When preparing a child for any new school, it can be a little daunting, to say the least. New schools can be scary for parents and children alike, and approaching a new curriculum with different methods of learning and assessment can only add to this. So, how do you ensure your child feels ready and confident when transferring to an international school that uses the British curriculum? Throughout this article, we will walk you through what to expect from the British curriculum and how to support your child in the initial stages and throughout their education.
How the British curriculum is different from others
Whatever curriculums you or your child are familiar with will all be a little different. For example, IB schools focus on core elements such as essay writing and theory of knowledge, whereas the American curriculum will be less exam-based than others. So, what can you expect from the British curriculum?
Structure of schooling – The structure of the British curriculum usually has four stages.
- Early Years Foundation (Ages 3-5): The primary focus in the early years of education is on communication and social, emotional, and physical development. Students will gain a basic understanding of mathematics, literacy, the world around them and art and design.
- Primary Education (Ages 5-11): This is known as Key Stage 1 and 2. They will gain a better understanding of the core subjects as well as design and technology, geography, art and design, foreign languages, history, and music.
- Secondary Education (Ages 11-16): Up to the age of fourteen, students focus on their subjects in greater detail; this is Key stage 3. Key Stage 4 is when students choose the subjects they will be taking for their GCSEs (The main assessment of secondary school).
- Sixth Form (Ages 16-18): Students will then choose three or more subjects to study for their A-Levels. These qualifications are a prerequisite for university and are recognised and highly regarded in universities worldwide.
Assessment methods – During early years, assessments consist of formative observations and tracking students’ progress in all key areas. In Key Stage 2, they will sit their first summative assessments, which are called SATs (Summative assessment tests). In Key Stage 4, their GCSE assessment will combine coursework and end-of-year exams. Finally, they will focus heavily on their chosen subjects throughout their A-levels, completing detailed coursework and exams.
Marking – Marking for the British curriculum is usually done externally, which means that the student’s results will not be based on bias like they can in other schools. This means that the grades they receive were achieved correctly. This is one of the primary reasons why universities favour the British curriculum.
Supporting your child in the initial stages
It may seem a little much to take in all at once, but the best thing you can do is break it down and familiarise yourself with the particular stage your child will be studying. Understanding what they are about to undergo will undoubtedly help you support them before they join. Here are some ideas of how you can prepare your child before they start their journey with the British curriculum.
Choosing the right time – This may not always be possible, but if it is, having your child start at the right time can make a massive difference. The best time for a student to start is the beginning of the academic year because they will be starting at the same time as many other students. If work or other commitments don’t allow this, perhaps waiting until a new term has begun will give them a better advantage.
Find out what you can from the school – To fully understand what your child will encounter at school, talk to teachers, faculty, and other parents to find out what you can. The more knowledge you can gather about the school, the better prepared you will be to support your child.
Discuss everything with your child before they start – It is important to ensure school isn’t an entire mystery to your child. Of course, there are certain things they won’t understand until they have arrived, but the more information you can give them, the easier the transition will be. Starting or changing school can be an extremely confusing and scary time for a child, so it is essential not to leave them in the dark.
Developing skills through everyday activities – Once you grasp the stage your child is joining, try to encourage learning in every way you can. If there is something you think they might struggle with, make it a focus and incorporate it into their daily life until their first day of school.
If English is not your child’s first language, start to incorporate it into their daily life – We understand that English isn’t always going to be the first language of students in an international school. However, it is essential for studying the British curriculum. Schools will offer language support, but the more you can include it beforehand, the better. This can be as simple as having English subtitles on when you watch a movie or play online educational games.
Encourage reading and literacy activities – A great way to build a child’s confidence is to keep them one step ahead with reading and other literacy activities. The more you can include this in their routine, the easier they will settle in when they start school.
Additional tips for supporting your child throughout their studies
As well as being aware of how you can support your child before joining a British curriculum school, it is also worth noting some things you can do to help them during their time there. Here are a few ways parents can support their children and make their school life as stress-free as possible.
Free time – Their life should not always be about studying. Of course, they will need to complete homework or coursework, but always allow enough time to unwind and reload. Overworking a child can have the opposite effect and make them struggle in school.
Routine – School can be stressful, so it is vital to keep a routine at home. Having set times for study, play, and evening meals can enhance a child’s energy and encourage them to persevere in their schoolwork.
Support – Everyone gets busy occasionally, but as often as we can, it is imperative to be there to support our children. Make sure they know that you are there if they need help with work or some emotional support.
Discussion – Factoring in a regular discussion about how school is going and figuring out where you can help can take much of the weight off them. If you haven’t talked about it in some time, it is always worth checking in.
If your child is starting or transferring, or you are considering enrolling them in an international school that follows the British curriculum, Bromsgrove International School Thailand is here to help. There is a mountain of information on our website, and if you would like to talk to a member of staff, we are always happy to chat. Choosing the right curriculum for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make, so leave no stone unturned.