International School Parent Magazine - Autumn 2021

International School Parent Magazine - Autumn 2021 Edition. Articles on International Schooling, Education Trends, Parenting, Travel, and more.

International School Parent Magazine - Autumn 2021 Edition. Articles on International Schooling, Education Trends, Parenting, Travel, and more.


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Choosing an



How can parents make

the right choice?


Culture Kids

Growing up in the

Third Culture



Beautiful Family Travel

Experiences this Fall

We need


Fafleralp, Blatten, Valais, © André Meier

We need


Discover Switzerland now: MySwitzerland.com/autumn

Tell us about your favourite experiences using #IneedSwitzerland







Welcome to the Autumn

edition of International

School Parent magazine


06 Meet The Headteacher -Dr Ruth Norris - St George’s

International School Montreux

10 Meet The Headteachers - Kim Kluckhohn - Humboldt-


14 What Is An International School And Where Will It

Lead My Child?

16 Measuring The Career Impact Of Study Abroad

20 Most In-Demand Skills For The Workplace Of The


24 Navigating Life as a Trailing Spouse

26 Ecole d’Humanité – A New Generation Of Creative

Critical Thinkers

30 Unique Challenges Of Helping Your Child With Speech

Delays While Living Abroad

32 How Do I Know My Child Is Learning?

34 Let The Sunshine In – Welcome To Zug!

36 Developing Talent In Young People – The Role Of The

Right School

38 Run Talk Run At The International School Of


40 Autumnal Activities In Switzerland

42 Biel/Bienne Switzerland’s Largest Bilingual Town

44 Autumn Delights!

46 Jungfraujoch – Top Of Europe 3’454 Metres Above Sea


48 The Lake Lucerne Experience

50 Beyond Iq: The Largely Overlooked Importance Of

Executive Functions

55 Growing Up In The Third Culture

58 Learning The Local Language: Is It Worth It?

60 How To Choose An International School For Your Child

64 Supporting A Child With Learning Differences In The

Primary Years - One Parent’s Experience (Part 1)

Wow! What a summer! I don’t know about you, but we took

full advantage of the good weather and newfound freedom.

We visited family, travelled in Europe and Switzerland, and

relaxed at home with family and friends. It was such a great

antidote to the past 20 months of isolation.

As ever, we have worked with our partners at Switzerland

Tourism to prepare an abundance of Swiss Autumn, and

family-friendly activities to enjoy: Dents-du-Midi bike trails,

hiking, museums, a visit to the Jungfrau, Italian-influenced

adventures in Ticino and much more.

There is also a range of unbelievable prizes to be won in our

online competitions over the next few months. Keep an eye

out on our Facebook page, newsletter, and website for more

information on entering.

We have also had the fortune to meet some very

interesting headteachers for this edition. We met with Dr

Ruth Norris, who recently took the helm at St George’s

International School in Montreux. With a strong belief in

the transformative power of learning and an ethos that

extols the benefits of holistic development within a diverse,

international environment, she is set to lead the way in

preparing students’ for life as global citizens.

As usual, we have some excellent articles from authors

around the world, and we remain committed to the task

of helping parents and children make the most of the

opportunities an education at an international school in

Switzerland provides.

Enjoy the start of the new school year, see you in the Spring!

Work hard and be the best.


Nick Gilbert

Editor & Publishing Director

International School Parent Magazine

Mobile + 41 787 10 80 91

Email nick@internationalschoolparent.com

Website www.internationalschoolparent.com

Facebook facebook.com/internationalschoolparent




Leysin American School in Switzerland is home to exceptional students from around

the world. Our warm community is steeped in tradition, and we provide an outstanding

education in a supportive environment on our beautiful campus in the Swiss Alps.

We encourage our students to be themselves – creative thinkers who aren’t afraid to

take risks and think outside of the box. We provide them with personalized attention

and diverse course offerings within our IB, AP, and ESL programs. LAS graduates

are independent, innovative thinkers who thrive at top universities across the globe.

www.las.ch admissions@las.ch +41 24 493 4888



Dr Ruth Norris, School Principal, St George’s

International School Montreux

This year, students at St George’s International School will start the term under the wing of their new

Principal, Dr Ruth Norris. She joins the school as it celebrates a triumphant results success, cementing its place

as one of Switzerland’s top 5 rated IB schools. Ruth has set her sights on continuing to build on this academic

prowess, bringing a strong leadership background at top-performing UK schools. With a strong belief in the

transformative power of learning and an ethos that extols the benefits of holistic development within a

diverse, international environment, she is set to lead the way in preparing students’ for life as global citizens.

ISPM talks to Dr Ruth Norris, School Principal at St George’s International School Montreux

Tell us about your background and what

led you to choose education as a career.

Why education? For me, my own

experience of education was key in the

decision to pursue this career path. I was

educated in the UK state system, then was

fortunate enough to do my undergraduate

degree in History at the University of

Cambridge and my postgraduate at the

University of Oxford. This meant that

I had a wide and diverse educational

experience from all angles of the UK

system. In particular, I saw education as

deeply powerful and transformative, and I


understood how essential teachers were in

that. Any child from any background can

achieve anything if they enjoy and commit

themselves fully to their education. So it felt

very natural then to go into education and

be part of the profession that makes those

life-changing opportunities happen for

children. It’s a real privilege.

In terms of my teaching career, I initially

started by lecturing while at Oxford and

worked there for a while before going into

school teaching, where I worked across

a real mix – from large international

boarding schools to small day schools,

single-sex and co-ed schools, schools with

reception to sixth form and senior-only

schools. Most recently, I was the head

of Derby Grammar School, a private

grammar in the Midlands, UK.

I’m delighted to join St George’s and

continue my love of international schooling.

What really attracted me to the school was

the combination of academic achievement,

international outlook, and a focus on the

child’s holistic development, which is so in

line with my own ethos.

What elements of your past experiences

are you going to bring to St George’s?

At Oxford and Cambridge, I saw what

premium education could really look like;

how stimulating and challenging it could be

when done well. I have a strong academic

leadership background, most recently as

Head at a high-performing school where

we went through quite a significant reform

to dramatically improve our academic

results. St George’s already has an excellent

academic foundation with recognition as

a top five IB status in Switzerland, so my

journey here will start with cementing and

building on the academic success of the


The next step forward is going to be

about developing a wider enrichment

program, concentrating on our holistic

approach to the development of children.

Alongside academia, we have two other

educational pillars at St George’s: sports

and performing arts, which are so

important for character development.

Sport in Switzerland is very

individualised and not particularly

competitive, which is in contrast to the

fixtures and team play of the UK private

school system. I think the next step forward

for St. George’s’ extra-curricular offering

is to develop a more competitive sports

programme. The school has already made

tremendous first steps towards this: we’ve

developed the Sport Étude programme and

we’ve got links with lots of different local

sporting providers. We’ve recently hired

a new director of sport who I’m looking

forward to working with to develop this

area and integrate it more fully into the

school day.

What is your ethos and how do you

encourage a love of learning in your


My own ethos is around the holistic

development of each student, to nurture

and equip them with the skills and

confidence to ensure success as leading

global citizens of tomorrow. Fundamentally,

this starts with a love of learning, and I

believe that there are three elements to this:

inspiring our pupils, investing in amazing

teachers, and working collaboratively with


As a headteacher, you have to start with


your professional capital: your teachers. You

must make sure that you’ve got the right

people in place who bring an infectious,

unbridled enthusiasm for their subject.

My approach to managing teaching staff

is very liberal – I believe that teachers

need professional space to flourish. They

should be encouraged to be individual, to

be quirky, to develop their own interests

in their own subject area. Teachers should

be committed lifelong learners to be able

to inspire that kind of attitude in their

pupils, so investing in meaningful, regular

professional development for staff is also key.

I think it’s also important that the school

communicates effectively with parents

about the educational ethos, how we aim

“Parents love that the school is tailored to the needs

of their child and takes the time to understand them.”

to bring out the best in their children, and

how parents can best extend that learning

environment to the home.

What makes St George’s a unique school?

Well, I have to start with the caveat

that I have visited the school only a few

times since coming over in August, when

everything was closed down because of

COVID. But the impression that I got

immediately is that the teachers and

the pupils form a happy and unified


We have over 60 nationalities here

represented in our student body, and I

like that the teaching community reflects

the international nature of the school.

I really didn’t want to come to a British

school abroad; I wanted to come to an

international school abroad. I believe that

this environment promotes an essential

education in social outcomes for pupils

who are facing a very global future. It’s

important that the teachers reflect this,

establishing the right mindset and the right

cultural environment for the children to

learn in. I think this progressive, global

outlook gives St George’s a real edge.

What is it that makes parents at St

George’s value the school?

I have already met several of the parents

and spent some time with the Parents

Liaison Group. We tend to have a very

settled ex-pat community here who are well

integrated into the Swiss community. It’s an

interesting mix of a stable community with

tremendous diversity.

One of the first questions I posed to

them was ‘Why this school?’. The answers

focused on the school’s size and how that

relates to our community and teaching

ethos here. It’s big enough to be vibrant,

to have great social opportunities and a

community feel, but it’s also small enough

that the parents feel that it’s bespoke and


The educational ethos at St George’s

is very much that we recognise that every

child is different. You don’t just bring them

all in through the door, herd them in, line

them up, teach them the same way. They’re

all different, and the school is small enough

to be very bespoke in our teaching methods.

There’s a lot of very individualised

pathways for students through the school,

depending on what quality of French they

have or what quality of English they have,

whether they want to go to a Swiss, UK or

American university, whether they want to

do the iGCSE route or not, whether they

want to do an IB route or certificate route.

Parents love that the school is tailored to the

needs of their child and takes the time to

understand them.

Do you think that COVID will have a

lasting impact on teaching methods at St


Absolutely, in a good way. We learn from

history that these moments of crisis are

always catalysts for change, and we can now

start to reflect on the changes that COVID

has brought us. Of course, for teaching, it’s

technology. ‘Technology for Learning’ was

already becoming a buzzword within the

profession before COVID hit. Many schools

were looking at going online with some

trepidation and in a very rudimentary way.


Now, teachers are learning and benefitting

from how slick and integrated some of these

platforms can be.

So, for the future, we’ll be cherry picking

the best features of the technology and

transferring that back into the classroom.

We recognise that nothing replaces a faceto-face

experience – something I think that

we have all learned during lockdown – but

there’s a lot that we can now integrate into

classroom learning around, for example,

managing cover lessons or homework. I

think that’s going to be something very

positive to take forward at the school.

How are you supporting pupils’ mental

health and wellbeing with the return to


Wellbeing is high on the agenda, but I

don’t think we yet fully understand the

impact that COVID will have had on young

people’s mental health. We’re looking ahead

and investing in school counselling services

and pastoral welfare so that we’re fully

prepared to support our students when they


I think it’s also important to foster

positive mental health practices within their

education too. Making time in the day for

them to understand their emotions and

their relationships with other people and

to talk to them about their experiences are

a natural part of schooling. It’s something

we continue to discuss and develop in

our senior leadership and educational

leadership team meetings.

What do you think the major challenges

will be facing students and the education

sector in the future?

That’s a big one. Ultimately, for both, it’s

change. Over my lifetime, I’ve already

seen huge amounts of change. Technology

has gripped the world and has brought

heightened communication, awareness, and


For education, the world is changing too

fast for a specialised curriculum to keep

up. It’s always going to be out of date.

I think a skills-based education is much

more relevant: equipping pupils with the

versatility to thrive in a world that is going

to be vastly different five, ten, twenty years

after they leave school.

As an educator, you’re always preparing

pupils for a future that’s completely

unknown. In my previous role in the UK, I

worked closely with large local employers,

like Rolls-Royce and Toyota, who are

all prioritising ‘soft’ skills in their staff.

Employers want to see the academic side

and the practical, creative, problem-solving

skills which will enable people to grow and

change to manage future unknowns.

The challenge for students is to recognise

and cope with the coming changes; the

challenge for education is to keep it current,

topical, and skills-based, with flexibility and

versatility built in.

What is your vision and ambition for St

George’s graduates? What would you like

a St. George’s graduate to be?

There’s a long list! Obviously, I want them

to have all the right academic doors open to

them and to have the world as their oyster. I

want them to be able to pursue whatever it

is that they choose to do next.

I’m very determined that St George’s

graduates will not just be academically

successful; I want them to be world-ready,

with the ability to cope with change. I want

them to have the problem-solving, creative

thinking, powers of reasoning and resilience

to thrive. They will have benefited from the

all-important character development which

wraps around their academic grades and

makes them stand out.

And then the pinnacle to all this is the

expectation that St George’s graduates

will understand the world from a global

perspective. They will have appreciated

the experience of diversity that they’ve

had here, being around people of different

cultures, backgrounds, languages, and

religions. I want them to understand that

there is a whole melting pot of humanity


and to be a global citizen when they come

out of here.

How was the move to Switzerland

and how will you make the most of

everything the country has to offer?

So far, we’ve loved every second of it. We’ve

been really well supported in making the

transition over to Switzerland in August

last year. We’re up in the mountains,

overlooking the lake – it’s incredibly

beautiful. As a family we’re really big into

water sports, like paddle boarding and

water skiing, so having the lake on our

doorstep is perfect.

Switzerland is an interesting country;

it’s got very high standards for absolutely

everything. You get the impression that

if you accidentally ruffled a few flowers

by the lake, that somebody would have

immediately arrive and put them back

in order. And I think that extends to the

culture; there’s a tremendous sense of

mutual respect for one other.

It’s also a lovely, safe environment

for families. I can see as a parent that

Switzerland offers a very outdoors-y, natural

childhood. The number of children that

are walking around in friendship groups

without their parents makes my children

very excited; they know that they can go

and enjoy this environment independently.

I have two girls aged 11 and 9 who are

enjoying their summer holiday at the

moment, thinking that life is all about flip

flops and swimming. I’ll have to burst that

bubble at some point! But, like me, they are

very much looking forward to starting a new

adventure at St George’s.



Humboldt-Institut – Kim Kluckhohn

What initially inspired you to pursue a

career in education?

Inspiration seems to be the right approach

to explain how I made my way into an

educational career. When I started my

German and Journalism university studies,

all I could think about was becoming a

sports journalist. However, it transpired that

I was much more interested in the linguistic

aspect of the degree.

I started to teach new university

students as a tutor in the German studies

department. However, my colleagues in

the department of English studies and

psycholinguistics inspired me. The way they

taught linguistic theory seemed much more

demanding and exciting than the German


Luckily, one professor in the German

department gave me the chance to add

some of those theories to my tutoring

program. I was not aware of this then,

but obviously, this was my inspiration and

starting point: I wanted to add topics to

my courses without having any material

for it in my language, without having

the foundation for it in my university


I needed to work on it myself and

prepare the material to enable my students

to understand it and work with it. I was

inspired and inspiring at the same time:

What a great experience. And luckily, my

students liked what I did. Maybe because it


was different from what they experienced in

their regular studies, perhaps they were just

nerds… Hard to tell more than 20 years


After graduating, I became a university

teacher in the department of German

linguistics. The teaching part was always

more attractive to me than the research

work. In my late twenties, after five years

of working at university, I decided to quit

the university career and do something else

without exactly knowing what this could be.

I applied for a teaching position in Osaka

as I also wanted to have the experience

of living and working abroad. Having

approximately six months before travelling

to Japan, I followed the advice of a friend

and applied as a teacher at the Humboldt-

Institut in Lindenberg. This was my first

contact with Humboldt and German as

a foreign language and the start of my

educational career in this field. With a

double Humboldt experience (teacher,

summer course director) and my teaching

work in Japan, I took up the position of the

institute’s director at the Humboldt-Institut

in Constance, so the story began.

After three years as the educational

director at a renowned school for German

as a foreign language in Dusseldorf, I

came back to Humboldt in 2009 to take

up the position of educational director

of the company. Of course, this position

changed during my development and

expansion to my actual job position as

the academic director. However, the

constant over the years was my belief in

making things better and giving people an

(educational) environment where they could

find something interesting, something new

or – to come back to the very beginning –

something inspiring for themselves.

How do your own life/work experiences

inform your approach to your work?

I did not have the traditional teacher

training but found my way to teaching

while practising it and experiencing the

direct outcome of my work. I have always

tried to be open to different approaches

and tried to find the best possible way

to implement good ideas into my work.

Luckily, the teams I had been responsible

for have been relatively small initially and

began to grow in line with my management

experience. Thus, I was able to grow during

my career and help others growing at the

same time. Today, I try to transfer those

experiences to the management teams in

our schools and support their independence

and sense of responsibility. I leave it up to

my teams to judge if my work in this field

has already been successful. On the other

hand, I keep trying to incorporate their

experiences into my work and improve both

the schools’ contents and approaches and

my management work.

Speaking about cultural experience

and living abroad, my situation in Japan,

working in a foreign country without

speaking the language or being familiar

with the culture, has influenced my work

with international students. This has been

true during my time in Constance and

Dusseldorf working with adult university

“We complement classroom learning with

engaging activities and excursions that

support the learning process.”

students. Still, it becomes even more

evident with younger Humboldt students.

