At Yekibood Children, we believe in the vitality of arts education in young children’s learning and cognitive development. Our program is strongly research based and aligned with the most successful educational philosophies and practices. Although we might share methods and activities similar to well known educational approaches such as Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio Emilia, we try not to adopt approaches, but rather create and develop an approach to education that is most responsive to the needs of our specific population growing around the world. Together with the help of our educated professional faculty, we have identified and proposed a new pedagogical approach in the language and cultural education of children.
Music, movement, story telling, dance and art making are a regular part of our classes. Aside from an emphasis on children’s language and cultural awareness, by providing interactive hands-on experience, we try to nurture children’s self-esteem, critical thinking, and also help them develop bonds and build/re-build their cultural identities starting from a young age. The overall goal of the program is to promote cross-cultural understanding as well as to encourage and facilitate children’s second/third language learning. We also hope to provide an opportunity for children to form a community as active growing members, to which they can contribute and identify with. Our curriculum is student-centered, with its content developed based on the interests and learning processes of the children. Our curriculum activities includes singing, movement, storytelling, puppet play, felt board activities and extensive use of visual aids.
Music: One of our main goals is have music be our main language of communication with children. Music provides an alternative language of intercultural communication. While children learn to communicate meaning, understand people around them, and transfer knowledge through language, music provides an opportunity for them to communicate emotions and express their thoughts and feelings. For most children, singing occurs as naturally as speaking. Singing can be a very valuable tool in children’s vocabulary building, as well as cultural awareness. Within a musical environment, vocal activities have a great potential to enrich and facilitate language development. Examples of our musical activities include solo and group singing, eurythmic movement, instrument exploration, instrument introduction, and felt board songs.
Visual arts: Art classes are first and foremost a place where children practice creative self-expression; where they use materials to visualize their ideas and express their thoughts. In order to familiarize children with their cultural heritage and maintain a nurturing and safe environment for creative growth and development, cultural traditions will be delicately interjected into the art activities. Some examples of incorporating the cultural heritage of students in art class are through: Storytelling, using Persian icons and incorporating children’s personal experiences in their art work.
Stories and puppets: Stories are highly effective tools to develop children’s listening skills. Since developing listening skills is crucial in the process of language acquisition, engaging children with listening activities results in the stimulation of speech production. Storybooks engage children’s attention to the task, reinforcing new concepts through the flow of the story and motivating them to comment and share their own stories. Folk stories have much to say about the rituals and culture of its people. Also one of the most engaging ways to teach young children through visual stimulation is with the use of puppets. Using puppets promotes children’s risk-taking abilities within a safe environment, while influencing their attention and encouraging their participation.
Movement: Children use movement to convey meaning even before they adopt vocabulary and begin speaking. Movement activities, with or without music, provide opportunities for children to first use and practice the language through their bodies, develop comfort and confidence, and then engage in the actual acquisition of words and the language. Our Movement activities consist of eurythmic movement, exploration and recognition of different dynamics and tempos, freeze games, and combined vocal-movement exercises to reinforce concepts such as high and low, and fast and slow through the combination of body movements and vocal exercises.