Most countries in the world offer two to three years of junior kindergarten education to children, before grade one. Depending on the country, this education comprises early reading, writing, and mathematics, as well as arts and crafts (think of it as two or three years of kindergarten). These programs are usually a part of the school system, and are considered very important, since children are at their peak learning years before the age of six.
Canada did not provide junior kindergarten education, until 1998, when Natacha V. Beim, an elementary school teacher specialized in European junior kindergarten, founded Core Education & Fine Arts (cefa).
In designing the curriculum for cefa, Beim created a way to stimulate children’s development in those curricular areas, but in a very different, exciting and playful way. In other words, children learn to read and write, as well as math and science, by playing games designed by cefa to teach the skills children are ready to learn, and at the same time, ensure that children feel like they are playing, enjoying their friends and exploring an ever-changing classroom!
The curriculum also includes yoga, dance, music, visual arts, culture immersion, drama, sports, languages, and many other great activities, designed to enrich the child’s experience, entice the desire to learn, and discover the child’s interests all within one program.
Cefa teachers receive one year of training (in addition to being qualified early childhood educators) to understand how and why to teach a child to to read, write and reason at an early age, as well as how to work with cefa’s detailed, comprehensive curriculum.
Children are active participants in their learning throughout their three to four years at cefa. They learn in an ideal environment of 12 to 16 children, where teachers focus on the individual child, as well as the group. Like in elementary school, children in each classroom are the same age (Junior Kindergarten 1 for two year olds, JK 2 for three year olds, and JK3 for four year olds).
Children have the opportunity to learn not only about different subjects, but also to learn in every possible way: by experimenting with the material and by reasoning (like Montessori), by working on long-term and short-term projects of their own interest (like Reggio), by interacting with the teacher (like in elementary school) and also with their peers. By exposing the children to diverse styles of learning, cefa ensures that each child has the chance to learn, no matter what their learning style is. The cefa method also selects its material very carefully, to ensure that each learning experience is enriching for the child, and contributes to the development of his or her intellect.
In addition to this wonderfully stimulating environment for children (and a magical place, if you have had the opportunity to visit any of the cefa schools), Core Education & Fine Arts focuses also on the uniqueness of each child, and the ability of each child to contribute to our community and to the world, individually or as a group, by learning and working on projects that range from recycling to exchanging letters with schools around the world and adopting endangered animals.
More information about Core Education & Fine Arts is available at http://www.cefa.ca