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What is the ELC Curriculum?

As the oldest international school in the region, the International School of Berne (ISBerne) has long provided children with engaging and meaningful learning experiences that form the foundation for academic success. We offer a preschool and Kindergarten programme in our Early Learning Centre, which fosters in each child a love of learning and sense of self through an inquiry-based curriculum.

As an accredited International Baccalaureate® (IB) World School, our preschool programme develops the whole child.  The learning experience in our Early Learning Centre is focused upon providing a safe, nurturing environment in which your child can explore the early stages of the various literacies (reading, writing, mathematical) that will be key to all of their future learning. Our young learners acquire the skills necessary for thriving in Primary School, whether they continue here, in their home country, or abroad.

Our school is committed to the International Baccalaureate® Primary Years Programme (PYP) curriculum, meaning that our teaching is balanced, concept-based, and planned around our students. The Early Learning Centre Programme focuses on these pillars of learning: 

Play and Inquiry

We emphasise play and discovery both in- and outdoors, which sparks a sense of wonder and curiosity. The schedule is built around opportunities for adult-supported, freely chosen play and adult-led, small group activities. 

We believe that young children are competent, unique individuals who are able to pose, and solve, their own problems. We create a safe and caring environment for them to learn, play and build relationships. In order to facilitate the learning, we set-up responsive environments in collaboration with the children, based on discussions, careful observations, documentation and planning.

Children are encouraged to take risks and reach beyond their current knowledge, skills and understanding. We foster their natural curiosity in order for them to construct meaning and make sense of the world around them. The children have time, choice and opportunity to explore, develop confidence and continue to be agents of their own learning.

Language Development

Learning is a complex process of discovery, collaboration, and inquiry facilitated by language. Oral language is of paramount importance in these early years of education. It is used to communicate, reflect, gather, process, and present information and is a rehearsal for reading and writing. We appreciate the importance of language development and, when possible, provide opportunities for children to use their language of choice.

English Language

English is the primary language of instruction at the International School of Berne. Our students come to us with diverse cultural identities and language skills. The English as an Additional Language (EAL) programme at ISBerne is designed to help all our students to integrate into our school and fully access all curriculum areas. 

German Language

Starting in the 2023-24 school year, we will introduce German into our classrooms. Our teachers will continue to teach in English as the language of instruction, while our Assistant Teachers will speak in German to our students. Our ELC students will benefit from both English and German in the classroom during the school day.

This approach offers benefits in terms of cognitive development, integration into the local community, and enhanced communication opportunities. It will also prepare your child for specialised German lessons when joining Kindergarten.

Our approach will, of course, be adapted for each individual student to ensure that they continue to thrive in our caring learning environment.

Literacy Development

We encourage children at ISBerne to identify themselves as readers and writers who can read for meaning, generate ideas and experiment with symbols to convey their ideas.

Throughout our programme, your child will participate in shared reading and writing activities. They will join in with rhymes, poems, songs, word, and clapping games. In this way, they will gain familiarity with the sounds and patterns of the language of instruction. 

In addition, they will learn to discriminate between visual representations such as symbols, numbers, technological iconography, letters, and words. They will also develop an understanding of the relationship between letters and sounds. 

Our students also visit our Library each week to support their learning and have access to our media collection in multiple languages. 

Mathematical Development

At ISBerne, we view every child as a mathematician. We promote a positive ‘can do’ approach and seek to develop a love and enthusiasm for mathematics. We explore mathematics through stories, songs, and real-life problems, such as planning a birthday party or sorting
materials for recycling. The children develop an understanding of mathematical concepts by making connections between everyday
experiences and the skills and ideas they develop at school. They share and explain their thinking by talking, writing, and drawing, use technology to explore and learn new ideas, and are encouraged to solve problems and think logically and critically.

Outdoor Learning and Physical Development

The children participate in daily outdoor learning sessions, weekly forest visits when the weather permits, and movement classes in our Gym twice per week.

In addition, students have ice skating lessons each Friday as part of our school's 'Ski and Skate Fridays' programme in the Winter season.


Arts and Music

Children have a weekly music class using an array of different instruments and are supported by the Music Teacher.

In addition, all of our learning spaces emphasize the creative arts and have well-equipped art areas. 

Additional Support Services

At the International School of Berne, we also support student diversity and recognize that students learn in different ways. Therefore, our school has a comprehensive student support services team that supports our youngest learners. 

About the Primary Years Programme Video

Created by the International Baccalaureate® organization, this video explains what the Primary Years Programme is and how the curriculum is implemented. To learn more in-depth about the Primary Years programme at ISBerne, we invite you to visit our "About the IB Primary Years" webpage.

Local Educational Requirements

When living in the Canton of Berne, your child will have to start compulsory schooling at four years old and is required to enter Kindergarten for two years. Every child who reaches the age of four on or before 31 July enters Kindergarten the following August. Children start the 'Basisstufe' or basic level of Primary School.

Because the Canton recognizes the Early Learning Centre program and Kindergarten at ISBerne, your family can fulfill the compulsory schooling requirement at our school. For more information, please contact our admissions team by emailing or by calling +41 31 959 10 00.

Information for Parents about the Basisstufe from Canton Berne