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25 January 2019

Language learning at AIS in Singapore

Published by Jessica Anne Tay
Renovation-and-refit-projects

Students at the Australian International School in Singapore benefit from a robust international curriculum and a diverse global perspective that encourages children to explore and embrace the world around them. A key element of this curriculum is the global languages program, which allows AIS students to develop fluency in a foreign language and a deeper connection to world cultures.

Benefits of global language learning

Research has proven that children who learn a second language at a young age:

Improve their overall academic performance, outperform non-bilingual peers on standardized tests, and reinforce skills in core subjects such as mathematics, social sciences, and reading.

Build new language skills and achieve fluency sooner and more easily than tweens and teenagers.

Boost their brain development – bilingualism is even thought to play a role in preventing cognitive decline caused by aging and the early onset of dementia.

Strengthen their understanding of how all language works, which can help improve their native language skills.

Improve their memory and listening skills.

Often make better decisions, have better career prospects, and enjoy a higher standard of living as adults.

Connect to a global community and develop a broader, more inclusive worldview.

Why Mandarin?

Many international schools in Singapore offer foreign language instruction in Mandarin Chinese, and the Australian International School is pleased to be among them.

It can be difficult for expat children to feel at home in a new country and culture. Learning the native language can help significantly and Mandarin is one of Singapore's four official languages, alongside English, Tamil, and Malay. At AIS, children will become fluent in a language that will connect them to the community where they live. Your child will be able to navigate his or her neighbourhood and the city at large with increasing confidence and ease as they work toward proficiency in Mandarin.

As China continues to become a global force, with a growing population and economy, learning Mandarin will be incredibly advantageous for your child. Mandarin is China's main dialect and the common language spoken by numerous companies who do business in and with China. Fluency in Mandarin is expected to be a major selling point for employers, both now and well into the future.

Why English?

Nearly 400 million people all over the world speak English, the official language of more than 50 countries, including Singapore, and one of the most widely spoken languages globally. Fluency in English ensures your child can gain better access to careers in the sciences, technology, diplomacy or aviation, helps prepare your child for a future at any number of multinational companies, and offers understanding of a broader range of websites, books, films and other media.

For secondary students at AIS, proficiency in English is also a key component of the International Student University Preparation Program, which readies students for higher education at universities across the globe.

The AIS language curriculum

Students at AIS begin learning Mandarin at two-year-olds in the Nursery program. Our dedicated specialist teachers will guide your child through fun, interactive daily lessons full of songs, games and stories. As your child grows and becomes more confident in his or her Mandarin fluency and retention, the lessons build in intensity to help your child stay focused and engaged throughout the elementary school years.

Secondary students have the opportunity to expand their language learning from Years 6 through 12. AIS students at this level can choose to continue their study of Mandarin, or they can elect to begin studies in French, Spanish, or Indonesian (Bahasa).

For non-native English speakers, AIS offers a well-supported, intensive study of English as an Additional Language (EAL). In this program, students are grouped based on their English proficiency and receive specialized instruction tailored to their specific needs. The goal of the EAL program is to give students sufficient short-term skills in English so they can quickly integrate into academic and social life at AIS, with the aim of eventually building fluency so they can participate successfully in the mainstream classroom without EAL support.

Beyond high-quality instruction, your child will also benefit from a strong focus on the unique cultures associated with the languages we teach. Holidays and celebrations are integrated into language learning, and our secondary students are given the opportunity to experience the culture and practice their skills in person during overseas immersion trips.

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25 January 2019

Head of Year 7 Garth Sadler Shares his top tips for settling in to a new school

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Starting at a new school is an exciting time for your child, but it can come with challenges, especially when relocating overseas. The prospect of making new friends, getting to grips with a new curriculum and timetable, and navigating their way around a new campus can be daunting. Our Secondary School teacher Garth Sadler who oversees academic care for Year 7, offers his advice on helping your child to settle in...

How do I support my teenager with transitioning to a new school?

Moving to another school and another country is always challenging for teenagers. They often leave behind good friends, established routines and familiar surroundings. The best way to settle into a new school and country is to get involved in as many activities and with as many people as you can. Singapore is a very western country and chances are that the hobbies your child had back home can be continued here.

