Parent Workshop: Supporting English Language Learners

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.

Learning Comes Alive in ECC

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.

Creating a Caring Community

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.

Welcome to the ECC!

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!

Introducing myself…

Welcome to the SIS community!  My name is Kasey Burns and I am the Director of the Early Childhood Center this year.                                                                                                                                

This is my 6th year working at SIS. I started in 2012 as a kindergarten teacher and then moved into a curriculum development role in 2013.  Before working at SIS I taught in schools and universities in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Taiwan. I have a passion for early education and love working with teachers and parents to ensure every child is nurtured to learn in a stimulating, caring and happy environment.
I am also the proud mother of 4 children, all of whom go to SIS. I have a son in grade 5, a daughter in grade 4, and twin daughters in Prek-2. My husband works for International School Services (ISS) and is also based here at SIS. We feel very fortunate to be able to raise our family in the supportive and caring community that we have here at SIS.
I am looking forward to getting to know you all in the coming weeks. If you see me around the school please feel free to introduce yourself so we can start working together to ensure your child has a magical year in our ECC!

First Day Tips

 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)

Daily Attendance:

  • 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 (axu@sis.org.cn)