Anyone who’s ever been to a (10, or, ahem, 20 year) school reunion will know that it’s not the everyday school happenings that people reminisce about or credit with catapulting them onto their current path. It’s what transpired outside the classroom that really ignites conversation. In our case, no one remembered rote learning the periodic table in science class, but everyone vividly recalled fossicking for brilliant green malachite copper nuggets while prospecting on school camp. That, and scrabbling to pitch tents together before a thunderstorm in Grade Six (it’s trickier than it looks!). It’s almost as if the clever educators at GEMS World Academy (Singapore) have been a fly on the wall at a school reunion or two, as they know only too well the importance of experiential learning to inspire young minds and impart lasting skills. In fact, it’s a cornerstone of the school’s education platform, complementing a stellar academic framework. From life-changing trips to Australia, to culturally rich expeditions to Thailand and off-the-beaten-track excursions around Singapore, GEMS places high importance on offering kids authentic, meaningful experiences beyond the four walls of the classroom. The lasting life skills kids learn from real-life experiences and community service are mind-blowing. Let us tell you why…
For most kids the first time they spend more than a few hours away from mum and dad is at school. And for many more the first night away from home is on school camp (we don’t know who it’s more nerve-wracking for: us or them!). GEMS World Academy (Singapore) starts gently with smaller learners by pitching experiences at the exact level kids are ready for. Starting with fun excursions to interesting local attractions, kids test the waters, step outside their comfort zones just a little and are rewarded with the first stirrings of pride in their newfound independence. As time goes on, confidence and knowledge builds, leadership skills are honed and before you know it (by secondary school) kids are ready to leap into more intrepid and international experiences – how does Australia or Thailand sound? It all comes naturally, but is in fact part of a carefully engineered process to bring out the best in your kids!
Bonding with peers
Ask your child what they learnt today and you will be met with silence. Ask them what they played at lunchtime and you will be inundated with a minute-by-minute rundown of who played with who, what game was played and where. Friendship is absolutely crucial to kids and can mean the difference between a happy and thriving student and a struggling one. Feeling safe, happy and secure only improves concentration and academic outcomes. Through fun and absorbing excursions kids build vital teamwork and communication skills. GEMS students in Grades 7 to 10 recently travelled to Thailand to work on community service programmes. The kids banded together to help build fish farms, improve conditions in underprivileged schools and a local temple, where they met the monks, worked with farmers and helped cook food for those in need. Firm friendships are made while working together to solve problems. And sampling local delicacies and trying out traditional Thai dance or a bit of Muay Thai is a fun way to end a day of hard work!
Reconnecting with community
One challenge we didn’t have to overcome as kids was living in an over-connected world where screen time is king. While tech has its place in education, it’s refreshing to get back to basics with authentic, grass-roots experiences. Grade 6 kids at GEMS recently reconnected with nature and experienced Aboriginal culture on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia Zoo! This kind of experience offers a unique opportunity for kids to learn on multiple fronts: history, wildlife preservation, environmental conservation and volunteering. What could be more fun and engaging than a spot of tree planting?
And living as expats in Singapore we’re all very conscious about the importance of teaching our children to engage meaningfully with the world around them, and to know the value of serving the community. We are fortunately placed (geographically and otherwise) to develop international-mindedness and intercultural understanding in our kids. GEMS World Academy (Singapore) recognises the importance of educating the next generation of global citizens.
It’s little wonder that school reunion conversation is about the amazing experiences we had outside the classroom as kids. It’s the challenges we faced and overcame, the friends we made, and what we learnt about ourselves in these moments that shaped our lives. The ground-breaking Experiential Learning Programme at GEMS is carefully designed to give your kids their chance to shine and be inspired to embrace a glittering future – and have so much to fondly remember from their school days.
Keen to find out more about the exciting Experiential Learning Programme at GEMS World Academy (Singapore)? Check out the school at www.gwa.edu.sg
This post is sponsored by GEMS World Academy (Singapore)