Parents, listen up. Finding a school that meets ALL your needs is almost as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. With all the choices out there, it can get pretty overwhelming. Our top tip? Listen to the people who know the school best – the parents – to get the lowdown on real life experiences that could make or break your school search. HoneyKids recently had a chat with Michela Zanata and Nicholas Lee, parents to Kosal, Jenny, Isabel and Richie, who are students at Nexus International School (Singapore) and here’s what they had to say…
Tell us about the children you have attending the school
We have four children: Kosal is in Year 7, our twins Jenny and Isabel are in Year 4 and Richie is in Year 2.
What were the most important factors for you in selecting a school?
When we came to Singapore on our house and school-finding recce, we had already made a pre-selection of schools based on a few criteria: the school needed to take all four children to simplify our family logistics and our parental role in following the school’s digital platforms, but more importantly, we wanted the kids to start this new adventure together.
We also wanted continuity: a school that offered all grades up to the end of high school. Thirdly, we preferred a smaller school to enjoy a more family/community type of environment.
Lastly, we wanted a school with a learning support service, embracing each child’s learning journey as different and unique: in our case, children with bilingual parents, and experiencing their third country/language/culture and schooling system within a little over four years.
How has the school lived up to your expectations?
All our expectations have absolutely been met! What has really impressed us, though is the positive and warm school environment and approach to learners. When we walked around the school for the inquiry visit, we felt welcome and at home. During class visits, everybody (adults and learners alike) greeted us with a smile. The children summed it up very succinctly: Nexus was the unanimously preferred school, because everyone was friendly. This was re-confirmed when we actually started school and the kids continue to mention that everyone knows everyone, and anyone can play and interact with anyone.
Now into our second semester at Nexus, we can say that Nexus is a friendly, community-focused school which cares about and supports every single learner. At the same time, Nexus absolutely focuses on the formal aspects of education. We would sum it up by saying that Nexus is a warm and welcoming school with high and rigorous education standards.
What do your children like most about attending this school?
They all love the educational approach, very practical and inquiry-based: the fact that they seem to learn without much effort just because they feel at ease and like what they do. They like their teachers – who all come across as very enthusiastic and nurturing – and the multi-cultural background of their classmates. This is wonderful as it reflects our own background: there are six of us in our family and we come from three different continents!
They also appreciate the variety of activities, during classes and outside of the classroom. Our children also loved the “music petting zoo” at the start of each semester: they get to try out different instruments for a few days, even rather unusual ones, and in this way two of our children discovered their love for violin and the other two for the guitar!
What sort of curriculum does this school offer?
The school offers an IB program, with influences from the British, Australian, and New Zealand systems. I personally think it is a great combination, taking the best from international curricula.
What advice would you give other parents trying to choose a school?
It was great that we could visit the school during lessons. We could see the school in action and really feel the atmosphere.
What do you value most about the school?
We find that the school strongly encourages the children to develop based on their unique, individual strengths and weaknesses. The children are supported in their learning, but they are also prompted to think and explore with an open mind, and the results are fantastic.
For example our youngest started at Year 2, coming from an Italian pre-school. His teachers took the time to give him one-to-one sessions during school hours to help him catch up and they gave us parents some ideas to help and support him at home. We can see that it is all starting to pay off now!
Are you satisfied with the level of communication you receive from the school and how they engage parents?
The school has a number of tools to communicate with parents, from the parents’ portal to a dedicated app, where we can see a newsfeed with lots of information about what goes on during the day. We can see pictures of the various activities in class and we can check what is coming up. We also receive a newsletter every two weeks with a useful summary of past and future events. Parents are warmly invited to get involved, which is great: you can take part in dedicated workshops, attend coffee mornings, go and cheer at various sports events, and even visit the library!
How much homework is expected of your children?
The amount of weekly homework is very reasonable. Primary students get homework at the end of the week and it needs to be completed by the following Thursday. For the Intermediate levels it is more varied. Our boy in Year 2 gets a very small amount of homework. There is a big emphasis on reading – which I find very important. And during the school holidays they are only required to keep reading anything they like!
This article is sponsored by Nexus International School (Singapore)