Sunday, April 5 2020


How to tell if your child is thriving at school

Update: October, 31/2019 - 10:00

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether young children are happy at school - ever tried to get a straight answer out of a five-year-old? We asked an expert how to gauge whether things are going well.

Thriving not just “cruising by” is the key to success for any child from the earliest age all the way up to high school and university. Those of us who are parents and educators live in an exciting time where advanced research into academic environments intersects with cutting edge technology to give us new, effective tools that allow us to ensure our children receive the best education possible.

International School Saigon Pearl (ISSP) in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City takes advantage of the latest information and technological tools to provide the highest quality early years and elementary school education in the city. Using a unique and innovative approach inspired by Reggio-Emilia and inquiry-based learning, ISSP encourages its students to take ownership of their learning, and in doing so motivates them to learn and think independently and creatively. Most of all, ISSP understands that emotional intelligence and well-being go hand-in-hand with academic success, and this holistic approach is woven and embedded into the fabric of the classroom and school culture.

Each child, of course, will need specific guidance, attention, and care that meets their needs uniquely. However, there are seven key areas that parents and educators can consider to empower every child not only to succeed, but to thrive.

1.Emotional Well-Being

Academics at school are certainly important, but increasingly educators have found that a child’s mental and emotional well-being are critical for their happiness and success in other areas. ISSP has a school counsellor and special education needs department specialising in catering to the educational experience to suit each student’s unique needs. These services ensure healthy social and emotional development in students, and promote a positive environment and outlook. Beyond that, emotional development is built into the curriculum and structure of every classroom, and every teacher at ISSP works closely with students and parents to create an environment that enriches and prioritises each student’s unique needs and emotional well-being.


Taking part in sports improves children’s co-operative and collaborative skills, releases endorphins, and helps them make friends. ISSP offers a wide range of activities to choose from, including football, basketball and volleyball. Encourage your child to join, even if they’re not the sporty type. ISSP also offers plenty of individual sports that might suit them better, like badminton, swimming, contemporary dancing and even chess!


Connections with teachers can be an important factor in whether or not children enjoy their experience at school. Though ISSP takes great care to hire only the most qualified and experienced early childhood and elementary education professionals, there are also many special subject teachers as well. This ensures that students not only have high-quality instruction at all times, but that they have opportunities to experience different teachers’ unique styles and perhaps that one teacher that they particularly look forward to.

ISSP also maintains an excellent student to teacher ratio, so that students receive the specialised care and attention they need in every subject. As a tradition, the head, deputy head and academic leaders welcome each student at the school entrance every morning and says goodbye to them every afternoon. To bring the whole school community together, ISSP hosts a celebration of learning day every term, which allows parents, students and teachers to get together as students present, display and discuss their learning. This is a fantastic opportunity for teachers to share in the children’s authentic engagement in the learning process.


Confidence is key. It’s so important for us to teach our kids that making mistakes is okay, and that they are often a necessary part of eventually finding success. It can be difficult for children at school to cope with making a mistake or embarrassing themselves in front of their peers, so encouraging them to see them as a learning opportunity is critical.

One great way to boost confidence is through drama. Students in ISSP’s drama programme can learn to work as a team and eventually perform in front of a large audience. Working hard at something and then presenting it proudly to your community is a huge confidence boost and a valuable life skill.

5.Battling Boredom with an Innovative Approach

Children need to be challenged in order to stay interested and motivated. If children just coast along through school, they’ll eventually lose their purpose for learning which could lead to resentment and other negative behavioral changes. Keeping kids enthusiastic and engaged is essential, and tackling this issue requires a comprehensive educational philosophy that is student-centred and goes beyond old-fashioned, traditional classroom teaching.

ISSP takes a unique approach to ensure its students are stimulated and actively taking part in their learning process. They use the American Common Core Standards as well as an inquiry-based approach to science and social studies. ISSP also builds their core values: honesty, caring, respect, responsibility and wisdom into their curriculum. In their Early Years programme, ISSP uses a play-based approach inspired by Reggio-Emilia, which is a personalised learning programme that makes children the key leaders of their own learning.

ISSP understands that children must have a balanced approach to teaching and learning. That’s why they’ve developed ISSP Dimensions: an approach to teaching and learning that focuses on the development of students’ skills, self-empowerment, inquiry and a learning process that is conceptually framed.

To be conceptually framed means students have a deep and lasting understanding of what they study in school, and they can make meaningful connections through varied experiences which all connect to the concept they’re focused on. Through an emphasis on inquiry, children are encouraged to ask questions, investigate, problem solve, collaborate and take actions that lead to authentic learning. Student empowerment allows children to be the owners of their own learning, and encourages students so that they can take control of their own learning process.

Finally, the focus on skills is informed by the importance of the other dimensions. Students learn to read so they can read to learn. Writing skills are honed so they can meaningfully communicate their ideas. Math skills are developed in the context of the real world, which increases their importance and relevance to students.

ISSP truly believes that happy and motivated kids make great learners and successful students. By paying attention to these key areas, ISSP uses innovative approaches to ensure students are emotionally healthy and engaged in their learning.  Students will increasingly have access to the best possible tools to help them navigate those complicated beginning stages of education.

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