They come to Germany without their

parents or friends to learn the language

and go to a secondary school afterwards

being only 15 or 16 years old. Trying to

put myself in their position always leaves

a trace of humbleness in me, and I am not

sure if I would have been able to do what

they do when I was their age.

Describe the typical Boarding School

Experience student? Who is the course

aimed at?

Since 2010 we have run a special program

for international students who want to

graduate from a German secondary

school. Not only do we provide exceptional

and intensive German preparation, but

we also run a cooperation with more

than 40 renowned secondary education

boarding schools all over Germany. Thus,

international students learn German

with us and benefit from boarding school

life; they can also apply for secondary

education with the Humboldt application

and placement service. This program runs

very successfully with many students from

China, South Korea, Vietnam, Russia,

Ukraine, and single students from other

countries worldwide, e.g., Brasil,

Bulgaria, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, just to

mention a few.

On the other hand, the program hasn’t

attracted many students from many

European countries or other countries

worldwide. I think this is just that people

don’t consider the option of graduating

school in Germany yet, probably because

they have never thought about it.

This is why we established a short-term

program for students who can come to

Germany visa-free to get an impression

of life at a German secondary boarding

school. They can combine the experience

with improving their German knowledge

and immerse themselves in the German

culture and language. The experience

program is always a combination of

an intensive German course at our

boarding schools for German as a

foreign language and a stay at one of our

secondary education partner schools. It is

straightforward to apply as the Humboldt

team makes all the appropriate application

steps. It is also very flexible as students

can indicate when they want to come to

Germany and when to leave, and we tailor

their program according to their wishes and



The boarding school experience is an

exciting education concept. What would

you say makes the learning environment

extra special?

Many students and their parents

underestimate the need for a solid language

base. Thus, having a German course

beforehand and then improving the

German language in a German-speaking

surrounding at the Humboldt-Institut is a

great benefit. With us, students do not only

improve their German. They experience

the daily routines of a boarding school

and the German culture at the same time.

The learning process takes place inside the

classroom but continues outside the school

with extracurricular activities, workshops

and excursions. It’s fantastic because the

learning process takes place simultaneously

and on different levels: linguistically,

culturally, socially and personally. Moreover,

all this takes place in an environment

that gives special attention to non-native

speakers before moving into the German

school system.

Which features of the program do

parents value the most?

Regarding education, it is the mix, as

mentioned earlier, of a diversified learning

environment that makes the stay at the

Humboldt-Institut special. But for sure, it is

also vital for parents and agencies that the

entire counselling process is centralised and

straightforward. You only need one partner

to find the right secondary school and the

best possible German preparation.

What are the main principles and

philosophies you promote during the


We emphasise the correct level assignment

and aim at perfection and fluency on an

individual level. Often students claim that

they already know a particular topic or a

language structure. But are they also able

to apply it? This is what is essential for

us. As we train our students for the school

visit or the university visit, we place equal

importance on reading comprehension,

listening comprehension, speaking, and

writing. We also run school-internal

curricula so that our course contents have

a steep learning curve. We orientate the

contents towards the individual needs of

the target group, tailored to the final goal

from the very beginning.

At the same time, we complement

classroom learning with engaging activities

and excursions that support the learning

process. Students can choose between

several activities or workshop options, but

their participation is obligatory. Thus, a

Humboldt student is always active within a

motivating and activating framework inside

and outside the classroom.

How do you get children to do their best


We teach our students in small classes with

teachers who support student’s activities.

We try to activate and motivate our students

to use the language actively as much as

possible, in partner work, group work or in

the class plenum. Daily homework is given

and done under supervision. Students write

a weekly test as a monitoring tool to check

if they can deal with the contents of the

respective week. Individual support is given

inside the classroom and in a special weekly

supporting lesson, which also considers the

student’s self-reflection of their academic


Which areas of education and

extracurricular activities do the children

experience during their time with you?

In addition to the classroom training and

the daily study time, weekly activities such

as a reading club, a community evening,

workshops, and general free-time activities

support each student’s progress. Interactive

and social activities strengthen the

community feeling. Regular excursions give

students a better insight into the German

culture and serve as a necessary distraction

from classroom work, sports, and creative

activities are a general part of the weekly

activity program. And for sure, there is also

some free time, e.g., to spend time with

friends during a city walk or to retreat from

the obligatory daily program and take some

time for private interests.

What is the best thing (in your opinion)

about leading a program like this in


Germany has a long tradition of

international university students, but

secondary schools haven’t traditionally been

a target focus for international students.

Thus, becoming a student at a German

school generally means immersion into the

language. As a result, the student body and

the German culture and language greatly

influence the school structure. The schools

also benefit a lot from the international

perspective that comes from international


“We teach our students in small classes with

teachers who support student’s activities.”

students. It allows them to open their

horizons to different perspectives and

educational approaches. In the long term,

this can lead to practised globalisation.

Germany is searching for international

specialists but has not realised yet that

educating international students at such an

early point may be an additional part of the


How do you help international students

settle in when they first arrive?

On the day of arrival, the integration

into the boarding school community is an

important part. After arrival and checkin

by our team, our educators organise a

campus tour, explain the school rules and

give students a first overview of the daily

routines. Afterwards, we try to integrate

new students into activities as soon as

possible. The offices of our management

team and the educator teams are close

to the reception so that it is easy for

new arrivals to find a contact person if

necessary. Our student accommodation

is mostly twin rooms - roommates are

of similar age, similar German level but

different mother tongue. We make sure that

they are not alone on their first day but can

quickly connect with people and make new

friends. With a lot of activities each day, the

integration into the school body is smooth

and quick.

What are the main trends in education

that you see at the moment?

The current pandemic means that trends

are hardly predictable. Online education

has been a solution for those who have

not been able to travel. Still, for me, it has

become evident after a short time only that

online language courses will not replace

language courses on-site. Students have

realised soon that the community aspect

of learning and direct interaction among

students is crucial. Thus, online education

options will be an essential add-on for the

future, but the demand for travelling and

learning to speak the language will not

decrease. Nonetheless, modern media and

the internet will enrich the learning process

also inside the classroom with growing

importance. Thus, media education will

also be part of the educational process,

not only at secondary schools but also in

language courses.

Tell us how the Boarding School

Experience can contribute to a student’s

future success?

A boarding school experience student

combines the benefits of an intensive

Humboldt German course and the

complete immersion into the German

language with the educational and cultural

experience inside the German school

system. The duration is flexible so that

each student can decide on the intensity of

the stay individually. The experience can

be anything from a first independent stay

abroad to improving school grades at home

to a first insight into the German school

system for a later decision to continue the

education and graduate in Germany.

Its flexibility is the program’s most

significant benefit! And for those who

already know that they want to graduate at

a German school, we also offer the longterm

German program together with an

extensive counselling and placement service

at Germany’s most renowned secondary

boarding schools.


What is an International School

and where will it lead my child?


If you are reading this article you

probably already have a pretty good

idea of what an international school

is – a school that teaches an international

curriculum usually in English. But what

other factors make an international school

different to a ‘regular’ school and what

can your children do with an international

school education?

Traditionally, international schools

were located in non-English speaking

environments, however these days you can

find them in the United States, Canada,

the UK, and other English-speaking

countries. Modern international schools

also offer a diversity of languages and

programmes, from German-language

medium schools to schools that follow the

Australian curriculum – there are all kinds

of international schools to suit you and your

child’s needs.

The first international school was

founded in 1924, however the concept can

be traced back to the 1800’s to schools set

up by missionaries in Africa. International

schools as we know them, were established

to provide the children of diplomats and

expatriates the same quality and style

of education as back ‘home’. However,

recently, the international school student

body has also undergone a massive change,

with up to 80% domestic students in some


Most international schools follow the

International Baccalaureate (IB) and/

or an adapted British or American

curriculum. However, it is not unusual

to find international schools delivering

other curriculums or even a blend of

international and local content.

Almost 25 years ago, there were around

1000 English-language international schools

scattered around the world. In 2020, there

were almost 12,000 international schools

with a total student body of close to 6

million. International schools are on the up,

largely due to the increased perceived value

in the domestic market.

Let’s look at what makes international

schools different and increasingly popular in

some markets:

The differences between an international

and ‘regular’ school

The main difference between an

international and a regular school, be it

public or private, is the curriculum. As


we have already mentioned, usually, the

curriculum follows an international model,

however there are also other differences in

the way children learn including a greater

emphasis on socio-cultural studies, practical

applications, and greater independence.

It is also common for an international

school to boast an international staff. Jobs

at international schools are coveted and

teachers enjoy benefits such as travel,

quality campuses, access to technology, and

in most cases, better pay and employment

conditions than they could expect at home.

Another important difference is class

size. Most international schools have a

maximum class size of 20 students. This

is drastically less than regular schools, in

which – depending on the country – could

have as many as double this number of

students per class.

Cost is another area of difference.

International schools are in essence private

schools and cost substantially more than a

public domestic school. In many countries,

especially in Europe, education is free for

all children – even children of expatriates

and migrants. The cost of tuition at an

international school varies wildly depending

on country and location, however no matter

the cost, it is always going to be pricier than

a public-school education.

Why choose an International school?

Aside from the smaller classes, curriculum,

and international faculty, why should you

choose an international school for your



If you or your partner/spouse’s job is highly

mobile, an international school education

is a practical alternative to regular school.

Most international schools follow a

standardised curriculum, meaning that

your child can continue their studies at any

international school, anywhere in the world.

While this may not be ideal for your child’s

learning, it is far less disruptive than dipping

in and out of local curriculums.

Global citizenship

As many students are from highly mobile

families, the school population is extremely

international and changes regularly.

Students are exposed to a wide range

of cultures, languages, and perspectives.

Students develop greater empathy and

understanding for different backgrounds

and world views – skills that provide a

huge advantage in today’s international

marketplace and global community.

A positive by-product of high student

turnover is that students learn acceptance,

respect, and to support new students

in their transition to a new school and

environment. Existing students do not feel

threatened by new students. The shared

experience of regular change means that

newcomers are quickly accepted and

welcomed into the student community.


Regardless of which country you are in,

the quality of education delivered across

domestic schools is extremely varied. By

choosing an international school you can

be assured that your child will receive

a high-quality education. International

schools are accredited in one way or

another and have passed, for example,

quality testing by the Council of British

International Schools (COBIS), European

Council of International Schools (ECIS)

or the Council of International Schools

(CIS). International schools may also be

accredited by local governing bodies,

meaning you can be assured that the

school is a safe, ethical, and conscientious

environment for your child.

Life after international school

We have discussed the differences between

regular and international schools, but

how does this impact your child’s life after


An IB Diploma allows students to apply


to a university of their choice. It is an

international qualification that carries

weight and prestige in any country in the

world. However, the university application

process can vary from country to country

and whether the institution has a an IB

partnership in place.

Many universities have a IB recognition

policy, which may or may not be published

on their website. In many cases, the lack

of published policy does not mean that it

does not exist – the best way to be sure of

what is required to apply is to speak to a

university representative or contact IB via

their website.

An IB diploma is held in high regard and

will help your child apply and be accepted

into the world’s best higher education

institutions. Extra curricula activities, social

involvement, and focus on international

understanding all contribute to a strong

student profile and will help your child

standout from the crowd.

Finally, throughout their international

school education your child will be

establishing an international network that

can, and will, help them find internships,

jobs, and provide them with useful

connections for the future.

An international school provides many

benefits in what it can provide your child

in terms of education and life learning.

By choosing an international school you

broaden your child’s horizons and open

doors to an exciting internationally focussed



Richards, O., (n.d.). The differences between international

and national schools. TIC Recruitment. https://


Wechsler, A., (2017, June.). The International-School

Surge. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/


Williams, E., (n.d.). What is an international school?

TheSchoolRun.com. https://www.theschoolrun.com/whatis-an-international-school

American School of Paris, (n.d.). 5 Benefits of an

International School Education. https://www.asparis.org/


ICEF Monitor, (2020, September 30). Continued growth

for international K-12 schools with greater emphasis on

mid-market segment. https://monitor.icef.com/2020/09/


International school in Wikipedia. Retrieved August 07,

2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_



Measuring the

Career Impact of

Study Abroad


As parents, we seem to know

inherently that studying abroad is

an incredibly valuable experience.

We chose international schools for our

children, knowing the many advantages

they will gain from pursuing a globallyrecognized

school curriculum, earning

advanced placement in universities through

International Baccalaureate or A.P. Exams,

or even just from studying in a more diverse

classroom. We invest because we know that

it gives them an advantage when they are

ready for higher education.

We hope that they will continue to

choose the options that give them the most

competitive advantages as they become

adults and enter the working world.

Enrolling at a university abroad—or at least

pursuing a semester of study abroad—also

imply further investments in their future

success. Yet, how can we measure the

benefits of a study abroad experience?

How can we trust that it’s worth the


Fortunately, teams of international

educators and researchers have examined

the impact of study abroad. As we can

imagine, the European Union invests

heavily in its Erasmus program, so as far

back as 2014, the EU Commission has

studied the impact of study exchange

on skills development and employability.

In 2017, the Institute for International

Education (IIE) analysed how studying

abroad gave university students a career

edge, analysing 15 soft and hard skills

drawn from competencies identified as most

desired by 21st-century employers. Others

like the Institute for the International

Education of Students (IES Abroad) also

report direct benefits of study abroad on

early and long-term career prospects.

As an international educator, I was

pleased to learn that a plethora of research

is available to back our assumptions as

parents: studying abroad brings a direct,

measurable impact on personal and career

growth. For example, in one study that



assessed personal characteristics deemed

important to 92% of employers, the EU

Commission reported significant advances

in personal development, including

psychometric indicators like Tolerance,

Curiosity, Confidence, Decisiveness

(decision-making) and Vigor (ability to

solve problems). Moreover, the change

in these personal traits after a long-term

study abroad (of one semester or more) was

equivalent to a change of about four years

of development for this age group. So in

comparison to those who pursue university

studies only in their home culture, those

who launch abroad simply mature more


Career Readiness

When thinking about the technical

aspects of Career Readiness of university

graduates who study abroad, how does

this all add up? Career Readiness is

considered a combination of knowledge

and competencies and developed as a

concept by various organisations like the

National Association for Colleges and

Employers (a group that links university

career counsellors with employers and

recruiters). It turns out that many cognitive

competencies and personal traits that

are developed through study abroad

are directly aligned with those deemed

as most needed for career readiness in

our globalised world of work. In the

aforementioned IIE study on the impact

of study abroad on 21st Century Skills,

most respondents reported that their

study abroad experience helped develop

or improve intercultural skills, curiosity,

flexibility & adaptability, confidence, and

self-awareness to a significant degree.

Studying abroad also develops interpersonal

skills, communication, problem solving and

language skills, and tolerance for ambiguity

– and these competencies further support

Career Readiness.

It is interesting to note that Creativity was

recently reported by both LinkedIn and

Forbes (2020-21) as the most sought-after

trait among top employers (in the context

of financial downturns, global pandemic

and in this era of technological disruption,

it is not surprising). It is well-known that

creativity is more highly developed in

contexts and environments beyond what

is familiar and the comforts of routine.

Being surrounded by the unfamiliar and

unexpected sparks creative thinking and



problem-solving—and a study abroad

experience is an immersion in the unknown.

Perhaps the most essential skills for those

young people entering the unknown job

market will not only be the capacity to

problem-solve creatively but to demonstrate

their experiences and personal confidence for

responding to unanticipated problems

in creative ways. Living in foreign

cultures allows for this experience and

builds confidence. This confidence will

enable students to make decisions based

on their convictions and trust in their

competencies—and this is a metric that

is consistently reported to be enhanced

through long-term study abroad experience.

This also helps to put students in the

driver’s seat on the road to their future


In one study from the IES Abroad,

which looked at the impact of study abroad

experiences on its alumni over time, 96%

reported that studying abroad served as an

overall catalyst for increased maturity and

self-confidence. And they not only reported

increase employability but also that they

secured jobs more quickly than their peers-

-and earned an average of about $6,000

more per year for their first salary out of

university than the national average—all of

which speak to a return on that investment.

Study Abroad at Webster University

We see these dynamics playing out at

Webster University Geneva, where only

a third of our entering class of bachelor

students come from high schools based in

Switzerland—and where a large majority

of our students (83% in our most recent

incoming class) are non-Swiss citizens.

In our most recent intake, there were 38

distinct nationalities represented, and across

the campus, it’s not unusual to have 90

nationalities enrolled in any given semester

in Switzerland. On average, our Geneva

campus also hosts about 100 study abroad

students each year, both from other Webster

campuses and from other universities in the


The value of living in the international

milieu of Geneva and studying highly

diverse classrooms brings direct benefits to

students by developing the personal traits,

knowledge and competencies that directly

impact Career Readiness. Our Career

Services office works on a Career Plan with

each student, helping them track progress

in these critical knowledge areas and skills

they can develop in course work or through

co-curricular experiences like internships—

or even internships abroad. In addition to

personal coaching and mentoring, students

have opportunities to attend career-related

workshops, alumni panels and other events

that expose them toward higher aspirations,

whether for obtaining an internship, their

first professional job or admission into

competitive master programs for further

(postgraduate) studies.