Encourage your child to maintain relations with friends back home; keeping these emotional connections is important, especially until new connections are established in Singapore. If you have concerns about your child settling in, talk to the teacher who oversees your child’s welfare (at AIS this is their STRIVE teacher). As every child’s challenges will be unique, having an open discussion with the school can help you devise a customised approach to supporting your child.

Finally, model a positive and open minded approach to living in a new country. Explore new locations together and discuss the benefits of living in a country and culture other than your own.

What can I do if my child is struggling with the curriculum?

A student who says they do not like school is usually suffering from a) lack of purpose at school, b) lack of understanding at school, or c) something is happening outside of school that is causing them concern. Whatever the reason, having an honest and open dialogue with your child is the best way to work through any issues.

Students who lack a goal or end point for their schooling will struggle to be motivated. As Stephen Covey says in ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, begin with the end in mind. It’s hard to be motivated when you don’t know what you’re working towards.

If your child lacks understanding at school, make a time to chat with the relevant teacher. Most importantly, don’t let your child get away with ‘I don’t like that subject, so I’m not going to try in it’. As working adults, there are aspects of our own working lives that we don’t always enjoy, but we still need to perform those duties. Building the resilience to work through things that we don’t always enjoy is an important life skill.

Talk with your child about their hopes for the future (as opposed to your hopes for their future!) and listen carefully to what they tell you. This will help them find direction and take ownership of their life story. Reinforce that by them following their dreams, they are not in any way letting you down. Never underestimate just how much a teenager craves their parent’s approval. A teenager who has direction at school and parental support will overcome most obstacles thrown at them.  

What's the best thing to do if my child isn't performing well at school consistently?

The term ‘performing well at school’, whilst in itself is quite broad, is usually interpreted as ‘getting good marks’. Getting good marks at school is an outcome. Instead we should interpret performing well at school as improving at school. 

If your child seems constantly disorganised, help them establish routines at home. Use a whiteboard in a very visible place at home to record what’s happening during the week. If time management is an issue, establish clear times for homework, play and rest. This may include strict limits on screen time (and clear consequences if these limits are not observed).

If your child reports that they struggle to engage with a particular subject or a particular teacher, make a time to speak to the teacher and share your child’s concerns. Do this with an open mind and with a focus on finding a solution for your child. If your child lacks enthusiasm about school in general, then good communication becomes vitally important.

Find an appropriate moment and talk to your child about what is holding them back at school. Help them brainstorm possible solutions and action they can take to achieve these solutions.

How do I support my child with learning another language?

As parents and teachers we are well aware of the benefits of learning another language. However it can be difficult for adolescents to see these benefits as they often don’t bear fruit until their adult years. The key is to show them the practical side of learning another language. Try labelling items around the house in the desired language. This allows parents to share in the learning as they can start to speak basic words and phrases to their child. In Singapore, if your child is learning Mandarin, take them to a hawker centre and get them to order in Mandarin. The locals will appreciate the effort!

Most importantly, parents must be seen by their child as supportive of them learning the language. When parents make comments such as ‘I don’t know the language, so I can’t help you with your homework’, this tells the child that learning another language is not valued. If time permits, watch films in the desired language with subtitles. If money permits, visit a country where the desired language is spoken and immerse yourself in the language. Allow your child to be the ‘go to’ member of the family when speaking with the locals. They will relish the responsibility and take pride in using their second language for the precise reason they are learning it at school.

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25 October 2018

At Home Strategies to Help Your Child with Maths

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For some children, studying mathematics is relatively easy. For others, it can be very difficult and even stressful. Why is that a select few naturally find it much easier than others?

It could be due to the fact that every child is different and is born with differing levels of ability, but the reasons behind why certain children have an aptitude for certain subjects is worth exploring.

Especially when very young, a child’s mind is like a sponge — eager to soak up information, process it and utilize it. In most cases, understanding and enjoyment of mathematics are both inspired by the quality of teaching provided at school. Children are not conditioned to dislike mathematics as an academic subject, but they can be put off by poor schooling.

But it is also not simply down to formal teaching. These skills need to be reinforced at home, and this is where your contribution as a parent is really important. Our mathematics teachers at the Australian International School are highly skilled and adept at motivating children to learn. The more you can do to support their work, the easier it will be for your child to flourish.

