As a school that embraces more than 40 nationalities, here at École internationale La Côte Aubonne we recognise the importance of supporting our children to flourish in their own cultures and languages, and we are committed to nurturing in them the values, attributes and skills they will need to shape their futures.
As part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum, celebrations and festivals play an important role in fostering our young children’s understanding of the commonalities of human values shared by all cultures and religions, and promote understanding of the cultures and beliefs of others in a diverse and vibrant world.
In our Early Years Foundation Stage, our professionals not only draw on the many festivals celebrated in Switzerland and in the European context, but also explore with the children the traditions and religious festivals of the children’s home cultures from around the world.
Through these rich and diverse learning opportunities, the children are able to share their experiences and develop pride in their cultural background. They learn to respect each other for their similarities and differences and are encouraged to use their imagination and curiosity to develop their appreciation and wonder about the world in which they live. Children have the opportunity to explore historical events and learn about special people, they discover books and stories, talk about them and retell them in their own words, in turn broadening their vocabulary and language skills, they explore architecture and landmarks as well as objects and places of worship, experience foods and smells associated with the different cultures, but also express themselves through music, art and dance.
Importantly, they reflect on their own feelings and experiences. Festivals are ideal for encouraging children to seek out and talk about kindness and empathy, and celebrate each other’s achievements.
Autumn and winter offer a multitude of opportunities to celebrate festivals around the world. Whether it is Halloween, Diwali or Christmas, all these cultural celebrations offer us a wealth of vibrant, colourful and tangible learning experiences that leave children with a lifetime of memories and a sense of belonging, wonder and appreciation. Just recently, our children have been very interested in Diwali, so we have been preparing activities and hearing stories about it throughout the week. It is important that young children develop an awareness of other cultures and have the opportunity to explore similarities and differences in cultures and traditions. Celebrations that are meaningful to our rich international community here at LCIS provide us with a fantastic opportunity to create important learning experiences linked to the Early Years Foundation Stage ‘Development Matters’ curriculum, which informs the planning of daily and weekly activities by our teachers. At this age we encourage the children to talk about their own lives at home and in the community and to find out about other children’s experiences. We support them in developing an interest in the similarities and differences with their friends or family, give them space and attention to describe times or events that are special to them, and foster in them the confidence to recognise in themselves the things that make them unique.Emma Ryves, Early Years Coordinator