The importance of an Early Years and Pre-School Curriculum

Our curriculum for Early Years and Pre-School is a strong partnership between two important ideals within a child’s development: Social and emotional growth, a strong component of the Swiss «Krippenmodell», is combined with the need for learning through discovery and exploration. These areas of development are not mutually exclusive, but coexist and flow naturally throughout our daily routines with our children. Much like the simultaneous presence of the two languages (German and English), we believe the presence of these two ideals enriches a child’s early years.

Lee-Anne Weber, our curriculum coordinator, together with Sonya Maechler-Dent, our founder, created the Tandem International Multilingual Curriculum over 15 years ago. It has remained a dynamic guide to our daily work with the children in each of our Early Years and Pre-School groups. As Tandem IMS has grown and developed, so has our curriculum.

What are the Benefits of having a Curriculum for Children between 6 Months and 4 Years?

We firmly believe in a stimulating, nurturing atmosphere for children in their earliest years. Our curriculum ensures exactly this: an environment that is structured, child-centered, and full of the big projects, big ideas, and learning that rightfully belong in childhood. Children benefit from our curriculum in the Early Years because it nurtures curiosity and the natural drive to discover.

Tandem IMS aims to foster a child’s social and emotional growth as well as its cognitive and physical development. Its objective is to encourage children to gain the tools necessary for independent thinking, self-confidence and responsibility. Using the Swiss approach, Tandem IMS creates a playful, safe, relaxing and structured, yet, challenging environment, whilst adopting at the same time the international approach of stimulating self-enquiry, discovery and the opportunity of taking an active part in the multicultural environment we live in.

Learning through Discovery and Exploration - Supported by Objectives and Shaped by Children’s Interests

Tandem IMS uses a variety of activities that develop the child’s sensorial ability and encourage him/her to discover their individual preferences, and cultivate their talents. The children are exposed to a large variety of topics and several media are used to achieve a number of educational objectives. The emphasis is on an impressive amount of hands-on fun with the added benefit of a learning outcome set for every topic and activity.

Our aim is to achieve the right balance between learning through play and a quality international multilingual school program with Enquiry-Based Learning as its main focus.

Units of Enquiry

We base our curriculum on the Enquiry-Based model of teaching, which accompanies children at Tandem IMS throughout Kindergarten and Primary School. Each age group will work through four main Units of Enquiry over the course of a school year. These units are differentiated by age group. For the Early Years and Pre-School children, these are the topics:

Early Years 1 (6 months – 18 months): Me, Myself and I; Communication; Familiar Settings Around Me; Nature.

Early Years 2 (18 months – 3 years): Me, My Family and My School; Music, Language and Rhythm; Community Helpers; Plants and Animals.

Pre-School (3 – 4 years): All About Me; Rhymes and Songs; You Are What You Eat; Living Things.

The objectives and the units themselves remain the same each school year, but the content and activities of each unit will vary every year based on the interests of the children. Lee-Anne Weber described this process wonderfully in an earlier blog entry about Enquiry-Based Learning.

Areas of Development

The following areas of development are addressed within the units mentioned above:

1. Personal, Social and Emotional

The personal, social and emotional development involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves and to have confidence in their own abilities; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn to manage their feelings; and to understand appropriate behaviour in groups.

2. Communication, Language and Literacy

Communication, language and literacy development involves giving children the experience of a rich language environment to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves in a range of situations. The objectives focus on promoting overall oral expression and communication, in particular in the school languages - English and German. Teachers will also provide learning opportunities to recognise and show respect for each child’s home language.

3. Health and Physical Development

The health and physical development objectives are focused on the children’s development, awareness and control of their own body. Children will be encouraged to be active and interactive; to develop their co-ordination, control and movement; to identify, express and manage their emotional and physical needs; and to understand the importance of physical activity and healthy choices.

4. Mathematics

Mathematical development involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in using different types of tools to compare texture, form, shape and colour; in counting, understanding and using numbers; in describing spaces and measures; and in problem-solving.

5. Social Studies

The social studies objectives are focused on the development of an awareness of our world. Children will begin to demonstrate an understanding that we share our world with other people and that these people may have different cultures, languages and backgrounds. Children will also begin to understand that different cultures have both similarities and differences from their own.

6. Creative Development

Creative development involves enabling children to develop a sense of curiosity for the arts in its various forms, to play and explore with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance and role-play.

7. Science and Technology, Knowledge and Understanding of the World

These objectives focus on guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment. The children will begin to demonstrate an awareness of what their bodies need to be healthy and will discover what other living things need to survive.


Daily structure, predictable and stable routines together with stable team constellations are also key in helping children thrive throughout their Early Years at Tandem IMS. This structure enables a smooth transition between the age groups, and from Pre-School into Kindergarten. The skills acquired in the Early Years and Pre-School are the foundation for continued learning at Tandem IMS, or whichever schooling system children may move into. Independent thinking, self-confidence, and the motivation to learn are valuable characteristics, as is the ability to thrive in a multilingual and multicultural environment.

Blog «Taking the best from both worlds - Tandem IMS Kindergarten»


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