After eight years working as a middle school teacher in the Colegio Nueva Granada (CNG) in Bogotá, Alexandra Vaughan assumed this year the challenge of becoming the first director of the Knightsbridge Schools International (KSI) recently-opened kindergarden known as “KidS.”

Set within a very traditional English-looking house of the Quinta Camacho neighbourhood, one quickly gets the impression that this pre-school, part of KSI’s global network, is a very different style of kindergarden; and where kids (age 2 to 5) are not enrolled there just to pass away some morning hours playing, and interacting with each other, but to start a life journey grounded in key core values such as self-esteem and critical thinking.

In groups of no more than 12 at any given time, the focus of KidS is to create a conducive “therapy preventive” environment, where youngsters are encouraged to explore their potential as individuals, each and everyone with their own set of personalities and aspirations, rather than to be studied as potential cases for future therapy.

KidS wants to form integral citizens of a globalized world. At a pre-school level it is evident that many of the children are the sons and daughters of foreigners residing in the Colombian capital, and who interact playfully with Colombian children, whose parents have also seen the value in, and advantages of, a ‘Dual-Track’ bilingual learning environment. At such an early age, all language education is based around the importance of play time.

To create a nurturing environment for “preventative therapy” education, KidS employs a very clear methodology, known as ‘Five Pillars’ – where children are taught basic knowledge through skills understanding and self-expression.

The first of these fundamental pillars is “Language.” For Vaughan, the language approach is taught not by “teachers straight-out of school,” but speech therapy grounded educators who work closely with the youngsters on developing phonological awareness and what becomes the basis for another global language: mathematics.

Other pillars are Music Therapy, Art Therapy, Movement, and Play Time. All these skills-based vehicles are designed to empower young children in understanding the world around them, and their expanding universe, within.

At the heart of KidS is a simple concept, but one which often gets lost in the early stages of life: self-esteem. Self- esteem must be nurtured constantly in order for youngsters to “create tolerance to differences” and to “multicultural backgrounds.” An inspiring staff at KSI works hard on building communication between parents and educators; and the small classrooms also boost an academically-enriching environment.

With their global banner “Be all you can be,” KSI operates beyond Colombia, in Panama, Turkey, Montenegro and the United Kingdom, where in the heart of London, the preparatory school edu- cates boys and girls ages 3 to 13.

So, as you plan ahead for a New Year and the start of your child’s long-term education, why not give a gift that can never be replaced? That of bright and healthy ideas, all in a learning environ- ment which, as Alexandra Vaughan states, encourages “every child to be a happy child.” Cra 11 A No.69-75