Education Blog

Singapore International School Chiangmai

Education Blog

Master Class- Chinese Learning for Early Years.mp4

Parent Masterclass

Foreign language education programs - Chinese Mandarin

Welcome to our first Masterclass with Laoshi SJ who covers Chinese language in the Early Years. #sisbcm #masterclass #masterclass2021 #Education #edutech #edtech

The Value of Music

Early years - Middle School - High School

At SISB Chiang Mai, students of all ages study music, with the younger students learning percussion, the xylophone and being introduced to the concept of musical notes, while the older students all learn to read music and play a variety of instruments.

There is a wealth of research which concluded that a well-rounded education, which incorporates drama, dance, art and music, supports the development of essential life skills such as creativity, resilience, self-control, communication skills, and leadership skills.

As such art and music classes in schools should no longer be dismissed ‘soft subjects’. These are lessons which enable the development of skills which are essential for success in the 21st Century.

A correlation between music and learning has long been recognised, including aidng problem solving a key skill in Singaporean math, but the benefits of music education are much greater than most people realise.

-- Motor Skills --

A study led by professor Ellen Winner of Boston College psychology and professor Gottfried Schlaug of Harvard University, revealed that children who participated in 15 months of weekly musical instruction showed significant improvements in the development of their fine motor skills.

At the end of study, the researchers discovered that neural pathways associated with motor task competencies had shown remarkable development.

Regular piano playing remains one of the most effect methods by which young children can improve their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

-- Intelligence --

A study in Canada, which examined the impact of music lessons on the IQ of 144 six-year-old students, discovered a clear correlation between learning music and intelligent quotient. The report concluded that those students who had spent one year learning to play a musical instrument had significantly higher IQs than those who children who hadn’t had those music lessons.

-- Improves Grades --

Researchers have also found that the mathematics abilities of students who participated in extended music programmes improves dramatically, with the results at one school improving from 2.4 points below average, to being 6.5 points above the national average.

A study titled ‘The Untapped Power of Music’ also concluded that studying music was linked to greater academic achievement, better results on college entrance examinations and higher scores on assessments such as the SATs. The report also revealed that students who played music in a group generally had higher GPAs than students who did not.

-- Social skills --

A review of multiple research studies at McGill University discovered that learning to play music could also enhance children’s social skills. The report indicated that rhythmically synchronous activities, such as dancing, marching, and playing music, fostered positive feelings of social connection.

-- A Wealth of Benefits--

Not only will a well-balanced education give today’s students a more positive outlook on learning and better developed life attributes such as, creativity, resilience, the ability to collaborate, but arts education will also support improvements in traditional subjects and standardised tests.

So if your child shows an inclination towards playing an instrument, please do support them. It will benefit them in so many ways.

Teacher Daniel

Computer Science & Coding at SISB Chiangmai

International school curriculum - Holistic education

Learning to write computer code used to be considered something that only gamers, hackers and residents of Silicon Valley would find useful, but all that is changing.

Today’s students need to learn the basics of computer coding so they can understand how computer programs work and be able to write their own programs, create their own websites and develop their own apps. Simply learning how to use computer software and mobile apps may have been sufficient for previous generations but it is simply not enough for today’s learners.

At SISB, all the students in Primary are introduced to the basics of computer programming and given opportunities to create their own games and applications. This is so important because students in this generation who do not ‘speak code’, will inevitably get left behind.

Computer Science Education Week, takes place each year during the first week of December and the students at SISB have once again joined this global initiative, taking part in the Hour of Code, coding tutorials.

This year’s tutorials, were particularly fun and the students got the opportunities to programme their own dance party and go on new Minecraft adventures.

When our students return to school in January, they will continue their adventures in coding, with lower primary getting to grips with the basic concepts such as commands, conditionals, repeat loops and algorithms while the upper primary students get started writing python code.

Ultimately, the challenges of the 21st Century can only be successfully overcome with human ingenuity aided by technology and computers. Teaching our students to code from an early age gives them opportunities to contribute to a better tomorrow. - Teacher Daniel

21st Century Education

Early years - Middle School - High school education goals!

