The curriculum of Ignatius Early Years is based on the characteristics of Jesuit education and influenced by the principles of the infant and toddler centres of Reggio Emilia, Italy. There are many parallels between our Ignatian ideals and those of these Italian children centres that are seen as world best practice.
The curriculum is also informed by the National Document The Early Years Learning Framework Being, Belonging and Becoming. Our early learning and care programs are of a high quality, rich in possibilities and rigor as well as being holistic. In Ignatian tradition the emphasis is on the whole person: body, mind, will and heart. We want our young people to become spiritually alive, responsible global citizens who live justly and who possess a life-long love of learning.
Central to our teaching and learning is the image of children who are competent, strong and amazing individuals who have rights and responsibilities as global citizens and need to realise their potentials. Children are encouraged to express themselves in a variety of ways, referred to as ‘The Hundred Languages’. In other words, our curriculum and teaching methods seek to provide children with the freedom to make meaning using a variety of media, e.g., drawing, movement, painting and music. Our programs are play-based and developmentally appropriate. Embedded in these programs are rich literacy, mathematical, social and environmental experiences that are made more meaningful in their link with children’s need to know and understand as they pursue their enquiries and interests. This provides a sound foundation and confidence for the more formal reading, writing and mathematical learning when they begin school and well beyond.
Our curriculum is organised around four ‘big ideas’ or concepts, namely; understanding of self, communication, environment and community. Ignatius Early Years’ curriculum embraces the interests of the children and is responsive to their curiosity and thinking. Through the enquiry process children explore, wonder and construct meaning about themselves, their community and the wider world. The classroom, both inside and out, plays a role as the third teacher by providing many provocations and stimuli. The goal is not necessarily product driven but to find out how children learn and how they use their personal experiences and knowledge to construct meaning, theorise and draw conclusions. Our educators search for a topic as a vehicle for exploring a big idea, something they predict or hypothesise that the children will warm to and want to be engaged with over an extended period of time. These proposals become our ‘documents of intent’. Sometimes these topics will change because of an intense interest indicated by the children that will also address this key idea. This process is very flexible and has many pathways and much spontaneous learning. Our educators ask provocative questions to enrich and extend the children’s theories, to encourage debate and to take children to deeper and deeper levels of understanding, knowledge construction and thinking.
“Once children see themselves as authors and inventors, once they are helped to discover the pleasure of enquiry, their motivation and interest explode.”
- Loris Malaguzzi, founding father of Reggio Emilia