A weekend of learning

Lower Elementary colleagues with Early Years consultant, Fiona Zinn.

“Knowing where you are, where you find yourself, helps you to develop a sense of your own identity and your place in the world… Every place has its own spirit, its own past and its own aspirations.” Jerome Bruner

This past weekend, our Lower Elementary faculty, as part of a group of 50 colleagues from all over the Asia Pacific region, engaged in specialized professional development entitled ‘Listening to Learning in the Early Years, Pedagogical encounters between our own contexts and the ideas of Reggio Emilia.’ The workshop explored some of the ideas that underpin the pedagogical experience of Reggio Emilia, a district in Northern Italy which has over the last 4 decades worked to develop an approach to early childhood education that is regarded as best practice the world over. The Reggio Emilia approach at its core sees each child as competent and capable. Listening to children’s thoughts and ideas, careful documentation of their thinking and creating environments that all students to extend their thinking all form a part of this approach.

We were very fortunate to have the workshop facilitated by renowned Early Years consultant Fiona Zinn. Drawing on 25 years experience in the early childhood, primary and tertiary sectors, Fiona consults widely with International Schools around the world to boldly re-imagine early years and primary pedagogy, curriculum and learning environments in response to research.

Development between birth and 8 years old is regarded as a ‘time of remarkable brain growth that lays the foundation for subsequent learning and development.”  UNESCO, 2009.

The workshop provided much food for thought. It validated many of the excellent practices we already have in place in our setting and gave the faulty the opportunity to examine how we can continue to grow and develop all that we do in the Lower Elementary school.

Have a lovely weekend,

Nitasha Chaudhuri

Deputy Principal, Lower Elementary


The ES Buddy program

Every other Thursday, the elementary school comes alive with students visiting classes across the school as part of our bi-monthly buddy program.  A highlight of the elementary schedule, the buddy program refers to a structure which involves older students being paired with younger students. Students in Upper Elementary, Grades 2-5, take the role of being older buddies and are paired with students in Lower Elementary, from Discovery to Grade 1.

Grade 1 and Grade 4 buddies working together

At UNIS Hanoi, every elementary student gets to meet and interact with their buddies every two weeks. When buddy classes meet, they have the opportunity to develop relationships and friendships and be helpful and supportive to each other.  Students spend time working on developmentally appropriate structured activities with their buddies. Activities may range from shared reading, collaborating on projects, cross-grade units of work, working with technology and celebrating student work via student portfolios.

Taking turns, honing listening skills while playing together.

A key purpose of the buddy program at our school is to develop positive relationships between the younger and older students, enhancing the sense of a friendly and supportive school community. There are benefits for the older buddy in developing leadership skills, responsibility and taking pride in their ability to be helpful. The buddy system teaches, and gives children the opportunity to practise, the important values of respect, care, valuing difference, responsibility, friendship and more.

Building together involves following instructions, being patient, sharing resources and working together.

A strategic goal across the Elementary School this year is to continue building a culture of kindness and respect across the community. From helping new students transition into school, developing empathy, social skills to promoting inclusion, the buddy program has proven to be a hugely important and much loved part of our calendar. Do ask your child about their buddy sessions. Who is their buddy this year? What do they most enjoy?

Teaching each other traditional outdoor games.

Warm regards,

Nitasha Crishna Chaudhuri

Lower Elementary Deputy Principal


Better Buddies: Creating Friendly and Caring Schools https://www.betterbuddies.org.au/bb-parents/benefits-to-your-child.phps

Buddy program benefits: New South Wales: Education http://www.dec.nsw.gov.au/about-us/news-at-det/news/buddy-program-helps-all-students

Transition a Positive Start to School: State Department Victoria, Dept of Education and Early Childhood Development. http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/childhood/professionals/learning/trkpp6.pdf