27 August 2020

Making a move from Local to International School: One Family's Story

Published by Stamford American School Hong Kong
Renovation-and-refit-projects

When considering education options for their children, many local families weigh up the benefits between a local school and an international curriculum school. This decision can be daunting, and one that warrants careful consideration with both its financial and cultural implications. Stamford American School Hong Kong welcomes families from all cultural backgrounds who value global citizenship and an international mindset. The Chiang family enrolled their son Dominic at Stamford three years ago when it first opened in Hong Kong, and have been delighted with their choice.

A Different Approach

Some parents feel the local school system can be too rigid and structured. The fast pace and one-size-fits-all approach that focuses on textbook instruction do not suit all learning styles. The emphasis on exams and the heavy homework load can place unnecessary pressure on children, leaving little time for pursuing extra-curricular interests.

Dominic shared, "My previous school was a local school, and back then, I had a lot of assignments and exams. At times I couldn't keep up with all of the school work. By the time I understood the topic, we had already moved on to a new one. I barely had any time to rest."

"This learning style did not suit my son. I wanted him to learn in a relatively relaxed way and to enjoy learning, instead of being loaded with homework and exams." Mr. Chiang added.

Why Stamford?

Many parents have aspirations for their children to study at universities around the world. An international curriculum can help prepare students for success, with both the approaches to learning and English language skills.

"Rather than sending my son abroad at a young age, we now spend more time together as a family, with the confidence that he is preparing for future international studies and practicing in an English language environment," Mr. Chiang said.

Coupled with rigorous US-based standards, Stamford's inquiry-based approach to learning focuses on real-world issues to strengthen skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity. All students' achieve personal growth at their level through a differentiated and personalized approach to learning.

"The teaching method at Stamford is different," shared Mr. Chiang. "Soon after Dominic started school at Stamford, I realized he didn't have a lot of homework, but he was doing even better than before. I always believed that Dominic can learn better in a more relaxed way, and I was right. I think that the local schools are making students memorize as much content as possible within a limited time. This is not effective."

"Most importantly, I no longer need to worry about his studies anymore because he has developed the skills to be self-disciplined. He gets good comments on his report card and I am confident that he is doing well at school."

Stamford's fresh and innovative approach to learning attracted the family. Mr. Chiang shares, "There are a lot of international schools in Hong Kong and many have been established for a long time. Stamford was a completely new school, first established in Singapore where it earned a good reputation. Everything was new, the teachers, students and the completely renovated facilities. I wanted my son to learn in this kind of dynamic environment."

Dominic echoed his father's view, "Stamford is very different from my previous school. The teachers really care about whether you are learning. Sometimes we have mini-tests, but now that I understand the assignments, I can do well on the tests."

"At Stamford, we learn in a fun way! Our teachers and classmates are really nice. We have a lot of programs to choose from and have access to the latest technology and devices for each student, which is good."

Adapting to the Culture

A new approach to learning can be scary for students and their families. Stamford's strong emphasis on a culture of care helps with the transition. All students are assigned a buddy to help them find their way during their first days, and both counselors and teachers maintain contact to ensure that each child has a smooth start. 

"It took me a few days to understand where to go and what to do, and to adapt to the culture, but my first day was amazing. My teachers and classmates were very supportive and still are." Dominic shared.

Learning for the Future

When asked about Dominic's future aspiration, Mr. Chiang shared, "I think Dominic is talented in math and science, so in the future, I believe he will develop towards this direction."

With three graduating pathways, Stamford provides students with the flexibility to suit their aspirations and entrance to universities worldwide. An on-site University Guidance Counselor gives students such as Dominic support to ensure there are no limits to what their future holds.

Dominic’s Grade 5 graduation in 2018.

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