Our students were born in the 21st century. Their education should reflect that.

In our world, it is not enough to be schooled in rote memorization and assorted facts. Our lives today are marked by a rapidly changing world, digital workplaces and marketplaces, and global interaction. At SISB, we are preparing students for the environment they will enter as young adults. They are called 21st Century Skills.

Before the 1980s, schools were focused on the acquisition of content, particularly in literacy and numeracy, because with a fluency in those areas, students would be able to acquire knowledge independently throughout life. Today, those skills have been expanded. We no longer need to know what year the Russian Revolution began; we can find it at our fingertips in less than a second. But if we are curious about the Russian Revolution, we need to know the following:

+ What words and skills do I need online to find answers to my questions?

+ How do I formulate questions that examine the topic critically, rather than just accepting what I find on the page?

+ How do I apply that knowledge to other endeavours?

+ How do I communicate my understandings to others?

Within the 21st Century skill set, four skills -- the Four C’s -- have been identified as being crucial components of a successful education:

  • Collaboration

- Communication

- Critical Thinking

- Creativity

Collaboration is a crucial part of most workplaces today. Brilliant minds working in isolation are a thing of the past; today’s problems and technology require interaction among professionals with specific skills. No one person can build a space shuttle, create an iPhone, lead a country or cure disease. It requires many minds with disparate skills, able to work together. To foster that in our students, we are big on projects at SISB! You will see students huddled together as they build towers, construct letters, or plan scientific experiments. Our classrooms reflect that, with space for students to come together in creative ways to solve problems.

Communication, of course, is essential for Collaboration as well as survival in our current era. To succeed, students learn how to express themselves clearly and kindly. Merely having an opinion is not enough; students must be able to support their ideas.

+ “I agree with Student A’s idea, and I’d like to add that …”

+ “I disagree with Student A’s idea, because … “

+ “Could you explain your idea, please?”

These are the kinds of sentence structures that help students to refine their communication skills.

Reading and writing in at least three languages (English, Thai, and Chinese) will help students to communicate across borders.

Critical Thinking skills promise that when our students speak, they are not merely parroting memorized facts. Rather, they learn to question what they see about them. What does this mean? What is the writer’s intention? Is this writing bias? How does this connect to other things I have learned? How can I apply it to other topics?

Critical thinking requires learning from multiple sources in order to see different perspectives on an issue. It is the difference between followers and leaders; those who think critically can make change by seeing all sides and forging new pathways.

Creativity brings us to innovation. Creativity allows us to see different modes of expression and new solutions. It is not only aesthetic. Creativity is flexibility, an ability to bend, change, and originate. Creativity in science allows students to formulate original hypotheses, building on earlier knowledge. Creativity in literacy is what allowed students this month to write their own scripts, inspired by “The Wizard of Oz.” In art, you can see our students’ creativity in their stunning diverse self-portraits. In Thai and Chinese, music and video reinforce language learning. And in math, students use creativity to solve word problems and find new ways of attacking a problem.

A list of facts won’t carry our children to successful adult lives. But content infused with 21st Century Skills will give them the toolkit they need to thrive in any environment.

21st Century Education

Singaporean Maths

Singaporean Mathematics

How is Singapore Math different from other countries math curriculums?

Singapore Math is more than just DOING math or dealing with numbers but really in the BEING - becoming a thinker and problem solver. This goes much deeper than just getting the right answers or just dealing with numbers.

The main difference therefore would be the motivation behind studying mathematics.

Why do we study Mathematics? Now, many people have answers for this. If you ask parents, the answer would be: “Being good in math means you can get into a good course in university”. If you ask a student, the answer would sound something like: “We study math because it’s a subject in school and we have to”.

Singapore Math however, sees the reason WHY we study math in a different way and this is what sets it apart from how other countries teach it. Singapore believes that “Mathematics is an excellent vehicle for the development and improvement of a person’s intellectual competence” Meaning, we are using Math as a means to reach the end goal of making our kids more competent. What does it mean to make our kids intellectually competent?