In our most recent graduating class

(2021), Career Services reported that 82%

of bachelor students gained some form

of work experience during their studies

through internships, work-study positions

on campus, or jobs off-campus (or during

summer). In the 2021 cohort, 55% of

bachelor students pursued internships

during their degree program (56% in

Switzerland and 44% in another location).

Our most recent research on young alumni

in 2020 also found that 91% of bachelor

alumni were engaged within six months of

graduation in either an internship, full-time

employment or further graduate studies.

We continue to refine our programs and

activities to support developing individual

career readiness.

Study Abroad during Covid-19

A final note is that the exchange of students

for temporary study abroad at many

universities was suspended during the

pandemic’s peak. Yet, student mobility for

degree-seeking candidates abroad continues

to be in demand, and many consular offices

re-opened for processing of student visas

in Spring 2021. Administrators at many

universities, of course, are anticipating

some ‘pent-up demand’ for study abroad

soon. But, in the near term, some unknowns

remain—yet student mobility is expected

to grow worldwide in the long term. For

example, Webster University has re-opened

its study abroad programs and continues

to promote the option within its global


Webster University (worldwide), based in St. Louis, USA, has an international network of

campuses across Europe, Asia, and Africa. It provides unique options for student mobility:

semesters or summers abroad within its international campus network are available to

students who declare an interest. The University has been recognised in US News and

World Report among only 56 out of 1,500+ institutions of higher education placed on this

list, placing the University in the top 3% of universities for Study Abroad (this was also the

12th time Webster has been recognised by U.S. News & World Report for its study abroad

programs since 2003). As a U.S. Accredited, non-profit University based in St. Louis, its

mission is to ensure high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global

citizenship and individual excellence. Learn more at webster.ch/success





Our graduates go on to study at some

of the world’s leading universities,

including the Massachusetts Institute

of Technology (MIT), University of

Toronto, McGill University, University

of Bath, Central Saint Martins, Leiden

University and Ecole Hôtelière de

Lausanne (EHL). Learn more by

joining our Virtual Open Days. Dates

and registration via the QR code



We welcome

and connect.

Did you know that ISBerne accepts new

students year-round? If you are searching

for school options, we invite you to visit

our website, take our virtual tour, and

discover the family-based community

that makes our school unique. Combine

this community with a continuous

International Baccalaureate curriculum

and a wide choice of extra-curricular

activities, and you will quickly see why

ISBerne students are happy and

engaged! Contact us at:

www.isberne.ch or call 031 959 1000


Most In-Demand

Skills for the

Workplace of

the Future

The world of work is changing

at breathtaking speed, as

technological advances and

digitalization transform the way companies

do business. The ever-increasing pace of

change and the rapid advance of AI and

automation mean that some of the jobs of

the future do not yet even exist. So, how

can we prepare our children and young

adults for career success in the workplace of


A recent Deloitte report noted that

soft skills will be more important than

ever before in order to respond to rapid

change and a shifting business landscape.

Professionals will need to demonstrate

a high level of adaptability, creative

thinking and problem-solving skills and a

capacity for teamwork and cross-cultural

cooperation. They should understand that

continuous learning is essential in order to

keep their skillset up-to-date, because the

jobs of the future will become less clearly

defined, evolving in response to increasing

digitalization and the integration of new


In addition to these critical soft skills, it

is clear that an understanding of business

technology will give young people a head

start when it comes to choosing a career.

The expanding role of big data and cloud

computing for businesses and organizations

across the globe mean that job-seekers with

hard skills in these areas will enjoy increased


We’ve rounded up some of the most

important skills that young people like your

son or daughter should acquire in order to

achieve career success in the workplace of

the future.

Adaptability and Open-Mindedness

Adaptability will be the most important

soft skill required by professionals in

the future. They will need to be able

to respond quickly and effectively to

the changing demands of their role as

emerging technologies are introduced. In

addition, as globalization and digitalization

continue apace, employers will seek the

best candidate for the job regardless of

physical location, and they will increasingly

be working remotely and/or with teams

spread across the globe. As a result, an

ability to adapt to different cultural norms,

understand different perspectives and

demonstrate open-mindedness will be



“Design thinking and other ideation techniques are now a key part of

the most advanced business school curricula, and the acquisition of

this skillset will set your child on the path to career success.”

highly valued. If your child chooses an

international business school such as EU

Business School, they will join a diverse

community of more than 100 nationalities,

fostering the international and multicultural

mindset that employers seek.

Creative Thinking and Innovation

Creativity and innovation were long

considered to be attributes required

exclusively for creative professions, but

this is no longer the case. The most

successful professionals will apply creative

thinking in order to deliver solutions

to complex problems across the entire

business spectrum. Design thinking and

other ideation techniques are now a

key part of the most advanced business

school curricula, and the acquisition of

this skillset will set your child on the path

to career success. An entrepreneurial

mindset – agile, quick-thinking and

innovative – will give new professionals

the edge in all employment settings,

whether they are working in startups, tech

companies, multinationals or international


A Different Kind of Leadership

The leaders of tomorrow must demonstrate

a different skillset to that required of

managers in the past. A recent Forbes

article highlights some of the key

skills and attributes that are crucial for

future leaders, including the capacity to

motivate and inspire employees, display

futurist thinking that envisions a range of

potential scenarios, and a commitment to

continuous learning, in order to stay abreast

of innovations and new technologies.

Universities and business schools with

faculty that have both academic and

real-world professional experience give

students the chance to acquire practical,

hands-on knowledge of the evolution of

the workplace. In addition, the opportunity

to hear from globally renowned business

leaders, such as the Learning From Leaders

conference series at EU Business School

(which has featured speakers such as Zev

Siebel, the co-founder of Starbucks and

Steve Davis, Strategic Director at the Bill &

Melinda Gates Foundation), gives students

privileged insights into the leadership skills

of the future.

Analytical Skills

A recent World Economic Forum report

notes that “Analytical skills are an

increasingly prevalent skill to master for

the future job market as the digital world

collects more and more data at every

touchpoint which can be used to inform

decisions and innovate”. An ability to

analyze and develop strategic solutions in

response to data is no longer solely within

the purview of data analysts, but a skill that

will be an asset in all sectors of business,

from talent management to sales. At EU

Business School, analytical and problemsolving

skills are honed through case studies

and business simulations, which require


students to provide solutions to business

scenarios. This experiential approach to

education ensures graduates attain the

valuable data analysis and critical thinking

skills that will bring success across a wide

range of professions.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

There has been considerable debate about

the role of automation and which jobs will

be lost as a result. Dr. Carl Frey, Director

of the Future of Work Program at Oxford

University, estimated that 47% of jobs are

at risk of automation in his 2013 book “The

Future of Employment: How Susceptible

Are Jobs to Computerization?” But, as

he noted in a Learning From Leaders

conference at EU Business School, the skills

that will resist automation are the truly

human skills. Paramount among them are

excellent communication and interpersonal

skills which, although they have been valued

by businesses for decades, will become even

more important in the future. Professionals

will need to demonstrate exceptional

communication skills to participate in the

collaborative problem-solving processes that

will be a hallmark of future workplaces.

“An entrepreneurial mindset – agile,

quick-thinking and innovative – will give

new professionals the edge in all

employment settings. ”

When your son or daughter is considering

what and where to study after they finish

high school, they should seek a university

or business school that gives them the

opportunity to study in a dynamic, diverse

environment in order to gain the openminded

and multicultural perspective that

they will need for success in globalized

world. Ideally, it will offer a practical,

experiential approach to education and

a range of programs that respond to the

demands of industry, shaping them as

future leaders with the real-world skills

required by the workplace of the future.

EU Business School, which has been

shaping the entrepreneurs and business

leaders of tomorrow since 1973, has

campuses in the European business hubs

of Barcelona, Geneva, Montreux and

Munich as well as online. Our students

acquire a multicultural perspective and

an entrepreneurial mindset, as well as the

practical, hands-on business skills that

they will need to excel in the workplace

of the future. On our website euruni.edu,

you can find out about our wide range of

bachelor’s programs, all taught in English,

the international language of business.

Established in 1973, EU Business School (EU) is an international, professionally accredited,

high-ranking business school. We offer English-taught foundation, bachelor’s, master’s and

MBA programs on our campuses in Barcelona, Geneva, Montreux, Munich and online. We

educate the business leaders of tomorrow through experiential learning, small class sizes,

a high-caliber faculty and a multicultural environment of more than 100+ nationalities to

successfully prepare them for the rapidly evolving global business environment.


Navigating Life as

a Trailing Spouse

Korinne Algie is an expat living in Germany. She has lived in many countries including Japan,

Brazil, and the US where she spent some years as a trailing spouse. During this time, she struggled

with loss of identity and independence. In this piece, Korinne looks at her life as a trailing spouse

and how she found her place in New York City.


Life as a trailing spouse can be

fabulous, fantastic, boring, exciting,

difficult, and stressful all at once!

While our spouses head off to their dream

jobs, we are often left twiddling our thumbs

and wondering how to make our mark in

our new environment.

The term “trailing spouse” was first

used by Mary Bralove, a writer for the

Wall Street Journal about 40 years ago.

According to Mary, a trailing spouse was “a

wife who leaves behind life in their home

country for the benefit of her husband’s

career.” Times have changed and these

days a “trailing spouse” can be any gender.

Similarly, a trailing spouse does not have

to be a husband or wife, it can refer to any

kind of long-term partnership.

Sure, supporting your spouse with a

big move abroad is exciting! It opens up

opportunities for travel and exploration,

and educational opportunities for the kids.

However, as fantastic as that sounds, more

often than not it also presents some serious

challenges for the family and in particular

the trailing spouse.

In today’s society the idea of a trailing

spouse is an uncomfortable one. Given that

around 80% of trailing spouses are women,

the thought of following your partner,

and being “kept” are ideas that do not sit

well in the era of feminism and female

empowerment. And yet, many women still

make the move. The harsh reality is that

the trailing spouse gives up more, has less

support available to them, and can struggle

with not being an equal partner in the

relationship anymore.

Having been a trailing spouse, I

understand all too well the sacrifices we

make to be supportive partners. I went

from a high paying marketing job in

New Zealand to a lady-who-lunched. It

sounds silly, but in one of the world’s most

exiting cities I was lonely. The loss of my

independence, career, time with my partner,

and family and friends saw me plug the gap

with a lifestyle that was fabulous, but in the

end turned me into someone I didn’t like

very much.

While my partner flourished, I struggled.

No amount of mimosas or shopping

could stop me from mourning my old life.

I yearned for simpler times. My partner

enjoyed the structure and challenge of his

new job whereas I was largely left to my

own devices.

Like many trailing spouses before me, I

questioned my worth. Even if I had wanted

to, I was not allowed to work – my visa

simply didn’t allow it. Being reliant on my

partner made me feel like a burden. The

“good news” was that I wasn’t alone in my

feelings of grief – in fact what I experienced

is so common it has its very own syndrome.

Trailing Spouse Syndrome is a nasty

depression-type illness that manifests in a

variety of ways including – but not limited

to – loneliness, aimlessness, loss of identity,

relationship problems, and a gap between

expectation and reality. What we deal with

as trailing spouses is very real and can be

hard to overcome. So, what do we do?

For me, the first step out of this “mess”

was to reconnect with things that I loved.

I traded designer fashion for gym gear

and got back into running. Not only was I

benefitting from all the extra endorphins,

I was spending time doing something

productive. I could set small goals and

work to achieve them. This mindset-shift

eventually allowed me to tackle other

aspects of my life too.

Much of the advice out there on the

Internet suggests finding a hobby – which

I agree is a great step towards finding your

feet. Although, I would go a step further

and suggest finding something with a

tangible outcome like knitting, gardening

or even cooking. Seeing your results will

give you satisfaction and help you to remain

“Like many trailing spouses before me, I

questioned my worth. Even if I had wanted

to, I was not allowed to work – my visa

simply didn’t allow it. ”

“Times have changed and these days a

“trailing spouse” can be any gender. Similarly,

a trailing spouse does not have to be a

husband or wife, it can refer to any kind of

long-term partnership. ”

motivated. And when we find ourselves in a

more positive frame of mind, everything is

a little easier to deal with.

Another thing you could try is joining

a club or volunteering. This provides you

with opportunities to meet people who

share your interests and gives you a way to

contribute to your new environment in a

positive way. For me, things changed when

I joined a gym. Seeing the same people

multiple times a week inevitably led to

friendship and an identity independent of

my spouse.

Learning the local language will help you

find your feet in your new community and

generally speaking, the locals will appreciate

your effort. Joining a language class will

also introduce you to other expats – people

who are going through (or have gone

through) similar challenges and can help

and support you in your transition.

Being a trailing spouse is not easy and

although it can present many very real

struggles, it does not need to mean the

end of your career or of what makes you

a spectacular human being. My time as a

trailing spouse taught me a lot. It forced

me to look at my reflection and decide

who I wanted to be, and even as an adult it

allowed me to mature. It also taught me to

value my contribution to our relationship in

whatever form that takes. To those of you

doing it tough, hang in there - it will get


Korinne Algie has now

been based in Germany

for almost 12 years.

She is the founder KAIE

Marketing (korinnealgie.

com), an international education

marketing consultancy and Co-founder

of the Education Marketing Collective

(educationmarketingcollective.com), a

membership platform providing digital

skills training and support to education

professionals. You can contact Korinne

via her websites, or on Instagram at @



Ecole d’Humanité

– A new generation of creative critical thinkers

Students of today graduate into a

fast-paced and ever-changing world.

This presents a daunting task for

educators, who must prepare the future

generation to manage unknown challenges

and opportunities. How do you equip

students with the skills and knowledge to

overcome problems that we – as yet – don’t

know the scope and scale of ?

Providing students with the fundamentals

of how to think about these challenges at a

strategic level is vital; pupils must be skilled

in developing and applying their ideas to

circumstances about which we have limited

current knowledge or understanding. In

addition, creativity and critical thinking are

crucial elements of strategic thought – they

help us visualise a path ahead, analyse it,

and shape what success looks like.

Ecole d’Humanité is one of the

leading proponents of a progressive,

holistic approach to schooling, which

puts creativity, critical thinking, and

self-determination at the centre of its

philosophy. Established in 1934, the

school takes its progressive educational

ideas from its founding couple, Paul and

Edith Geheeb-Cassirer, who believed that

every child is unique and their education

should be tailored to their uniqueness.

The school’s theoretical background also

draws from the art of teaching through

profound immersion in key subject areas

(“Exemplarisches Lehren”) developed by

Martin Wagenschein and the Method

of Theme-Centered Interaction (TCI)

developed by Ruth C. Cohn. The Ecole’s

curriculum – accredited by Cognia for

the American AP program and the Swiss

Governing bodies for the Matura – focuses

on developing creative strengths, readiness

for engagement in society, and the

assumption of responsibility.

What does this holistic approach look

like in practice? The best place to start

is the school’s idea of self-determined

learning. Even before classes start, Ecole

students determine (with guidance from

their academic advisor), when, how and

what they will study, constructing an

academic program that they will own, not

just participate in. Choice and passion,

negotiation and what-ifs – students are

required to understand the consequences of


Ecole d’Humanité

The Creative International Boarding School

in the Bernese Alps

US High School curriculum

AP International Diploma | Swiss Matura

Education and Career Guidance



Nestled in the High Swiss Alps, between

Lucerne and Interlaken, the Ecole d’Humanité

is a rather different place. No uniforms

here, no airs and graces, with a heart that

beats to music and dance, fueled by home

grown vegetables and goats cheese. The

pupils live in small chalets that form a village.




It is hard growing up today for young people;

they need vision and the skills to change things.

Whilst the Ecole does not pretend to have all the

answers, we have some of them, and equip our

pupils to challenge others and not be afraid to

say what they think.




their choices and be active in shaping their


From an early age, students are

encouraged to be inquisitive, make

decisions, and go into depth about a topic

they’re interested in, rather than acquire

superficial knowledge. At the start of each

trimester, students select three academic

subjects on which to focus for the term.

