The implementation of the PYP at the College observes the philosophy and values as expressed in the Mission Statements of both Athens College and the IB Organization, while adhering to the National Curriculum. 

J. M. Carras Kindergarten has completed the candidacy period and the trial teaching period and is in the process of becoming an authorized PYP school.  At the same time, all our educators regularly undergo training both in Greece and abroad so as to ensure optimal implementation of the Programme. 

Transdisciplinary Approach to Knowledge

The latest pedagogical trends are implemented in the kindergarten, placing the students at the heart of the educational process. A comprehensive, integrated, and interdisciplinary approach to knowledge is provided which is aligned with children’s everyday experiences through a close look at transdisciplinary themes. Students have the opportunity to make connections between different experiences, observe and experiment.  Their inquiries are addressed using different spheres of knowledge and through all areas of development (language, mathematics, personal and social development / physical education, natural sciences, technology, the arts). 

Areas of Development

Students acquire skills and knowledge related to language systems and communication.  Significant emphasis is placed on the connection between the spoken and written word, particularly as encountered in students’ personal and social lives. Students develop listening and speaking skills by engaging in daily activities that encourage the understanding of the content of a story which gradually leads to phonological awareness.

Reciprocally, to develop reading and writing skills, the emergent literacy approach helps students understand the social role of writing. At the same time, authentic activities prompt students to try and decode messages in their surrounding environment. Students learn to read and write while playing.

The objective of mathematics in the kindergarten is to help students develop thinking processes that utilize characteristics of mathematical science.  Through experiential activities and play, foundations are laid for the development of mathematical concepts.
The development of personal and social skills is the main objective of the educational program. The goal is for students to recognize themselves as unique individuals with special abilities and to be self-sufficient, accept their feelings, control the way they express themselves, take initiative and express their views freely.
The main objective of Natural Sciences is for our students to learn to explore experiences and problems and to become aware that scientific knowledge results from social practices that are governed by specific rules and procedures.
Students become familiar with and understand the basic functions of digital media and educational software which are necessary resources in the digital age of the twenty-first century. Surrounded by an environment equipped with IWB computers, iPads and an audio library, students use technology daily for information management (Google), to express themselves and communicate (painting and drawing software, Skype, email, digital cameras, iPads), and as a programming tool (Bee-bot, Osmo).

The arts are part of the daily teaching process as in recent years they constitute a significant innovation in early childhood education.  Music, drama, visual arts, dance, and movement are used as a means to achieve different goals in all learning areas. Through the arts, students practice their skills and are motivated to learn.  They are empowered and encouraged to be innovative and express their thoughts and feelings in a unique way.

The special courses listed below are included in the curriculum. These courses are taught by experts in each subject area with the aim of cultivating the aforementioned objectives. 

Drama

Drama contributes to students’ socialization through various roles they are asked to undertake. These roles are taken from their daily lives or the subject they are investigating in class. Role-playing and improvisation enhance spontaneity, communication, and teamwork while cultivating emotional intelligence. 

Music

During music lessons, students develop rhythm, cultivate their expressive abilities, become familiar with different music genres, and participate in choir and percussion ensembles. 

Physical Education

Physical education lessons help students strengthen their perceptual and motor coordination through games involving imagination and creativity.  Additionally, visual-motor coordination is developed, as is balance (both static and dynamic) and a sense of space and time. Students also have an opportunity to practice lateral movement skills.

The kindergarten program promotes an experiential approach to knowledge focusing on a collaborative and exploratory way of learning through activities that stimulate a child’s holistic development.

1.     Learning by Doing

The aim is to facilitate students’ discovery of knowledge through experiential and hands-on activities.  By building on pre-existing knowledge and experiences, students gradually acquire new knowledge.  Through observation, they ask questions, formulate proposals to find answers to their questions, implement what they have proposed, and ultimately evaluate what they have learned.

2.     Collaborative Learning 

During teamwork, students are organized into groups in order to achieve a common goal.  By exchanging ideas, students practice their social skills, build on their ability to cooperate, take initiative, communicate as well as, enhance their positive self-image. For this reason, every classroom is organized into learning centers in which small groups of students can experiment, collaborate and interact. Lastly, students working in teams engage in democratic processes, thereby developing the values of acceptance and respect.

