Welcome back! Chinese New Year is a special time for our school community and for many of our families. During this time we honor our home/host country by helping our students understand and experience many of the Chinese New Year traditions. In ECC we had parent volunteers as well as Chinese teachers and assistants share traditional stories and songs, do Chinese cooking, and teach the children Chinese calligraphy and craft. All of our Early Primary (Nursery to Grade 1) also celebrated with parents on the sports field by dressing in Chinese clothes, singing, dancing, and watching a lion dance performance.
Xin Nian Kuai Le! We wish you all a happy and prosperous Year of the Dog!
ECC parents can download their child’s semester 1 report from the gecko portal today. This report is just one way that parents are informed about their child’s learning. At SIS, assessing and reporting on student progress takes place continually as part of the teaching and learning process. Students are given multiple opportunities to demonstrate understanding and growth through authentic and teacher guided learning experiences. Assessment is ongoing, progressive, captures growth and focuses on what children know, understand and can do. Teachers regularly communicate student progress with parents in multiple ways such as through direct communication and photo sharing; as well as through formal channels such as Portfolios, Learning Stories, Parent Conferences, and Progress Reports. The next primary parent conference will be held on Thursday, February 1st.
When we hear the term ‘literacy’, we usually think of reading and writing. However, literacy actually covers a wide range of skills including how children express themselves, verbal and non-verbal communication, listening, reading, writing and language use in different contexts.
Last week we had a special literacy focus across our primary school. In ECC we hosted a parent workshop to introduce our Foundational Literacy Curriculum. During this workshop teachers from each grade level shared ‘snapshots of learning’ in the form of videos and photos to show parents how we help our youngest learners develop crucial literacy skills within a supportive and authentic learning environment. Parents also shared ways they help their children to communicate effectively and to develop a love of reading and writing in the home environment.
In ES we had a literacy expert, Kasey Perry, come and work with teachers, students and parents from Kindergarten to Grade 5. Kasey has been a regular visitor at our school for the last 3 years and has helped us strengthen our reading and writing workshop approach. The aim of the workshop approach is to prepare children for any reading and writing task they will face, to turn them into lifelong, confident readers and writers who display agency and independence in their future literacy endeavors.
By continuing to host parent workshops on a wide range of topics we are developing a strong home-school partnership that will help us work together to support our children on their lifelong learning journey.
Each trimester we endeavor to offer a rich range of After School Activities (ASAs) for our Prek2 students. These enrichment activities are facilitated by teachers, teaching assistants, and community members. The aim of ASAs in ECC is to spark children’s curiosity, expose them to new ideas, foster self-esteem, improve motor skills, and allow them to have fun with a new group of students. By starting ASAs in Prek2 we are also increasing students independence and helping them prepare for the transition into kindergarten. This trimester, Prek2 ASAs include cooking classes, soccer coaching, dance lessons, music development, lego building, science experiments and creating pop art.
I would also like to thank the PSA and all the wonderful parent volunteers who make our SIS community so special. Last week alone saw the PSA organize and host a very successful MS parent social, family movie night and cardboard challenge. This week their efforts continue with the PSA Halloween stations for all ECC and ES students tomorrow. These events require a huge amount of organization, energy and commitment and we are truly grateful for all the parents who willingly give their time to create these memorable learning events for our students.
We hope all our students enjoy dressing up tomorrow and participating in all the fun and spooky activities that are planned. Happy Halloween!
Natalie Tarr, a visiting EAL consultant from Australia, facilitated a parent workshop last week. Natalie spoke about the process of learning an additional language, the amount of time needed to master the deeper features of a language, and the importance of maintaining the home language and culture.
“A strong sense of identity and positive wellbeing are vital to success in learning. Positive self-esteem comes from being acknowledged and appreciated for who and what you are. This includes acceptance and acknowledgement of race, ethnicity, religion, language and ability”. (Siraj-Blatchfors and Clareke, 2000)
At the end of her presentation Natalie shared the following tips for parents;
- Maintain and extend the home language through conversations, reading books, joint writing, and family ‘social’ time.
- Explain concepts, celebrations, and other cultural aspects in the home language.
- Arrange play time and outside activities which promote first language and English.
- Enable children to have a ‘balance’ in life so they can enjoy their education and social life.
We are looking forward to welcoming Natalie back later in the school year to continue working with staff, students and parents.