In this 21 st century, this means that our kids need to be critical thinkers, communicators, creative problem solvers who are willing to take risk and tackle challenges with a positive attitude. That

being said, Singapore Mathematics therefore uses teaching techniques that aim to train your kids to BEING these kind of people who are competent to meet the needs of the changing world.

It is therefore no surprise to know that we do not emphasize or reward just the correct answers but we highly prize the reasoning behind, communication and presentation of

HOW they got to the correct answer. We want to train students who have the qualities of:

1) Metacognition - the ability to think about their own thinking.

2) Perseverance - not giving up when they face a problem but having the grit to pull through it.

3) Confidence - being confident to stand for their answer because

they know why they do what they do.

4) Good communicator - able to convince and explain what they

are doing and why their idea is good or better.

5) Creativity and resourcefulness – coming up with new and different ways to do the same thing or solve the same problem.

It is a quest to train a child to be competent and ready for life. This is what Singapore Math has done and is doing for kids. It is not an easy kind of training but it is definitely a worthwhile one.

Teacher Gloria

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Chinese Language - Investigating culture

Early Years

Foreign language education programs - Chinese

It can be incredibly difficult for our young learners to investigate new cultures using a second or even third language, yet our younger students all did a great job in their Chinese lessons last week. Please see the pictures which cover students from Nursery and Kindergarten through to Primary one as they develop their intercultural skill set in Chinese Mandarin. Research has indicated this is an area that needs to be developed and is lacking focus, even at the tertiary education level, so at SISB Chiangmai we start young!

In the lead up to International week students explored challenging new vocabulary that would not normally be a part of the curriculum but was instead linked to their own curiosity about different countries and their cultures.

The students worked in small groups developing a project to display their hard work and show their understanding, well done!

How do we teach? How do kids learn Thai at SISB?

Foreign language education programs - Thai language and culture

Students at SISB start learning Thai from the beginning of their journey with us. In Nursery 1, we explore the Thai alphabet names. Students then go on in Nursery 2 to learn letters that have similar properties but are different. In this level students also get lots of practice on pronouncing these letters correctly. The focus in Kindergarten 1 is Thai Phonics, letter sounds, vowels and blending sounds together to form words. In Kindergarten 2, students learn more about tone marks and ending consonants.

In primary, we offer Thai Language Support to help the Non-Thai students who need a little more support.

Our teaching approach for Thai in Early years and Primary/Elementary school is based on a centre system where students are exposed to a variety of learning activities, such as puzzles, games, matching sets, domino games, memory games, etc. This is to reach all the students’ abilities. Students are also encouraged to be thinkers, to become more independent and to take pride in their work. We have seen great success when our students can have fun whilst learning and discovering all the activities. We also learn about other cultures leading our young learners along the path to Global Citizenship. Kru Noon.

Hands on learning and not old fashioned rote learning

K2 J Pup.mp4

Chinese Language

Foreign language education programs - Chinese Mandarin

Your native language really doesn't matter, if you want to learn a second or even third language SISB is the school for you.

Check out Pup one of our Thai students as he impresses his Chinese teacher LS Yang Yang.

We can also see our Nursery students learning about colours (Chinese) using science and song - transdisciplinary learning in Nursery school

A Chinese song about colors.mp4

Nursery school inquiry using Chinese language - LS Shengji Cui

P1 reading Pinyin .mp4

A real treat - Chinese from K1 & Primary 1

Nari Practice K2 Reading book.mp4
P1 singing _ little star_ .mp4

Here you can see children reading a book (in Chinese) singing a song called 'little star' (a class favourite) and Reading Pinyin characters during a class revision session.

It should be noted the oldest child shown is just 7 years old and Chinese is not their native language.

The force is strong in these young jedi knights!!!

N1 video.mp4

Nursery 1-under 3 yrs old

Early Years - Education

Wow our Nursery 1 class is famous for having fun and getting kids way beyond what most people think is academically possible.

Check out one of our young students who is really making his mark at SISB, as he recognises his letters and reads sight words.

