Michelle has a BA (Hons) in History and South Asian Studies from North London University and PGCE from Middlesex University. She began teaching across all three primary key stages. Michelle began her school leadership career in 2002, when she became the Deputy Head Teacher of a large primary school in North London and spent four wonderful years there before relocating to India in 2005.
Her first international position was the Head of Primary of a local/international school in Bangalore in Southern India, where she introduced the Cambridge International Primary Programme and Checkpoint. Michelle then spent 6 years in China and 3 years in Ethiopia developing curriculum and assessment practices.
Michelle believes that children learn best when they are having fun and are engaged in practical, real life activities. While she recognises that outstanding academic achievement is the ultimate goal, she feels it is just as important to build self-esteem, instill character and encourage a global outlook in every child. Michelle believes that learning transcends the classroom environment and is passionate about educational visits and extra-curricular experiences.
Michelle is married with four children - Ana, Hindya, Bille and Markos. The Dickinson family have a sense of adventure and love of life. They particularly enjoy the outdoors, family holidays, making friends, good weather, camping and exploring and are delighted to be at OWIS.
It may come as a surprise to some parents, but between the ages of three and five, young learners will establish the foundation needed for a lifetime of educational success. On the surface, early childhood education programmes may seem like a lot of playtime with a few simple art projects mixed in, but young students are doing some serious learning in the classroom. This is where the building blocks for their whole education are laid down.
For example, students who are listening to a story that their teacher is reading are developing their pre-literacy skills. Those that are playing with blocks and other manipulatives are grasping the basics of pre-numeracy skills. Children partaking in art classes are improving their dexterity skills, which will ultimately help with their writing, as well as improving their problem solving skills. Physical activity and ‘play time’ encourages children to move around, strengthen their bodies and develop their coordination skills.
Research links early childhood education to important cognitive, social and emotional gains. In fact, the majority of critical brain development takes place before children even reach their first year of school. Researchers have found that the human brain is most receptive to learning between birth and three years of age. Indeed, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, this is the most critical time for laying active neural pathways and the optimum time to maximise cognitive development in pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills.
This is why spending time reading, playing and talking to children from an early age is so important. As soon as they join school they will set on a pathway to improve all of these skills, laying foundations which will help them throughout life.
These are the skills that students develop quickly in early childhood education programmes that offer hands-on learning opportunities in a play-based environment. Essentially, these are the skills that students will need in order to set the foundation for future learning. Pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills are required for students to understand more complex concepts in the future, such as phonics, reading, writing and mathematics.
Parents need to understand the importance of early childhood education, and they need to partner with a school that offers an innovative approach to these critical programmes. It is also important that the school is able to offer extra support where needed and provide guidance to the families if the extra support is required. This is their child's first step on their educational journey, and it will determine their ability to be successful well into the future.
It is equally important that children are passionate about learning from an early age, so by learning through play and activities, children find that new experiences can be found everywhere. It helps them to be inquisitive, to feel confident to ask questions and to want to seek out more information.
Mathematical development, literacy and spatial awareness complement a child's social and emotional development. Cultivating strong pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills give children a solid academic foundation through phonemic awareness and number concepts. By the time our youngest learners leave our Early Childhood programme, they are well prepared to deepen their understanding and learning in our dynamic Primary School.
They will be well prepared to take on the next phase of their education and will be excited to progress throughout their learning journey. They will have been supported to reach all the key milestones during the Early Childhood Programme and will leave with the key skills and knowledge required to build on this. The Early Childhood Programme encourages children to ask questions, to always inquire further and to be hands-on with their learning.
If you would like to find out more about our Early Childhood programme or our later years opportunities, please contact us and we will be happy to guide you through these.