley, our coaches will efficiently transfer the necessary skills of the game of basketball to each of our players while having a ton of fun in the process!!! Ball is life!|
|WISS Young At Art||Our young artists will be working with various arts and crafts materials in fun, open-ended activities.|
|WISS Music Explorers||Our young musicians will be working with various instruments and sound sources throughout the Early Years space to explore in open-ended music activities.|
|Stoke Pint-sized Potters Football||Gives players a chance to learn new skills and apply them in small-sided games.|
A smooth transition from home to school is paramount, placing home-school relationships as a priority for… Our communications with the family are centered on building our understandings of your child as we continue the learning journey together with you.
Our homeroom teams consist of an international teacher, a Chinese teacher, and a teaching assistant. This provides a high adult-child ratio, which enables learning and teaching to be student-centered and responsive to children’s’ interests. Using an inquiry-based approach, teachers facilitate various hands-on activities that provoke curiosity, questioning, and wonder, co-constructing learning alongside children as they explore.
Our EY children learn through purposeful play, which is planned and designed to develop age-appropriate skills and conceptual understandings around science, math, language, and personal and social development. We value teachers as learners too, and continually seek to improve and enhance our teaching through engagement with global early childhood research, pedagogy, and child development.
Hear from our Early Years students
Stoke City @ WISS makes us feel proud, gives us assurance of professional sportsmanship, and leaves us feeling welcome at all times.
mother of Udo U13
There is a great sense of community at Stoke alongside sportsmanship. We are very proud to see how Nitai has developed as a soccer player and a young student. Thank you, Stoke.