We have compiled a list of some simple strategies you can use to help your child feel comfortable in their learning as they move through the school years.

Understanding numbers

Just like learning to read, learning to count is an essential skill for every child. When they're starting out, you can work to help them identify numbers and relate these to everyday objects, such as buttons, toys or eggs in a carton — whatever is handy.

Physical objects are ideal for reinforcing counting skills. It's easy to teach adding and subtracting by removing an object or including more. It is also good to use different objects for counting games, so instead of just using apples you could use a mixture of fruits. The numbers are the same even though the objects are not, and that helps to expand your child's thought processes.

Numbers are a language too

Numbers are symbols that have evolved over centuries, and you can help your child make the correlation between the numerical symbol and their primary language. For example, 1 is one in English, un or une in French, and uno in Spanish. The language of mathematics can, therefore, be taught by rote if that helps your child, with the symbol and word side-by-side for them to learn.

Play games

Children love to play and you can make mathematics more fun for them with different classic games. One of the simplest number-based games that will never be forgotten is Snakes and Ladders, which introduces children to numbers from 1 to 100. Rolling a die gets them to concentrate on the number thrown and it won't be long before they recognize the spot pattern without having to count each one individually.

Games such as Yahtzee and that old favorite Monopoly are also great for learning more about addition and subtraction.

You can even invent your own games. Try chalking some numbers onto the driveway and giving them a mathematics question so that your child has to run over to the correct answer, or do it on a board inside. When you make numbers fun, your child is far more likely to enjoy the subject, rather than having it drilled into them, though rote learning can be useful at times.

Use cooking as a tool

Try baking some soft cookies with your child. Not only will you be able to teach some basic cooking skills that can be developed in the future, but you also have the perfect tool for teaching fractions. Show how to cut a cookie into halves, quarters and eights, or thirds and sixths, and you have a visual representation of fractions. You can then explain how to add and subtract fractions, so putting two sixths together makes a third and taking one away again makes a sixth.

It's a great way to encourage your child to understand fractions and gradually encourage them to turn the visualization into mental arithmetic. You don't have to use fresh cookies (though it's a delicious way to end the lesson by eating them!) as you can use molding clay or cookie dough instead.

Mathematics can be a daily activity

If mathematics becomes a fun part of daily life, your child will know it's natural to engage in number games and want to learn more as the concepts become more challenging. If you're inventive, you can keep your child engaged in the subject and develop a thirst for more knowledge.

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25 October 2018

10 great activities to do with your child when school is out

Published by
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School fills much of your child’s time. But even with homework and after-school activities factored in, it does not fill an entire year. Children and adults alike look forward to the freedom that our evenings, weekends and holidays entail. In fact, the innumerable ways to spend these times can be overwhelming.

So when school's out — even the Australian International School teachers need a break from time to time — what can you do with your children that will build on what they have been learning at school to give them new experiences to stimulate their imagination?

You may have plenty of ideas already, but here are a few that you might like to explore with your child.

1. Teach them to cook

They may already be learning some culinary skills at school, but often it's in the home where learning to cook truly begins. Children love to make things they can eat (and if adults are lucky they might get some too!), so encouraging them with simple things to start with will arouse their love of the culinary arts. Cakes and biscuits are great entry-level recipes and you can quickly move on to desserts or even savory pies and casseroles. These are useful skills they will never lose.

2. Go to a sporting event

You don't have to push out the boat financially by going to a huge, name-brand sporting event. Look for a local team playing in a small league or experience things like swimming or tennis competitions that are interesting and fun to watch together.

3. Take up a sport

If your child loves sport at school, why not enroll in a local club to develop new skills and abilities? Swimming is a hugely popular recreational activity that you could even enjoy together. Alternatively, look out for children's soccer, Netball or rugby teams that encourage playing with other children and learning what teamwork really means. Sport also provides many mental and physical health benefits, so participating is a win-win for your child.

4. Go to the theatre

Many theatres have programs​ aimed at children, either one-off events or festivals that include plenty of opportunities for children to see shows suitable for their age or to take part in acting workshops. A good play will stimulate your child's imagination through the magic that live theatre can bring and it's something that will be remembered for a long time.

