A visit to Miles ELP International Academy
Nursery teacher Amanda Jones shows us around Miles ELP International Academy in Repulse Bay.
Amanda Jones is responsible for a class of two and three year old children at Miles ELP International Academy. The school offers bilingual (English and Mandarin) classes for children aged between eight months and six years.
Every day we start our class with free play to settle the children into the start of the school day. Some children choose to play with their favourite toys and some help me with classroom tasks such as watering the plants, feeding our class pet Rollie, and preparing snacks. We then have circle time to talk about the theme of the day that is related to our monthly inquiry unit; children also greet each other and sing songs together during circle time. After that, it is exploration time – four to five learning stations are set up for children to freely explore. They mainly involve language (English and Mandarin), logical thinking, science, practical life and art and craft. This structure allows children to learn at their own pace and it motivates them to learn based on their interest and ability. It also gives teachers time to work with children individually.
After exploration, we have snack time and playground. Depending on the weather and pollution, we sometimes stay indoors or go to the beach or our rooftop garden. After that, we either have music time with our professional musician teachers, show and tell, imaginative play, library time, or a volunteer parent might lead an activity.
We then have a little quiet time before finishing the class where children can read books, draw or play with building blocks.
Our child-centered program requires us to do a lot of observation in class so that we can design the curriculum based on children’s learning habits, interests and abilities. Each month we have one inquiry unit which we use to teach across subjects. This creates a cohesive learning environment which helps children to relate one idea to another. Based on this inquiry unit, and with reference to Early Years Foundation Stage Framework of the BritishNational Curriculum (EYFS), we design four to five learning stations every day. Our Experiential Learning Program (ELP) emphasises hands-on experiences and motivating children to find answers to their questions independently. Most inquiry units are followed by outings or meetings with specialists to help children understand that what they learn in the classroom is useful in their daily life, motivating them to learn more.
For example, we have an inquiry unit on ‘Space’. We enhance children’s language skills by having them role play astronauts and go through the names of items we see in space and the space station. We make planets using yarn (children practice their hand movement by wrapping around a balloon using yarn) and compare the sizes of the planets. To help children understand concepts of 2D and 3D, we have them use different shapes to design rockets on paper, then provide them with building blocks of different shapes and ask them to construct a 3D rocket based on their 2D designs.
One of the important elements of our teaching approach is natural play. We believe that nature is the best classroom and it provides many open-ended resources to stir children’s imagination and creativity. That’s why we bring our children out to the beach and rooftop garden for them to explore and discover. Children need outdoor play for at least 45 minutes a day, but in a busy city like Hong Kong this is difficult to achieve. We are lucky to be situated right next to the beach. On the other hand, we incorporate our carefully designed curriculum so it is not just free play when we bring our children outside. For example, we recently did painting on mirror and aluminum foil under the sun so that children could explore the concept of reflection.
Miles ELP International Academy
Application date: Rolling admission policy
Year founded: 2014
Total number of pupils: 80
Age range: 8 months to 6 years
School fees: $8,200 per month for half day sessions, $11,200 for the full day.