You read that correctly - we did say 'reads'

Keep up the great work N1, T. Des and crew we are very proud of you all.

Service learning NK & Primary at SISB Chiangmai

Service learning - Education - Primary

Service learning is an important part of experiential learning at SISB Chiangmai.

So what exactly is service learning in education? There are many definitions and interpretations of service learning within education. Most tend to agree service learning is about community, civic responsibility, student driven and practical.

How can we fit this type of learning into an already packed curriculum? It is not a matter of fitting it in, we advertise a holistic learning experience at SISB so this must already be an active part of teachers planning at the beginning of the year.

What do we actually do?Service learning in the Early Years is very difficult to accomplish due to the age of the children in question and is usually started in much older students. However, taking our lead from Japan's Shokuiku programme we look to give our students a sense of purpose, responsibility and understanding. This begins with simple classroom cleaning with our youngest learners brushing up their classroom and being responsible for it's cleanliness (during the school day). In Primary school we want students to learn what it is like to hold a real job, be responsible and independent and to see life from someone else's perspective. In order to do this our Primary aged children have canteen duty where they serve food to all of our Primary students before eating themselves. This is done twice a week and on a rota basis. The children learn about health and safety in the kitchen, healthy portioning and must communicate in at least two languages. Our young servers also learn how to communicate from a more professional perspective with their 'clients' and also how to deal with pressure and adversity. This programme is something that the students really look forward too and are immensely proud of. It is something that we will be looking to expand as we move into 2021! Service learning in our Secondary school is coming very soon........

Hard at work!

Service learning is something our students enjoy!


K1 Love Mandela inspired charity

Our K1 Love class have been inquiring about South Africa and their inspirational figure was Nelson Mandela. In honour of Mr Mandela they have run a Mandela week of kindness and made a donation today at Wat Don Chon, Chiangmai, to help orphaned children. Well done K1 Love we are proud of you!

Kindergarten in a music class

Primary science - Introduction to the body and it's systems!

What exactly is an International education?

An International education means many different things to many different people. However, most agree that it refers to a quality education from an International perspective and usually with a focus on learning through the English language. Unfortunately, this does not address standards, morals, ethics or global citizenship which should all be a part of any quality International education programme. Many schools claiming to provide a quality education, fail to embrace International standards of safeguarding or 'taking a global perspective' better known in education as global citizenship. We often see or hear about schools failing to meet their mission or having no real discernible set of guiding statements or ethics. This is what makes choosing a school so difficult for parents.

One thing parents should look for when choosing a school, beyond their facilities, is transparency. A true International school will be transparent in all areas of their operations. Usually making policies and procedures easily available to all families. These schools will be able to share safeguarding (Child protection) policies and information with prospective parents and usually have a safeguarding statement prominent on their web site. Communication with families would be regular and effective. Decisions (where possible) would be made in consultation with the school community and when not possible, these decisions would be clearly explained to all of the school's community members.

Another thing parents should look very closely at, is pedagogy. This means how the school intends to teach it's students. There are many and varied pedagogy's in Education and even schools using the same pedagogy can differ greatly when it is applied to real life learning. We will do another blog specific to pedagogy after Christmas, so if this part is confusing please hang in there! However pedagogy will help define the type of education your child will receive and from there you should ask to observe a lesson to see how that pedagogy is actually delivered. Any quality International school will have no issues with this request as long as it does not disturb pupils (and probably not in Nursery & Kindergarten where pupils are still very young).

One thing we can state for fact is SISB Chiangmai meets all of the standards you would expect of an International school. We genuinely care about your child's education and our teachers work very hard to ensure they remain current with the latest in Education! Not sure of your next step? Click on the contact form at the bottom of the page and make an appointment to see us, you can also make an appointment to observe a lesson after your initial visit. We look forward to seeing you soon :)

S.E.L is a critical part of our Holistic learning focus.

Children are individuals and develop at different rates!

The learning environment is just as important as the teacher or the curriculum!

What is SEL in education?

