International Early Years Curriculum
The GSAIS curriculum is rooted in the UK-based International Early Years Curriculum (IEYC).
The IEYC was launched in 2016 as the Fieldwork Education International Early Years Curriculum for children aged 2–5 years old. It is used by over 140 nurseries and early year settings, in 47 countries worldwide. The IEYC uses international best practices, holistic enquiry and play-based approaches that cover all curriculum areas including personal, social and emotional development.
Our child-centered approach encourages learning through discovery and exploration, focusing on fun, hands-on learning that is relevant to the children and nurturing their natural curiosity about the world they live in. As well as building solid foundations in literacy and numeracy, children attending GSAIS also participate in a range of special subject classes such as art, dance/hip-hop, swimming, physical education and music, all taught in English and part of our regular program. This is because we believe in the importance for children to have a wide variety of experiences in this key stage of their development, engaging them from different angles and encouraging them to grow both as individuals and as members of a group.
Our educational focus is on nurturing students to become inquisitive, well-rounded individuals through the cultivation of their intellectual, creative, personal, social, and physical abilities. We are committed to educating all of our students to be international and independent thinkers. We also focus on academic quality, an understanding of diversity, as well as language learning and communication, ethics, self-awareness and mindfulness. Our ultimate goal is for every student to gain the fundamental skill sets and knowledge to become global citizens and be well prepared to continue their education as such at the elementary school level, whether it will be at an international school or at a local school in Japan or overseas.
Our Language Arts program is based on Jolly Phonics.
Jolly Phonics is a comprehensive program, based on the proven, fun and multi-sensory synthetic phonics method that gets children reading and writing from an early age. Jolly Phonics uses the synthetic phonics method, which means that the letter sounds are taught first, on their own, and children are then taught to blend sounds together to say (“synthesize”) the word. When writing a word they identify the sounds and write down the corresponding letters. These skills are called blending and segmenting. This means that we teach letter sounds as opposed to the alphabet.
Students practice phonics, pronunciation, reading, writing and listening by learning songs, actions and stories.
Both stages of Jolly Phonics and Grammar are covered in our main program.
① Phonics Stage (PRE to K4): the letter sounds are taught in a fun, multi-sensory way. Children learn how to use the letter sounds to read and write words.
② Grammar Stage (K4 to K5): the structure of the language is taught. This includes parts of speech, spelling, punctuation and more. Children learn how to express themselves accurately and well.
Main Subjects and Activities
Students practice phonics, pronunciation, reading, writing, and listening on a daily basis, all in a fun way. We believe that learning languages correctly is extremely important to develop communication skills and the ability to understand different cultures. For teaching reading and writing, we are using Jolly Phonics and Grammar. Jolly Phonics is a synthetic phonics method of teaching letter sounds in a way that is fun and multi-sensory, enabling children to become fluent readers. By the time students graduate from K5, they will be able to use phonics to read unfamiliar words, and read and write simple sentences.
In Math, students use hands-on manipulative materials, play games, and engage in multi-sensory activities to develop number sense and link mathematical concepts to their daily lives and experiences. Children will start familiarizing themselves with numbers and counting in Preschool, where they will also learn to group objects by shape, size, and color. As the students progress through K3, K4, and K5, they will be exploring graphing, bidimensional and tridimensional shapes, patterning, measurement, ordinal numbers and number words, two-digit additions, simple subtractions, story problems, and time and calendar concepts.
Science & Social Studies
We adopt a theme-based approach for our Science and Social Studies curriculum. The themes are the same from K3 to K5, although lessons will be differentiated in difficulty depending on the children’s age group. A school-wide party and field trip, which are related to each learning theme are scheduled to enhance retention of the learned concepts.
Arts & Crafts
In Art, we offer a well-balanced variety of lessons covering both painting and crafts. We give importance to the children enjoying expressing themselves creatively through art, and value the uniqueness of each child’s creations. Art and crafts will also follow the monthly themes, taking inspiration from what the children are learning in Science and Social Studies as well as from the observation of nature.
In Japanese, students learn how to write Japanese letters (Hiragana and Katakana) as well as learn about Japanese culture and seasonal traditions throughout the year. The Japanese teacher will read Japanese books and teach the students Japanese songs. We will also be making crafts related to Japanese culture and events. We use both Japanese and English when reading books so that children who are learning Japanese as their second language can assimilate Japanese vocabulary more effectively.
During music classes, students will be using songs and instruments to learn musical notes and their values, recognizing and reproducing rhythm patterns. We will start with simple instruments such as hand bells, castanets and shakers for Preschool and K3, while K4 and K5 students will be focusing on keyboards, using singing as a guide as they play.
In Physical Education, students start developing their gross-motor skills such as running, hopping, jumping and throwing. Ball games are also an important part of our physical education curriculum, as they help develop teamwork and communication. The school also provides a gymnastic program that includes vaulting horse, mats, bars and jump rope activities.
Swimming is being taught to older children by professional instructors at the local swimming pool. Water play is also being held for younger children during summertime.
Children practice different dance styles, such as ballet, hip-hop, and jazz, while preparing for the annual events and presentations.
Outdoor playtime is an important part of our schedule. We regularly take the children to the nearby park, where we will play ball games, run and splash around in summer.
We hold birthday parties at school every month to celebrate together the birthday of all of the children born in that month in each class. Families of the birthday celebrants are invited!
Field Trip and Special Activities
To enrich the students’ learning, we will be going on field trips according to the curriculum themes about three times a year (spring, fall, and winter). In addition to full-day field trips, the students will also have the chance to participate in half-day activities in the school’s vicinities such as potato digging, visiting the neighborhood fire station, or having exchange playdates with other schools nearby.