3.     Exploratory Process

Through well-designed, open-ended activities, students are stimulated to satisfy their innate curiosity for exploration daily.  Students are encouraged to ask questions as well as, observe and collect data, which they then process and interpret before presenting their findings.  Students are, therefore, introduced to basic research skills  in order to carry out more systematic investigations.

4. Holistic Development

The Student Learner Profile is at the center of all International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. It is comprised of ten attributes aimed at the holistic development of students through the improvement of skills including social, communication, thinking, research and self-management. The Student Learner Profile is enhanced and supported by activities that fall under the Special Educational Programs which are carried out within the core academic program.

5. Special Educational Programs

The kindergarten curriculum is enriched with special programs in order to enhance students’ skills, values, attitudes and aesthetic cultivation to the greatest possible extent.

Subjects

The acronym STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) refers to an integrated and unified teaching approach for each of these five components. Following the latest global trend, the kindergarten has adopted this approach in its academic program.  Teachers work collaboratively to help students develop their creativity, imagination, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills to the fullest.  The procedure is the following:

  • A question problem is raised by students or teachers.
  • Solutions are proposed and the best one is chosen.
  • Students design their proposed solution and then select and organize their tools.
  • Following their proposed plan, students construct their idea and test it to see if it works or whether it needs to be adjusted or modified in order to achieve the desired result.
  • Students present their constructions to their classmates.
The cultivation of students’ moral values is developed by observing the attitude and behavior of adults (parents, teachers, etc.) as well through teaching.  The Honor Code program integrates values and principles into daily school life.  Through experiential activities, students become aware of the value of friendship, solidarity, gratitude, diversity, self-respect (physical and mental health) as well as, respect for others, animals and the environment.

The Artist of the Month program gives students the opportunity to acquaint themselves with important artists and their work and to become inspired by art in order to create artwork “through their own lenses.”

Students are given the opportunity to present themselves and their families to their classmates.  Students organize the information they want to communicate, develop presentation skills, learn to listen to the presentations of others and ask pertinent questions in both Greek and English.   

The kindergarten lending library is a unique gateway to knowledge as the programs it offers and its collection help to develop reading appreciation, as well as communication and research skills.  It also promotes the concept of interculturalism by giving students the opportunity to become familiar with the world and express themselves through books.

Its objective is for students to be exposed to recreational reading, cultivate critical thinking skills, and develop imagination.

The library is part of the kindergarten’s pedagogical – educational program and, as such, library time is built into the student’s weekly timetable.  During library time, librarians read or narrate fairytales to students. The library operates during school hours for both students and staff members. 

Through special activities, students are exposed to and become familiar with all forms of speech (written or spoken) in both Greek and English.  Students also have the opportunity to attend selected events based on transdisciplinary themes as well as, presentations from authors and illustrators whose goal is to cultivate a love of reading.  The “Book Games” program, which has been implemented in recent years, gives parents an opportunity to get involved in promoting reading appreciation every month, while students are involved in the research process.

The head librarian collaborates with classroom teachers and the PYP Coordinator in planning educational activities and designing the Units of Inquiry.

Every kindergarten student has a Library Diary. Each student designs the cover of the Library Diary with a free drawing. A record of the books that a student has checked out while attending the kindergarten is recorded in the Library Diary as well as, the recommended activity that was implemented for each book.

Reading Appreciation – Philanagnosia Program

The library provides “ Philanagnosia” lessons for kindergarten students.  “Philanagnosia” is a pleasant time for students who, in addition to recreational reading, become acquainted with the research process that has been adapted to their age and abilities.  More specifically, students become familiar with the way the library collection is organized and the steps needed to locate and evaluate information about a book using both print and online sources.  Depending on the topic a class is exploring, students search for information in books on their own. This allows them to develop critical thinking and social skills as they work with classmates. During this teaching period, students also learn about information found on a book cover and in other bibliographic data.  Lastly, students practice reading comprehension and learn to use digital resources in which the library has access to.

6. Play

Play is one of the foremost activities that govern a child’s development and is considered instrumental in cognitive, physical, social, and emotional growth. Through dynamic and authentic environments that promote play and interaction with other individuals, a child explores, experiments, and discovers the world. Recognizing the importance of free play in our Kindergarten, we defined Friday as "Free Play Day", where students choose how and what they would like to play. The teachers being companions in this creative journey observe and document the interactions of the students with the environment, supporting and encouraging the process, where necessary.