How can parents get involved in their children’s schools? We speak to several top international schools in Singapore to find out.
We’re all about being involved in our kids’ schools – whether we’re driving them to sports practice, watching them in a play or tagging along on school trips, we find it’s a great opportunity to get to know other parents who are in the same boat as we are. From class WhatsApp groups and coffee mornings to weekly newsletters and parent groups, schools are great at getting us involved in the community. If you’re looking to get more involved, read on to see what these international schools had to say!
Integrated International School
“Here at the Integrated International School, we believe in building a strong community where our staff, teachers, students and parents feel like an extended family,” says its principal, Dr Vanessa von Auer. “As a smaller school, we are fortunate to know everyone on a first-name basis and interact with our parents daily. It’s important to have our parents involved because it creates a closer bond to their children, helps them feel connected and ensures they have support among other parents within the community. Community is one of our values here at the Integrated International School. So, we work closely with parents to ensure their child is progressing through their learning journey and truly enjoying their school experience.”
So how does IIS connect with parents? “We have a Parent Partnership Programme (PPP), which gives parents an opportunity to showcase hidden talents they can enjoy with their child’s class,” says Vanessa. “We also send parents monthly newsletters, hold termly community events and workshops, and issue students with their individual Communication Booklets that they get to bring home every Friday, which allows parents to review the week’s lessons and highlights. Plus, IIS also uses a digital journal to showcase weekly class photos and events, which are tailored to each student, allowing parents to track their child’s progression and achievements in school.”
Nexus International School (Singapore)
As a family school, Nexus International School (Singapore) prides itself on making everyone feel welcome – especially parents! “We have an open-door policy to encourage parents, learners and teachers to come together to support learning both at school and at home,” says its principal, Judy Cooper. “Parental involvement in education is key to helping children become more confident, more engaged in their learning and helps them socialise better with their peers. And, as a mum and principal, I find our parental community is what makes Nexus so special. It enriches school with such talented mums and dads.”
It certainly does, especially with the introduction of the Nexus Parent Group (NPG). The NPG arranges coffee mornings, social evenings, themed events and fairs – even regular twice-weekly yoga sessions. The best part? Parents can get involved in any capacity as their time allows. That could be either as a part of a committee or through volunteering, or just through enjoying the activities. Just like Monica de Waal, office manager at Nexus, who’s been a member of the NPG for five years and is mum to Duncan in Year 11. “Being a part of the NPG has helped me settle into life here, make lifelong friends and be a part of Duncan’s life,” she says.
Parents, we understand how hard it can be to raise a child – it takes a village (and maybe more!). And, you can bet the folks over at GESS share our sentiments, too. “Parents are invited to be active members of the school community and journey with the school in educating their children,” says Julian Keith, Director of Marketing and Admissions at GESS. “Parents bring their many experiences and expertise to the school, thereby contributing to an eclectic learning environment.” Plus, the school also has coffee mornings for new parents in the school to meet and mingle with their peers through its Buddies Committee, and parent representatives for each class, too.
And students have reaped the benefits of having their parents’ hands involved in their education. After all, the GESS Board of Governors is comprised solely of parents whose children attend the school. “Our students have enjoyed incredibly enriching experiences in the school,” says Julian. “Many parents have brought their work expertise in for our Career Information Week and helped guide our older students in career decisions. They’ve also supported and nurtured students during excursions, field trips, sports days and more.” And that’s not all – parents themselves have also benefitted from being part of an active community in the school, too. “With the opportunity to participate in the school actively, parents who have relocated to Singapore are able to find a community in a new country and find a home away from home,” adds Julian.
Stamford American International School
“School is about community, and it is a partnership between the school and home,” says Jacqueline Windebank, Senior Customer Experience Manager at Stamford American International School. It is, especially when the kiddos are in school most of the time! So, it’s only natural that you’d look for a great community – not only for the little ones but for you, too. “Being involved in school enables parents to be able to find connections in the community and build friendships, while showing their children the importance they place on education and being a part of the community,” explains Jacqueline.
