“What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child,” wrote British author George Bernard Shaw. For our children, learning should be filled with many moments of discovery and joy. A child’s first years in school should lay the foundations that make them lifelong learners, forever curious and open to the ideas around them. Imagination is a powerful tool for future life and learning, and it is vital that we provide students with ample opportunities to develop their imaginations whilst learning with others.
Through its 60 year history of British international education in Thailand, Bangkok Patana School has always sought to continuously improve their students’ learning experience at all stages of development. In August 2017, a newly renovated environment for the youngest students will provide even more opportunities for outdoor learning, creative role play and physical development. Some of the highlights of the new spaces are listed below.
Outdoor Learning and Physicality:
Children need an outdoor environment that can provide them with space, both upwards and outwards, and places to explore, experiment, discover, be active and healthy and to develop their physical capabilities. The outdoor environment at Bangkok Patana School offers plenty of space and is particularly beneficial to those children who learn best through active movement. Very young children learn predominately through their sensory and physical experiences, which support brain development and the creation of neural networks. They revel in freedom of movement that is inventive, adventurous and stimulating, while developing their fine and gross motor skills. Outdoor play supports children’s problem-solving skills and nurtures their creativity, as well as providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness
Connection with Nature:
In the busy, bustling, vibrant and hot city, life can sometimes become very indoor focussed. Bangkok Patana values the importance of learning without walls and we recognise that young children love the freedom of being outdoors. Our new early years environment will give children the freedom to connect with nature: mud kitchens, sandpits, water play, climbing frames and bike tracks. Playing and learning outside also helps children to understand and respect nature, the environment and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, and lifecycles.
A Sensory Experience:
Young children benefit incredibly from a multi-sensory approach to learning – appealing to all of the senses: taste, smell, touch, sight, hearing and movement. A multi-sensory approach to learning encourages talk as students respond to what they see, hear, smell, touch and taste making learning more memorable, enjoyable and effective. Through textured displays, walkways and different surfaces, children learn and make sense of the world in many different ways – not restricted to only books, paper and pencils and technology.
Quiet Reflection Spaces:
Incorporated into the new learning environment are spaces that offer time out from busy play to sit and wonder. Just like adults, children appreciate quiet, calm time to think and be mindful. Mindfulness practices are beneficial for children for the same reasons they help adults, contributing to reduced stress, improved sleep quality and heightened focus when necessary.
Outdoor and indoor amphitheatres for role-play and expressive arts:
For children, role play is essentially learning through play. Role play is an active, social activity and children use it to reflect on and develop their knowledge of a topic. Through our role play areas, children are able to act out and make sense of real-life situations whilst developing social, language and communication skills. By taking on the role of different story characters, our children are given opportunities to empathise and develop an understanding of different perspectives.
Overall, the new early years learning spaces at Bangkok Patana reflect a very child-centred, natural aesthetic. Students are not over-stimulated through the overuse of colour and clutter. A focus on the natural environment and soothing colours enable children to more easily see the links between each area of learning. Achieving a balance in colour enables children to relax and truly feel at home.