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Core Competencies and Evaluations

At Nanaimo Innovation Academy, we deliver the BC curriculum in an engaging, outdoor, child-led and seasonally inspired way. With a strong focus on outdoor education and indigenous ways of knowing, NIA will follow student interests and emerging passions. Throughout the academic exploration, teacher’s align the curricular goals for that grade, as well as the Core Competencies set out by the BC Ministry of Education: 

  1. Communication

  2. Collaboration

  3. Critical and Reflective Thinking

  4. Creative Thinking

  5. Personal Awareness and Responsibility

  6. Social Awareness and Responsibility

  7. Positive Personal and Cultural Identity


NIA will also follow the Ministry of Education’s yearly assessment schedule, including 3 formal reports and 2 informal reports throughout the school year.

Social and Emotional Focus in the Early Years


Parents want the best for their child. Parents also want their child to be academically prepared for the higher grade levels. In the early years, the best way to ensure their future academic success is to build up their social and emotional skills….and spend time reading with them. 


 Too much academic pressure in the early years often results in:

  • Children to lose interest because they are being told what to learn and do

  • Children in academic-focused early years programs may sometimes seem to be more “academically advanced’ than their counterparts but this gap closes by first grade 

  • Children in academic programs often have more behavior problems than those in play-based programs

  • An increase in stress and anxiety (lots of playtime outdoors helps with this)

  • Teaching academics earlier doesn’t lead to faster cognitive development

  • One of the most important things children need is self-confidence and judging them and telling them their ideas are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ instills the opposite. It can make them feel ashamed or embarrassed for trying.

  • Teacher-led learning can dampen creativity and curiosity (Fuller et al. 2017)


At Nanaimo Innovation Academy, we utilize the best practices from various educational pedagogies-- Waldorf, Montessori, Reggio, Whole Child Education, Forest School Theory and Play-based Learning-- without being limited by the rigidity of ascribing to just one philosophy. By being flexible and in constant evaluation of what is best for child development and learning, we innovate and create a program designed for our student’s current needs, interests, and growth.

Curricular Focus of the Elementary School



  • Letter and sound recognition

  • Progression of reading skills

  • Progression of writing skills

  • Outdoor dynamic story prompts and connections

  • Songs and rhyming

  • Sign Language, Spanish, and French language in a play-based way



  • Mental math strategies

  • Natural math manipulatives

  • Shapes exploration and comparing amounts

  • Number recognition and counting

  • Simple addition and subtraction during play

  • Patterns in nature


Physical education

  • Safety and risk management

  • Encourage gross-motor activities and play within the comfort levels of the child

  • Lessons in resiliency and understanding our bodies

  • Nutritious meal program with explorations of food

  • Lessons in gardening, processing, foraging, and farming

  • Yoga, mindfulness, and self-regulation


Socials studies

  • Inquiry-based learning, child-lead explorations

  • Connection to the natural world-sense of place

  • Sustainable environmental practices

  • Community connection, awareness and improvement

  • Global awareness on common issues

  • Guest speakers – Indigenous Elders, Community Helpers



  • Encourage ‘sense of wonder’ about the world

  • Experience and interpret local environments, discuss observations, and represent ideas by drawing

  • Identifying plants, various wildlife, insects and life cycles

  • Safely manipulate materials and tools

  • Caring for self, family, classroom (outdoor and indoor), community and environment

  • Share observations/ideas orally

  • Express and reflect on personal experiences of place



  • Create and explore with a variety of materials

  • Process-based art

  • Music, dance, and performing arts

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