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Those crucial first years

Early Years at North Zealand International School (NIS) provide a unique, enjoyable setting for the first years of learning.

Photographs: North Zealand International School

Text: Shani Bishop

Every parent wants a good start to their child’s learning journey. Parents want a nurturing environment where learning is seamlessly woven in, so they learn to love learning. This is precisely what’s on offer at North Zealand International School.

At NIS, our youngest learners follow the International Early Years Curriculum (IEYC), a curriculum specifically designed for children aged 2–5 years old and leads into the International Primary Curriculum, the programme we follow from Year 1.

Early Years (EY) at NIS helps learners aged 3-5 develop their skills in the four strands of independence and interdependence, communicating, enquiring and healthy living and wellbeing.

What does this look like in practice?

Parents and learners alike love the curriculum as it’s entirely centred around the child. Sarah Hansen, the EY lead teacher explains, “Every class is different, and this year, our learners are completely obsessed with dinosaurs. In Early Years, the curriculum follows the children’s interests, so the Dinosaur Detectives unit was perfect for them. We have counted dinosaurs, made playdough dinosaurs, went digging for dinosaur bones in the playground, explored dinosaur skeletons using playdough and dry pasta, and even created our own scrap material dinosaurs. What this means in practice is that the children’s desire for learning is stronger, and they are engaged and want to participate”.The learning engagements are carefully planned to build skills in one or more of the strands.

Within the Early Years class, there is a high adult to child ratio and a rich language-learning environment with many opportunities for practising reading and writing. When learners are ready, they are encouraged to progress. Sarah and the other staff have grouped the learners into different reading levels, so each child is progressing at a pace that suits them. Some learners might be learning to sing rhyming songs that are vital for building reading skills, while others might be learning diagraphs and reading small books. Silly Story Time keeps literacy fun. Sarah and the learners acted out the Three Little Pigs and changed it to the Three Little Dinosaurs and the Big Bad Chicken to match the beloved dinosaur theme.

"Sarah and the learners acted out the Three Little Pigs and changed it to the Three Little Dinosaurs and the Big Bad Chicken to match the beloved dinosaur theme."

What makes NIS Early Years unique?

Not only do NIS learners benefit from the IEYC, but they also enjoy a sizeable airy classroom, a high staff-child ratio and their own dedicated playground. The playground is shared before and after school with children from the Danish speaking NGG kindergarten.

This bilingual environment before and after school means children who are already fluent in Danish can build on their skills while those who are new to the country can build language skills slowly and gently through supported play.

Sarah sends a regular blog to the parents, which contains photographs explaining what the children have been doing and learning while at school, and helps parents fully engage with the learning and support they need to offer their children during their learning journey.

Ezra's Mum Maria explains what she loves about Early Years at NIS

My son is really thriving in Early Years, he really enjoys it. I’m so happy he’s there. I love it because they make it playful yet they are learning to read and count, but it feels like play. He sings songs and really brings his learning home. He tells me about the experiments they do, and because they send photographs in a blog every day, I totally understand what he’s up to. The kids really listen to Sarah and Jennifer, and they always use a really good tone of voice with them even when they have to guide them to make good choices.

Want your little one to join Early Years at NIS?

NIS is accepting applications now for August 2021. See the website for more details and apply through

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