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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Welcome to the Learning Jungle

Celebrating Canada Day with a choreographed dancing performance for the parents
Celebrating Canada Day with a choreographed dancing performance for the parents. Photo Supplied

Welcome to the Learning Jungle

A new way of looking at early childhood education that allows the teacher to step back and the student to step up has come to the Kingdom via Learning Jungle International School.

“Children need to develop their life skills as well as their education for the future to be a part of society,” said Principal Bridgitte Miller, whose program places importance on students developing themselves.

Principal Bridgette Miller with her class
Principal Bridgette Miller with her class. Photo Supplied

“Early childhood education is the most important because it is not teacher-directed; it is open for the students to facilitate,” Canadian-born Miller said. “The teacher is there to make sure that all children are assessed equally, so that they are able to progress at their level of learning.”

With its understanding of what it takes to nurture early childhood education, Learning Jungle takes a three-pronged approach: develop mentally appropriate programs, parental/guardian guidance and measuring students’ progress.

When creating its programs, Learning Jungle assesses the stage of development of the children, who range in age from 18 months to over 5 years.

“We base our education on the five domains of a child, which are physical, emotional, communication [language and literacy], creative and cognitive development,” Miller said. “It is important that all these five domains are focused on so that children can develop totally.”

Utilising this, lesson plans are devised to incorporate eight types of learning, with each class, including a selection of words, numbers, pictures, music, the body, nature, people, and finally themselves.

n the lobby of Learning Jungle every child has their own place to store personal belongings
In the lobby of Learning Jungle every child has their own place to store personal belongings. Daily structure helps reassure parents of their child's safety as well as cognitive development. Eli Meixler

“It is important for young children to be able to explore their environment and to be able to grow and play in a safe, loving environment,” Miller said.

The new centre claims a pool, playground and cinema room, all built to assist with the children’s cognitive development.

“They cannot get fast enough out the door to these activities,” said Miller, adding that Learning Jungle was constantly inspecting its property to ensure its safety.

Boasting a low teacher-to-student ratio, director Ly Virak reported that “in the toddler class we have 15 students and up to four teachers, including teacher assistants and one full-time teacher. So the student-to-teacher ratio is very good.”

After opening in January, Learning Jungle International School is already 90 per cent full. An international franchise that started in Canada 20 years ago, it has now spread as far as the United States, the Philippines and at last Cambodia.

Specialised class schedules ensure that the students build on specific cognitive skills
Specialised class schedules ensure that the students build on specific cognitive skills. For the child it is a game of solving a fruit puzzle with help of a teacher and an assistant teacher. Photo Supplied

“Parents have realised that quality education is important for their child if they want them to be able to progress in society,” Miller said. “No two programs are the same, but we use the same methodology as in Canada.”

“You never know what your future will bring, but we are growing and I can tell you that education is growing in Cambodia – quality education.”

With gushing parents and a taste for success, Learning Jungle International School is already thinking to the future.

“We have a big dream in the future, which I cannot tell you at this point. But I can tell you that we have big dreams,” said Ly, hinting at the opening of a primary school.

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