Our experienced experts answer your questions.
As we all know, every child is different and unique. How can parents (at home) and teachers (at school) ensure that our children excel in the important early years of life? We invited you to submit your questions to Ms Amanda Dennison (Principal) and Ms Cath Okill (Head of Early Years), and we are delighted to share our answers with you:
WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE FOR MY CHILD TO START SCHOOL?
It is important to acknowledge straight away that you as parents are your child's first, most important and longest educators. Raising young children is an extremely precious time, and it is important for your family to enjoy time connecting and bonding at home.
Children, as I’m sure you will agree, surprise us all the time in terms of their resilience, their curiosity and their willingness to learn from new experiences. Whilst school is new and different and maybe a little scary (perhaps more so for mum and dad!), it is also a fantastic opportunity for children to begin to develop independence, social skills and exposure to many new and exciting learning opportunities in their young lives.
At Shrewsbury, we support children and parents with a gentle transition into school life. This is an approach that has worked successfully for us in Bangkok for over 15 years. We have designed our Early Years Hub at City Campus to be ‘a home away from home’. This is what we would advise parents to look for when considering a first school for your child.
We have shorter school days and introduce the basic routine and structure of school life in a calm and supportive way, so that children feel safe, settled and confident. In our experience, we find this gentle approach at the start cultivates a genuine love for school!
WHAT CAN I DO AT HOME WITH MY CHILD TO PREPARE THEM FOR SCHOOL? SHOULD I BE TEACHING THEM LETTERS AND NUMBERS?
Our usual advice would be - no reciting letters and numbers!!!! Unless it is their interest. At a young age, children learn best through play, so let them play. Encourage your children to follow their interests and make their own choices about what they want to do. This approach has been tried and tested over many years at Shrewsbury. Giving children a love of learning and exploring is the strongest foundation for academic success.
One of the most important things you can do is support your child’s personal, social and emotional development. Here's some tips from us:
- Build self esteem by supporting your child to make their own choices, not planning everything for them or providing them with an endless stream of activities. Ask them what they would like to do and let them lead the learning, “What do you want to do?” “How could we do that?” “What could we use?” Don’t always provide answers, explore and learn together.
- Build persistence and determination by letting them try things for themselves. This may take a lot of time but it is important for children to develop a want to do things for themselves. Let them try to put their shoes on, pour their own drink, feed themselves. They may get frustrated when they find something difficult so support them in knowing that it’s ok and they can keep trying with a little support from you.
- Build emotional resilience by modelling how to label and talk about emotions. All emotions are valid and helping children to understand them is extremely important.
MY CHILD IS SHY AND NOT USED TO OTHER CHILDREN. I AM WORRIED ABOUT HOW THEY WILL ADJUST TO SCHOOL.
It is natural for children (and parents) to feel nervous and worried.. for some children it is their first experience of leaving Mum and Dad and going to a school setting. It is important for children to take their time to adjust to their new surroundings, the many new faces and many other ‘firsts’ they will encounter when they start school.
In our experience, the transitional period lasts longer than you might think. As teachers, we work very closely with children and parents, specifically at the beginning by building relationships and helping our students to play alongside new friends.
Local playgroups are of course a fantastic way to increase your child’s confidence to play alongside other children and also with getting to know a new environment.
Shrewsbury Starfish playgroup runs every Wednesday afternoon at City Campus, from 1:30pm-3:00pm. Playgroup is currently postponed, but it is due to resume after Songkran.
Even if your child is shy at first, they will still benefit from being around new faces and voices. As adults, we can also model friendly behaviour to others...our children are watching!
MY CHILD DOESN'T LIKE TRYING NEW FOODS. HOW CAN I HELP HIM EAT WELL?
This is very common in young children, so first of all, don’t worry! Some ways you can support your child are:
- Model a healthy attitude towards trying new things - if you try something chances are they will too.
- Let your child prepare food with you - children are more likely to try new things in a relaxed setting, so food preparation is great to taste things and get food on your hands etc…
- Always offer choice, if you want children to each vegetables for example, give them a choice of two or three, they are more likely to try if they have had a choice.
- Try not to make them eat the whole thing. It is important that you don’t scare children away from trying new things by making them eat all of it if they don’t like it. Let them lick it or nibble a tiny bit, then if they like it they will eat more.
- Avoid feeding your child yourself, let them feed themselves, even if it takes a long time, they will be more likely to eat something that they have picked up and put in their mouth themselves.
I WANT MY DAUGHTER TO GO TO BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL. I WOULD LIKE HER TO BE ABLE TO READ AND WRITE THAI AS WELL. SHOULD I TEACH HER MYSELF?
The international schools in Bangkok will offer a curriculum based on the school’s affiliation, for example, British, American, Australian etc.
At Shrewsbury, we teach the British National Curriculum, which has been adapted to suit our international student body. All subjects are taught in English, and our children will spend the majority of their time at school speaking, listening, reading and writing in English.
At City Campus, we also teach Thai and Mandarin. For our students aged 3-4 years old, our qualified and experienced Thai and Mandarin teachers visit our Early Years Hub twice a week. They follow our play-based and child-led approach whilst also developing the children’s language learning.
The aim of our Thai and Mandarin programmes is to give children a thorough immersion into the language through stories, singing, hands-on activities, rhymes, a variety of games, role-play and some formal letter recognition and vocabulary work.
We also focus on Thai and Mandarin culture, through various festivals and activities throughout the year.
As a British international school in Thailand, it is our privilege to understand and celebrate the richness of Thai culture.
We would encourage our non-British families to keep up their native language at home, to give their children exposure to as many languages as possible.
HOW STRICT IS THE ENROLLMENT TEST AT CITY CAMPUS?
All families that apply for a place at Shrewsbury are invited for an assessment. It is relaxed, enjoyable process for children to explore our indoor and outdoor learning environment. The Principal will make the final decision on whether a place is offered.
For your child’s assessment at City Campus, you are invited to play alongside your child and you'll have an informal chat with one of our teachers about your child’s development and give us more of an insight into their personality and what they enjoy.
We don’t make children stand up and count to 10! This does not show us who your child is. We are far more interested in their personality, their character and their potential.
We understand that the children are very young and may find this new experience daunting. We always take this into account. Rest assured, our Admissions team and our teachers will make you and your child feel very welcome.
HERE'S WHAT WE OFFER TO HELP YOU CULTIVATE A UNIQUE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT FOR YOUR CHILD:
Visit Shrewsbury Starfish playgroup at City Campus, every Wednesday 1:30pm-3:00pm. Due to open again after Songkran.
Register for Open House every Friday at 10:00am, a special event for families that are interested in starting their child’s learning journey at Shrewsbury International School Bangkok City Campus.