Education - Early years - Primary School - Middle School - Secondary School

Anyone involved in education will be aware of our love for acronyms from I.B. to iGCSE the education world is littered with them and educators throw them into conversations at every opportunity. The problem with this is when speaking with people who are not educators, who do not understand what is being discussed or how it applies to education in general.

Today we will look at one such acronym, SEL or Social and Emotional Learning. Any quality International school will tell parents that they provide holistic learning for pupils but if that learning is entirely academic, then is it holistic? The answer is categorically, no!

Young children go though stages of development and in order to ensure academic excellence you must address a child's social and emotional needs or they simply will not feel comfortable or secure enough in the educational environment and will not learn effectively.

These stages are discussed by psychologists, paediatricians and educators alike. Piaget believed that these stages could be broken down by age groups 0-2 years, 2-6 years, 7-11 years and 12+ years. However for the purposes of this article we can simplify Piaget's theory by breaking down development into three recognisable stages, early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence. Children develop as individuals and move along this timeline at their own pace. Some things we can expect to see between Kindergarten and early Primary school age would be developing the ability to lie and manipulate. Often seen in a very negative light, but a very good indicator of cognitive development. This is a stage that often catches parents by surprise and educators are very used to hearing "my child never tells lies".

Social skills are a critical part of a child's growth and can shape their future successes in life, occupation and friendships. Schools address social skills from a Nursery age, having children learn to play together. Nursery children are naturally selfish because they have not yet learned to share a toy, this seems very simple but is something that must be learned. Self regulating emotions is another massive hill to climb for young learners. From birth we are pre-programmed to cry to express a need (as we cannot yet communicate). As children grow we expect them to naturally stop this behaviour. Children are a blank slate, everything is learnt, this includes undoing pre-programmed behaviours like crying to express a need.

Moving away from our youngest learners, why is SEL important in upper Primary or Secondary school learners? The easiest way to address this is to discuss the five (5) key skills critical to the success of social and emotional learning.

Self management is a key skill for our older pupils as they navigate the minefield of adolescence. The moodiness of our teenagers is well known and lamented amongst most parents, as is their risk taking behaviour and their need to test the boundaries of what is acceptable. Through SEL learning we can put this experimentation into context providing information to our teens that allows them to make decisions based on fact rather than pure emotion. This also allows us to introduce morals and societal expectations, something on which few teens place any (high level of) importance.

This leads neatly in to self awareness, something our teens and young adults always believe they fully understand and achieve, yet rarely actually do. Everyone tends to believe they know themselves, this is especially the case in teens and young adults, who often believe 'nobody understands them or what they are going through', conveniently forgetting that everyone goes through the same stages of growth (societal changes set aside). Self awareness is something that needs to be taught, often collaboratively and usually student led. Recognising your self worth, your strengths and your weaknesses is something that is critical in older students. This age group often has to deal with bullying, mental health issues and the extreme stresses brought about by exams, with results that can perhaps determine their future. A healthy, positive understanding of who you are and the areas that you need to develop personally can help a student navigate this tough time successfully.

Decision making is a skill that we develop from early childhood. We learn from our mistakes with bumps, bruises and sometimes broken bones; but we do learn. This remains highly relevant as we grow and gain more freedom from our parents. The decisions we now make can have a lasting effect on our future lives. Examples would be decision to become intimate in relationships, deciding to experiment with smoking, following someone else into something you know in your heart, is wrong; yet we still do it. When teaching decision making, it is very important for teachers to give students the facts. If teachers water-down the information or fail to provide information, how can our students make a rational decision about it? Should they simply listen to playground rumours and take them as fact? This ability to decide goes hand in hand with critical thinking. If you give a student the information they need and the framework to analyse and understand the information then they are better able to make an informed decision. It may not always be the right decision, but at least it is a considered one!