Within these academic disciplines, they

may explore themes as diverse as Dam

Building, Science and Society, or French

Theatre. Within these topics, they learn

to apply theoretical knowledge in practice

for themselves. Projects run for a more

extended period to enable students to

dig deep into their chosen area, working

together in small classes of six to eight

students to solve problems, ask difficult

questions, and inspire one another. They

receive narrative reports and individual

feedback instead of grades, with selfreflection

an important part of their

evaluation. Students develop naturally to

become diverse learners, applying broader

skills and knowledge to specialised tasks and


The Ecole also focuses on enabling

students to explore their environment and

draw out their creative and strategic skills

by testing themselves under challenging

conditions. The Ecole is the only school

to have accreditation from the renown

foundation Safety and Adventures and

takes advantage of the beautiful yet

challenging natural environment around

them to empower students to take the

lead and learn their strengths. Students

participate in hikes year-round, which

range from mountaineering to loweraltitude

endurance hikes. They take

responsibility for their preparation and are

taught survival skills by specially-trained

instructors while on the trip. Students

are immersed in a world where there

are unknown risks and challenges that

they must overcome, and they must think

creatively, and trust their own judgement to


The Ecole promotes a culture of

inclusivity and collaboration, crucial tools

in facing the challenges of tomorrow in

a global world. The international nature

of the school’s community allows young

people to see diversity as enrichment

(they boast over 30 nationalities and

a multilingual environment). Students

deliver their work together as partners

while practising mutual respect for cultural


Creativity, critical thinking, collaboration

– these are all skills and competencies that

employers are already seeking in their staff.

However, it’s safe to assume that many of

Ecole’s graduates will gain jobs that aren’t

conceived of yet, so it’s crucial to focus

education on preparing for the broad-brush

requirements of these roles. Ultimately,

the Ecole d’Humanité strives for holistic

education for its students, supporting and

developing strengths, preparing for life in

the future and creating a new generation of

creative, critical thinkers.


A personal education

for an exceptional future

■ 11 acres of private grounds, minutes

from central London

■ An intimate, nurturing and tight-knit

learning community – small classes

and a strong support network

■ Gated access and a 24/7 security


■ Personal support to identify the

skills your child needs

■ A global network of industry

experts and masterclasses


Unique Challenges

of Helping Your Child

with Speech Delays

While Living Abroad


Helping your child overcome

delayed speech is challenging

enough when you’re living in a

familiar environment. Those problems can

become compounded when you move to a

foreign location. As the parent, it is up to

you to identify potential hurdles and ensure

that your child continues getting the help

they need. Just as your Speech-Language

Pathologist (SLP) has likely explained,

consistent practice is the key to successful

speech therapy. Keeping up with treatment

is possibly one of the issues you’re facing in

a new place. However, signing your child up

for online sessions can help them connect

with a familiar face and continue practicing

their newly acquired skills.

Exposing Your Child To a New Language

Considering that your child struggles with

speaking at home, exposure to an additional

language may add to the difficulty. The

child may grow frustrated with the new

and unknown terms and words. Don’t let

that worry you because research shows that

being bilingual or multilingual is good for a

young developing mind. Hearing multiple

languages isn’t necessarily a problem for

many children with speech delays. Trying to

learn a new language outside the home, like

in school or daycare, could be a welcome

boost. The variety of sounds and situations

leads, in some cases, to improved cognitive

and problem-solving skills.

Get the Family To Join In Picking Up a

New Language

Kids learn quickly when their parents

help with reading, singing, reciting poems,

and providing lots of love and positive

encouragement. Make the learning

experience fun and exciting by getting

the entire family to join in the exercise of

picking up a new language. Get a friend to

guide you through kid-friendly activities like

going to the park or buying a sweet treat

while demonstrating native pronunciation,

diction, and vocabulary. Be open about how

tricky language can be for adults. Laugh

at your own mistakes to convey that it’s

okay to take your time learning new skills.

Involve the family in practicing at home

and sharing tips they might pick up from

social interactions at work or school.

Simply Going To School and Making

Friends Helps

Parents are typically worried about their

kids going to school in a new city where

most other children speak an entirely

different language. Experts suggest that

young children are more flexible in

adapting to a new environment because

they haven’t developed complex social

preconceptions like adults. Children are

also more receptive to a foreign language

since they have yet to form permanent

connections between words, sounds, and

the context in which they are expressed.

You might find that your kids are more

adept at picking up new terms and the local

language by interacting with peer groups.

Don’t be surprised if a couple of the other

kids take your child under their wing to

show them around and help them adjust.

Impromptu lessons in pronunciation and

the correct usage of new words could help

your child progress quickly.

Dealing with Speech Delays Amidst a

Cultural Shock

Dealing with the cultural shock, new


holidays, unfamiliar music and songs, and

folk tales is more challenging for a child

with speech delays. As parents, you can

help in the transition process by being

more accepting when your child wants to

celebrate festivals and holidays they learn

about in school. Kids will also likely want

to follow local customs, dressing styles, and

food habits similar to their friends simply

to fit in with their peers. Encourage their

interests and follow cues to have cultural

experiences that help expand their exposure

to words, sentences, and pronunciations.

Sign Up for Language Sessions

Practicing as a family helps a child get

through hesitation and nervousness.

Remember that being unable to speak and

understand an additional language can

affect anyone’s self-confidence, but it can

“Get a friend to guide you through kid-friendly activities like going

to the park or buying a sweet treat while demonstrating native

pronunciation, diction, and vocabulary. ”

hit especially hard for children with speech

and language delays. An SLP specializing

in your new host country’s language could

provide valuable insights for the whole

family. Aside from textbook words and

phrases, you’ll learn local terminology and

slang. When you’re working with your child,

don’t overlook this information that can

help them settle in the new environment.

Recognize Your Own Feelings of Anxiety

in Transitioning to a New Country

Relocating to a foreign country, building a

new life, and perhaps, transitioning into a

new career is also stressful for the adults in

the family. Alongside your kids, you are also

re-establishing your identity and a sense of

purpose while making friends and learning

about the nuances of how your adopted

city works. Recognize the signs of anxiety

as each family member struggles to cope

in whatever role they play. Remember that

kids can sense when parents are uneasy and

stressed even if they do not openly express

their feelings.

Regroup at the end of each day over

dinner, share your experiences, the

situations you encountered, and how you

overcame them. Talk about your feelings

and how the transition is tough. This simple

exercise helps in more ways than one. Your

kids will get an opportunity to talk about

the things that scare them. At the same

time, they’ll practice their speech skills

when recounting their activities all through

the day. Most importantly, kids understand

that it’s okay to feel nervous in a new place.

Help them build their self-esteem, which is


a valuable first step in overcoming speech


Dealing with the Challenges of a


Adjusting to a new country does not have

to be harder for a child with speech delays.

Lots of practice and encouragement can

smoothen the process for the entire family.

However, do understand that coping

with a new, unfamiliar environment can

be tough for any child. Expect that they

may lose some of the progress they’ve

made so far. Accept it as a part of the

adjustment period, and continue with the

speech sessions. Focus on the positives of

the relocation and take advantage of the

exposure to a new language to improve

your child’s skills.

How do I know my

child is learning?

How should schools measure and evidence learning? How should the evidence be

considered when it is obtained? How can teachers support students in partnership with

them, rather than just teaching ‘at’ them?

Attitudes to assessment – and everything that informs it

That young people ‘go to school’ in

order to learn seems completely

self-evident, but the question of

how we know they are learning is rather

more complex. This is not just a question

for the adults, either; students themselves

are well placed to ask how they know

themselves that they are learning effectively.

This brings us to a series of questions.

How should schools measure and evidence

learning? How should the evidence be

considered when it is obtained? How

can educators support young people in

partnership with them, rather than just

teaching ‘at’ them? The concept of

assessment is one of the most important

topics in education, and getting it right

is at the core of any successful learning


How does a Teacher know if a Child is


Historically, two styles of assessment have

been practiced in education: ‘summative’

and ‘formative.’ Summative assessment

involves teaching a particular subject with

student testing and evaluation taking place

at the end of a unit or term. Formative

assessment, on the other hand, aims

to assess throughout the learning process

-- student comprehension, academic

progress, and learning needs, are evaluated

during the course of a lesson or unit. The

approach is considered more continuous

and forward-looking, whereby adaptations

to the teaching and/or learning experience

can be implemented swiftly. In short,

summative assessment can be considered

an assessment of learning and formative

assessment methods are more an assessment

for learning.

To a certain extent, relying solely on

summative assessment is considered a

misguided educational practice. Some

suggest that it could be too late to guide a

learner towards correcting or improving

their knowledge skills and understanding

if they are only checked after the period

of learning and not during the period of


The challenge, then, is to assess in

a formative manner. This takes place

within a school setting through monitoring

constantly, as well as documenting and

measuring learning – with reporting only an

outcome of these processes. The individual

skill of the educator is most evident here.

To pose a challenge to a group of students

and then instantly read the outcome is a

key part of formative assessment. Did child

A look puzzled? Did child B’s eyes light

up? Did child C look disinterested? This

is assessment at the very ‘front line’ that is

not just interesting – it allows immediate

differentiation between individual learners

to be implemented.

Why do Schools Assess?

For many, this might seem an obvious

question – as a measuring stick to see where

a child ‘is at’ when compared to certain

standards. The reality, however, is more

nuanced. In fact, three strands of purpose

behind assessment can be identified when

it is associated directly with ‘learning’.

Educators can speak of “assessment for

learning” – by using simple tools that can

inform how learning is taking place (ie ‘exit

cards’ where children provide feedback

on their understanding at the end of a

particular lesson). Educators can speak

of “assessment of learning” in a more


traditional sense but not necessarily in a

summative approach. Moreover, and most

interestingly, we can speak of “assessment

as learning” that both fundamentally shifts

the emphasis of assessment (from adult to

child) but also promotes skills and selfmanagement

approaches that are crucial

both now and long into a child’s future.

By being transparent with young people

about expectations of their learning, and

by actively involving them in evaluating

what they have done, we, as an academic

community, promote a culture of selfassessment

that is infinitely more powerful

than any standalone ‘grade’ or ‘score’

meted out at the end of a term. For a

child to take stock of their own progress,

and to suggest ways that they themselves

can bridge the gap between where they are

with their learning now, and where they

are headed with their learning (in other

words clearly defined learning goals) and

the ‘goal’, we are significantly increasing the

possibility for genuine personal progress in

each child.

How do Students know they are


Children need to be aware of the skills or

knowledge that they are aiming for, and

they need both time and space to reflect on

what they have done thus far and the ‘gap’

between the two. Teachers do not have

‘dominion’ over the assessment of a child.

If anything, they should look to facilitate

this assessment in the child to the extent

that they can remain focused on delivering

content in the most engaging way possible.

Assessment moves from being passive (for

the child) to an active process.

From this perspective, the matter of

recording learning becomes essential. Thus,

teaching staff are entrusted with providing

students the tools to self-assess (eg photos,

videos, learning portfolios and apps) that

contribute to a formative and self-directed,

style of assessment. When teacher and

student have evidence before them, they can

constructively discuss how improvement is

going to take place.

What are the Realities of Grading?

It is important to recognize that assessment

is not a secret process of children ‘aiming

for’ achievement and hoping they get

a good score. A school’s student body

– especially a school’s student council

– should fully understand the concepts

outlined here, and the information needs to

be shared with teachers and parents if the

school is to move forward with assessment

capability for students.

A culture of ‘holistic grading’ that

considers a wide range of different criteria

in each subject could then be promoted.

Where these criteria in Math, for

example, might range from ‘Knowing and

“For a child to appreciate their strengths

and weaknesses openly is half the challenge

of education itself.”

Understanding’ to ‘Application in Real-life

Context’, those in Languages and Literature

could include ‘Analysing Language’ and

‘Organising Ideas’.

For a child to understand from where

a grade has originated, and agree with

its rationale, is a key part of building

relationships in learning environments.

Moreover, for a child to appreciate their

strengths and weaknesses openly is half

the challenge of education itself. Teachers

would be ‘grading’ students not just on their

output but their process. The final design

piece, for example, might be impressive, but

more impressive is the journal of progress

they have kept, the constant adjustments

to their approaches they’ve designed, and

the insightful self-commentary they have

developed. Thus, the process would be

graded as much as, if not more so, than the


Ultimately, the best indicator of

knowing if (and to what extent) a child is

learning is in their own ability to reflect

on and answer that question. Through

proactive teaching practice and the use of

technology, educational institutions can

develop mechanisms for collecting evidence

of learning, but that is only part of the

challenge. Teachers, parents, and students

themselves want to see progress – but that

progress is undoubtedly best achieved and

promoted through open discussion and

enabling the child to be the centrepiece of

that process, not merely the recipient of a


At the Inter-Community School Zurich (ICS), our assessment practices include answering

three important questions for parents: What is my child learning? How do I know my child

is learning? What can I do to support my child’s learning? To arrange an appointment with

our Admissions team, or to find out more about the international school of first choice in

Zurich, visit our website at www.icsz.ch.





Let the sunshine in –

Welcome to Zug!

The city of Zug is home to people

from 128 different countries. They

all came here as tourists and ended

up staying. OK, that isn’t entirely true!

But what is true is that Zug casts a spell on

locals and visitors alike. The region is like

Switzerland in miniature. It showcases what

our beautiful country has to offer better than

almost anywhere else. Zug is where tradition

meets innovation, where gorgeous lakeside

landscapes meet snowy mountains, and

cherry-blossom trees adorn the secluded alleys

of the old town.

Adventurous Zug

Take your kids on an adventure through

the 6,000-year-old Höllgrotten caves. This

unique, enchanting subterranean world,

replete with small lakes, stalagmites and

stalactites, promises an unforgettable

experience for the whole family.

Let your kids become knights and

princesses for a day. In the Museum Burg

Zug, the cartoon character Lili is waiting

to greet children who share her thirst for

knowledge. Tales of ghosts, knights, mermaids

and princesses are the order of the day.

The Museum of Prehistory will stimulate

children’s thirst for discovery. And there is so

much to discover, like hunting adventure,

the Celtic fashion show, and the Roman


Another highlight is the Freiruum, which

promises a true indoor adventure: food stalls,

a kids’ corner, a trampoline park, a parkour

zone and one of the largest bouldering halls

in Switzerland. Kids’ corner – a 250m2

indoor playground – will make your children’s

faces light up. Big fun for the whole family!

We need nature!

Zug is the perfect starting point for outdoor

family experiences. Our local mountain, the

Zugerberg, can be reached by train in just 8

minutes and is the ideal destination for hiking,

cycling or having a BBQ. A boat trip on Lake

Zug is a must for all wannabe ship’s captains

while swimming enthusiasts can take a dip in

one of the numerous lidos.

Zug is so delicious

During a day out with the family, you will, of

course, need to refuel. Zug offers numerous

traditional but also trendy restaurants by the

lake or on the local mountain, from where

there are stunning views over the lake.

Want to stay a little longer? The campsites

in Zug and Unterägeri are little slices of

heaven. Sleep by the lake and then, first thing

in the morning, try stand-up paddle-boarding,

diving, windsurfing, swimming or sailing.

They’re all just a few steps away from your

tent or caravan.

Zug Card – your ticket to more fun

Top tip: if you stay in one of Zug’s hotels,

you will get free travel on public transport

and attractive reductions on various leisure

activities with the Zug Card.

See you soon in Zug!

Make sure you visit Zug during one of its

many traditional events. There are various

customs associated with the famous Zug

cherry, but carnival – in February/March –

and the bull market –in September – is also

worth checking out. Your kids are sure to love

these unusual traditions.

For more inspiration and ideas, visit our website: www.zug-tourismus.ch.

Who knows? Perhaps you won’t want to leave.


Developing talent in young people

– the role of the right school

In a world where academic merits seem to be everything that matters, SHL Schweizerische

Hotelfachschule Luzern continues to nurture the individual talents of their students when

educating the next generations of hospitality leaders.


Young people need opportunities

to display their talents

Motivated and driven young

people have the potential to

become outstanding young people

and high achievers. However, they

need the surroundings that allow

them to express and develop their

talents, ideas, and creativity. A

supportive school environment

that not only allows, but

supports and encourages, them

to demonstrate those traits

plays a crucial role. Therefore,

finding and choosing the right

school is a key decision in

their personal development.

Combined with other criteria,

the size of the school has a direct impact

on various aspects such as academics, social

life and internship opportunities, all linked

to students’ individual growth.

Not just a face in the lecture hall

Students’ personal development is strongly

related to finding the perfect fit and

choosing the right school. In addition to

numerous others, the student-faculty ratio is

an important factor. Smaller classes have an

impact not only on the learning experience,

but also gives the lecturers time to focus on

aiding the students’ personal enrichment.

As a school with 250 students on campus,

out of 1’000 enrolled, the self-fulfilment of

each student has been one of SHL’s core

values since the first hotel management



classes started in

1909. Students

who choose SHL,

not only value the

characteristic personal

atmosphere and

community spirit, but

also appreciate being

more than just a face

in a lecture hall and the

chance to be recognised

as individuals with

particular talents.

Two programmes

– one ideology

SHL Schweizerische


Luzern is one of the two original hotel

management schools in Switzerland and

offers programmes taught in English and

German. The Bachelor of Science in

Hospitality Management is a full-time,

four-year degree programme in English,

offered in cooperation with the University

of Applied Sciences and Arts Lucerne

(HSLU), accredited by the Swiss federal

government and in compliance with the

Bologna Declaration, using the European

Credit Transfer System (ECTS). The

renowned Diploma programme Dipl.

