From the moment they step off the plane, it is not the Singapore zoo, Marina Bay Sands skyline or Sentosa that expat families rush off to see. Rather, they find themselves roaming around international school campuses, led by an Admissions Officer, eyeing the spaces where their children will be spending the regular hours of their day. Campuses often make or break the deal when it comes to picking an international school in Singapore (Learn more about ' "What is an International School"). Rightfully so! But how exactly do you make sense of what makes a suitable campus for your child? Here are some things to observe and think about!
When you walk into a campus, put yourself in your child’s shoes. Even better, bring your children along so that you can take the cues from them. There are Open House events (find out more about "Attending an International School Open House") that your child could join to participate in activities on the campus. Observe if they feel intimidated by the space or stimulated by it. Especially in the case of the little ones, it is easy for them to feel apprehensive in a new space. But with age-appropriate facilities, like playgrounds designed with your little one’s needs in mind, sufficient bright open spaces, excitable elements such as sensory gardens you will see that your little one will be quickly put at ease.
In the case of older children, it is equally important that the space does not limit their exploration of their own abilities. Be it a playground for primary school children or sports hall for the middle school and high school children, there should be sufficient elements that offer students the opportunities to push their own limits while also feeling safe and comfortable.
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Traditional classroom setups often have a teacher standing in front, by a board, with students’ chairs and tables facing the front. That arrangement primarily facilitates a teacher-led lesson. We are now increasingly shifting away from that. During your walk around the campus, look out for classroom setups that promote collaborative learning and create numerous opportunities for discussions and reflection on one’s learning. Even better if the classroom setup is varied in a way that supports different learning styles including comfy corners for independent thinking, reading and contemplation balanced with spaces for teamwork.
Facilities to Support Interests
A school should definitely not just be a place to squeeze the best grades out of children. While good grades don’t hurt, it is also important that a school emboldens your children to pursue their interests, even those outside of academics, and give them many opportunities to develop new talents and build up existing ones. Great initiatives coupled with the right facilities could make all the difference here! Being able to practice in the right-sized pools, refine design in studios with top notch facilities, play music like a professional in auditoriums with great acoustics or even perform theatre tricks in the right environment – all of that could be wonderful perks to children with specialised interests.
World of Resources
Never, ever miss a chance to drop by the libraries during a campus tour. The libraries speak volumes about how much a school encourages students to seek out knowledge for themselves outside of the classroom.
The more readily resources are made available to children, the greater the possibilities for them to continue to grow as self-empowered learners. Check out the range of resources in the library and if it serves as a conducive and inviting place for students and if it caters to the literacy abilities of students of all ages.
The next time you step into an international school campus, keep your eyes peeled for the right signs of what will make it an ideal place for your child to learn, play and thrive. And as mentioned earlier, it is always a good idea to bring your child along and watch them interact with the space as a gauge of whether it works for them!
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