Social awareness and relationship skills are shown as separate entities but can be discussed here as one. If you have no social awareness it is highly unlikely you will have successful relationships. Whilst educators agree students should not be forced to conform to (most) societal norms. There are of course rules within any civilised society that must be adhered too. The rules of law and common decency are probably foremost and are inculcated at a young age. Often strict views on sexuality, dress, haircuts, body art are viewed as societal norms but each generation tends to challenge this part of society and we believe this is healthy and helps us grow as a people. However, it is important that our growing children are aware of their effect on society. A complete lack of awareness would indicate that a youth is not developing cognitively or indicate some other issue, perhaps mental illness. Youths should also be aware that some behaviours whilst well meaning have an incredibly negative effect on communities, an example would be peaceful protests turning into riots and looting, where the communities where these people live are inevitably the ones damaged and left scarred by violence. Relationships are built on personal likes and dislikes, trust and sometimes peer pressure. It takes children a long time to be able to recognise positive and negative relationships. This is, again, due to the fact their first relationships are with their parents who (in the main) love them unconditionally. It takes experiences within different types of relationship to learn what is and is not acceptable to peers or what is positive or negative. This learning process is critical as they develop and move into the workplace where they will often be expected to work as part of a team.

This is a very brief discussion on this subject and is in no way a definitive explanation of 'SEL' and why it is important to our students. However we hope you have gained a little bit of an understanding as to why this is important. Prospective parents should not be afraid to ask questions of new schools, when you do please remember to ask about holistic learning and how they address SEL learning at the school.

Originally posted in the International School blog

Choosing a school

This is an important decision for every parent and a lot must be taken into consideration, location, facilities, cost, pedagogy, teachers, reputation. Let's look at some of these points and try to ensure all parents have the right information when they next look at selecting a (new) school.

Location- Parents are willing to travel for the best school but is this always the correct decision? When we look at very young learners often it is much better to find a suitable school close to where you live. In this way parents can drop off and collect their child which provides the child with a sense of security and lessens the inevitable separation anxiety. Often schools will tel parents "unless your child joins us in Kindergarten it is unlikely there will be a place for him/her in later years". This is often patently untrue and simply a marketing ploy to ensure children progress through the schools classes from the earliest age possible. Of course, there are a few schools where this maybe the case, but they are few and far between (mainly based in Bangkok). Older children can perhaps travel further but a balance must be considered between length of time travelling and getting the best education. A child who spends almost as long travelling to and from school as he/she does in school is not going to perform (or learn) as well, defeating the object of having your child travel so far!

Facilities- are important! All Private and International schools should have quality facilities available for academic pursuits and sports. However parents need to look a little bit deeper to ensure the facilities are clean, safe and meet International standards. When we talk about facilities we should also consider things like Information Technology available to students, the school library and the schools plans with regard to future development and expansion (as you might be in this school quite a while).

Cost- this is self explanatory for anyone living in Asia. Private and International schools are not free and you must budget accordingly. The best schools will have clear and transparent payment structures in place. Look out for tuition offers from December through to March, often advertised on the schools websites and social media. For older children scholarships (up to 100%) are often on offer, take advantage of these offers and get the school you really want!

Pedagogy- this is a key area to consider and often misunderstood! First we need to say that buzz words and trends are just as common in education as they are in other areas. Pedagogy is the art or method of teaching that you will find in the school. These are often broken down into areas such as constructivist or collaborative, but this often will not help parents. So further investigation should always take place. The type of curriculum delivered and the method in which the teacher works to 'teach' the student are perhaps easier for parents to discuss and understand. There are many curricula being used today some of the most popular and lauded would include (IB) International Baccalaureate and the Singapore National curriculum. I mention these two specifically to demonstrate how two superb pedagogical approaches that are research proven to be effective, can differ greatly. During Primary school the IB approach concentrates on transdisciplinary learning where no independent subject is taught. Rather a concept is used within a topic and the teacher brings in elements of all subjects, allowing student led learning to take place. This is o.k. as long as the teacher considers subject matter equally and does not focus too heavily in any one area to the disadvantage of another. An example would be an 'English' trained teacher not giving equal amounts of time to Math and science based concepts. The Singapore approach has put the City state at the top of PISA ratings for over a decade (alongside Finland) but approaches learning in a very different way. Subjects are taught by specialist teachers but the learning does not cross over between subjects. Whilst critical thinking is inculcated into the curriculum there is less opportunity for student driven learning and development of research skills. Both of these curricula are proven effective but demonstrate the differences in pedagogy. Parents should consider what they want to see in their child? They should also consider which approach their child maybe best suited too (often entrance evaluations can help with this choice). In older students the IB emphasis changes and focuses (much like the Singaporean approach) on individual subject matter whilst incorporating research skills (extended essay). In Singaporean curriculum schools you will often find multiple paths available through Cambridge iGCSE and even International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme as seen in SISB Schools.

