Early Years Defined

Who We Are: Shared Understandings in Early Years

Be, Connect, Grow, Transform: Myself, My community, My world

Being: Our Image of the Child

We value each individual child as unique, strong, capable, creative, and full of wonder. 

As researchers and bearers of rights, children are socially connected and actively participate in their learning process. We believe that as active participants, children have the right to express themselves and make meaning of their world in many ways and at their own pace. 

Children research their world while educators research learning.

We view educators not as transmitters of knowledge, but rather curators of learning experiences. Educators and children are both researchers in the learning process. 

Our learning spaces indoors and out, are inviting, promote curiosity, and are purposefully planned in response to out beliefs about the capable child, creating rich conditions in which children learn..

Connecting: The Learning Process

We believe play, being social and symbolic, is the driving force for learning. Play is a social process and meaning is constructed during interactions with others, including capable and competent educators. Through play, children at ICS participate in meaningful investigations and inquiries, anchored by the Primary Years Program (PYP) framework and the ICS Learning Process that is concept-based and inquiry-driven, with the child at the center of the learning process.

Growing: Symbolic Exploration and Expression

We believe symbolic play and expression are the starting point for a strong learning community. Children are supported in their expression and use all their senses to make meaning through many symbolic processes, including movement, painting, transformation, mathematics, drawing, mark-making, socio-dramatics, building, sculpture and sound/singing/rhythm. These areas of expression help to build a strong cognitive, social, and communicative foundation for future learning in the elementary years and beyond.

Transforming: Our Local and Global Community

We believe ‘the child is actively involved in re-shaping the community’ (Gardner 2012), and therefore, their world. Our learning community is full of hope and is re-shaped by the unique children within. 

Early Years Overview

The early years program at ICS Addis is a part of the elementary school, and includes children ages 3-6.

The early years pedagogy is inspired by The Educational Project in Reggio Emilia and is anchored by our PYP concept-based units of inquiry, reflecting international best practices. The approach is designed to respect curious, growing children where playful inquiry sets the foundation for important skills in thinking, self-management, social-emotional growth, communication, physical coordination, and cognitive/academic creativity. Children explore symbolic representation, including early literacy and numeracy, through play and careful educator facilitation.

The early years programs are supported by our early years coordinator, an early years specialist for music, art and movement and the lower elementary school counselor.

Our specialist is integrated into our learning community throughout the day and compliments our holistic approach to learning. This enhances our already dynamic learning environment by bringing in artistic and musical experiences through movement, nurturing the important brain/sensory/body connection.

Program Details

The early years 3 and 4 programs have both half day and full day options. Early years 5 is a full day program. Students are required to be toilet-trained. 

The early years programs follow the ICS school calendar and are offered five days per week (Monday through Friday). Early years 5 is the equivalent to the American kindergarten, and is the first year of formal elementary school. 

     Grade Level     



Student to Teacher Ratio
     Early Years 3 (EY3): Half Day     


     8:00 AM-12:00 PM      8 to 1
     Early Years 3 (EY3): Full Day      3           8:00 AM-3:20 PM / 2:00 PM on Wednesdays      8 to 1
     Early Years 4 (EY4): Half Day           4           8:00 AM-12:00 PM      8 to 1
     Early Years 4 (EY4): Full Day           4           8:00 AM-3:20 PM / 2:00 PM on Wednesdays      8 to 1
Early Years 5 (EY5) 5 8:00 AM-3:20 PM / 2:00 PM on Wednesdays 9 to 1

*Age Requirements (See the Early Years 3-4 Admissions eligibility for more details):

EY3: students are eligible to join ICS after their 3rd birthday, on or after the next available entry point date.

EY3 entry points are:

  • Start of the first semester in August (student must be 3 years old on or before 31 August)
  • 1 October (student must be 3 years old on or before 30 September)
  • Start of the second semester in January (student must be 3 years old on or before 31 December)
  • 1 April (student must be 3 years old on or before 31 March)

EY4: students are eligible to join EY4 if they turn 4 years old on or before 31 August. Students in EY3 who are not eligible for promotion to EY4 will continue in EY3 in the next school year.

EY5: students are eligible to join EY5 if they turn 5 years old on or before 31 August. 

Future Leaders