Hôtelière-Restauratrice / Hôtelier-

Restaurateur HF, fully taught in German, is

accredited by the Swiss federal government

as a tertiary level professional education.

The SHL ideology stems from the

founders’ passion for hospitality and desire

to provide young people with the best

opportunities to build their future careers

and to fulfil their potential in the hospitality

industry, one of the most fascinating and

exciting global industries.

Personal talent is multifaceted

Young people have all kinds of talents

in many different fields and subject

areas. SHL believes that the best way

to unlock students’ full potential and to

have an actual impact on their individual

development is to provide them with a solid

foundation of applicable knowledge and

transferable skills in hospitality leadership,

management, strategy and operations.

Through the theoretical classroom studies,

case studies, real-life business projects,

coaching and hands-on practical training,

lecturers give students all the tools for them

to unleash their maximum potential.

Environmental impact on

student learning

School location, infrastructure and services

play a significant role in shaping students’

successful learning process. How students

live, how they get around and what they

can do in their leisure time has a direct

impact on their student experience

and what they will achieve. At SHL,

these are factors that are paid a great

deal of attention to. The campus offers

state-of-the-art academic and practical

training facilities, as well as group rooms,

independent study spaces, creative and

lounge areas. Four F&B outlets provide

delicious, fresh meals and beverages.

Hotel SHL, where students live during

their on-campus semesters, mirrors a

modern city hotel, with various en-suite

room categories to choose from. In

addition to the spacious rooms, the student

hotel offers a Community Room with a

fully equipped kitchen and an attached

courtyard, laundry facilities, as well as a

large rooftop terrace.

Student life in Lucerne is rich in contrasts

and entertainment all year round. With

a variety of famous sights, its charming

Old Town with attractive shopping areas,

the town is a destination for visitors from

around the world. The SHL campus is a

10-minute walk away from the city centre.

SHL Schweizerische Hotelfachschule

Luzern is one of the two original Hotel

Management Schools in Switzerland.

and offers one of the only two Bachelor

of Science in Hospitality Management

degrees in Switzerland accredited

by the Swiss federal government

and in compliance with the Bologna

Declaration, as well as the regarded

Swiss Diploma Dipl. Hôtelière-

Restauratrice / Hôtelier-Restaurateur


Owned by the Hotel Gastro Union,

SHL has been paving the way for the

renowned Swiss dual education system,

teaching first-class practical and

academic hospitality management skills

since 1909. SHL prepares young talents

for becoming inspiring leaders on the

global stage.

Are you interested in learning

more about SHL Schweizerische


Luzern? Get in touch

with us for more




Maria Ramstad Kristiansen is Head of Marketing & Student Recruitment

at SHL Schweizerische Hotelfachschule Luzern. She has a MSc in Business

Administration, major Tourism and a BBA in Hospitality and Tourism from the

University of Applied Sciences Graubünden, as well as a Swiss degree in Hospitality

Management from EHL Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality. Maria has 25 years of

management experience from the Hospitality Industry in Norway, UK and Switzerland.


Run Talk

Run at The


School of



One of the tricks to successfully settling in after an

international move is the ability to transition through

the process of meeting people and becoming friends at a

faster rate than you would in your home country. This is because

your new friends become your support network, and if you’re

lucky, your surrogate family.

Having moved to the US with a young family and remaining

for 9 years I knew that we would eventually settle and feel at

home in Switzerland, but in my mind this would take at least 1-2

years. However I was lucky enough to meet Paula just a week after

moving to the country, and I am convinced it was our running

together that cemented our acquaintance into friendship in a much

shorter space of time.

Paula introduced herself to me in the school carpark, which

I thought was incredibly brave of her. I learnt afterwards she’d

noticed I was in my running gear and had, in her 6 years here,

learned to recognize signs of a kindred spirit! After some meetings

arranged as playdates for our children, we realized we had a

mutual love of running and decided to meet to run together.

We actually managed only two runs before the 1st lockdown hit,

but these were enough to strengthen our friendship and meant I

became part of a wider friendship group through Paula, which I

was so thankful to be a part of during that time.

As soon as restrictions allowed, we picked up again on the

running. We commented on how quickly and how well we got

to know each other during these runs – the barriers against

opening up to someone new are much less when you are running

forward together, side-by side, heading towards the same goal

and being dressed in the same gear so feeling as equals. The fact

our bodies were already tired meant our natural filters were less

of a restraint to us just being ourselves and opening up.

At this same time Paula had been looking for new ventures and

came across Run Talk Run on a UK Website. Run Talk Run is a

mental health running group which exists to increase accessibility

to mental health support through running and peer support

groups. Run Talk Run is a weekly 5km jog where people can turn

up and talk about how they are really feeling. It is free to attend

and open to all abilities – we run as slow as the slowest runner.

Paula asked me whether I would consider a joint venture to

bring Run Talk Run to Schaffhausen, and of course I agreed.

What a fabulous way to share what we had discovered with our

wider community!

We started a Run Talk Run group in Schaffhausen in October

last year and it has become a real success. Every week, we have

many people turning up and enjoying the chance to get some

fresh air and be able to talk about how they are really feeling in a

supportive environment. We meet as a group 10 minutes before

the run is due to start at a chosen location where there are facilities

available, and a bag drop option. We explain the route to any new


members and then set off together as a group. The emphasis of

Run Talk Run is not on pace or timings, it is to provide a safe place

for people to talk about whatever they need to with no fear of

judgement, whilst being outside and moving forward together.

Despite the success of these runs, within our community we

found that for some people even the thought of a 5km run was a

bit overwhelming. Luckily for us this coincided with the launch

of Walk Talk Walk in the UK and we found this to be a perfect fit

for us. Walk Talk Walk follows the exact same premise as Run Talk

Run, but it is a walk that is offered, not a run. We now offer Run

Talk Run and Walk Talk Walk weekly alongside each other; both

groups meet at the same location before heading off for either a

5km run or a 3km walk, with Paula and I alternating between

the groups. The finish time is usually similar, which makes it

perfect for us to stay on for a coffee and a chat after the exercise.

Nobody is required to stay for this of course, but Paula and I

always do, and we have found that our members enjoy this social

part as much as the physical part.

Paula and I have recently become Run Leaders for Western

Europe and have helped set up new Runs and Walks throughout

this region, including Italy, Malta, Germany and The


Coming from the International School community ourselves

we realise what an absolute perfect fit this is for the other schools

throughout Switzerland, particularly in these Covid times when

so many of our usual activities and pastimes are restricted or

not possible. It is a wonderful opportunity for the school to offer

a support group for new and existing families, yet also provides

a way for the wider community to come together. Our group

consists of not just members from ISSH, but from the wider

international and local communities too, providing us with new

links to Schaffhausen as a whole.

We would love to help facilitate setting up Runs or Walks for the

other International Schools here in Switzerland. The process is

straightforward, and all the support systems are already in place. If

this is something you think would be of interest for you, please do

not hesitate to get in touch with us. Paula and I are here to help

you with every step of the journey and truly believe you will get as

much from it as we do.

For more information please contact us via email

(westerneurope@runtalkrun.com) or through our Instagram or

Facebook Page (runtalkrun_schaffhausen). We would love to hear

from you.



Autumnal Activities

in Switzerland

When the summer sun starts to

tire and the season comes to

an end, Switzerland transforms

into an autumnal wonderland. Enjoy the

aroma of sweet chestnuts roasting in the

air, feel leaves crunching on the forest

floor beneath you and submerge in a

sense of autumn magic like you’ve never

experienced anywhere else.

Below is our roundup of all the familyfriendly

destinations to explore this autumn

in Switzerland.

Wildlife watching in Graubünden’s

regional nature parks (GR)

Autumn in Graubünden is a spectacle for

the eye. Home to four impressive nature

reserves that offer long-range hikes, wildlife

watching and unique flora and fauna to


The Biosfera Val Müstair boasts lush

green meadows and well-kept villages,

while the Swiss National Park offers regular

guided tours by experienced rangers and

the chance to encounter deer, ibex, chamois

and possibly even a bearded vulture.

Wildlife watchers will be mesmerised by

Parc Ela, renowned for the bellowing deer

that echo through the valley in autumn.

However, If you’re keen to spot an Ibex,

Beverin Nature Park is his home. Visit the

Center da Capricorns to learn all about the

king of the mountains, then observe him in

the wild.


Les Mélèzes (the Larch Trees) de

Balavaud (VS)

Hike from Tracouet mountain station to

Haute-Nendaz to visit the largest and oldest

larches in Europe. Many of which are

between 300 and 800 years old. The oldest,

nicknamed King of Balavaux, is estimated

to be up to 1000 years old.

Further highlights along this hike include

the gondola ride with its magnificent

panoramic views, the Lac Noir (Black Lake)

mountain lake, autumnal forest paths and

the Bisse de Saxon irrigation channel, the

longest in Valais.

The Enchanted Forest, Binntal (VS)

Deep in the enchanted forest of Ernen


in Valais, someone has stolen Brüna the

squirrel’s supply of winter nuts. Follow the

squirrel’s journey through the spruce trees,

moss-covered boulders, pine cone run,

swinging tree and the adventure playground

to help solve the mystery.

Traditional sheep shearing (GR)

Join spectators at Savognin who every

year wait for the Cotti family to take a 4

hour ride down into the village with their

livestock. It’s Swiss tradition that 300 sheep

are shorn here each Saturday in October.

Local market stalls offer a range of regional

products, including a variety of treasures

made from soft sheep’s wool.

Treasure Hunt in Ascona (TI)

Little explorers will love the treasure hunt

at Ascona. Where is the treasure hidden?

That’s for you to find out. With many

puzzles to solve, this free game is a riveting

experience for all the family.

Rigi: above the fog (SZ, LU/ZG)

The Rigi, one of Switzerland’s most

popular mountains known as the Queen of

Mountains, towers between Lakes Lucerne,

Zug and Lauerz. This majestic setting

where three lakes meet is easily reached by

cog railway or cable car, offers panoramic

views and a diverse range of leisure

activities for everyone to enjoy.

Ravensburger Games Trail (VS)

The Ravensburger Games Trail provides

a unique alternative to hiking, offering

exciting challenges for the whole family.

With six games cabins and seven activity

stations including a tricky escape puzzle to

crack, there’s something for everyone.

Adventurers that manage to solve all the

games will be in with a chance of winning

some fantastic Ravensburger prizes!

Muggestutz adventure dwarf trails (BE)

Journey from Meiringen or Hasliberg-Reuti

to reach the Mägisalp upper station and let

the dwarf trail begin. This easy mountain

hike mostly runs downhill over Alpine

meadows and forest paths, promising a way

for young and old hikers alike to playfully

discover the legends and secrets about the

Hasli dwarves. An unforgettable experience

is guaranteed!

A scavenger hunt in Toggenburg (SG)

Do you love to crack codes and uncover

clues? Only the sharpest ears can help

solve the riddles at the scavenger hunt in

Toggenburg holiday region. Everything

in this scavenger hunt for puzzle-loving

families and groups revolves around the

acoustic senses, with a one-hour “Sound

Trail” through the centre of the village of

Alt St. Johann.

Technorama Swiss Science Centre (ZH)

A hands-on experience! The Technorama is

one of the largest science centres in Europe,

benefiting from a variety of experiments

and over 500 opportunities to experience

science. Unlike traditional museums,

visitors are allowed to touch and play with

everything, inviting them to learn in a

playful way that explores all the senses.


Chestnuts in the Val Bregaglia (GR)

Autumn time in the Val Bregaglia

focuses on the culinary delight,

chestnuts. Hidden away in the

canton of Graubünden, this idyllic

mountain valley takes you on a

journey following the chestnut from

tree to the finished product.

Interesting fact: The chestnut used

to be considered crisis-proof food

because it provides a vitaminrich

diet and its flour will keep

for several years. It is also said to

strengthen the immune system.




largest bilingual town

Most visitors imagine Biel/Bienne to be an industrial

town, however on arrival they are surprised to discover

that it has a well-preserved medieval centre. This

historic part of town invites you to go on a stroll through the

charming alleys and along the picturesque squares and terraces

which are adorned with pretty little shops.

Besides events of national and international significance, Biel

offers a host of other cultural highlights, too. The Neues Museum

Biel and the Pasquart are two important museums near the lake.

In 2004, Biel was awarded the Wakker prize by the Swiss Heritage

Society for its exemplary townscape protection.

You can discover Biel’s old town during a culinary stroll, called

nourritour, on a Saturday morning. The tour consists of seven

different stops, including tastings of artisanal products made by

local people. Sweet or savoury, in French or in German, this walk

has lots of unexpected surprises in store for you.

In Biel, you will hear people converse in German and in French.

In the largest bilingual city of Switzerland, all streets and official

buildings are signposted in both languages. This mixture of

German and French-speaking inhabitants makes Biel an especially

charming place.

Bilingualism is a result of the watchmaking industry, highlighted

by the middle of the 19th century when Biel became Switzerland’s

most important watchmaking centre. The numerous watchmakers

from the Jura who found work in Biel brought the French language

with them, and to this day renowned brands such as OMEGA and

Swatch are headquartered in Biel.

A must-see, not only for watchmaking-fans, is the Cité du Temps,

which recently opened its doors in the heart between the OMEGA

watch factory and the new headquarters of the Swatch brand.

Designed by world-renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, Cité

du Temps unites under one roof the playful, cheerful style of the

Swatch brand and the luxurious character of OMEGA. Equipped

with state-of-the-art interactive technologies, the OMEGA and

Swatch museums invite their visitors to explore the different

worlds of the two brands in a dynamic way.

Nature enthusiast? You will love discovering the

beautiful surroundings of Lake Biel. The northern shore

land is characterised by intensively cultivated wine growing

areas, while the southern shore remains entirely natural.

The lake’s highlight is the mystical St. Peter’s island with its

hidden bathing bays and the venerable monastic hotel.

The Lake Biel Navigation Company provides a tranquil

atmosphere while you enjoy a glass of local wine on board

and glide along the picturesque winegrowers’ villages. St.

Peter’s island invites you to relax among reeds, vineyards,

and on intricate sandy beaches. Even Rousseau succumbed

to its charm while seeking refuge on the island for a few

days. The island can be reached either by boat from Biel or

passing through the charming winegrowers’ villages. From

Erlach, the Heidenweg path takes you there on foot or by











CHF 103.-

per person









Discover the autumnal splendour of the Alpine

foothills on the Voralpen-Express

Choose the ‘Herbsthit’ offer this

autumn for a holiday to remember.

Explore the colourful corners of

Eastern and Central Switzerland with

your family and discover the region’s unique

natural and cultural attractions. Attractive

leisure vouchers round off the experience.

Summer may be over, but a wonderful

golden autumn lies ahead. It’s the perfect

time of year for exploration and adventure

in the beautiful Swiss countryside –

particularly in Central and Eastern

Switzerland. With the ‘Herbsthit’ offer,

you can take the Voralpen-Express from

the lakeside city of Lucerne to the cultural

metropolis of St. Gallen for just CHF

20, travelling via Mount Rigi, Sattel-

Hochstuckli with its famous toboggan

run or the cultural diversity of St. Gallen.

Whether you’re looking for adventure or

a more leisurely day out, you can use the



leisure vouchers, worth CHF 20, to enjoy

activities and experiences throughout the

region. Alongside thrilling panoramas and

rich, varied landscapes, the route between

the two cities offers plenty of cultural

highlights and insider tips, which you can

discover at www.voralpen-express.ch/


Majestic Mount Rigi

The views from Rigi – extending from the

Black Forest to the Swiss Plateau and right

across the Alps – are unrivalled by any other

mountain in Switzerland. And while you’re

enjoying the view, there are tasty treats

to sample: Switzerland’s first mountain

guest house opened here in this fantastic

location in 1816. Today, too, a wide range

of hiking trails with refreshment stops

catering to appetites of all sizes await – with

convenient connections from Arth-Goldau




Enjoy a return journey between St. Gallen and

Lucerne on the Voralpen-Express for CHF 20*

(2nd class, half fare) and get four different leisure

vouchers worth CHF 20 to help you make the most

of your trip. Book your ticket by 31 October 2021

and travel by the end of 2021.

*Terms and conditions and booking at


railway station. With the ‘Herbsthit’ leisure

vouchers, you can enjoy a CHF 5 discount

on a Mount Rigi hiking ticket or a Mount

Rigi day ticket, or CHF 5 off when you visit

the Rigistübli or Rigi Kulm restaurants.

Exciting Sattel-Hochstuckli

Step aboard the unique revolving cable car

at Sattel-Aegeri and feel like you’re floating

on air as you make your way up this familyfriendly

mountain. The summer toboggan

run and a tubing run promise exciting ups

and downs, while the 374 m long Skywalk

suspension bridge offers an adrenaline rush

for those who dare to aim high. For

those who prefer a more leisurely pace,


there is a choice of circular hiking trails,

offering fantastic views. With the ‘Herbsthit’

leisure vouchers you can enjoy a CHF 5

discount on your return cable car ticket.