Teachers- again, this seems quite self explanatory for most of us. We want quality teachers who we can trust with our children. However, this is not a simple matter at all and really needs some deeper questioning by prospective parents. First and foremost a school should be able to give you their safeguarding statement or a direct link to their safeguarding (child protection) documents. The thing that should be absolutely paramount in every parents mind is safety and security for their child. To often, parents have trusted schools only to later regret that decision. Every quality school should be able to show this information on request and the best schools will have links for parents available online at all times! Chat with some teachers at the school you are moving too, they should be enthusiastic, knowledgeable and passionate about teaching. If they are not, then it is a good indication that the recruitment policy is poor or that the school is not as good as it perhaps looks! Always talk to more than one teacher just to gain perspective. Most teachers will be happy to chat inside or outside of the school. Teacher qualifications- again, most quality schools will happily discuss this with you and should be employing B.ed, PGCE/PGDE or M.ed teachers in Primary school and above as standard.

Reputation is a tricky subject in Asia. Sometimes schools have gained a reputation as a 'top' school simply because they charge more money and are seen as exclusive! Sometimes the reputations are extremely exaggerated or have no basis in reality! The opposite is also the case, where a school has had a disagreement with a popular teacher or parent and suddenly their reputation is awful! It is very hard to give advice but I would ignore reputation (to some extent) and concentrate on the above points when considering a school. I would then speak to parents already at the school and where possible (and appropriate) current or recently graduated students. Take a look at the annual exam results, whilst not the best way to judge a school they are still an important benchmark to consider. Just remember if you feel uncomfortable in the school then perhaps it is not the school for you!

One last thing to consider is asking to speak directly with the Head of School (or in very large schools the Head of year/level). In a quality school this should never be a problem, where at the very least they will make a future appointment for you. Most parents never take this step but it is an excellent final indicator in your choice of schools. Leaders in education should be able to talk in-depth about the school pedagogy and direction in any age level, if they cannot then how are they leading the school (level)? School leaders should be accessible to parents and knowledgeable about the school safeguarding policy. School leaders should (in the main) be able to give you definitive answers to any questions you may have and if they cannot, again, how are they leading the school? I encourage all prospective parents to take this final step even if it means returning to a set appointment on another day. It is important academically and financially to make the most informed decision and that should include the person responsible for the supervision of the school (level).

Previously posted on: December 2020

Coping with online learning

Whether you are in Thailand, India, the United States or anywhere in the world, we have all been affected by the 2020-2021 Corona virus pandemic. Whilst adhering to the many restrictions imposed upon us, including a complete lockdown, whereby we have found ourselves having to stay at home, bringing social isolation to many, particularly people living alone or those who have been shielding. This has caused not only practical and financial issues, but has had a huge impact on the emotional and mental health of many people.

Most humans are naturally social beings, living and thriving in cities and communities where we strive to build meaningful and close relationships with others. Often we rely on those relationships to help relieve the pressures of the day, or discuss a problem that’s been on our mind. More often than not this occurs at a social gathering in a bar, or a restaurant, but due to the pandemic, social gatherings are now discouraged or made illegal and we no longer have access to the facilities we`ve become accustomed to in order to keep physically fit, and emotionally well. We are now having to take different measures to communicate.

