The Early Years Framework has a clear rationale, aligned to each individual Taaleem school and to the national educational vision of the UAE. It has breadth and balance across all subjects. It has three major areas which are fundamental, work together, and support development in all other subjects. These are:
- Personal and social and innovation skills – making relationships, developing self-confidence and self-awareness, managing feelings and behaviour and understanding Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures
- Communication and language – listening, understanding and speaking in Arabic and English
- Physical development – movement, health and self-care
- It also has specific areas which include essential skills and knowledge for children to participate successfully in society. These are:
- Literacy – reading and writing in Arabic and English
- Mathematics – numbers, shape, space and measure
- Understanding the world – people and communities, the world, science and technology
- Expressive arts and design – exploring and using media and materials, being imaginative.
Personal and Social and Innovation Skills
This area of the Early Years Framework permeates every aspect of school life. Through the subject matter and the way it is taught, children learn to respect themselves and others. It builds their self-confidence and self-awareness and helps them manage their feelings and behaviour so that they make strong and respectful relationships with others. They learn empathy and tolerance of others. They begin to develop a sense of personal responsibility and to regulate their own behaviour. They develop an understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures. Young children of every cultural or ethnic background need to develop a secure and positive sense of their own identity and we ensure that children see themselves and their family reflected in play resources, visual images and books.
Communication and Language
The communication and language framework is vital in helping children develop into good communicators and keen readers. Children enjoy varied practical experiences and gain rapid confidence and fluency through reading and telling stories, role-play, songs and discussion that encourage them to ask and respond to questions. Stimulating displays remind children of what they have experienced, using objects, artefacts, photographs and books.
The language framework celebrates the many benefits of learning both Arabic and English. The ability to think and speak in a second language requires children to be confident and articulate in their first language. Through learning both Arabic and English children have opportunities to strengthen their skills and confidence in using their first language while learning the second language. This contributes to their overall cognitive development and mental flexibility and in turn, also helps improve their self- esteem as learners and individuals. Crucially important, it enables all children to celebrate Arabic culture and heritage.
Physical education provides wonderful opportunities for children to develop their physical fitness, confidence, control and coordination. The activities are carefully designed to engage children and encourage them to “have a go”, and try some that they can’t quite do yet. Adults support children by talking about how they and children get better at things through effort and practice, and what they can learn when things go wrong. Links with personal and social skills are particularly strong; children are encouraged to be proud of what they accomplish and to aim high. The respect adults show for children’s efforts and ideas helps children feel safe to take a risk and try out new ideas.
The literacy framework develops children’s early reading and writing skills systematically, so that they learn to read and understand simple sentences and to write simple sentences in meaningful contexts which can be read by themselves and others. Enthusiasm for reading and talking about reading pervades each classroom and encourages a love of books so that children read for pleasure and information. Classroom environments are rich in print, which acts as a ‘second teacher” enthusing children, giving purpose to and supporting their independent reading and writing.
The mathematics framework encourages children to develop an interest and curiosity about numbers, shape and measure from their everyday experiences. Through careful guidance and imaginative resources, children deepen their understanding through practical age-appropriate activities. They use mathematical language increasingly in their role play as, for example, they discuss how many places they need to set at a table for their friends or why more blocks can be fitted into a square box. They become increasingly confident in trying different approaches to solving mathematical problems. They use counting to help them solve problems that are important to them like sharing a sandwich equally with friends.
Understanding the World – People and Communities, the World, Science and Technology
This area involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment. Exposure to exciting activities and scientific ways of working in age-appropriate ways builds on children’s natural curiosity about the world. It helps children develop their understanding of people and communities, similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. By studying pictures of old Dubai and Abu Dhabi, children learn how places, traditions and people change and what remains the same. They listen to visitors and ask about aspects of their lives or things they do in their work. They learn about similarities and differences between themselves and others and to respect these differences. They observe the features of their own immediate environment and learn how environments might vary from one to another and explore reasons for this. Using magnifiers, magnets and natural resources, children make observations of animals and plants to explain why some things occur, and talk about changes. They carry out experiments and make predictions and explain how and why things change like seeds growing into plants or ice melting in water.
Children select and use technology for particular purposes to support their learning across the framework. They use it to aid the process of exploration and investigation with open-ended experiments where the process is as important as the product.
Expressive Arts and Design
Creative ideas take time to develop and flow and children need time to experiment and play and, through trial and error, initiate and express their own ideas and to finish working through these. Children represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role- play and stories. What really matters is the effort and the ideas that have gone into the drawings or models as children experiment with different media and materials or acting out their stories or expressing their ideas and feelings through music, painting, modelling, clay, and collage
Creative experiences are full of opportunities for children to talk and develop language and for adults to listen to them, to take time to look at what children have created, and then display it. It is through these experiences that children recreate their world and make sense of their own ideas.