And while you’re in the neighbourhood,

why not pick up a delicious, free goat’s

milk ice cream from the goat farm at


Fascinating St. Gallen

Historically one of the most important

intellectual centers of the European

Occident, you can still feel the spirit of the

Benedictine monks when you enter the

Cathedral in St. Gallen. A UNESCO World

Heritage Site since 1983, the architectural

wealth of the baroque cathedral and the

originally preserved manuscripts make the

abbey district a place of cultural tradition

and an absolute “must visit” destination in




Top of Europe 3’454 metres above sea level

For more than 100 years, the Jungfraujoch has been considered one of the most spectacular destinations

in Europe, right in the middle of the Alps, surrounded by the famous Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau

mountains. In 2001, this region became the first in the Alps to receive “UNESCO World Heritage” status.


The Jungfrau railway is one of the most impressive

achievements of Switzerland’s mountain railways. It was

opened in 1912 after 16 years of construction. It leads

from the Kleine Scheidegg mountain up to the Jungfraujoch – Top

of Europe at an altitude of 3,454 m, to the highest train station in


Many visitors view the journey to the “Top of Europe” as the

highlight of their Swiss holiday. The train covers the distance of

9.34 km to its destination largely through a seven kilometre-long

tunnel hewn out of the mountain. It traverses the mountains of

Eiger and Mönch and surmounts 1,400 metres in altitude.

The Jungfraujoch opens up a world of ice and snow for visitors

with a view to the Aletsch Glacier which, at 22 km, is the longest

in the Alps. On a clear day, it is possible to see beyond the Swiss

border into the Vosges Mountains in France and the Black Forest

in Germany. Popular attractions on the Jungfraujoch include the

Sphinx viewing terrace, the ice palace, the Alpine Sensation opened

for its 100th anniversary, the Snow Fun Park, various restaurants,

the Lindt chocolate shop (the highest of its kind) and the highest

post office in Europe.


Journey time to the Jungfraujoch slashed by 47 minutes

Since 5 December 2020, the Eiger Express, the heaviest and most

modern tricable aerial cableway, has been taking guests from the

Grindelwald terminal to the Eiger Glacier station in just 15 minutes.

The impressive ride in 26-seat cabins passes by the world-famous

north face of the Eiger.

Alpine Sensation adventure tunnel

The Alpine Sensation is a new attraction on the Jungfraujoch,

opened on 30 March 2012 to mark the hundredth anniversary of

the Jungfrau railways. In a 250 metre-long adventure tunnel, it

brings to life the story of the Jungfrau railway and the development

of tourism in the Alps.

Ice Palace

In the middle of the Jungfrau firn, 20 metres below the viewing

platform, on the watershed of Europe, the ice is piling up to move

slowly northwards and, once it melts, it will eventually flow into the

North Sea. In the 1930s, two mountain guides started to carve this

vast hall out of the glacier ice. Working by hand using ice picks and

saws, they created the 1,000 square metre Ice Palace. The cave-like

corridors lead to various ice sculptures.


The glazed sphinx viewing hall gives a view of the glacier landscape

in all weathers. In sunny weather, the terrace surrounding the

building invites you to linger. The terrace is at an altitude of

3,571 m and offers a view of the Aletsch Glacier and into the

neighbouring countries of France, Germany and Italy.

Research station

The Jungfraujoch has Europe’s highest research station, and the

highest in the world that can be reached by train. This enables

the transportation of highly advanced equipment required for

the sophisticated research. The research station is of enormous

significance for environmental scientists, astrophysicists,

meteorologists, glaciologists and materials scientists.

Snow Fun Park

It is also possible to enjoy winter sports in summer at the Snow

Fun Park on the Jungfraujoch. In good weather, various winter

sports can be practised from the beginning of May to mid-October.

Whether zooming down the piste on skis or a snowboard, gliding

down the sledding piste in comfort or hovering over the crevasses on

the steel cable, endless snow can be enjoyed to the fullest.

Mönchsjoch hut

The Mönchsjoch hut is the highest manned hut in Switzerland.

An excursion onto the Jungfraujoch can be easily combined with a

winter walk to the Mönchsjoch hut. The trail goes over glaciers but,

weather permitting, is prepared daily using a snow groomer. The

hut, which is at an altitude of 3,657 m, can be reached in around an



The Jungfraujoch offers various restaurants with a total cover of

1,000. In the a la carte restaurant Crystal, guests are spoiled with a

choice of Swiss specialities and international menus. The self-service

restaurant Aletsch offers an extensive range for every taste and is

best for quick and simple meals.



The Lake Lucerne


Two beautiful options for family fun this Autumn!

Golden Round Trip

The “Golden Round Trip” takes you to the

most beautiful spots around Mount Pilatus

and the summit by boat, cogwheel railway,

aerial cablecar and panorama gondolas.

The starting point in the heart of

Central Switzerland is in Lucerne. On

Lake Lucerne, you enjoy the boat ride and

a view of the surrounding mountains. The

amazement continues. In Alpnachstad, you

will board the steepest cogwheel railway

in the world to reach the summit of 2,132


At 2132 meters above sea level, the

unique Pilatus warmth greets you, and

you can indulge in one of the restaurants.

Hearty, nutritious, and exquisite meals and

delicious snacks - always freshly prepared.

Whether in the stylish self-service Bellevue

restaurant or the belle epoque Pilatus-

Kulm restaurant built in 1890: hospitality is




Of course, the breathtaking panorama

at 2132 meters above sea level and the view

of the mountain range of the Alpine massif

also contribute to an unforgettable stay.

The return journey first takes you on the

“Dragon Ride” cable car to Fräkmüntegg.

A paradise for the adventurous: the largest

rope park in Central Switzerland, tree tents,

the toboggan run, hiking trails and fantastic

barbecue areas invite you to stick around

and enjoy.

The journey continues downhill to Kriens

on the panorama gondolas. A stop at the

Krienseregg midway station is a must,

especially for families. In this paradisical

local recreation area, you will find marked,

varied walks and large picnic areas. The

“PILU-Land” adventure playground is the

highlight for little adventurers.

The round trip ends where it began.

From Kriens, you can reach Lucerne in a

few minutes by a comfortable bus ride.

Pilatus & Pilu Rope Park

Climbing, balancing and

whizzing through the forest

on rope slides, the Pilatus Rope

Park trains your skills and nerves on

ten different courses and at the same time

provides a lot of fun. The highlight of the

park is a free fall from 20 meters. It is pure

adrenaline and demands courage and a

good dose of self-confidence.

Under the motto “learn to fly with

PILU”, the PILU Rope Park takes brave

climbers aged 4 to 8 on a story with the

Pilatus mascot. PILU the Dragon learns to

fly with the help of his seven friends and

invites the little kids on an adventurous

journey between treetops and peaks.

Scenic cruises on the panorama-yacht



A luxury yacht for everyone!

Refresh your senses and take in the firstclass

comfort of

our cutting-edge

ship MS Saphir.

The stylish design and

dashing appearance of our

elegant Panorama-Yacht will be sure

to impress! With unique features such as

the convertible roof on the upper deck, the

aqua terrace on the main deck aft or the

custom-built furniture, the ship provides

excitement and luxury for all. Cruising

aboard MS Saphir is an experience that

just might remind you of the superyachts

on the Côte d’Azur! So bring your friends

to nip on a few happy hour drinks or take

advantage of the informative audio guide,

which is available in 11 different languages

and will narrate the top attractions in the

Bay of Lucerne.


The largely overlooked

importance of Executive


“What we really need to harness for our youth to succeed”



“Executive Function allow us to manage our emotions

and attention, organize and plan our work and time,

work with large amounts of information, and reflect

upon and revise our tactics as circumstances change.”

Isuppose it seems like a logical formula

strong, IQ = success. We can also

conger together the understanding that

clearly you need a supportive environment;

chances are better if there is financial

support and family support as well as living

in a decent neighbourhood. These are all

factors that will clearly increase success.

However, there is a growing understanding

that success lies beyond intelligence and

academic skills. One area that is often

overlooked, at the hand of which many

children have faltered, are executive

functions. Executive Function allow us

to manage our emotions and attention,

organize and plan our work and time,

work with large amounts of information,

and reflect upon and revise our tactics as

circumstances change. A person with a high

IQ can be capable of understanding or

discussing complex concepts, but be nearly

incapable of producing an essay, completing

a set of problems, or finishing a research

paper. Why? It’s not because he isn’t smart

enough, it’s because he can’t effectively

marshall his efforts toward a specific end


Child W is a highly gifted adolescent,

however, he is also known to have weak

executive functions. This adolescent can

run circles around you when arguing a

point. However, this same adolescent

needed to be handheld through high

school, his mother quitting her job so

she can manage his workload and assist

him full-time. This child has no sense of

time, grossly underestimating how long

assignments may take, as such often playing

video games till midnight and then

realizing a report was due the next day

and its more time consuming then he

had imagined. He would let subject upon

subject pile up on each other, to the point

that he was so far behind he wouldn’t do

anything at all. He could equally get fixed

on a topic and find it hard to shift, as such

spending much more time than his peers

on topics. Other times he was also found to

stay up till the small hours of the morning

perfecting a single low-stake assignment,

leaving untouched the others that influence

his grade far more. W also often had all

the information accurately in his head,

but lacked a method to get those ideas

cohesively in written form resulting in no

finished product to submit to his teacher.

This gifted student struggled through all

of high school. He was ineffective because

he couldn’t manage his time or prioritize

his efforts or organize himself. This highly

intelligent child ended up failing out of his

first year of university. W was a gifted child

with weak Executive Functions. Executive

Function (EF) skills have been shown by

research to predict academic outcomes.

EF have been shown to in fact be better

predicators than both intelligence and

socioeconomic status.

What are Executive Functions?

Executive functions are understood as

the distinct, but related, higher-order

neurocognitive processes that control

thoughts and behaviors aimed at achieving

an objective or goal (Anderson, 2002;

Zelazo and Carlson, 2012). Therefore,

they regulate behavior and cognitive and

emotional activity by means of a set of

adaptive capabilities.

Experts in the field usually break down

Executive Function into these simple skills:

Inhibitory control (IC)

The ability to override impulses to exercise

control over attention, thoughts, and


Cognitive flexibility (CF)

The capacity to adapt our thinking

and behavior, often in response to new


Working memory (WM)

The ability to hold information in our

minds that is not perceptually present and

simultaneously analyze or manipulate it.

These simple skills intertwine and support

complex skills, like planning, problemsolving,

and reflection. They help us

manage multiple pieces of information,

filter distractions, and prioritize our actions.

The frontal lobe, often referred to as

the brain’s “control centre,” or “central

executive”is considered to house executive

functioning. This is also where the anterior

cingulate is located, which is often referred

to as the “oops centre” because of its

role in helping us anticipate risks and

keeping us from acting in a way that is

detrimental. This structure in the brain

has been associated with many executive

function skills, including emotional

self-control, problem solving, divided

attention, recognizing errors or conflicting

information, and adaptive behaviour in

changing circumstances (Allman, Hakeem,


Erwin, Nimchinsky, & Hof, 2001; Powell

& Voeller, 2004). Although the anterior

cingulate is not the only part of the brain

involved in executive function skills, it does

demonstrate that the roots of executive

dysfunction lie in the brain, not in character


Executive Functions vs Intelligence

Studies show that various aspects of child

self-regulation accounted for unique

variance in the academic outcomes

independent of general intelligence and that

the inhibitory control aspect of executive

function was a prominent correlate of both

early math and reading ability (Blair &

Razza, 2007). In the K-12 years, EF has

been shown to predict math and reading

in higher grade levels. A student must be

able to successfully avoid distractions, pay

attention, remember rules, and manage

emotional reactions. The literature provides

numerous examples of the importance

of executive functions in achieving

academic success (see Huizinga et al., 2018;

Willoughby et al., 2019). The research

by Best et al. (2011), Hall et al. (2015), or

Tsubomi and Watanabe (2017) all highlight

the importance of executive functions in

the early years of primary education and

the effects of rapid development of working

memory at a young age in achieving

stability between the ages of 10 and 12.

In Alloway and Alloway’s (2010) article,

this mnesic-executive aspect emerges as a

better predictor of future performance (in

literacy and mathematical reasoning) than

the intelligence quotient. Pascual, Munoz

& Robres (2019) suggest that an important

finding is that it was possible to confirm

that, in the last decade, executive functions

have replaced the intelligence quotient

as the most studied variable with respect

to academic performance and that both

currently have the same predictive capacity.

Given the dilemma of classifying executive

functions as a domain-general cognitive

variable, the studies reviewed confirm that

executive functions can be decomposed into

different components (working memory,

inhibition, cognitive flexibility and planning)

that are distinctly linked to certain types of


Deficits in executive function have

additional implications, beyond the

classroom manifestations. For example,

studies show that the emotional

control measure of the BRIEF (an EF

questionnaire) was identified as a significant

predictor of being bullied, because a

child with weak emotional control is so

reactive (as cited in MacReady, 2011). A

student with poor inhibitory and emotional

control, who doesn’t grasp the effect of

his or her behaviours on others, will likely

have impaired social skills. A student

with weaknesses in working memory,

organization, and the ability to plan and

initiate tasks is likely to have deficits in

such academic enablers as study skills,

motivation, and/or engagement—which

have been linked to academic success

(DiPerna & Elliott, 2002).

There are important correlations that

deserve our attention. We know that strong

EF development in early childhood is

associated with positive academic and social

outcomes all the way through adulthood.

We know that it’s possible to improve

these skills at any time through direct

intervention. We know that the defecits are

disproportionately larger for disadvantaged

populations. Meta-analysis confirms that

the executive functions display greater

predictive power at early ages and have

a robust, specific capacity for predicting

future academic performance. Thus, it is

important to detect academic achievement

problems as early as possible to initiate

intervention programs.

One of the stumbling blocks is,

identifying children with weak EF skills.

What do these EF deficits look like in a


Unfortunately, most students don’t show up

on the first day of school, clutching a pencil

in one hand and a full psycho-educational

report in the other. And even if they do,

and you’re lucky enough to find they have

been tested for executive functioning, there’s

a caveat. Many measures test for a wellcircumscribed

and small subset of executive

function skills, so the results cannot be

generalized across the whole span of skills.

Several of the EF skills are behavioural

in nature, and others are metacognitive. An

individual may be weak in some skills and

competent or even strong in others. The

weaknesses may be “stand-alone” or part of

a mix of other difficulties. There is a slew

of characteristics that make up EF deficits,

some of the more common ones you may

notice in the classroom are as follows:

Difficulty changing tasks, places, approaches

to problems, difficulty tolerating change,

black and white thinking, can’t see the grays,

can’t let go (not won’t let go), needs to be

told to start a task, even if they’re willing to

do it, ready to start a task, but doesn’t know

where to begin (i.e., doesn’t know the first

step, needs to have the steps broken down),

losing track of what they’re doing, forgetting

the purpose of an errand, frequently

failing to stick to an activity (poor sustained

attention), underestimating time to complete

a task, or level of difficulty, waiting to the

last minute to begin a big project, mixes

up the steps involved in a project, or in any

multi step sequence, failing to understand

main points in written or verbal material,

losing track of homework assignments,

trouble keeping school materials/belongings

organized, leaving thing at home that

should be at school, and vice versa, locker/

desk/schoolbag is a mess, frequently


losing things, difficulty assessing their own

performance after finishing a task, assessing

what works and what doesn’t work. These

are all EF deficits in set-shifting, initiation,

self-monitoring, working memory and

planning and organization.

So what are some of the specific

strategies that can be employed in the


Some specific strategies that may be

taught to and employed by all students,

not just those with executive dysfunction,

would include time and work organizers,

colour-coded and/or sectioned notebooks,

calendars to keep track of deadlines and

monitor progress, task analysis checklists,

memory aids such as mnemonics. It is

also important to understand whether

they are strong auditory or visual learners

and use techniques adapted to those

styles (audio recording of classes, detailed

written instructions of assignments,

etcetera). It may also be beneficial to give

the opportunity to develop important

work habits, such as breaking down

problems or projects into manageable

“chunks,” realistically estimating time

demands, generating alternative solutions

and selecting the best one, taking time to

pause, reflect, and consider options before

impulsively acting upon a first thought.

These types of strategies have important

implications even beyond the academic

years. They encourage self-reliance and

self-knowledge skills which would benefit

any student, and should be applied in all

classes, so they may begin to be generalized.

Explaining to parents what appears to work

best for their child may encourage them

to reinforce these approaches at home

when helping with homework or in other

activities, again increasing the likelihood

that the strategies will be internalized and

generalized across environments.