5. Head for the park

A walk in the park can be a voyage of discovery for your child, especially if there are beautiful flowers and trees everywhere. It's a great opportunity to inspire an interest in and love of nature and the outdoors. Some parks have signs to say what particular flowers and trees are on display, making this an opportunity to learn at the same time. If this information is not provided, you can encourage your child to take pictures and then explore what they are on a botanical website.

6. Eat out

Children love to eat out. Keep things interesting by taking them to a restaurant that does food they haven't encountered before. Before you do, get them to find the country whose cuisine you're going to try on a map and find out more about that nation's culture. An early evening is best, before the evening rush begins.

7. Grow your own flowers and food

This activity is another winner with children, though they do have to be reminded of patience as things don't grow in a day. It doesn’t matter if you haven't got a lot of space because you can grow things in containers. To start with, choose fast germinating plants such as radishes, mustard or cress. You can also teach your child how to sow seeds, plant young flowers or vegetables that are a few weeks old, and understand how to care for them.

8. Do some magic tricks

You can put on a show for children if you have time to learn some skills, or you could even get your child to learn some tricks and put on a performance for family and friends. Children enjoy baffling adults as well as their own friends and it's a great way to provide entertainment at very little cost.

9. Take up horse riding

Most children love animals, so if you have stables near you, explore what they can offer in terms of lessons and introduce your child to a new activity that will build their confidence and skills.

10. Teach card games

Whether its Snap, Uno, gin rummy or hearts, classic card games are always fun to learn and will never be forgotten. So, switch off the TV and settle down for an enjoyable session.

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24 September 2018

Cost of Living Comparison between Australia and Singapore

Published by Jessica Anne Tay
Renovation-and-refit-projects

The cost of living is one of many factors to consider for those planning an international move. Knowing what to expect when it comes to accommodation prices, food costs, transportation, school tuition and more can help alleviate some of the uncertainty that naturally arises when moving to a foreign country, making it easier to budget and plan for the future.

Overview

According to the Cost of Living Survey 2017 byMercer, Australia has the 12th highest cost of living in the world, while Singapore sits in 5th position. Generally speaking, living in Singapore is more expensive than living in Australia, but costs can vary significantly depending on where in Australia you reside.

Based on the most recent available data, consumer prices in Sydney are approximately 3% higher than similar costs in Singapore. Other major metropolitan areas of Australia are cheaper than Singapore, however, with consumer costs ranging from 2% lower in Perth to 7.5% lower in Brisbane, relative to Singapore. Adelaide and Melbourne also have lower overall consumer costs.

Groceries are more expensive in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth compared with Singapore, but Brisbane grocery costs are cheaper. Furthermore, the cost of eating out in a restaurant is higher across Australia than it is in Singapore.

Rental costs are more extravagant in Sydney than in Singapore, but this is an anomaly in an overall comparison – every other major Australian city has lower rents than Singapore.

Practical comparisons

Based on the current exchange rate (0.946 AUD / SGD) and the average Australian price, what follows is a brief breakdown of the cost of some common household items in Singapore, including groceries, housing, clothing, transportation, personal care and entertainment.

All prices mentioned are in Australian dollars (AUD).

Food

A basic lunch with a drink in the Singapore business district will cost about $11, while a fast food meal costs around $8. A litre of whole fat milk is $2.97, a dozen eggs is $3.73, a loaf of bread is $2.19 and 500g of cheese is about $12.

A bottle of good quality table wine costs about $32, while 0.5 litres of domestic beer is around $5 purchased in the supermarket.

Housing

A 900-square-foot furnished apartment in an upmarket area of Singapore costs approximately $3,260 per month. The same size apartment in a more affordable area of the city is around $2,489 per month.

A month's worth of utilities — including heat, electricity and gas — for a family living in a 1500-square-foot apartment is approximately $200. You can also expect to pay about $38 per month for 8Mbps internet access.

Housekeeping or cleaning help in Singapore costs an average of $16 per hour.

Clothing

To stock your closet, you can expect to pay about $100 for a pair of Levi’s jeans, around $60 for a basic dress at a high street shop like H&M or Zara, $134 for a pair of Nike trainers and about $160 for a pair of men's leather dress shoes.

