Think your child may 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, be they learning difficulties, emotional issues, special needs or others. Find out more about what’s available from learning support, school counsellors, kids’ counselling plus therapy for kids.
Integrated International School Singapore
IIS aims to make every child feel included and valued; the school has a team of qualified specialists and therapists beyond the classroom to help students who need additional support. Therapies and programmes include behavioural therapy for kids, kids’ counselling by school counsellors, and also social skills training, and speech and occupational therapy.
Tips for parents from IIS
#1 Set attainable goals outside of academics for your child
It’s important to include creative and/or social-emotional life ambitions as goals. While being able to comprehend and interpret a piece of literature is an achievement worth celebrating, being able to deal effectively with teasing or implementing calming tools when angry instead of withdrawing or lashing out are also empowering goals to strive toward.
Goals don’t have to be complex; it’s about providing opportunities for your child to succeed and feel confident enough to handle life’s curve balls. Make it a family affair to identify each child’s personal goals and to revisit them so you can celebrate the attained goals or advise them. This collaborative approach helps children know their opinion matters; they have choices and they’re encouraged to make these for themselves.
#2 Have clear expectations for your child
Parents often discipline their children based on the premise that “they should know better”. However, we as parents should understand that children lack the life experience to “know better”. It’s important for parents to remain consistent in setting and maintaining their expectations because unless this happens, kids aren’t sure what’s expected of them. Most children crave structure and want to be cooperative; they just require clear rationales, encouragement and explanations as to what’s expected of them.
– Dr Vanessa von Auer, Clinical Psychologist
UWCSEA supports the wellbeing of students and the school community through a combination of preventative and responsive approaches. Each campus has a dedicated Wellness and Counselling Centre staffed by qualified counsellors who support the social-emotional development of students in developmentally appropriate ways to enhance personal growth and resilience. The school also works collaboratively with parents and families in times of individual or collective need. There’s a podcast for parents and other online resources, play therapy rooms, boarding house counsellors and coordination with outside services when needed.
A unique feature on the Dover Campus is Thaddeus the therapy dog – students can interact with him every Wednesday. He belongs to Anise Robinson, one of the campus counsellors. Anise works closely with the High School pastoral team to provide support to students in Grades 10 and 12. Thaddeus’s visits are a part of the team’s vision to increase diversity of practice so as to reach a wide range of students. The school says that research on pet therapy for kids has demonstrated that interactions with trusted animals can contribute to alleviating an individual’s anxiety, by providing emotional support, comfort, affection and warmth.
Tips for parents from UWCSEA
#1 Manage your emotions first
Before supporting your child, it’s important that you provide space and modelling of emotional regulation by first managing your own emotions. When parents are calm and open, it helps make room for a child’s needs.
#2 Listen to and acknowledge emotions before taking action
Allow room for all of your child’s emotions; listen to their concern and address their emotions before moving on to any actions or follow-up. Allowing your child to express their emotions will help them feel seen and ready to move on to solutions. This helps to establish open communication and supports their overall wellbeing.
– Anise Robinson, Grade 10 and 12 counsellor, Dover Campus
Australian International School
AIS makes the academic wellbeing of students an absolute priority; the school strives to ensure that students and families receive the best care and up-to-date advice from their school counsellor and wellness team.
With the unprecedented change resulting from the COVID-19 situation, the school is using C.A.R.E.S. (Connection, Attitude, Relationships, Engagement, Safety). It’s a way for the school community to identify, monitor and address the social and emotional wellbeing of students through a regular self-reflection and reporting tool. This simple survey is delivered twice a term through their pastoral programme and is designed to capture a snapshot of how students are feeling at a given point in time. This data is used to have informed conversations about academic wellbeing with students, teachers and families.
Tips for parents from AIS
#1 Minimise screen time
Screen time can be part of a healthy lifestyle for teenagers when it’s balanced with other activities that are good for your child’s development and wellbeing. Physical activity keeps teenage bodies and minds fit and healthy. Teenagers need at least one hour of moderate exercise every day; this needs to be planned to balance it with other activities, including screen time.
#2 Making the most of the time with the family
While there has been no dearth of family time during the pandemic, it’s still important to make the most of it in an intentional and mindful manner! This is the opportunity to get creative with family time and strengthen the bonds or even explore new aspects of relationships. You can always invite family friends in Singapore to join or include the overseas extended family in a game of virtual charades.
– The AIS Wellbeing Team
Nexus International School
Navigating school life can be exciting and challenging for learners of different ages.
Tips for parents from Nexus International School
#1 Don’t judge what your child shares when they talk about their struggles
When struggles are externalised, your child doesn’t have to face them alone. Avoid saying things like “Don’t think so much about it” or “You’re thinking too much”. Instead, say “I’d likely feel that same way too. What are some of the things you can do about the situation?”
– Zanthe Ng, whole school counsellor, Nexus International School
#2 Help your child develop boundaries as they navigate through different friendships
Discuss what healthy friendships look like – choosing to be around people who are kind and caring, and would not make you feel small or bad about yourself.
“Talking to a school counsellor is very helpful because they don’t judge and they allow me to share my inner thoughts and feelings. Some of these things are hard to share with friends or parents.”
– Aaron, 13 years
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