Strategies for teachers can be as simple

as changing how they talk to a child. Using

what is termed ‘metacognitive language’

equally develops EF. For example, with a

younger student, articulating the challenge

could be useful. “I see that you are missing

a pencil. You will need a pencil to complete

the assignment. Where could you find one

in the classroom?” Displaying the steps or

questions that students could ask themselves

in the classroom will in time with repetition

become internally automatized by the


It is also important to know that some

of these children that seem “explosive”,


that have meltdowns are actually

suffering with underlying weak executive

functions. Meltdowns are manifestations

of inflexibility, rather than opposition or

bad behaviour. Punishing such behaviour,

or even rewarding the cessation of these

outbursts, would do nothing to remediate

the underlying problem. If these children

could behave, they would behave; the

problem is that they lack the skills to

respond adaptively to the demands being

placed on them.

One last nugget that will greatly improve

all children’s academic ability goes back to

the archaic days of rote learning poetry.

From a young age in France it is noted that

children are asked to arbitrarily memorize

lengths of poetry. Although this seems

arbitrary and useless to most parents there

is a good reason for this neurologically.

‘This memorization task encourages the

development of verbal memory, long term

memory, rhyme, vocabulary, and working

memory. Memory is known to be plastic

and very much trainable, imporving these

neurological connections from a young

age increases academic capability. As

much as the more modern method of

teaching is straying away from mental

multiplication facts, these remain important

for that exact same reason, expanding the

working memory. Children with working

memory difficulties are at high risk of

academic failure. Studies show working

memory is strongly associated with literacy

and numeracy skills, and children with

poor working memory at school entry

are unlikely to reach expected levels of

attainment in literacy, maths and science

three years later. Working memory deficits

can be identified early - even before

academic difficulties become obvious.

Promising new evidence, suggests that

working memory deficits can be improved

by training intervention in the early school


Knowing these factors would then beg

the question: So, why isn’t Executive

Function a standard element of

curriculum design or after-school


Awareness of the importance of executive

functions is still in its infancy. Many

educators are wrapping their minds

around how to teach them. Understanding

the power and necessity of explicitly

teaching time management, planning

and organization from the perspective

of the brain takes time to trickle down

from research to the hands on approach

at school. Research is showing us hands

down of the importance of executive

functions and how it rivals IQ for academic

success. Our growing understanding of the

neurological basis for executive dysfunction

will lead to effective classroom interventions

to help these students (and indeed even

neurologically typical students) reach their

academic and personal potential.

Laurence van Hanswijck de Jonge is a Developmental Clinical Psychologist with a background in Neuropsychology who

provides a range of services for children, adolescents and parents. She has worked for over 20 years in this area and is

currently at KidsAbility Paediatric Therapy Clinic - Cayman Islands. Her practice is rooted in Positive Psychology and her

belief in the importance of letting our children flourish through building on their innate strengths.



Growing up in the

Third Culture


Millions of children around the

world right now are growing

up in countries where they

do not have citizenship or permanent

residency, and do not have an expectation

of permanence. They are not having the

same childhood experiences of peers in

their passport countries. They have no legal

right to stay in the countries where they are

growing up. Their childhood is happening

in between – in the Third Culture.

What is a Third Culture Kid (TCK)?

Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a term used

to describe people who spend a significant

part of childhood living outside their

passport countries. Even where the

acronym TCK is fairly well known, it is

often misunderstood. Most people assume

that the “Third” part of a “Third Culture

Kid” means my first country (home) plus

my second country (where I live) equals

a mixed up third culture – but we aren’t

talking about simple addition.

Many TCKs are connected to more than

two or three cultures. In fact, most TCKs

I know have encountered more than three

or even four countries. This leads them to

wonder if they should be called “Fourth

Culture Kids” or “Fifth Culture Kids.”

They instinctively know that three countries

can never sum up all of who they are. But

the three cultures of a Third Culture Kid

are not how many countries influence a

person. Instead, they are three types of

cultural influence.


First Culture: Legal Culture

A legal culture is any country in which

I have legal recognition. That is, the

government grants me citizenship or

permanent residency (green card or

equivalent). I have legal rights of access,

and legal responsibilities as well. 35%

of TCKs have more than one legal


Holding a passport does not

automatically confer experiential

connections. The experience of growing

up in places where I do not have legal

recognition has an emotional impact.

The country I legally belong to may not

completely feel like home, as I did not share

all the same childhood experiences of peers

who spent all of childhood there.

“Singapore has always been very foreign to me, but

when people asked where I was from, I replied:

“Singapore.” It was a reflex. In high school,

when people asked where I was from, I still said

Singapore, but I knew it simply meant the country

printed on my passport. — Stephanie, 20”

Misunderstood, page 254

Second Culture: Geographic

The second category of cultures are

Geographic Cultures. These are cultures I

experience first-hand, where I have been

physically present. I am legally connected

to my legal cultures; I am experientially

engaged with my geographic cultures. First

cultures are legal realities, whereas second

cultures are geographic realities – places I

have spent time and made memories. Many

TCKs have multiple second cultures. 40%

of have four or more geographic cultures;

10% have six or more.

This category can also include “heritage

cultures.” A heritage culture is a culture I

have no legal connection to, and have never

lived in, but engage with meaningfully

throughout my childhood because it forms

part of my family’s cultural heritage. For

example, if my parent immigrated from

a country I have never lived in or had

citizenship from, but I engage with this

cultural heritage through my senses and

thought-processes (i.e. values, language,

food, music).

“My parents were born and raised in Korea

and moved to the States after high school. . .

We celebrated both American Thanksgiving and

traditional Korean New Year. We visited relatives

both in Korea and in the States. And all this

happened as we grew up in China. — Eugene, 21”

Misunderstood, page 96

Third Culture: Relational

While the first and second cultures are

primarily about place, the third culture

is about experience: the experience of

growing up between first and second

cultures that do not perfectly align. Many

people grow up in a country where they

have legal recognition — their first and

second cultures are one and the same. They

have comprehensive connection to place

that centres their childhood experiences.

The Third Culture is the childhood

home of those who did not experience

comprehensive connection to a single place

as children.

For many TCKs there is comfort and

understanding in having a shared Third

Culture, especially when feeling out-of-step

with both Legal and Geographic cultures.

Some TCKs have no overlap in their first

and second cultures. That is, they have

never lived in the places they have legal

recognition, and have no legal recognition

in the places where they do live.

“As a TCK, I often feel that I cannot truly relate

to those around me. I function in two worlds at

once. I have gained a broad knowledge of the world

while missing the more specific aspects of cultural

understanding that come with spending a lifetime

in one place. — Heidi, 24” Misunderstood, page


The Third Culture is a Relational

Culture – woven together from overlapping

experiences of life lived in between. It

embraces people who share a childhood

not geographically but experientially. TCKs

do not grow up in any one culture, but

in between them, influenced by multiple

cultures. Two TCKs with no overlaps in

their first and second cultures do not share

a place and yet still share a childhood

experience. In the Third Culture they find

the comfort and connection of shared

experience, and it becomes a place of


“The Third Culture is our home. It is where we

“belong” and relate to people as others do in their

hometowns. – Lisa, 24” Misunderstood, page 7

Shaped by the Third Culture

During childhood we learn about the

world around us, and how to live in it. We

develop strategies for survive and to thrive

in our environment. Every community has

different social norms, different communal

strategies. Children who grow up in more

than one place, or exposed to more than

one way of thinking, develop a different

outlook on life than children who grow up

in a single place and exposed to a single

way of thinking.

Why does this matter? Because many

TCKs are growing up quite differently

than their parents did. While they currently

live life together – moving to the same

countries, or living in the same place – their

experiences of childhood are fundamentally

different. TCKs experience cross-cultural

life as a formative experience: something

that is shaping how they understand and

respond to the world around them.


Third Culture Life in the 21st Century

Even when parents had cross-cultural

childhoods themselves, and therefore have

some overlap in worldview, the experience

of growing up between countries and

cultures is very different now than in was

20, 30, or 40 years ago. TCKs born after

1985 are twice as likely to have lived in

an “expat bubble”, more likely to have

attended an international school, and far

less likely to have attended boarding school

(10% as opposed to 50%).

Changes to travel and communication

over time changed the emotional

experience of TCKs. The first research into

TCKs was done in the 1960s. At this time,

most families living abroad travelled by ship

and spent years in the host country without

returning. They had little if any contact

with friends and family back home while

they were away.

The term TCK became more widely

known in the 1980s, by which time air

travel was more accessible and affordable.

Most families travelled “home” once every

two years. Communication with friends

and family in other places was easier, but

still infrequent. Even as travel sped up,

communication at this time was still slow.

When a family moved, they were unlikely to

stay in touch regularly. They created a new

life with new people in a new place.

The situation for today’s TCKs is very

different. The internet allows people to

keep in close and regular contact. TCKs

can maintain connections with the people

and places that matter to them, no matter

where life takes them. This is great! Time

given to connecting virtually, however, is

time that cannot be invested where they

live now. They grow up juggling relational

commitments in various places.

“People who haven’t moved as much or as far do

not understand that it is usual for TCKs to have more

than one best friend. They are my best friend in this

circumstance and this location.”

2-3 months a year outside the country in

which they live. They can see friends and

family in other places more frequently and

experience a passport country they are not

living in. This is great! The drawback is

that they are caught more in-between than

previous generations of TCKs.

“62% of TCKs born after 1985 said that

‘feeling in between’ was a significant part of their

childhood experience (compared to 46% of older

TCKs).” Misunderstood, page 4

This increased sense of living in between

means the Third Culture is becoming more

important as a space of belonging, identity,

connection and understanding. The Third

Culture is neither a legal nor a geographic

entity – but it is real and powerful for those

who find meaning in the sense of shared

experience they find there. Many TCKs first

feel the true power of this after they leave

international communities – and realise that

for perhaps the first time, they have truly

left home.

“People who haven’t moved as much or as far do not

understand that it is usual for TCKs to have more

than one best friend. They are my best friend in this

circumstance and this location. I don’t expect all of

those friends to say I’m their only best friend, we all

have many. — Callie, 17” Misunderstood, page 16

The advantage of cheaper and faster

travel means many modern TCKs spend

Tanya Crossman is a cross-cultural consultant providing training and

support to international schools and other entities serving cross-cultural

populations. Tanya is a leading expert with 16 years experience in the field

of modern Third Culture Kids and issues facing cross-cultural families. She is

the author of Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century, a

book that opens a window on the experience of an international childhood in the internet

age. Tanya is passionate about coming alongside cross-cultural families with information,

encouragement, and support.


Learning the

local language:

Is it worth it?



Whether by design or fate,

living abroad presents several

challenges, one of the biggest

being learning a new language. Many

parents see their children absorb the local

language, but when it comes to our own

language acquisition there can be a number

of barriers: perhaps we don’t have the time,

perhaps we will not be there that long, or

perhaps languages are just not our thing.

Whatever the case maybe, choosing to put

our valuable time into language learning is

not necessarily an easy decision.

Do you have to learn the local language

when living abroad?

If we are talking about actual necessity

the answer is often no. These days – unless

you are really off the beaten track – you

can get by speaking English. Locals relish

the chance to practice and show off their

(superior) linguistic abilities and when that

doesn’t work Siri and Google are never far


Another factor that tends to minimise

the need to learn the local language is

that expats tend to stick together. This is

a completely natural and understandable

survival mechanism we deploy when we are

abroad. We look for something familiar, a

shared experience, a shared background,

something that isn’t so foreign in our scary

new surroundings. However, this does little

to help when language is concerned.

If learning the local language is not really

needed why should we bother?

The answer is less about language and more

about what our efforts signal to our hosts.

It is rare that any attempts to master basic

greetings, niceties, and common phrases

leave a bad impression. Even when you

make a complete mess of it, locals are most

often touched, even if slightly amused, by

your desire to try. Yes, it might be nice to be

able to order a coffee at a café or ask where

to find the salt at the supermarket, but what

you are really doing is showing respect for

community you have entered.

Whether you decide to deep dive into

the grammatical intricacies of your host

language, or just want to be able to greet

your neighbours appropriately, learning any

amount of language is an important step

towards feeling at home.

Language as a part of culture

Language and culture go hand in hand.

Language is how people communicate their

values, ideas, traditions and customs, and as

a result, we also get an idea about the people

speaking that language. For example, in

Germany you could infer from the language

that Germans value honesty and directness.

On the other hand, learn Japanese and

understand that being sensitive to the

feelings of others is of utmost importance.

Language provides us with little clues to

how things work and helps us to find our

place within the host culture.

Learning as an adult

Earlier we touched on how much easier

it is for children to learn a new language.

Actually, if we look at the science behind

language acquisition, you will see that it is

less about ability and more about the way

we go about learning. In other words, it is

not that our brains have closed shop and

won’t let anything new in, it’s just that as

adults’ things work a little differently.

Kids absorb language in a heartbeat, but

they won’t necessarily know why or how that

language functions. Generally speaking, they

also have a lesser fear of making mistakes

and will literally hear something once and

blurt it out with little care for whether it is


Adults on the other hand have years (and

years) of conditioning; we want to know

why something is a certain way, we want

to know how certain ideas or concepts fit

together and we certainly do not want to

make fools of ourselves! These things slow

us down, but in the end, make us better

users of our acquired language.

Tools and resources for adult learners

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it

comes to the best way to learn a language.

Joining a class can be a great way to get out

and meet people and practice your language

in a ‘safe’ environment. However, the cost of

classes varies wildly depending on whether

you attend a community class or enrol in

a language school. At a language school

your teacher is likely to be more formally

qualified and lessons more structured, but

this does not guarantee better results – the

key is finding what works for you.

If fitting in classes between work, kids and

life in general is something that sends your

stress levels soaring, there are many other

ways to learn while enjoying maximum

flexibility. These days there are a world of

Apps you can use - free Apps like Duolingo

to paid programmes like Babbel. Language

learning Apps provide on-demand lessons

that can literally be taken anywhere, paused

mid-unit or revised as often as you like.

Although, many of these Apps have voice

recognition to help you with pronunciation,

nothing beats talking to a real person! If you

are not quite ready to talk to ‘people on the

street’, signing up for an online language

exchange or speaking class can be just as

good! Pre-pandemic there was little choice

in the way of affordable online tutors.

Now you are spoilt for choice! If you are

thinking of hiring an online tutor, make sure

you get a free taster lesson and check their

references. Remember, it is absolutely fine to

try a few out before making your choice.

Another way to practice speaking is to

sign up for a tandem or language exchange

group. Most cities have numerous groups

that can be found on Facebook or via your

local community noticeboard. Through

these groups you can find yourself a partner

to meet with regularly either in person or

virtually. In a language exchange you spend

half the time speaking your native language

then swap to practice your target language,

gently correcting each other as you go.

Tandem lessons are more like having a

coffee with friends and help you to build

confidence and learn pronunciation in a

casual setting.

However, you decide to learn your

host language, just know that speaking

and understanding even a tiny bit, will

immensely improve your experience and

help you find your place in your new



Kerschen, K. & Cruz Martínez, J, (Penn State University

Summer/Fall 2021 – Newsletter). Children vs.

Adults – Who Wins the Second Language Acquisition

Match?. Bilingualism Matters. https://sites.psu.edu/


Newport, E. L., (2019, March, 05). Children and Adults

as Language Learners: Rules, Variation, and Maturational

Change. Topics in Cognitive Science. https://onlinelibrary.


Shashkevich, A., (2019, August, 22). The Power of

Language: How words shape people, culture. Stanford News.



RacismNoWay. (unknown). The importance of Culture,

Language and Identity. https://racismnoway.com.au/aboutracism/understanding-racism/the-importance-of-



How to choose an

international school

for your child


The international school landscape

is complicated in Switzerland.

Parents are often overwhelmed

because we have so many options. Dare

I say too many? In this interview, we

talked to Alex Marrable, the founder of

TutorsPlus, who provides a school choice

service, and asked her the key questions to

consider when selecting the best school.

How do you help parents choose the

best school?

We lean on 15 years of experience and

expertise working with students and

teachers in Swiss International schools to

help parents select the best school for their

children. As we employ over 100 teachers

across Switzerland, we have a unique

insight into each school. We know what it

takes for students to do well and fly high

academically in each school. However, it


is hard for parents to get objective views

on each school without league tables or

inspection reports available in Switzerland.

So we use our knowledge and network to

fill this gap to help parents find the right

school for their children. One hour with

one of our expert consultants can save days

of research and school visits.

What is the first thing parents should do

in their search for the best school?

First, break down all the information you

collect via websites and brochures and

reduce it to the facts that can be compared

between schools. Then, keep track of all

the information on a spreadsheet or a

notebook, so you can easily refer to it and

avoid information overload. Then make a

shortlist and visit each school on it.

Talk to everyone you know, face to face

and via your social networks, about the

schools you are considering. Just be careful

to avoid putting too much weight on one

person’s opinion. Your child might have

very different needs, so what doesn’t work

well for one student could be the perfect

approach. Also, keep in mind that the

most vocal critics on social media are

the unhappy parents, while those who

are satisfied tend not to engage in online

discussion. In our experience, each school

has both dissatisfied and satisfied parents.