It has never been more crucial to be happy with oneself and one's thoughts. A simple way to make life in isolation a little easier is to find your creative side. Why not take this time to try some art therapy within your home and allow yourself to have some free-flow creative time. There is an increasing amount of scientific evidence that proves art enhances brain function that can raise serotonin levels. Creative stimulation engages and focuses our minds on the task at hand, and distracts us from feelings of stress and anxiety. Even if right now you are not in lockdown, it will still have a positive impact on your mentality and give you a plan of action should another lockdown occur.

Try gathering a range of materials that you can find around the house to make some interesting textures and colours. Beetroot and turmeric can make some great natural dyes to tie-dye old fabrics or clothes. Having some creative, hands-on, practical art time during the week will allow you to develop your creative side. Creating is fun, delightful and calming. Being creative will also help your physical health, by boosting your immune system and in turn reducing the effects of chronic stress. Art is a great way to bring people together in spirit (social distancing ;), if you have a partner, or child, you can get creative together at home. But if you have a friend living overseas you can keep it simple, choose a word, for example ‘play’ or ‘countryside’ and then create artistic ideas involving these concepts. This gives you an opportunity to reflect and discuss what you have created and how you can make it better next time.

At this time it is too easy to fall into a state of isolation and inactivity, which can lead to other serious issues such as anxiety and depression. Keep your mind active and healthy to help yourself, find comfort and peace with your own imagination. This simple tool can easily be used to help your own state of mind and also engage people who you think might be finding it difficult during this time. Whether they are in Chiang Mai or overseas, it’s fun, simple and very effective!

T. Elize

Oral Language Development

Effective oral language development is fostered by teachers as we encourage our students to work on skills involving the four cueing systems of oral language: the four cueing systems are the phonological system, syntactic system, semantic system, and pragmatic system. Each system plays an important role in oral language development as these skills are used simultaneously when we communicate in English.

The phonological, or sound, system involves knowledge of the rules that govern combining sounds. Phonics is the sound system with approximately 44 sounds and more than 500 ways to spell them. This cueing system allows students to be able to decode words, notice rhyming words, and divide words into syllables. In our NK program, we develop the phonological system with various activities to lay the foundation for students to understand how words are built. We aim for students to not simply memorize words, but have a deeper understanding that will later help them decode more complex words.

The syntactic system can also be known as the structural system. For example, syntactic cues involve identifying the function of the word (noun, verb, adjective, adverb), which students work on as they reach higher levels. Since word order is important in English, developing syntactic knowledge helps students effectively convey what they are trying to say.

The semantic system can also be known as the meaning system - vocabulary is a key component. Through oral development, children learn many new words and the meanings of those words. This system also involves understanding synonyms (words that mean the same thing), antonyms (opposites), and homonyms (words that sound alike but are spelled differently).

The pragmatic system, or social and cultural use system, involves children’s knowledge of when, and how to properly communicate. The rules of language use are important for children since they are judged on what they say and when they say it. Children should know social cues, such as when to respond to others, or when it is appropriate to speak. Pragmatics also includes understanding the proper “language” to use, such as knowing when to use informal English as opposed to formal English.

Having a firm understanding of these categories helps students with their expressive and receptive language so they can better express themselves and understand what others are saying. Each of these systems aids children in oral language development.

Cameron Groves

Art can play a defining role in academic success!

The Importance of Art

The value of art class is much more than helping children develop their skills with painting or sculpture to create a satisfying piece of artwork. Students can learn valuable life skills that will help prepare them for their future, no matter being professional artists or not.

When we think of life skills, Art is not one of them people usually count as a life skill. However, through art lessons, children learn how to think like an artist becoming comfortable with artistic ambiguity, idea generation, and transdisciplinary research. In class, students develop creative confidence through hands-on art activities including painting, drawing, sculpting, and stop-motion.

As such, these artistic behaviors assist students to build and form life skills. Creative confidence is a key for students to turn their fear into familiarity. This allows children to innovate without fear of failure in their future lives, and it encourages them to enjoy their journey with a positive mindset and a deep appreciation for the creative process.

Thus, we can say learning art is a sure-fire way for children to become creative lifelong learners throughout their lives.

Tess Moon