Play in toddlers’ class

Play, is:

  • Two painter balls in a box

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  • Building towers using glasses

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  • Meeting your friends under the table

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  • Wearing strange metal shoes

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  • Wiping the salt

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  • Playing music

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  • Inventing a way to reach the balloons up in the ceiling

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  • Spreading the clothes

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  • Talking with your best friend

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  • And after all these exhausting things, go to sleep!

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Play is life. Children’s life.

(by Jenny Diamantopoulou, teacher in toddlers’ class in Athens)

Spotlight on John Yiannoudis, Co-Founder, Owner and Director of Dorothy Snot Pre-School

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-8-57-59-pm You are speaking at IPSEF Design and Build, what helped you decide to participate?

Middle East is a fast growing area in all aspects and IPSEF brings together powerful school people. We are a well-established play-based pre-school, currently evaluating the potential for international expansion of our concept.
UAE is a region we are mostly interested, so I thought speaking in IPSEF would be a great opportunity to present our education philosophy education in a broad audience and meet interesting people that could be potentially turned into valued partners.

Why did you get involved in Education?

I‘m a business guy and have spent almost 20 years working in top financial management positions of Greek enterprises. Five years ago I decided to exclusively work on developing our family preschool into a world class education business, mainly for two reasons:

a) education is an industry adding so much value in a society. It’s so much more self-fulfilling to assist in raising strong children, than to merely achieve some financial objectives for a bunch of private business shareholders.

b) business-wise, I understand education as an industry lacks entrepreneurship. Most school owners and directors have strong education background but rather weak business sense and strive to innovate, which prevents them from achieving the most out of their efforts. I believe I can assist into transforming our unique and very successful free education model into a world class leader, maintaining at the same time its exceptional educational aspects.

What are you currently working on?

The last five years we strengthened the position of our Dorothy Snot pre-school in Greece and developed a strong and exceptionally working education philosophy.
Beginning Fall 2016 and for the next five years, our effort will be to transform our Life-derived Learning concept on play based education, into a top class model for pre-schools & kindergartens and manage to expand our international presence.

What project would you have liked to work on?

I would have loved having been actively involved somehow into redesigning the education system of my country, Greece. I believe we have been doing it all wrong for the last decades and I’m sure I could be of great help. Of course, that means to be involved in politics, which is not either a short or a long term goal for me!

Who is your inspiration?

Out of the several people I could mention, both from business and education world, I will stick to my good friend and mentor Tom Hobson, the famous “Teacher Tom” from Seattle. He has been a constant source of inspiration to me, both on his writings and sayings on how to respect the will and enforce the freedom of very young children, in early education. I just love him!

What is the greatest challenge within your role?

My greatest daily challenge is to make sure that our school keeps progressing and innovating, without leaving behind our main goal: making sure that children are the real owners of their school life!

What 1 thing would improve your working life?

Having more human resources with a deep understanding of our philosophy and vision and thus being able to undertake serious parts of my daily administrative and business developing role. But, I’m working on that!

What 3 things do you see as being the focus of Middle East education over the next five years?

1. The effort of developing an education philosophy of its own, in all levels. A more tailor-made approach to the special needs and challenges of this fast growing area, maintaining at the same time a high quality level of services.

2. To remain capable of integrating effectively the constantly growing numbers of young population, both expats and locals, without being affected by any geopolitical uncertainties.

3. The effort of moving towards more joyful and free education models, compared to the rather disciplined and rigid philosophy we mainly see today (especially in early education)

How do you relax?

Running, reading, hiking, travelling. Being a happy school owner however, makes it some times difficult to separate completely private life from school’s active community!

Which 3 industry people would you like to invite to dinner?

Apart from my good friend Teacher Tom, whom I have the chance to dine with pretty often (!!):
1. Dr. Peter Gray, a man I greatly respect and admire
2. Sir Ken Robinson, because his famous 2006 TED speech on “school killing creativity” triggered millions of people around the world to start thinking what is wrong with our established education system
3. Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Head of KHDA, in order to have the chance to discuss in detail his vision and plans regarding Dubai’s education future

Come and hear John’s talk at
IPSEF Middle East on September 28, 2016

You can read John’s career biography here

visit our website
IPSEF Middle East

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Marrying Teacher Chryssa

Learning occurring through play based on real life situations, is in the core of life-derived learning. Here is a perfect example:

Kindergarten kids visited a fashion house specializing in wedding gowns! They were excited (ok, it goes more for the girls!) and coming back in school decided to perform a wedding!

Teacher Chryssa was convinced to be the bride, so play started! (FYI, they took it up to the end!! 🙂 )

Visiting the historical National Library of Greece, just before its relocation after 114 years

In our play-based school, we always look for opportunities to mingle with fascinating reality.

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A coming cornerstone for Athens, our city, is the relocation of National Library of Greece and of Greek National Opera to the very new and impressive SNF Cultural Center, near city’s coast.

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Since 1903, National Library of Greece has been located into a historical building in the very heart of the city, designed by Theofilos Hansen and constructed by the great Ernst Ziller.  This status-quo will end by September 2016, so these days it was really the very last chance for our pre-K and summer campus kids (kindergarteners & alumni) to visit it.

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Children of both classes have been working lately in a variety of projects on sea and volcanoes. So, it was a great opportunity for kids to visit the old building and utilize library services in their research, getting thus a good idea on why we need libraries!

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Library policies are tough and usually do not allow hosting preschoolers, but our fantastic kids proudly made it!

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Children searched their subjects in library computers….

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….identified the needed sources….

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…and copied all information needed.

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All in all, it was a fantastic day for our kids. They grasped a lifetime experience, just days before it become a gone-for-good memory!

(big thanks to Library staff Ms. Vasiliki Tsigkouni, Tonia Pateropoulou and Agathi Papamichael, for their assistance.)

A wonderful journey for pre-K class triggered by a visit to a Greek living art legend

Yesterday Sunday July 3, it was the summer party day for toddlers, post-toddlers and pre-K class. Our parties are always free play sessions, based in stimuli and projects children have been engaged the past months.

Pre-K class had the unique chance this year to visit one of the last living Greek art legends, the sculptor Mrs. Natalia Mela. It was such a moving experience for everybody!

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After that, whole class entered into a fantastic journey in sculpturing by utilizing real life items, exactly like Mrs. Mela has been doing in her life!

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By the use of everyday loose parts and other elements, our children created in class a number of fantastic artworks…

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…and enjoyed a wonderful 3-month project.

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So, it was normal to include this experience in summer party and connect their play to the sculpturing project. They worked in couples: one was the sculptor and the other was the sculpture! See the video:

Τhis is what life-derived learning is all about: Encouraging children to master unique lifetime experiences and then allowing them to build their own worlds.

2016 pre-Ks developed a strong love-for-sculpturing DNA, for life….

A real firefighting project in kindergarten

In September 2016, our kindergarten kids participated into a real-life firefighting exercise organized by the officers of Athens 1st Firefighting Station.

It was a fantastic chance for them to be parts of real fire department team, to learn important things on safety and to see how a team works in real life conditions.

Many thanks to our friends in Athens Fire Department!