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Wooing with arts in Banana Island School

Tucked away in the amazingly secure gated community of Banana Island Estate, Banana Island School is a co-educational day school with an international curriculum now catering for children between the ages of 18 months and seven years. The school is unique in Nigeria in ensuring that outdoor learning is an integral part of the curriculum.

Having commenced in January 2011 with provision only for children under the age of three, it has grown into an exceptionally successful and incredibly happy early years setting where the children consistently achieve well above their age expectations.

The school is holding its very first Open Day on April 27 and, as with everything they do, it promises to be different. According to the Chief Executive Officer of the school, Mohammadu Sa’adina Wada, “apart from the usual tour of facilities, presentations and displays, there will be special treats – a classical concert by the amazing Vesta Violins ensemble; an Art Show of contemporary Nigerian art, with many of the artists on hand; and extra-curricular providers demonstrating the different options available to children at the school.”

Recently, the school hosted its Arts’ Week with each day’s theme ranging from Kadinsky to Naturally Creative; rounded off by a parent/child art collaboration competition. The famous artist, Alimi Adewale, in the school to work on a recycling project with the children and the resulting art and stick men can be seen hanging around the play area.

Wada said, “a rainy Lagos morning could see the children in wellington boots, raincoats and hats having a science lesson – testing materials in the rain; using key scientific vocabulary; and of course, having fun.”

The mathematics lesson on 3D shapes took the children to the nearby supermarket – examining cornflakes packets, pringles tubes, ice cream cones, to mention just a few. They tried out their money and change skills on the amused supermarket staff (not forgetting to say their pleases and thank yous) and then went over to the playground to test out the concept of balance on the see-saw, before having lunch on mats placed on the grass and walking back to school. All the while, spotting colours, 2D and 3D shapes and listening for sounds.

According to Wada, “the school aims to encourage the children to learn to work hard and to enjoy reading, not only in order to succeed, but also to discover the satisfaction, which rewards sustained effort. Emphasis is placed on excellence and endeavour in academic work, leisure, sporting activities and service to the community.”

As a foundation for all else, the school wants the children to be happy, determined and resilient. While learning to be honest, courteous and self- disciplined members of the community, to be as much concerned about the happiness of others as about their own.

The School aims to teach along a mix of traditional and forest school ethos lines, coupled with the demands and innovations of modern society, with much in it to excite and extend. The School’s teaching aims at a sensible balance between preparations for examinations and building a broader base of knowledge, academic interest and talent from which specialisation can follow later.

Yes, the children are closely assessed with each learning objective in the core subjects of English, Maths and Science being tracked on a traffic light system. The difference here is that the assessment is not just of learning but assessment for learning. The children take an active part in their own assessment with peer assessment being actively encouraged.

He said, “They learn to give each other positive reinforcement but also to take constructive criticism. ‘Children get upset when they feel something is unfair. They need to know that the assessment is fair and explicitly shown what they can do to make it better.

Even the most able children need to know that finishing the work early and getting it all right doesn’t mean that they get more work or harder work – which could be seen as punishment by the child’.

“So, in this seemingly Pollyannaish world – are the children pampered little pooches with behavior issues? Amazingly, not at all. Even the toddlers are encouraged to be independent as early as possible. They take off and put on their shoes; get their own bags and set their food on their personalised tablemats; tidy up after themselves and ask before leaving the table! Everyone (particularly the domestic staff) has to be treated with courtesy and consideration.”

Originally  posted on The Guardian:


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