Transportation

If you own a car or plan to buy one while in Singapore, you'll pay $2.06 for a litre of gasoline. While owning a vehicle is very expensive in Singapore public transportation is very affordable. A monthly pass for public transportation is around $50, while an 8km taxi trip on a business day costs about $12.

Personal care

On a trip to the pharmacy for personal care items, expect to pay about $6 for deodorant, $8 for a 400ml bottle of shampoo, $3.80 for a tube of toothpaste and $2.93 for four rolls of toilet paper.

A visit to a private doctor costs about $50. Should you need medication, you'll pay around $24 for 12 doses of antibiotics or about $11 for a week's worth of over-the-counter cold medicine.

The average cost of a men's haircut in one of the city's trendy neighbourhoods is $25.

Entertainment

A casual night out for two might cost around $100, including $52 for dinner and $22 for two beers at a local bar, $23 for two movie tickets and $12 for cappuccinos after the show at a café.

Expect to pay more for a big night on the town: $106 for a three-course meal and wine at an Italian restaurant in the expat area, $159 for good theatre tickets and $40 for a couple of cocktails at a city bar after the performance.

A monthly gym membership costs approximately $137, while a 40-inch flat screen TV is priced at around $545.

These prices are intended only as examples of how costs in Singapore roughly measure up to the Australian dollar. What you can afford and the exact amounts you'll pay for expenses such as rent, utilities, clothing and food will depend largely on your Singapore income and where you live.

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24 September 2018

Moving to Singapore from Australia: What to expect

Published by Jessica Anne Tay
Renovation-and-refit-projects

As one of the world's top expat destinations, Singapore offers foreigners an excellent standard of living. Because Singapore and Australia maintain close trade ties and English is one of the Asian nation's official languages, many Australian expats find the transition to living in Singapore relatively smooth. The cultural diversity, global economy, modern amenities and inviting tropical climate are also major selling points, luring thousands of Australians to Singapore each year.

Economy

Singapore's growing economy boasts a high GDP and low unemployment. The service and manufacturing industries have seen some decline in recent years, but tech and e-commerce are at all-time highs. There is increasing demand for professionals to fill positions in finance, digital marketing, software and programming, data analysis and startups. Digital security positions are also widely available, offering opportunities in cybersecurity, compliance and regulation.

Housing

Singapore is a densely populated city, so suitable housing often comes at a premium. Space is limited, so most expats find the best accommodation is in high-rise apartments or condos. Many complexes offer impressive amenities like onsite playgrounds, workout facilities and pools.

Rental prices are comparable to those found in Sydney, Australia's most expensive housing market. Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Singapore city centre is around $2,680 per month, whilst a 4-bed family apartment further out of the city will cost around $6,000.

Singapore's housing market is heavily regulated and there are lots (and lots!) of rules regarding who is permitted to buy property or land. Renting is the norm for most expats, and many begin their housing search close to where they'll be working or sending their kids to school.

Schools

Singapore has its own schooling system and education program coordinated by the local government. However, the state funded system of public schools is difficult to access for many expatriates, with the exception of those who have attained permanent residency status. Most expats choose to enrol their children in one of the many international schools on the island, including our own Australian International School. These educational facilities offer a tuition-based approach which is predominantly bilingual, and these establishments implement some of the highest-quality schooling available in this part of the world.

In addition to some of the world’s leading international schools, Singapore is also home to 34 universities, including two ranked in the world's top 15.

Permissions for living and working in Singapore

Australian expats are not required to obtain tourist visas to travel to Singapore. But if you plan to live, work or attend school in Singapore you will have to apply for an appropriate visa.

To acquire a permanent resident visa, you must have had a work visa for at least six months and get approval from your employer. Most Australian expats choose to wait a few years before applying for permanent residency.

An important note about permanent residency: Males who are at least 16.5 years of age and hold permanent residency status must register for national military service. This includes two years of full-time, mandatory service beginning at age 18, followed by 40 days per year until they reach the age of 50. If you have young sons, this may be a significant consideration for you and your family.

