Case Study: WAB’s Early Childhood Centre


The Western Academy of Beijing has been offering a unique mix of Emilio Reggio and the International Baccalaureate kindergarten programme through its Early Childhood Centre writes Sophie Loras.

When Nathalie Azzopardi had to make a decision about where to send her young son to kindergarten in Beijing, the decision was easy. Nathalie had already chosen the Western Academy of Beijing – a kindergarten to year 12 international school – for her eldest son, after experiencing a very positive feel for the school on the first visit. Her youngest son Jeremy now also attends WAB’s Early Childhood Centre, which combines the learning framework of the International Baccalaureate and the philosophies of Emilio Reggio.

“Coming from Malta, it might have made more sense to enroll our children in a British school but I like the International Baccalaureate programme much more and the kids are in a happy environment,” says Nathalie.


Her young son Jeremy speaks confidently, enjoys singing and dancing, and at just four years old, can point out countries on a map.

“This is a totally different system from what I am used to but the kids just love their school and they are learning for life – not just for exams,” says Nathalie.

The idea of the programme is to encourage learning in a fun, happy and thought provoking environment.

Classrooms are built around a Pizzia or shared community space with a learning kitchen, performing art and visual art studio and a courtyard playground. The children also have access to the school’s gym, pool and library facilities.


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*Pictured: Holly Bowen Reardon, WAB’s ECC Head with Nathalie and Jeremy Azzopardi. (Courtesy Walk Hall, WAB)

“We use the IB PYP as our curriculum framework,” says WAB’s ECC head, Holly Bowen Reardon.


“We also incorporate the principles of the Regio Emilia approach throughout our play-based program where both children and teachers are researchers, actively learning together through inquiry.”

Parents play a vital role in the program and are encouraged to share their expertise with the children, volunteering to work along side teachers and students and well as collaborating with teachers to create a full picture of their child and sharing their insights of their child’s interest and current knowledge base.



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