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25 January 2019

How to teach children responsible tech use

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

Technology has the potential to change a person’s life for the better. But as with everything that’s great in life, moderation and balance are crucial for getting the most from it. Connected devices are a part of everyday life so your child will want to use them from an early age. Research shows that young children can benefit greatly from exploring the functionality of these tools, so what factors should you consider for responsible use?

Discuss responsible tech use

Before you purchase a connected device such as a mobile phone or games console, have a few conversations with your child about responsible tech use. ‘What if’ scenarios are a good base to work from and will help both you and your child to think about some of the common issues. For example, you could ask them what they would do if they get caught using their phone in class. Or, discuss what would be an appropriate action should they receive a Facebook or Snapchat message from someone they don’t know.

Educate early and often

Educate early and educate often is a great mantra to follow for warning children about the dangers that can lurk on the internet, while simultaneously promoting responsible usage. A few important topics to cover include:

  • Explain the wider implications of their actions online – Let them know that any social media posts or pictures saved in the cloud can be time consuming and difficult to remove
  • Promote safety – Make sure they never enter a private chat with a complete stranger.
  • Protect privacy – Tell them never to share their mobile number, email address, home address or any other sensitive information online.
  • Focus on creativity
     

The conversation around tech use often centers on the need to limit screen time for children. But rarely does the discussion touch on some of its more positive aspects. Instead of merely settling for safe and responsible usage, why not target productive and creative usage as well? This will shift a child’s view of tech away from it being purely recreational to a means that can help them to fulfil their dreams and passions in life.

To start on the road to productive usage, think about how tech can be used in education such as projects and activities at school. You could install mobile apps for graphic design, so they can showcase their creative side. Draw their attention to free educational websites, where they can learn anything from a new language to basic computer programming skills for half an hour each night. Mixing in these educational activities with more recreational tech usage, such as watching vloggers on YouTube, will establish a better balance in how children engage with their devices from an early age.

Be positive and interact

Just taking a hard line with tech by outlining rules and limits is not the best path to take for responsible usage. Try to be positive and take your child’s thoughts and opinions on board. Two-way dialogue is best. For example, if a new video game is released, show an interest in what it’s about. Then use this as an opportunity to facilitate a conversation about compromise when it comes to how much time they can play it before its release, rather than after.

It’s also important to spend some time with them when they are using technology. Establish a line of communication so they can talk to you about any concerns or issues that they may have. You are the person they trust the most and they will look to you for guidance and assurances. As always, just being there is 90 percent of the job.

Cyber bullying

Cyber bullying is a pervasive problem on the internet. You should urge children to report cyber bullying to you or another adult in authority at school if they ever fall victim to it. Keep an eye out for warning signs that they are being bullied online, such as seeming withdrawn, being uncharacteristically quiet or prone to mood swings. Responsible use also requires a child to be vigilant about recognizing cases of bullying online. Teach them the value of respect, not just when face to face with a person, but when they are interacting with someone on social media.

Three C’s

As outlined earlier, rules and limits are a tricky area to cover as you want your child to make decisions for themselves. However, with so many connected devices in the home, certain rules should be adhered to. For example, no video games before homework is completed and scheduling times for watching videos and other content online. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to tech, use the Three C’s – content, context and the child’s needs – to determine when and how technologies should be used.

  • Content - Does the tech help your child to learn, be creative express themselves, explore and engage?     
  • Context - What social interactions are involved during the use of tech, and does it dovetail with your child’s natural play patterns and learning experiences?
  • Child’s needs - Does the tech fulfil a need and interest for your child and will it enhance their growth and development if used right now?
     

Many of the international schools in Singapore build technology into their curriculums to enrich and enhance the learning experience for their students. At the Australian International School Singapore, your child will learn how to use tech to support their studies and they will have to access to a vast range of devices and online resources from a very early age. Each Preschool class has several computers and iPads, while Secondary School students either bring their own device or use a school-issued Apple MacBook Air. Tech also plays a fundamental role in art, music, technology and other aspects of the curriculum.