Thank you to all the parents who came to ‘Learning Comes Alive’ on Thursday, 21 September. During this event parents were welcomed into our class communities to experience a typical morning of exploration and learning. Students proudly showed off their classrooms and were delighted to have parents participate in joint projects and circle time.
‘Learning Comes Alive’ also provided parents a glimpse into how teacher’s intentionally design the learning environment to inspire student curiosity and to guide purposeful play. As student’s explore their class environment, participate in learning centre activities, and engage with adults and peers they are developing their social, emotional, cognitive, language and physical foundations that will support them throughout their school years.
We are now in our fourth week of school and so much learning is already underway! Each child is settling into new routines, making new friends, discovering new ideas and developing a sense of well-being and belonging within their class and in the wider ECC and SIS community.
Building a strong sense of community is a vital component of the ECC curriculum:
“Each community to which a child belongs… provides opportunities for new learning to be fostered: for children to reflect on alternative ways of doing things; make connections across time and place; establish different kinds of relationships; and encounter different points of view. These experiences enrich children’s lives and provide them with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they need to tackle new challenges.” (Te Whàriki Early Childhood Curriculum)
To help establish a strong class identity all ECC classes spend considerable time in the first few weeks of school choosing a class name that has special significance for the learners in that group. Children are involved in the process through brainstorming, researching, sharing opinions, collecting data, voting, and creating displays. With names like Rainbow Sheep, Love Penguins, Brave Bears, Dancing Snails and Friendly Dragons you just know it’s going to be a great year!
Another way to help students develop a sense of school identity and spirit is to encourage them to wear SIS clothing. Prek1 and Prek2 students are provided with a P.E. uniform and other SIS branded clothing options are regularly on sale through the admissions office and PSA. While not mandatory, these clothes are a symbol of our school and help children feel they are valued members of our vibrant school community.
Parents and other family members are also essential members of our school community and in the coming month there will be a number of opportunities for parents to participate in school events. On September 21 we will be hosting our first ‘ECC Learning Comes Alive’ which is an opportunity for parents to join their child’s class to explore and learn together. This will be followed by a guest speaker who will talk to parents about how they can best support English language learning at home. On September 28 parents will also be invited to meet with teachers one-on-one to collaboratively set learning goals for their children. More details will be sent home about these events in the coming weeks.
The start of the school year in ECC is always filled with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Our youngest learners are excited to start school, meet their new teachers, and play with friends. However, they are also anxious about being in an unfamiliar environment and being separated from caregivers. To help students settle into their new learning environment teachers spend the first month focusing on establishing classroom routines, building a strong class community, and forming positive relationships with teachers and peers. After a week in school we are already seeing lots of smiles, laughter and excitement as students explore, learn and realize how fun school is.
The start of the school year is also a big transition for parents. To help us develop a strong and productive partnership with all parents we hosted an information session on Monday. At this session parents received an overview of our program, safety procedures, classroom routines and general day-to-day information to help them support their children as they settle into the new school year.
Thank you parents for your ongoing partnership and support. We look forward to a wonderful and exciting school year!
GETTING READY for ECC : Tips & Suggestions
Please send the following items with your child each day. Be sure to clearly label all items with your child’s name:
- A backpack
- A water bottle
- A sun hat (recommended)
- A healthy snack for snack time (please do not include sweets such as chocolate or chocolate flavored items, candy, cake, etc.)
On the first day of school, please send the following items, clearly labeled with your child’s name:
- A family photo for the Classroom Family Wall
- A full set of extra clothes (including underwear and socks) in a zip lock bag
- A set of indoor shoes for classroom time (optional)
- A bottle of bug spray and sunscreen (please apply before school)
- If your child is in the Nursery and is wearing a nappy, please bring a one-week supply of nappies and wet wipes (please check supply regularly)
Tips & Considerations:
- If your child brings lunch from home, please send healthy choices that your child enjoys (please do not include sweets such as chocolate or chocolate flavored items, candy, cake, etc.)
- Children are very active throughout the day. Please dress your child in casual and comfortable clothing. Shoes should be appropriate and comfortable for active play and be easy for your child to take on and off.
- Please do not bring toys from home (except as requested by the teacher for special occasions or projects)
- Please sign your child in and out of class everyday; children riding the bus will be signed in and out by the teacher
- If a different or new person will sign your child out, please let your child’s teacher know and provide a photo and phone number
- If your child will be absent, please let your classroom teacher know and email Anna Xu who records attendance (firstname.lastname@example.org)