Oasis International School – Kindergarten
The Oasis International School in Cairo welcomes children from age 3 to 18 and follows the International Baccalaureate. It is a French speaking school, with English and Arabic taught from age 4. The school is taking a whole school approach to outdoor and adventure learning.
As part some whole school training, Anita worked with the teachers and assistants from La Maternelle (Kindergarten), to explore how they can use and develop their immediate and local environment to develop outdoor learning.
The school is split between two sites with La Maternelle located in a 5 story building, built around a central open space. Outdoor space is very limited and as such very little learning and play takes place outside, although the central open space is used for play with wheeled toys.
The first day was spent exploring the potential of outdoors for learning and play with lots of hands on activities which allowed the staff to try out new activities, and play with different open-ended resources. This gave us many ideas for what is possible in a limited space with limited resources.
Day two looked at some of the practicalities of teaching and learning outside. A prioritisation activity helped to identify potential barriers to going outside, with a strong focus on finding ways of overcoming these. A mapping exercise also helped the staff to take a fresh look at the space they had, how it is currently used, and how things could be used differently. By the end of the training the staff were planning to develop the roof space as an area for outdoor learning and play as a solution to their lack of outdoor areas.
For the final day, all staff developed new activities to take their classes outside. These innovative lessons addressed a wide range of subjects, with children engaged and productive. Following on from the lessons, a final review session helped the staff to share experiences and good practice, and identify ways of taking their outdoor practice forward.
While some issues faced by the Kindergarten are familiar to schools and settings are similar to those in the UK, there are others which are unique and take some thinking about. The whole staff was extremely positive about the opportunities we explored, a feeling that was replicated throughout the school. Whilst some further actions will be specific to the Kindergarten, others will need a whole school approach, and with such a positive commitment to outdoor and adventure learning throughout the school this will certainly happen.