Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

"My doctor recently told me that jogging could add years to my life. I think he was right. I feel ten years older already." - Milton Berle

Today a young CIS students asked me, “Mr. Jim, why is your stomach so big, are you heavy, do you exercise?” At first I laughed. Then I was appreciative because they gave me the benefit of asking, “are you heavy,” rather than just saying something like, Mr. Jim I see you do not skip many meals. Finally, I was reflective regarding their question about exercise. Regular exercise is probably something that many people wish they would do more often. 

 

The benefits of exercise are well documented and include,

  • Improved physical health

  • Improved mental health

  • Enhanced sleep

  • Increased energy

  • Opportunities to connect with oneself and or nature an /or family and friends

The odd thing is that many of us do not make time for exercise or movement - yet we all know exercise, in its many forms, has a plethora of short-term and long-term benefits.  As the weather gets less humid, it may become easier to move around outside.

May we all find a way to exercise more often as December approaches - this will save time and energy in making a January or New Year resolution to exercise more. As Edward Stanley noted, “Those who think they have no time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness”.

 

 

Wishing everyone an active weekend starting tomorrow or in the near future.

 

 

In partnership,

 

 

Jim

 

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School


Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


Vol 1 Ed 10 2020-2021 SY November 6, 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Please be reminded that there is no school for students on Monday 9 November as the Cayman Islands observes Remembrance Day the second Monday of every November. Remembrance Day -  Depending on your country of origin you may also know the day as Veteran’s Day or Armistice Day or 11 November or perhaps by another name. Regardless of the name, this is a time to take pause in memory of those who lost their lives in military service whilst serving their country. Red Poppies are a symbol of this homage. The poppy often accompanies the phrase “lest we forget.” Remembrance Day ceremonies often include the poem In Flanders Fields (shared below).

Over time, Remembrance Day has also become a day to remind us of the importance of peace as well as service. Each year around Remembrance Day, I forlornly note, rarely does a day go by that we are not reminded that the world needs more peace and, for that matter, kindness. For those of us fortunate enough to live in peaceful places, such as the Cayman Islands and elsewhere, Remembrance Day may also remind us of the many wonderful things in our lives and the opportunities available to our children. Our children, here in the CIS community, are growing up without the immediate presence of conflict or war, food instabilty or barriers to education. Remembrance Day is a day to appreciate the wonders of our world and lives - to pay homage to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in hopes of making the world a better place for future generations – to think and act on what we may do as individuals or groups in service, to make the world a better place.

Each year to support remembering those who have fallen, CIS participates in the annual Poppy Appeal. You may have noticed the signs related to this at school and around the island - perhaps you have provided a small donation in order to get a poppy of your own. The poppies distributed throughout the island are donated by the Royal British Legion and the Royal Canadian Legion. Money collected in the Cayman Islands during the Poppy Appeal remains in the Islands to assist the members of the Cayman Islands Veterans Association.

In Flanders Fields 

By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae - physician, soldier, poet

 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields. 

 

In partnership and peace,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School


Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


Vol 1 Ed 9 2020-2021 SY October 30, 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Next week students in Elementary, Middle and High School receive their report cards. Also, next Thursday and Friday, there are Elementary, Middle and High School Parent Conferences. Considering the above, in this edition of the Director’s Wave,  I share with you a few of my favorite stories / notions about conferences and report cards.

Conferences - Something to Ponder

“Parenting is one of the easiest things in the world to have an opinion about, but one of the hardest things in the world to do – likewise, teaching is one of the easiest things in the world to have an opinion about, but one of the hardest things to do.” - Anonymous

"There is a cliched unwritten school/home agreement in every country…”If parents promise not to believe everything their child says happens at school – the school promises not to believe everything your child says happens at home.” – Anonymous

To assist with the conferences, below are some tried and true hints. The following suggestions for successful conferences are adapted from the work of Dr. Michael Thompson, noted school psychologist, researcher and author,

  1. Be on time for conferences and respect time limits.
  2. Be honest with teachers and make your concerns known in a respectful manner.
  3. Show appreciation for teachers.
  4. Take time to reflect before the conference and try to prepare specific questions.
  5. Try to remember that your information probably came through a child’s perspective.
  6. Try to be open-minded. Listen first, reflect and then act.
  7. Discuss the issues rather than the teachers.
  8. It is okay to feel defensive on behalf of your child, but act as an advocate, not an excuse-maker.
  9. Remember that it is okay to be a real person. It is helpful to let the teacher know that you struggle with parenting; everyone does. The teacher also struggles with teaching (and may be a parent as well).
  10. Remember that we are all on the same side – we all want each child to be as successful as possible.

Report Cards - Something to Ponder

Granting that our children talk with their parents…noting that the school communicates with parents …and although students talk regularly with their teachers…report card day may still be an anxious day for students - and even for some parents too.

Comedic musing on a possible difference between people with children in school and those without. Tiesto (a famed Dutch DJ), notes... “I would love to fall in love and get married and have beautiful children. I mean that's one of the goals in life, I think, to have, and it's a beautiful thing. My sister has kids and all my friends have kids. They show me their, you know their report cards. And I can show them my sports car.”