So how does a parent get involved in SAIS? “Every parent and every member of staff is automatically a PTA member,” says Jacqueline. “We have many social events as part of our Parents Connections group, and numerous events like our International Fiesta where students, parents and staff come together to celebrate the arts, sports and foods of the world.”
Mangla Sachdev, a mum of two kiddos at SAIS, shares with us more about its community. “From monthly coffees with the superintendent of the school to the PTA event and information sessions, the community in SAIS is incredible,” she says. “They’re constantly trying to improve the way new families are integrated into the community. Not only does the new student feel welcome, but so do their parents.”
Canadian International School
We love to see what our kiddies are doing in school, and they love sharing with us what they’ve learnt, too. If you’re as keen as us to participate in your kiddo’s school life, you’ll be glad to know that as a parent of a student at Canadian International School, there are a variety of ways both you and your little one can get involved. “Our parent-teacher association runs events throughout the year for students and parents,” says Angela Hollington, Primary Principal of CIS at its Lakeside Campus. “Parents can get involved as class teachers, helpers during Open Mind excursions, celebrity career presenters during assemblies, mystery readers for library-related activities and as participants at our UN week food festivals.”
Plus, CIS does a great job of keeping parents informed, giving you an insight into your child’s education. “Regular communication between parents and teachers creates a positive environment for both parties,” explains Angela. “The school then becomes a meeting place and social environment where parents feel at home.” You can bet that it’s beneficial for the kiddies, too. “Not only does it create a better connection between home in school, but it also helps students develop better relationships and social skills, too,” she adds.
EtonHouse International School and Pre-school
How does a school communicate regularly with its parents, when its community consists of more than 50 different nationalities among its family of teachers, students and parents? Well, EtonHouse International School has the answer. “EtonHouse International School Broadrick has an open-door policy, where parents are welcome to walk into the school to engage with teachers and find out about the progress of their child,” says Edward Jones, principal of EtonHouse International School. “The school also organises regular meetings for parents to interact with the leadership team, holds annual meetings with teachers, and uses a Bloomz app where teachers share information about new pupils and homework to parents. Plus, teachers regularly communicate with parents through emails about updates and events in the school.”
When asked about its parent community, Edward shares the advantages of EtonHouse’s rich diversity. “We go to town on our cultural festivals and celebrations, working them into lesson plans and engaging activities that involve the whole school – which involves the parents, too!” he says. “They jump in on the action, volunteering to share their unique customs, and support the teachers whenever they need help. In return, strong bonds between teachers and parents are formed, which helps them take an interest in their child’s learning.”
Dover Court International School
If you’ve just moved to Singapore, school may be one of the first opportunities for families to start making connections and friends in your new home. You’ll be glad to know that at Dover Court International School, its parent community is not only welcoming but goes above and beyond to help families get settled. As Chris Short, the school’s principal shares, “As soon as a family has accepted a place to join the school, they become a part of our community. We offer families the opportunity to connect with a buddy family to help them settle in. Before the term starts, new families have the opportunity to meet their child’s teacher, get information on every aspect of school life and interact with other parents from the parent association.
“Once the term begins, our parent association organises different activities to help new families feel settled,” adds Chris. “Students get assigned new buddies, and the school holds coffee mornings for families and senior faculty, giving them an opportunity for parents to ask questions. We also hold parent workshops to help parents understand how the school operates and teaches its curriculum.”
And, during the year, DCIS has plenty of ways in which parents can get involved. “We have a strong and committed parent association,” Chris explains. “The association organises events every term for our families and supports our events through myriad ways. It’s a great way to meet parents from across the school and to contribute to the sustainability of the association.” And, parents can also participate in the school by being a class parent, a regular volunteer or ad-hoc volunteer. “Our school is a second home to the children. We want to make them feel safe and secure, nurtured and challenged, and this happens only if we all work together.”