Early Years Guiding Principles – Beliefs and Values

The Image of the Child

  • Each child is a whole and unique individual with their own perspective, interests, ways of learning, and level of development.
  • Children have the right to be listened to and understood, and to have their autonomy respected.
  • Children bring stories, knowledge, and experience with them into the classroom, which allows unique and meaningful connections to new experiences.
  • Children are at the center of their learning.
  • Children drive their learning through exploration, experimentation and social interaction.
  • Children are curious, competent at constructing knowledge and capable of making sense of the world around them.

The Role of the Teacher

  • Acknowledges and values each child.
  • Fosters trusting relationships.
  • Is a researcher, facilitator and partner in learning.
  • Creates a safe and rich environment for learning.
  • Is a keen listener and observer of children’s thinking and learning.
  • Collects and processes documentation to deepen their understanding of children’s prior knowledge, schema, development, interests, and ways of engaging.
  • Shares their learning and the children’s learning with the wider community.
  • Works collaboratively with their co-teachers, colleagues, parents and administration.

The Environment

  • Is created with intention.
  • Is warm and welcoming.
  • Is fluid and reflects children’s developing identity.
  • Encompasses our relationships to physical space, indoors and out, materials and time.
  • Nurtures social relationships on all levels, creating a psychologically safe space for all.
  • Provides multiple opportunities for children to freely explore materials and ideas while interacting with and learning from each other.

Daily Practices

Morning Meeting




Morning Meeting

Gathering on the carpet as a whole group

During this practice, teachers:

Facilitate and lead whole-group conversations

Encourage children to listen to each other’s contribution

Encourage children to share stories and ideas

Document children’s learning

Through this practice, children:

Settle in for the day

Develop a sense of self, community and belonging

Develop listening and communication skills

Value others’ perspectives

Build relationships and community


Music & Movement

 WhatHow Why 

Music & Movement

A whole group creative experience

During this practice, teachers:

Facilitate and lead whole group interactions with music, including singing, moving, playing instruments and musical games.

Nurture the connections between music and other languages of expression.

Use music to support other learning areas (numbers, rhyming words, patterns, new vocabulary).

Document children’s learning.

Through this practice, children:

Develop a love for music

Appreciate music as an expressive language

Respond to music

Find their singing voice

Participate in a group activity

Find form, pattern, structure in both music and movement

Create mental images related to music

Explore and understand space and boundaries


Exploration Time

 WhatHow Why 

Exploration Time

Engaging in free and guided exploration in different centers/areas in the classroom using open-ended materials

During this practice, teachers:

Create Defined Areas (example: Blocks & Drama)

Provide Undefined Areas to accommodate emerging areas of interest, provocations and project work

Facilitate both Teacher-guided and Child-led exploration for groups of children and individual children

Provide open-ended and accessible materials to cater to varying interests and levels of competence

Document children’s learning

Through this practice, children:

Explore in an environment open to varying levels of competence

Express themselves individually and as part of a group

Learn with and from each other

Develop social skills within a meaningful and authentic context (example: communication, conflict resolution, collaboration, etc.)

Develop higher order thinking skills (critical and creative thinking)

Form their identity by acting on their desires

Make sense of the world around them



 WhatHow Why 


Planned explorations of a specific question, idea, interest, or material to stimulate and challenge children’s thinking.

Short term investigation with the potential to develop into a project

Derived from children’s interests or proposed by teachers

During this practice, teachers:

Identify a meaningful context such as a conversation, a book, children’s questions, common interests or behaviors

Provide children with tools and materials for further exploration

Facilitate the learning by posing questions

Document the experience by recording children’s engagement, comments and questions

Reflect on the documentation and plan subsequent provocations that will extend the learning

Through this practice, children:

Work closely with the teacher and other children

Gain familiarity with different languages (clay, wire, paint, sketching, etc.)

Develop techniques for working with various languages

Experiment and make observations

Pose and test theories

Represent their thinking and understanding


Project Work

 WhatHow Why 

Project Work

An in-depth study of a specific area of inquiry that begins with a provocation that is connected to a concept

During this practice, teachers:

Research the concept under study to deepen the teacher’s understanding in order to find ways to connect to children’s interests

Plan provocations that are generated from previous provocations and are focused on the line of inquiry

Facilitate children’s exchange of ideas and reflections

Document children’s comments, observations and creations through photographs, videos and anecdotal notes

Process documentation to determine next steps in the project

Through this practice, children:

Deepen their understanding of the concept and themselves in relation to the concept under study

Expand their knowledge and experience

Make a contribution

Express their ideas and learn in a group

Develop their social skills in a meaningful and authentic context (example: communication, collaboration, etc.)

Develop higher order thinking skills (critical and creative thinking)

Develop a sense of ownership of their learning

Make sense of the world around them


Read Aloud

 WhatHow Why 

Read Aloud

Reading books in a whole group or in small groups

During this practice, teachers:

Ask questions to activate prior knowledge

Invite discussion of illustrations and text

Ask questions to check for understanding

Highlight and discuss new vocabulary

Invite children to make predictions, connections and conclusions

Read and re-read the same book

Support existing interests and inspire new interests

Document children’s learning

Through this practice, children:

Develop an awareness of books as a source of knowledge and pleasure

Develop oral language and reasoning skills

Express and articulate their thoughts

Expand their vocabulary

Develop the love of reading


Stay tuned for more on the following topics:

  • Early Years as Part of the Larger School Community
  • Facilitation and Documentation
  • Assessment of Learning
  • The 100 Languages of Children
  • Social-Emotional Development
  • Learning Dispositions
  • Math and Literacy
  • Special Classes: Arabic, PE, Library and Music
  • Co-Teaching
  • Partnership with Parents
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