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25 January 2019

Keeping your children busy with extracurricular activities

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

As the old adage goes: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Academics are highly important for your child’s future success, but there is more to life than hitting the books. Not only are extracurricular activities important for your child’s happiness, but they can help them become more well-rounded individuals, teach them about teamwork and the importance of community, and even make them more attractive candidates on their university applications in the future. Here at the Australian International School, we encourage students to participate in extracurricular activities, and we have some advice that might help you and your children decide which activities will benefit them most.

Deciding on an activity with your child

The best way to determine which activity or activities your children will thrive in is to speak with them. That might seem like common sense, but some parents might be inclined to nudge their children toward activities that they themselves participated in during their youth. A child likely won’t enjoy or be successful in an extracurricular activity unless he or she truly enjoys it and is interested in it, so it’s best to let them forge their own way and land on something that really piques their interest.

However, by the same token, some children might not immediately alight on an activity that attracts them. Try not to get frustrated if they grow weary of tap lessons one month and swear that rock climbing is their true passion the next. Sometimes a little exploration is necessary in order to find their passion.

Sports

When it comes to extracurricular activities, sports are often at the top of the list. Your children can participate in team sports both inside of school – the Australian International School offers 100 inclusive opportunities with 100 competitive teams – so there are many opportunities for your children to hit the field, court, track or swimming pool. Furthermore, children who demonstrate excellence in sports are sometimes offered scholarship opportunities at leading universities, based on their performance. Sports also teach your children the values of teamwork and responsibility – skills that transfer positively into the classroom and later life.

The arts

For students who prefer the arts or those who are interested in participating in sports in addition to other pursuits, there are many activities to satisfy your child’s creativity. Artistic extracurricular activities are wide in scope and can include (but are by no means limited to!):

  • Dance
  • Theatre (acting, set design)
  • Music (singing, instruments)
  • Visual arts
  • Sculpture
  • Photography
  • Fashion
  • Graphic design
  • Ceramics
     

As with sports, success in the arts can lead to many opportunities for children in the future. For example, a nurturing art teacher can help a student create a portfolio that will attract the attention of top art schools the world over.

School-based activities

While many schools, including international schools in Singapore, offer students the opportunity to participate in sports and the arts, they also offer school-based extracurricular activities for students. Students can explore their interests while developing leadership skills, refining their talents in various academic subjects, developing themselves as writers and perhaps even contributing to the local community. School-based activities can include (but are by no means limited to!):

  • Student government
  • Newspaper
  • Foreign language clubs
  • Debate team
  • Academic teams
  • Choir
  • Bands
  • Orchestra
  • Model UN
     

Any and all of these activities will give your child a leg up that demonstrates what they are capable of beyond their academic performance. These activities will help develop their interests and show future university administrators that they participated in vibrant and varied lives outside of the classroom.

Long-term benefits of extracurricular activities

Participation in any of these activities will help your child to develop skills that they wouldn’t learn in the classroom alone and can also be an attractive addition to their university applications. Furthermore, they will help them decipher what interests them and what activities they wish to pursue in the future. Being active in sports will help them learn the value of teamwork and the importance of responsibility – those early morning game times are unflinching! Taking part in dance or theater can help students explore their creativity and can help to overcome any anxiety they might have about performing or speaking up in front of a crowd. And any number of school-based activities will help them determine what interests them most in life while developing invaluable life skills. At AIS we let all of our students and parents know that this world of opportunity is open to them.

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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

Published by Rachel Bennett
Renovation-and-refit-projects

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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07 November 2018

Recommended Expat Blogs In Singapore

Published by Darrell Long
Renovation-and-refit-projects

If you're planning a move to Singapore with your family, it's likely that you have lots of questions. Hearing from other families who have taken the leap can be extremely helpful before such a momentous lifestyle change. Many expats share their experiences through online blogs, covering everything from their recommendations for international schools in Singapore to restaurants and bars, to tips for amazing days out and lessons they learned along the way.

