Indonesia Expat
Education

Alia, Sampoerna Academy: Play is the Natural Form of Learning

Alia, Sampoerna Academy: Play is the Natural Form of Learning
Alia, Sampoerna Academy: Play is the Natural Form of Learning

“Almost 11 years down the road of Early Years Curriculum, I learned to be non-judgmental from the little humans,” reflects Nor Eny Alia Md Noh, the Head of International Early Years Curriculum (IEYC) at Sampoerna Academy.

“As we get older, we develop certain views on life’s discourse. They’ve taught me to stop taking account of how someone else looks, owns, and so on. The only thing that matters to them is whether someone else is kind or not towards them.”

Who is Nor Eny Alia Md Noh? 

You can call me Alia. I’m from an upskirt town of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I’m a mother of soon-to-be four and I fancy camping, although I wouldn’t consider myself an outdoorsy person. My family and I are very much anticipating camping trips around Jakarta and Indonesia as I’ve heard tons of beautiful places are within reach. 

As the Head of the IEYC, I oversee the implementation of the curriculum used at Sampoerna Academy. Thus, I train teachers to remain true to the principles of the curriculum and take a very active role in steering the practises in the early learning department.

Take us along your journey to get involved in IEYC.

Some may not know this: I might strike as an extremely confident IEYC enthusiast but that’s the contrary. I graduated from university with a different major within the education field. My involvement in IEYC was actually by accident. My first job was teaching reading and writing to children aged three to 16 – I realised, I love working with little ones more! I applied for a few jobs and attracted several international schools in KL. Since then I never looked back. I just love the essence of IEYC. 

IEYC was designed and curated by the International Curriculum Association (ICA). After my first course with them, I was approached by the Southeast Asian Manager of ICA who offered to be a part of the team. Only in 2016, I accepted the offer, along with being an associate trainer for IEYC. Up until 2020, I was asked to run a training in Jakarta, which ultimately introduced me to Sampoerna Academy. I honour IEYC and what it stands for –  I love seeing the difference it makes to the children.

Describe the IEYC offered at Sampoerna Academy. 

IEYC is a practice space programme with the developmental needs of children aged between two and five years old, in other words, the golden age. IEYC has a learning principle intrinsically linked to a unique learning process that’s very significant and different. The approach helps children to grow holistically, passed through three different dimensions (Personal, International and Academic). Academic is vital, however, education also means the personal and international growth of a child. The focus it has on children’s character development via the personal dimension is indeed aligned with Sampoerna Academy’s ignite values and the 5 Cs competency (Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Character). The 5 Cs encourage children in integrating and applying knowledge to become problem solvers and future innovators through STEAM-based education. 

Students are nurtured from young to become the leaders of tomorrow
Students are nurtured from young to become the leaders of tomorrow

Every child is unique, therefore we ensure the teachers while working very closely with parents, stir the child on the right path of encouraging independence creativity and imagination. We treat parents as active teachers, who in our perception, are core values of a child’s learning and development. 

IEYC at Sampoerna Academy harnesses the power of cognitive learning, based on experiences done in a playful environment following fun learning experiences. The teachers are very well versed in creating lessons that cover various types of play, so not merely functional, constructive or social play. Children can then bloom holistically as well-rounded individuals. 

 What are the critical components of IEYC parents ought to know?

We treat each child as their own individual who is unique. The three dimensions as mentioned earlier are designed to complement each other in providing children with a breadth of experience and encouraging artistic approaches. During lessons, they engage in activities that demonstrate learning and development within and across all three dimensions. They not only learn academically but a sense of self and place within their world are also nurtured as well. The international dimension, which supports global mindedness, helps the children to be knowledgeable and have an increasing understanding beyond their own national identity. 

IEYC promotes playful learning experiences that nurture curiosity, agency and inquiry. How do these impact on a child’s development?

IEYC has a very systematic way of introducing such complex ideas to children as young as they are. A huge sense of curiosity is seen beyond the classrooms. According to the Indonesian Education, Culture, Research and Technology Ministry, children aged zero to five years old are at the age of beginning to learn and discover about their surrounding environments – and this time is considered the most vital because whatever ideas that you put into the child is going to impact their adult selves and future education. 

Research also states that children in the golden age need to be guided accordingly to their interests and needs to foster their creativity. What else is the best way to get young learners to absorb information? Not by worksheets – but by playing! Children don’t need to be told how to play. A playful learning experience is natural to younglings. Their high sense of curiosity allows them to explore the simplest of objects, for example. Parents see them “playing” but we see them learning and making a discovery. 

Instead of going against what they’re naturally good at, let’s go along with it because I think this is the point where we optimise the children’s learning ability. Sampoerna Academy aims to create independent students by integrating play into every single lesson. For example, kicking a ball with friends is self-explanatory. But it comes with coordination, collaboration and communication which develops their social skills. These soft skills will not be achieved through academics alone. Play is beautiful and I think is often overlooked by adults. 

Playing is a form of learning
Playing is a form of learning
Does IEYC correlate with STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts and Mathematics) education?

Yes, definitely! Play is instilled in every lesson here, which is connected to STEAM in hopes of enabling our students to become more mature, confident global citizens with a strong sense of purpose. 

Let’s take a child working with a friend in building a fort. They’re practising and applying the skills of science. Can this cushion create balance? That’s daily engineering. Figuring out the fort’s design, moreover, is where art comes in. Communication during these discussions is also considered art. When the children play, they’re already applying the STEAM approach along with indirectly fostering their 5 Cs.

With the right opportunity, proper stimulation arises and only then the child’s brain performance will develop to their fullest potential. Sampoerna Academy creates such learning opportunities; 30 percent teachers scaffold the play and 70 percent children take over. 

Speaking of STEAM education, how does it encourage work- and world-readiness in a child?

Sampoerna Academy has Project-based Learning (PBL) that scaffolds children’s personal interests through a discovery process. For example, one project had students making something for their new friend as it could be their first coming to school. They decided to make a friendship bracelet. Critical thinking applies, then creativity as well to decide how the designs would be. Communication-wise, they could voice their need for assistance to the teacher. PBL prepares our students with how to think and how to reinforce the 5C, very important for children to be ready for the 21st-century world.

Sampoerna Academy early years students
Sampoerna Academy early years students
What’s next for you and Sampoerna Academy’s IEYC and STEAM education?

We remain true to our mission of guiding students to become lifelong learners to ensure they are capable of competing in the future and succeeding in higher education and beyond schools. We have many plans to ensure our mission will be achieved and this is our priority goal. 

As for me, my focus for the next two years is to share my understanding and skills with fellow IEYC enthusiasts out there so that we can work together to provide the best kind of education for our young leaders. I’m looking forward to collaborating with like-minded educators for new insights to make learning more meaningful and better for our little humans.

How can our readers get in touch?

You can check our highlighting events that we have in our Instagram account @sampoerna.academy or you can contact our students recruitment.

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