Practical considerations

If you have pets and plan to bring them to your new home in Singapore, there are very strict rules about the type, size and number of animals you are allowed to keep in your home. Check with Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority for specific information.

The cost of living in Singapore is high – particularly regarding rent, school fees and owning a car. However, taxes are relatively low, which means your money is likely to go farther, and because of Australia's taxation agreement with Singapore, you'll only have to pay income tax in one country.

Opening a bank account is easy, as Singapore is one of the world's largest financial hubs and most Australian banks have branches there already. To open an account, you'll need to present your passport and employment visa, as well as providing a qualifying deposit.

Singapore has one of the world's best healthcare systems, both public and private. Most expats use a combination of public emergency care when it's needed and routine care from a private practice. If you become a permanent resident of Singapore, you'll gain access to the country's heavily subsidized healthcare system, but many expats choose private health insurance because the cost is comparable. Almost all healthcare providers speak excellent English, so there's no need to worry about how the language barrier could impact your care.

Now you know what to expect before making the move from Australia to Singapore. With its beautiful cityscapes and diverse culture, you won’t regret embarking on your Singaporean adventure.

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03 September 2018

Learning to Spell with AIS

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The English language is one of the most widely spoken and written languages in the world, but for young children who are learning to spell it can be challenging to navigate the complex minefield of silent letters, rules and anomalies. As adults, we all remember learning to spell at school – memorising word formations in preparation for the dreaded Friday afternoon spelling test. “I before E except after C” was drilled into us, along with many other baffling rules that still make little sense to us.

At the Australian International School, we take a more collaborative approach to spelling, by evaluating each child’s individual learning style and providing differentiated teaching methods to ensure they learn in a way that is best suited to them. Our Assistant Head of Elementary School  – Amy Paul, talks us through the spelling teaching methods used in our classrooms…

Tailored learning to meet the needs of every child

Spelling is taught in stages and each child works through these stages at a different pace. Becoming a competent speller takes time and it’s important that we don’t place too much expectation on children to reach certain milestones at certain ages. At AIS we understand that every child is unique, which is why we assess all of our students individually to determine their competency, and we tailor spelling exercises that are appropriate to their skill level.

In the early stages of learning to spell, we focus on phonics and mastering the different sounds of the English language. There are 44 different sounds in the English language and it can take time to become familiar with all of them, particularly for those students who are transitioning from a non-English speaking environment. Children are encouraged to repeat what they hear, and we use songs and rhymes to build phonemic awareness.

Once the phonics have been mastered, we move on to looking at how letters and sounds can be combined to make words. Using their knowledge of phonics, we break words down into sounds, prompting children to identify the sounds they hear at the beginning, middle and end of a word.  We encourage them to look for patterns and identify combinations of letters that make one sound (e.g. ch, sh, all, ate, tion.) and to sort and categorise individual words based on the letter and sound patterns they observe.

An inquiry-based approach to build confidence and curiosity

The AIS Elementary School curriculum follows the framework of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (PYP) which encourages inquiry and student-led thinking. We apply these principals when teaching spelling, by encouraging children to ‘have a go’ at spelling unknown words and exploring alternatives rather than pointing out errors when they get it wrong. This builds confidence and ensures children do not develop a fear of making mistakes.

We avoid teaching rules when it comes to spelling – we understand that children need explicit instruction in some instances, but we always try and balance this with an authentic application of the skills learnt. Children are given the opportunity to sort words according to their own observations, and they are encouraged to discuss the patterns they have identified with their teachers and fellow students. We develop children’s curiosity by talking about new words and their meaning, leading to discussions on how these words might be spelled.

Developing spelling skills at home

There are many ways that parents can support children with their spellings at home, and none of these involve spelling tests! Spelling and reading go hand in hand, so it’s important to read with your child regularly at home and discuss words you notice that have the same patterns. Use old newspapers and magazines for word finding games, for example highlighting every word that ends with ‘ing’ or starts with ‘ph’. It’s also helpful to keep a dictionary in the house, or make use of an online dictionary to confirm the spelling or definition of unknown words.

Word games such as Boggle, Scrabble and Hangman can be great for developing vocabulary and spelling skills – try building these into your family nights as a way of having fun together and learning along the way. Another fun way to teach spelling is through the use of letter fridge magnets, which can be picked up in almost any toy store. Form a word with the magnets, then either take some letters out or scramble them around and ask your child to unscramble it. 

