Accreditation: Schools need to go through a 12-month Curiosity Approach accreditation process.
What is it: The Curiosity Approach is all in the name. Based in a host of pedagogies, the approach focuses on a child’s natural curiosity. Developed by two nursery owners in the UK, Lyndsay Hellyn and Stephanie Bennett, The Curiosity Approach replaces shiny plastic toys and brightly coloured displays with wooden materials, natural resources, and neutral backgrounds, recycled materials, ordinary household items and bric-a-brac into the classroom.
The Curiosity Approach runs alongside the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) in the nursery at Tanglin Trust School to transform its youngest classes into “an even calmer and more tranquil learning environment”.
Tanglin's Head of Nursery Victoria Thomas says:
"By innovating daily in response to children’s interests and next steps, and adapting the play-based environment to provide exciting learning experiences, the nursery team creates an environment where children’s natural curiosity can grow and flourish into a lifelong passion for learning. Children are thrilled to come to school each day, building a strong foundation that enables them to construct further learning as they move into primary school and beyond."
Here's a school where children are encouraged to be curious by being given the freedom to access a wide choice of objects. At Tanglin, for example, children may find a decorated egg that could inspire dragon role play with nests being made from twigs in the classroom, or an investigation into real eggs using magnifying glasses.
Victoria Thomas adds:
“The use of loose parts is one of the main ingredients of The Curiosity Approach – items that can be used in a multiple of ways with no predesigned outcome. The same is true of the outdoor areas, which have many opportunities for exploration, investigation, creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving.
“Children can balance along planks of wood that they have joined up with crates or collaborate to create concerts on the stage of the music shed. Another firm favourite concocting a potion in the outdoor kitchen made from stones, sand and essential muddy water! Through all these opportunities, they are learning how to think not what to think.”
Pros: The approach takes parts from Reggio, Steiner, Te Whariki and Montessori to create an early years’ programme that focuses on creating a culture of curiosity, and can build confidence and nurture ‘thinkers and doers’. It is nurturing curiosity, which can sometimes be hampered by the culture of testing and learning objectives in other curricula. Nursery classrooms are set up so that children can independently access everything within the space, which helps to build a strong foundation for moving into primary school and beyond.
Cons: This modern-day approach to Early Childhood is not yet widely offered in Singapore. Some parents may prefer a curriculum with more structure and assessment.
Read more: Tanglin Nursery: A Curious Approach
Schools offering The Curiosity Approach: Tanglin Trust School (there are eight classes in Tanglin’s Nursery (ages 3-4), with a maximum class size of 20); it is the only school in Asia to be accredited to offer The Curiosity Approach.