“How to make the most of the child’s International School for International Academia. This will
include tips to create a conducive atmosphere at home, how to support the extracurricular and co-
curricular activities and how to make the most of the facilities available at the school.”
By Dr.Pratibha Jain
( Scholar in Child Development, PhD in Child Development , Delhi University )
International Education Consultant
Parents today have a choice of diverse academic boards with schools offering a range of curriculums
from the Indian ISC, CBSE, and SSC to the International Baccalaureate (IB), A levels and American
Advanced Placements. The differentiating factor of international academic programs is their focus on the
learning process itself and developing skill sets of analytical reasoning rather than mere content gain.
The small class size and application based methods are designed to encourage students to think critically,
with the courage to challenge everything they read and observe. Digressing from set patterns stimulates
creativity, risk taking and decision making. These qualities are the key pillars of the international
approach to education and often in conflict with the Indian mindset which evaluates education mainly
through content knowledge alone. Hence, selection of international academic program requires a home
environment which supports a questioning attitude.
Allow children to join diverse extracurricular activities that the school offers, even it means staying back
after school. They will gradually identify what they enjoy the most. Theater , music, dance, sports , fine
arts, film making, debates, community service, are all integrated into school schedules. There is no
rule book that says any one activity is better than the other. However, excellence in any activity builds
confidence and leadership.
The best way a parent can help is to provide all the ingredients that encourage an explorative attitude.
This goes hand-in- hand with giving independence of decision making and acceptance of failure. This is
perhaps most difficult for Indian families as we are a culture of extreme competitiveness, where only
aces are acceptable. However, when a child uses self learning tools of reading , observing and
experimenting it may take longer to arrive at the same content learning.
Google search is a boon for the inquiry driven model, but needs guidance as students may get quite lost
in the ocean of information. Combining live experiences with net based answers is a good way to
reinforce the process of “learning to learn”. For example, a nature walk in the garden could be
supplemented with ‘image’ search to identify names of plants, flowers, insects and birds. Visits to
cuisine restaurants like Mexican, Lebanese, Chinese, French, Italian, etc could be used as triggers to
learning more about the geography, culture, music, dance and even language. In older classes,
participating in Model United Nations, Round Square Conference helps in understanding national and
Inter-disciplinary learning is a vital part of the holistic education approach. Parents may support this by
encouraging children to make connections between everything they see around them. Thus, baking a
chocolate cake at home can become the genesis of learning more about how chocolate is made and
relating it to the Physics of the convection currents that occur in the oven during the baking process.
Using ordinary activities to understand the science underlying it develops the logical thinking which is
the core of self learning. This leads progressively to greater research about the environment from the
universe to the soil and the processes that support life.
Creative and analytical writing is integral to most international programs. A good way to develop this is
to have open ended story telling sessions. Let children give full reign to their imagination by narrating
different ways a story could end with questions like “ what do you think …….”. A natural progress is
writing poetry, fictional stories, and scripts for plays.
Fear of failure inhibits exploration. Children are quick to internalize that if they fail or don’t get the
‘stars’, they will disappoint their parents. In a culture of “never being good enough” parents transfer their
own fears to their children. Yet, by protecting children from failure, you are making it less likely that
they will enjoy learning new skills for the love of it. The international philosophy is based on the premise
that most successful people in all walks of life have failed frequently on their way to the top. Only by
exploring without being afraid of failure will children learn essential life lessons, such as
experimentation, resilience, perseverance, and problem solving that will ultimately lead them to success.