Think your child might need some extra support as they navigate school life? Many international schools in Singapore have programmes and therapies that aid students who are facing challenges, whether it be learning difficulties, emotional issues, special needs or others. Find out more about what’s available at three international schools in Singapore, from counselling and learning support to therapy and pastoral care.
Melbourne Specialist International School
Melbourne Specialist International School (MSIS) integrates therapies collaboratively within the school to support students (three to 21 years) with special needs. This is done through an arts-based programme that uses dance, drama, music and visual arts to teach English, Mathematics and daily life skills.
Tips for parents
#1 How to manage an upset child
Routines are important for all children and especially for a child with ASD, developmental delays and ADHD. However, you may not always be able to avoid or prevent variations such as taking an alternative transport to school. Use a calming activity to soothe your child when you are unable to remove the source of discomfort, such as playing his favourite music. If your child is older, involve him in solving the problem so he sees that there is a resolution.
– Mrs Shri, Clinical Psychologist at Psynaptica and for MSIS
#2 Tackling disruptive behaviour
When you try to alter disruptive behaviour, you can expect the intensity and rate of the said behaviour to increase. Speaking softly and slowly can often have a positive impact. Reducing potential control battles will also decrease the likelihood of severe disruptive behaviour. Giving your child some degree of control by providing choices can be quite effective. Provide continuous positive feedback, such as “Thanks for listening” and “You’re doing great”. Most importantly, remember the things you do before a disruptive behaviour occurs; it will give insight into the cause and help keep it from happening again.
– Molly Molejana, Lead Senior Teacher at MSIS
Integrated International School
The Integrated International School aims to make every child feel included and valued. Beyond the classroom, the school has a team of qualified specialists and therapists to help students who need additional support. Therapies and programmes include behavioural therapy, counselling, social skills training, speech and occupational therapy.
Tips for parents
#1 Set attainable goals for your children
These can be a mixture of academic and social goals, such as being able to sequence the alphabet letters in the correct order or asking for help when they need it. Goals don’t have to be big; it’s about providing opportunities for your child to succeed and feel good about themselves. You can also use a reward chart to track their progress. However, be aware of what you hand out as rewards – try to give privileges instead of physical items (such as toys or candy), such as extra time on playdates, or a meal at their favourite restaurant.
#2 Have clear expectations for your children
Most importantly, follow through with those expectations consistently. This will help your child show less resistance towards following directions. Children often try to challenge the limits that are set for them, regardless of their social and intellectual ability. Instead of being strict and inflexible with your disciplinary action, try to use a clear and distinct message of what is and what is not acceptable behaviour. It should be accompanied by an explanation with a follow through.
– Brenda Ang, Behavioural Therapist
GEMS World Academy (Singapore)
GEMS World Academy (Singapore) is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the children in its care. The school provides comprehensive homeroom and pastoral care programmes to promote students’ academic, social and emotional development, to help them achieve their full potential. Students acquire and effectively apply knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, achieve positive goals, show empathy and make responsible decisions. There are also grade level, pastoral leaders and school counsellors. The school has also implemented a mentor programme for a group of Grade 11 and 12 students to offer peer and transition support and inspire others to help one another.
Tips for parents
#1 Ensure that your children understand that the way they feel is okay
Your child may feel the stigma of seeking extra support, so offering validation and normalising how they feel will make them happier and more confident to ask for help when needed.
#2 Be open to work with your child’s school
We believe the importance of working in partnership with students and families. The proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ underpins what we do. You’re not alone in this endeavour, and being transparent and open is beneficial.
– Mark Petterson, Secondary Years Deputy Principal, Designated Pastoral Care Lead