Indeed, some negative comments should

not lead you to rule out a school entirely.

This research process can be

complicated, and sometimes families aren’t

able to visit schools easily, particularly

when there are many restrictions on travel.

Increasingly we see that parents have to

choose schools without actually setting foot

in them.

This makes the decision hard, as it is

by observing a lesson, seeing how the kids

interact while walking down the corridors,

and chatting to teachers that gives parents a

sense of whether the culture, the ethos and

the school’s philosophy will fit with their

family and their children.

What do you suggest parents look at first

in their school search?

The practical logistics - Dropping off and

collecting your kids from school need to

fit with the work-life of your family. It

sounds obvious, but it requires some careful

consideration to avoid parents turning

into taxi drivers. Can all the children in

your family be at one school? If not, how

can the various pick-up and drop off times

work? Can the kids take public transport

or a school bus? Often pick up times are


different for children of different ages.

We recommend securing the school

places first then choosing accommodation,

but know that this is often impossible.

In Switzerland, many schools are bilingual.

So how do parents decide if this

is the right choice for their child?

Parents can reflect on the languages spoken

at home and other languages the child has

already acquired and decide if they will

quickly acquire the new language. Ask

yourself; will there be additional barriers to

that child’s learning by introducing another

language? Having a bilingual child or a

child fluent in many languages is a great

asset. Still, you also want to ensure that

a new language of instruction does not

inhibit their academic success.

Parents should think carefully before

changing their child’s language of

instruction, particularly in secondary

school. They need to time the school move

to allow the student to adapt to the new

language ahead of critical exams. Studying

a whole new language can negatively

impact academic success, especially in the

short to medium term. It is impossible to

say with certainty how quickly a student

will acquire the new language.

We recommend that parents allow

several years of study (at least two) in the

new language before a student must do

external exams. This is just a rough rule, as

it will also depend on the rate of language

acquisition for that specific student.

How do parents make sense of the

choice of curricula?

It can be challenging for parents to

understand the difference between

academic programmes, as most of us

have not studied the curricula available to

our children. So it can be challenging for

parents to see the future implications of

choosing one curriculum over another. At

the same time, those implications can be


It’s a case of thinking about, particularly

for older students, which curricula will be

most advantageous to a particular student.

One programme may be a better fit for

some students than others, leading to better

academic results.

For example, if a student is strong in all

curriculum areas, the Swiss Matu could be

a great option because they have to do their

final exams in all school subjects. However,

the IB could also work well as it covers six

subjects, and so the student studies across

the curriculum right up to the final exams.

However, if a student is particularly

strong in one area, like the Sciences or

Humanities, the English A-Level, or the

American Advanced Placements may be a

better solution. They enable a student to

drop the subjects in which they aren’t so

strong. So there’s a tactical advantage for

those students to study a curriculum where

they can leave the weaker subjects to one

side because it will mean that their chance

of academic success is much higher.

Vocational qualifications are also

becoming more widely available in

international schools. In recent years, the

International Baccalaureate Organisation

has offered the IBCP. The careers program,

as it is known, combines IB academic

subjects with the vocational BTEC

qualification. In most areas of Switzerland,

now, you can find an international school

offering the IBCP. The IBCP is in subjects

like art and design, hospitality, and

business. These programmes are growing

in popularity and leading students towards

vocational degrees in higher education.

In essence, we advise parents to look at

the curricula available in each school and

find out which will play to their child’s

strengths in the best way possible.

How important is the philosophy and

ethos of a school?

If they’re not aligned, or if they’re not close

to the families’ beliefs, ethos, principles,

then the mismatch between family and

school can be much more likely.

It may be that the school has a very

competitive environment academically,

where students win academic rewards for

getting great results. This might be a perfect

fit with a competitive, driven student. Yet,

for another anxious student, it could be

debilitating and damage their confidence.

Try to find out if the school is particularly

progressive and laid back? Or is the school’s

discipline strict and demanding? Which

is the best fit for your child and family?

This could make a massive difference

to the happiness of a particular child at

school. For example, we have some parents

who love rigorous schools that place a lot

of value on politeness, organisation and

discipline. However, a child who isn’t very

organised, and maybe very chatty, will find

it harder to succeed in that school. If they

walk down the corridor and their hands are

in their pockets and lose points, that can

become an issue. And yet, another child

may find that precisely the environment

they need to excel.

Are there additional factors to consider

if a student has special educational


If your child has any special educational

needs, whether they’re dyslexic, dyscalculic,

have autism spectrum disorder, or any

diagnosis that affects learning, parents

need to question each school on the kind

of support available. I would say that the

support available for those students is

different, depending on the school selected,

so much that this extra support needs to be

the primary consideration.

Most schools say they are an excellent

environment for children with special

educational needs or learning difficulties.

But ask, specifically, how many teachers are

there in the Learning Support department?

How much support, in terms of hours a

week, would your child get in your school?

What are the other types of school support

that are available? For example, is the

support in your school, in class, pull-in help,

or is it out of class, pull-out help? And if

that help doesn’t end up being enough for

your child, what would the school then

propose? Ask for concrete examples of the

support children with similar difficulties get

in the school.

How can parents tell how much pastoral

support is available in a school?

All students need strong pastoral support,

especially today, as the number of

children with anxiety-related difficulties at

school has increased. Rates have soared

amongst students of all ages. This means

understanding the type of pastoral support

and psychological support available in the

school is very important.

Ask detailed questions about the pastoral

support structure. For example, who is

responsible for your child’s wellbeing?

How many times does a staff member

check in with each student every week?

How does that happen? Is there a school

counsellor available for students? Is there

a school psychologist? Are these roles full

time? And if so, what is the ratio between


the number of students and the amount

of psychological support? If your child

needs emotional support or counselling, is

this provided within the school, or will the

parents seek it externally?

Parents need to pin down the schools on

the detail of their pastoral support because,

in my experience, some schools will have

extensive support structures in place, and

some schools will have a lot less. However,

it is hard to tell how comprehensive this

support is from the website, literature, or

school visit.

Sometimes, a child with emotional

difficulties, learning challenges, or anxiety

issues may get on much better in a smaller

school environment. This is because they

will know everyone when the classes are

smaller, the teaching faculty is smaller, and

it might be a less intimidating environment.

However, it tends to be

the bigger schools that have a

more substantial infrastructure of

support. So, again, this is something that

parents will need to weigh up very carefully,

as they make that school selection for their


When should parents start their school


The simple answer is the earlier, the better.

If you have any

questions about school

choice, International School

Parent is hosting a free

school choice webinar with

Alex on 8th November

2021. Please refer to our

email newsletter for more


Remember to keep

to the application

deadlines. Leave enough

time to prepare all necessary

materials beforehand and apply as early

in the academic year as possible. You

may also need to pay admin fees for each

application, and most schools will offer

places based on the date of application.

So, the earlier you can apply, the more

likely you are to gain a place.

Alex is the founder and Managing Director of TutorsPlus. Her team of teachers

and education consultants support students and parents across Switzerland and


TutorsPlus has teachers trained in all school subjects helping international

students towards academic success. They know all international school

programmes inside-out and truly work magic to draw out each student’s ability.

You can reach TutorsPlus at 022 731 8148 or info@tutorsplus.com.



Supporting A Child With Learning

Differences In The Primary Years

- One Parent’s Experience (Part 1)

In this article, an Oak Hill alumni

parent and mother of two boys, one of

whom has severe dyslexia, shares her

thoughts about how to navigate the learning

difference journey from initial identification.

Her opinions are her own and not based

on research or qualitative data; rather

they are one person’s personal experience

of supporting a child with learning needs

in the international school setting in

Lac Leman. She very much hopes her

comments will be helpful to other parents

starting out on an unfamiliar path.

What kind of difficulties might a parent

observe in the home setting?

A child with a learning difference or cooccurring

learning differences may display

challenges at a very young age, even before

they start school. For example, when

putting on shoes/balancing when walking

(coordination), tidying up their toys/room

(organisation), speech development (oral

communication), recalling facts or names

(memory), decoding words/phonics (early

reading skills), sensitivity to touch/noise/

food textures (sensory) or having difficulties

reading social cues (communication).

Therefore, observing your child by

comparing their development with an older

sibling/family member or neighbour/friend

can be a good starting point. In addition,

assessing how they interact at playdates or

settle into playgroups, etc. can provide a lot

of useful information.

For me, I quickly identified differences

because our son’s sibling was only 20

months older, which provided a gauge for

comparison. By pre-school age, we noticed

that our younger son was not absorbing

or understanding the world around him as

much as his older brother did at a similar

age; he had no interest in books, jigsaws

or TV for example. He did however love

elephants and playing with a ball, which

continues to be important in his life.

How do you really know if your child is

finding things hard?

Regular chats with children can unveil

many insights. How does your child feel,



do they enjoy school, is it hard, are they

making friends? You never know when

they will tell you something important so

it’s valuable to afford a listening ear during

their downtime. Try not to bombard them

with 100 questions at the end of a school

day, although I admit I have been guilty of

this at times! You may find they are more

ready to ‘share’ something with you after a

break/snack – even so, information tends to

come gradually, not in one whole dialogue.

Our son was a nervous, shy, timid child

outside of his family particularly during

his primary school years. To feel stable and

content, he required his whole family to be

a constant; he was very sensitive to change.

In year 1 he cried for 6 weeks solid when

going to school – his friend had moved from

Prep and his dad was travelling. Change

was hard for him; it was a destabiliser.

Thankfully, with the support of wonderful

teachers, we pushed through these difficult

times, providing a supportive environment

at school and at home.

In class, our son was unable to recall

keywords to the same level as his peers.

He stagnated on the same set of reading

words for weeks whilst others progressed

in days; his spelling tests didn’t match his

intelligence nor the effort he was putting

into learning them. I knew there was

more to investigate and that spurred me to

continue my journey of finding out more.

Where should I start if I have noticed

something is not quite right?

Consulting teachers and the learning

support staff at schools is a great place to

begin. Ensuring vision and hearing tests

are up to date, whilst also discussing your

concerns with a paediatrician is vital.

It may also be helpful to consider

having a psychologist assessment (WISC &

WIAT) completed to provide an overview

of your child’s cognitive profile and their

learning potential; the report you receive

afterwards will provide strategies to help

and recommend next steps. This process

may also help rule in/out co-occurring

differences or reveal that further testing is


In our situation, following a very

supportive chat with his year 1 teacher,

we decided our son should have an

assessment completed. As the testing began,

I remember feeling nervous and wondered

what his diagnosis was going to say, was he

always going to struggle at school, did he

have an illness? However, my husband and

I were reassured to find out he had a good

IQ level and was likely to have dyslexia,

somewhere on the ‘severe’ end of the

spectrum. Having a diagnosis was helpful

and a big relief: now we had a place to start

when discussing his needs at school and at


Are any other parents going through

these sorts of issues?

Yes - there are many parents asking similar

questions, so keep going! Although it can

feel lonely and isolating at the beginning

of identifying a learning difference, once

you start talking to teachers, specialists, and

other parents, you may be surprised to learn

about the number of experienced people

around who can help. Taking those first

steps to investigate your child’s challenges

may seem daunting, however, having the

data you need will ultimately lead to your

child receiving the support they require in

the classroom.

Should I wait a bit longer before trying

to get some support in place?

Ideally, as parents, we’d prefer to limit

change and hope that things will improve

for our children. However, the reality is

that students with learning differences who

do not receive interventions to support

them quickly lose their self-esteem as they

struggle academically, and sometimes

socially; they may also become quite adept

at ‘masking’ their difficulties. Yes, it is a

`brave’ decision to seek help and the process

can be a little overwhelming for the child

and parents initially. Nevertheless, the

sooner an intervention is decided upon, the

sooner the child can reach their potential.

It is a myth that children ‘grow out’

of their learning differences and in my

experience, I can see that this statement

really needs to be dispelled!

But I’m not sure I want my child to be


This is a comment I’ve heard many parents

voice. However, it is our understanding and

interpretation of what those ‘labels’ mean,

and how we plan to use them to support

our children that really matters. Labels in

one form or another are a part of life, so it’s

our role as parents to make sure the labels

aren’t used as a judgement about a child,

but rather that the terminology assists the

process of teaching and learning in the


By sharing information with our children,

their peers/teachers/support staff, we all

become advocates for those with learning

differences and we can help shift the

mindset about how children learn. We

have an important and ongoing role in our

child’s education, and need to be organised,

realistic, planned, inquisitive, calm and

courageous (sometimes all at the same


So how quickly can my child get support

in the classroom if I do decide to go

ahead with an assessment?

If your child is diagnosed with a learning

difference, make sure you allow time to

consider the options. You will become a

master organiser and problem solver as

you navigate through processes/people/

departments in your child’s school. It may

also be important to consider school visits,

classroom observations, open mornings,

fees, transport logistics, funding, timetabling

and learning support availability as you

make decisions about the school your child

should attend.

Once you’ve talked with the school team

working with your child and are ready to

begin a plan/intervention, it can then be

helpful to share the process with your child.

Ensuring the ‘burden’ of choice about

what to do is not put on your child is also

important, especially when they are young,

as they will probably prefer to opt for no

change, which may not be in their longterm


What school supports help during the

primary age years?

Once a learning difference/s has been

diagnosed, consider what accommodations

might be available at your child’s school.

Our son’s poor working memory and slow

processing speed, due to his severe dyslexia,

meant he struggled to recall facts and put

his thoughts down on paper coherently.

Therefore, to assist him in the classroom,

he required additional over-learning and

extra time to master the basics in reading,

writing and maths. Writing tasks needed to

be scaffolded carefully and working in small

steps helped him enormously with maths

problem solving. Multi-sensory approaches,

using manipulatives, playing games and

reading ‘touch/sensory’ books in the early

years helped him understand concepts/




What other measures can help in the

primary years?

Your child’s school is the best place to start.

Identify what learning support is available

and discuss the frequency/content of the

sessions and what programmes they will

be using. In addition, consider researching

alternative specialists to assist your child’s

particular learning difference. For example,

our son attended Oak Hill for two years to

develop strategies to support his reading,

writing and maths. He really benefited from

the explicit and predictable methodology

used and his confidence and academic skills

improved significantly. Our son realised he

could learn just as well as other students but

that sometimes he needed to do things in a

different way.

When you know your child has a learning

difference, it may also be time to consider

whether they need a home tutor - as this

action can support both parents and child

alike! See if you can find a tutor who

has worked with children with learning

differences, as these professionals are

equipped with a toolbox of approaches, as

well as empathy and patience.

Do you have any other tips to help

parents as they start on their journey

to find out more about learning


Yes, when assisting a child with learning

differences I’ve found the following

suggestions really help:

• Make sure you learn as much as you can

about your child’s learning challenges and

ask lots of questions!

• Talk with the school, other schools,

specialists, and begin researching online


• Remain positive – children are special for

so many reasons, value it all.

• Network with other parents and provide

support for one another.

• Set up a study area for your child that

enables learning and supports organisation

– put timetables on notice boards, check the

school agenda for deadlines, organise their

schoolbooks, label their books and devices,

set alarm clocks, leave sticky notes on front

door to aid memory etc.

• Remember that your child’s school and

the teachers/staff want to help your child

and a collaborative approach is vital.

• Start researching technology that

might support your child’s learning e.g.

keyboarding skills, speech to text software,

reading pens, headphones etc.

• Involve your child as much as possible, ask

his/her opinion before any plans are made

– ensuring they are a part of the decision

making is very important and reassuring to


• Finally, allow plenty of time to enjoy the

things they love and try new skills/activities,

whilst remembering to allow for rest and

downtime. A child with learning differences

can be very tired at the end of a school day!

In a future ISPM issue, read part 2 of this

parent’s journey; how her son transitioned

to secondary school, advocated for him in

the larger school setting, and navigated key

decision making on his journey.

If you would like to learn more

about how Oak Hill can support

students with learning differences,

visit www.oakhill.ch.

Please email your message to:


“Life changing. Simply life changing. The two year

experience at Oak Hill has given our daughter a foundation

upon which she will build the rest of her life. She now has

the tools - and the confidence - to succeed in traditional

school systems and beyond.”

The Oak Hill programme is an individualised and research based English speaking half-day

curriculum for students with dyslexia and/or AD(H)D in the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland.

• Three 50-minute structured, multi-sensory lessons in reading, written language, and mathematics

• A teacher-to-pupil ratio of 1:4

• Explicit and differentiated teaching

• Experienced and highly trained teachers

To find out how our unique approach will support your child’s development, contact us at:

education@oakhill.ch | Tel: 022 354 0140 | www.oakhill.ch






Chalchera 154 • 7551 Ftan • Switzerland

Tel. +41 81 861 22 11 • admissions@hif.ch





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Inspirational teachers committed to students’


Internationally accredited IB school for

ages 18 months to 18 years

Preschool and Kindergarten programmes include

German lessons approved by Bildungsdirektion

Kanton Zürich

Minutes to


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Strubenacher 3, 8126 Zumikon, Switzerland

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