Here are a few of our recommendations for excellent expat blogs in Singapore:

InterNations – Singapore

InterNations is a members-only social network dedicated to serving the expat community in more than 390 countries around the world – it’s a great place to start if you're planning a move to Singapore. Joining the site is free and you can connect with fellow expats to discover advice and genuine insights on the forums. Members offer information about living and working in Singapore through InterNations' comprehensive guide article library, and you can enjoy access to exclusive community activities, events and groups.

Blooming Expats

This blog documents one family's journey living as American expats in Singapore. The site features a host of articles with useful information from a family who has experienced it all first-hand. You can browse articles organized by topic on things like children's activities, raising expat kids, food and travel, as well as practical advice for making the adjustment to life in Singapore, including working with helpers, shopping and the realities of moving to and around the country.

Little Miss Honey

A lifestyle blog with a focus on expat living, Little Miss Honey is written by a medical doctor from Manila now living in Singapore with her family. She regularly blogs about books, travel, food and tips for raising a family in an unfamiliar country. There is also a section of the blog inviting expats from around the world to share their experiences to be featured in future posts.

Me in Blogland

Born in England, raised in Saudia Arabia, Bahrain and India, and now living with her husband and twin girls in Singapore, the writer of Me in Blogland has much to offer potential expats. There's an extensive recipe index featuring breads, cakes and desserts, classic Indian dishes and vegetarian meals, restaurant reviews and all kinds of recommendations for expats living in Singapore. This blog covers popular sightseeing attractions, staycations, activities for kids and much more, with gorgeous photos taken by the blogger herself.

Singapore Lily

Voted one of the best Singapore expat blogs of 2018, Singapore Lily is written by an expat living with her family. She blogs mainly about travel, sharing photos and stories of her family's regular adventures around Asia, New Zealand and Australia. There is also an extensive links page full of recommendations for all sorts of things to see and do around Singapore, from restaurants and spas to shopping malls and sports activities for kids.

Surprising Horizons

Written by an Irish woman now living in Singapore, this blog features an eclectic mix of posts covering everything from art galleries and architecture to restaurants and off-the-beaten-path local attractions. Click on the 'Singapore' post category and you'll see tips for moving apartments and hailing taxis, tales of concerts and sporting events, food delivery service reviews and more. Many of the Singapore-centric posts also feature a map to help you locate the destination mentioned in the article.

Pugsie & TotalyMoo

This blog is written by a Swedish expat couple living in Singapore, starting at the very beginning of their journey setting up in a new country nearly two years ago. Readers can follow every step of the way, from posts about how they packed for the trip to how they spent their first few days in Singapore to becoming settled into expat life.

Changmoh

This popular lifestyle blog is written by an English expat and focuses on style, food, travel and more. The blogger is a professional writer who is very involved in her adopted community, so you'll find plenty of posts on local galleries, shopping, restaurants, fashion and events throughout Singapore. The extensive list of post topic categories makes it easy to find exactly what you're looking for, from expat tips and city guides to Singaporean recipes.

Our Big Expat Adventure

An Australian expat living in Singapore with her husband and daughters maintains this blog primarily focused on expat life. A good place to start is on the 'Moving to Singapore?' page, where you'll find posts categorized by topics that are extremely useful for those planning an international move, including chronicles of the family's first few weeks in Singapore, a Singapore bucket list, and some experiences off the beaten track.

The Australian International School’s recommended expat blogs should give you some indication of what to expect if you decide to relocate to Singapore. It’s an exciting time and the more prepared you are, the more likely you are to flourish in your new environmen

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25 October 2018

At Home Strategies to Help Your Child with Maths

Published by Darrell Long
Renovation-and-refit-projects

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 Darrell Long
Renovation-and-refit-projects

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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