We are excited to tell you about Small World, our new program for 2-year-olds at Avenues: The World School. We hope that children and their families will greet it enthusiastically!
When children are 2 years old, they have no idea what school really is. Small World will be a child’s introduction to school – a significant part of their lives in which they will be in a classroom with classmates and teachers who care for them and provide them with fun learning opportunities until their grown-ups come to pick them up again at dismissal. Though this may sound simple, it is a brand new concept and experience for little ones who have never been apart from their parents or caregivers. They are “on their own” for the first time!
What matters at this age? First, it is the goal of the program to ensure that the little learners feel secure, happy and ready to explore in this new school environment. Children will come to understand that the classroom is a fun, safe place to learn about their own small world. Second, we hope that Small World leads children and their families to the beginning of a successful path of learning – one that will guide the learner boldly on to preschool, grade school and beyond. Developing an early love of learning where one feels safe to explore, ask questions and take risks is key.
Children in this age range are a unique bunch. Some are raring to discover the world; some take a more cautious route to learning; and still others are a bit of both. In Small World, we welcome and nurture each type of learner in our classroom, helping to shape them into successful toddlers. We take each child’s learning style into careful consideration when thinking about teaching the target language. It is our goal in Small World to set up our tiny ones with the proverbial stepping-stone on a successful path of language learning as they grow and mature.
At 2, children are still developing language pathways in their brains; they are still learning their primary language at home. During this momentous time, children are beginning to pick up new words and use them efficiently with the adults in their lives. They are beginning to feel more comfortable communicating with peers. In Small World, our little ones will develop an ear for language and learn to understand the sounds and rhythms of other languages through exposure to culturally relevant conversation, music and other engaging, age-appropriate activities. This entails careful observation and recording of the children’s needs, ensuring that the language goal fits their developmental level and guides them into a new world of understanding a different language. We call this process pre-immersion.
In pre-immersion, children will dip their toes into the world of language immersion through real-world experiences, such as exchanges during snack time, spending individual time with a teacher in a classroom area of their choosing and discovering materials together. They will also be exposed to Chinese and Spanish during more structured times – while singing songs, following classroom routines or listening to a story. Language learning happens at each child’s individual pace. The curriculum will be emergent, following the interests of the children, in order to get our little ones excited about learning Chinese and Spanish. Small-group experiences catered to learning target vocabulary will enable children to absorb language in an experiential and engaging way.