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02 August 2018

The importance of art as a lifelong skill

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Pablo Picasso once famously said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” In fact, many famous artists began demonstrating their talent at an early age. Salvador Dalí completed what is thought to be one of his first paintings, Landscape Near Figueras, between the ages of 6 and 10. And Michelangelo painted the impressive The Torment of Saint Anthony at the age of 12 or 13.

Clearly, when it comes to art, age is just a number. Encouraging young children to explore their artistic creativity can be incredibly beneficial, giving them a sense of accomplishment and helping them develop lifelong skills that will be useful regardless of what path they choose in life.

Exercise their creative muscles

When children are given paint and paper, it isn’t just a means of keeping them occupied for a while. Throughout the school day they are required to work on subjects that are mostly clear and exact in nature. Mathematical problems always have a singular answer and a correct way to arrive at it. Spelling is either correct or it isn’t. The plot of a story they’re assigned to read is set in stone. But art has no limitations and allows children to truly express themselves and – quite literally – draw outside of the lines. They can be as creative as their imagination drives them to be, and it’s important to encourage that. So much of education is black and white – art allows children to explore a full and vibrant palate through painting and drawing, and they can do what they please.

Insights into how they see the world

Giving children the freedom to freely create art as ideas flow from their mind through their fingers and onto paper is an excellent way to get a glimpse of how they see the world and what is going on in their lives. Do you notice any recurring themes among their drawings? Do their paintings make heavy use of certain colors over others? Paying attention to the subjects of their art will reveal what is important to them, what fears they might have, what makes them happy and even how they feel about life at school and at home. You can then take that and have a discussion with them. Their world is much bigger to them than you might imagine, and their art can help you see what that looks like.

Art can affect a child’s overall academic performance

A study conducted by Americans for the Arts found that children who participate in the arts on a regular basis are more likely to excel in academic achievement – in all areas of their education. This is because art aids in language development (through discussing their “works” and also taking the words they know and transforming them into images) as well as inventiveness and visual learning. What may look like scribbles or a messy finger painting disaster can actually help guide your children toward academic success, both now and in the future. And at the Australian International School in Singapore, we encourage students to be as creative as possible.

Learning skills that will last a lifetime

The skills a child learns through art can last a lifetime and guide them toward academic achievement, personal growth and improved communication skills. Art can foster their creativity and help them discover and refine talents they didn’t know they had. They can take pride in the work that they produce – what child doesn’t immediately smile when a parent hangs his or her drawing on the refrigerator? Art can also teach children the importance of perseverance. If they aren’t happy with what they are painting or drawing, they can learn to keep trying to make it just the way they want it or start from scratch to get it “just right”, similar to how everyone must learn to adapt to various situations throughout life.

With the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects becoming increasingly important – and with good cause – it's important to also understand the role of creative art in a child’s education. After all, what would an architect or engineer be without an eye for design?

And of course, don’t forget to save their little “masterpieces” – they’re certain to be some of your most valuable and nostalgic possessions one day.

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Australian International School, Singapore

The Australian International School is the only southern-hemisphere school in Singapore that offers an Australian curriculum-based global education for students from the age of 2 months to 18 years.

This truly international education begins with the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (IB PYP) from Preschool to Year 5, Australian Curriculum for Years 6 to 8, Cambridge IGCSE in Years 9 and 10, and the Higher School Certificate (HSC) or International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IB DP) for Years 11 and 12.

Australian International School has a vision to be known internationally as an institution which represents educational excellence in all aspects of its operation. Our school philosophy commits us fully to the notion of a holistic, rounded education, which cherishes the arts and sports as well as academics as essential dimensions of each student’s education. We are equally committed to teaching our students to have a moral commitment to making our world a better place as reflective, caring, knowledgeable and principled people. At AIS, each child is special, each is important.

Where to find us

AIS on the map of Singapore

Contact

1 Lorong Chuan Singapore 556 818
Tel: +65 6653 2958 (admissions)
Tel: +65 6664 8127 (general enquiries)
E: admissions@ais.com.sg