Ralph Lauren shares these thoughts … “We all get report cards in many different ways, but the real excitement of what you're doing is in the doing of it. It's not what you're gonna get in the end - it's not the final curtain - it's really in the doing it, and loving what you're doing. “I didn't have a vision as in, This is where I'm going. I had a vision as in, this is what I love to do." 

And finally, a sample letter that in its time would have gone viral on the internet. Alas, it was written long before the internet was in common use.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’ve asked the receptionist to give you this as soon as you get back from work, so you’ll know where I am. Bobby’s mom is taking me to the airport. I will be flying to Cayman Brac. I met a nice girl from there when we were on holidays. She said I could move in with her.

I am doing this because I feel terrible for setting the house on fire. I fell asleep while smoking. The firefighter told me I need to be more careful and that I should talk with the police about how the fire started. I know this is one of many mistakes I have made. Fortunately, for me, I only burnt my right leg, ripped my shirt and cracked a rib while running to save the family photo album. You’ll be glad to know our cat is okay, too. Also, someone from school called, they will call back later.

I am sorry - love,

Gerald

P.S. I am fine and the house is fine. The note is only a bad joke, but my report card is not so fine. It is enclosed with this note. I have five low grades and two comments informing you of my poor behavior in class.  I am eating supper at Bobby's house. Please call when it is safe for me to come home.

Please do take the time to talk with your child this weekend about their learning in school. Whether you deem that your child is putting in the work to demonstrate excellent progress or your child is struggling with school at this time - providing a listening ear, not necessarily a solution, but merely a listening ear can help keep the dialogue open between you and your child and their learning.

Wishing everyone a good end to the month of October and because of Halloween … may we all find the time to brush and floss our teeth thoroughly.

In partnership - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


COMING SOON … THE CIS COMMUNITY LEARNING SERIES

CIS is in the process of confirming many opportunities for the community to engage in discussion and learning together. Below is some foreshadowing of  the various types of CIS Community Learning Gatherings coming soon at CIS.

School Wide

  • School-Wide Gatherings generally occur once per month. A session may be on a different day depending on holidays etc. School-Wide Gatherings are designed to be EC to Grade 12 relevant.

Division-Specific / Age Group Specific

  • Division-Wide Gatherings generally occur less frequently and on an as needed basis. Division-Wide Gatherings are usually more specific and may be relevant specifically to Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle or High School.

Topic Specific

  • Topic Specific Gatherings are for more specific items such as working with a small group of new families, or a seminar on a new opportunity that might pertain to smaller groups. These gatherings might involve multiple sessions in a series.

Program Specific

  • Program Specific Gatherings are generally oriented to greater understanding of specific programs or opportunities at CIS. Program Specific Gatherings may include parent evenings in the library, curricular sharing opportunities where parents may be invited in to see or learn about specific programs in action.

Community Specific

  • Community Specific Gatherings are generally related to events, initiatives and programs unique to the Cayman Islands. These may take the form of a mini-lecture series to help learn more about our island.

 


Vol 1 Ed 8 2020-2021 SY October 16, 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls.” - Maya Angelou

Future Learning - CIS and The Cayman Islands are home to many nationalities - we may be diverse by passport of course – but also in regards to beliefs around education. We are blessed to be part of a school community where the vast majority of our parents are very supportive of education in general. In turn, the vast majority of our parents found success in the education system in which they studied as younger people – in short – the system has served the adults in our community well.

Today is the beginning of the school’s October Break. Breaks can be a good time for reflection and questions. The nature of this Weekly Current - Director’s Wave contribution is to question whether the education systems  we as adults participated in are best suited for what will serve our children best. The questions I share below are meant to provoke thinking around how we think about education. 

Should schools be great at status quo or looking to explore and change? - Most education systems, and certainly those most definitely found on the island and in the UK focus on reducing the gap between what some agency says students should know, against what students show they know. Does such an approach serve our students well in connecting, inspiring, and serving them. Could schools, in general, look more towards creativity as a driver - celebrating and cultivating the multiple talents that might capitalize on diversity to foster new talents that might be valued tomorrow (meaning the future). For example, the talents and skills of a person like Bill Gates would not have served him well 80 years ago, but today they are critical. Literacy is a skill that was not needed at all until the printing press was invented less than 500 years ago – before brawn was surely the skill of choice.

Is graduating from university still the “ticket” to success? - In the USA over 40% of recent college graduates have jobs that do not require a degree. About seven million college students will graduate in China this year – the expected  unemployment rate or under-employment for these graduates is close to 50%. In the EU, there are notable mismatches with skills needed and education – the European Commission reports that many jobs are unfilled in the EU, even though we are in an economic downturn. What talents are not being cultivated in schools, universities and at home? Societies change, and therefore societies’ needs change, thus redefining the talents that are valued. To lighten the heaviness of the above question – I personally am still waiting for the talent of hamburger eating to become a valuable skill for society.

Should schools be focused on fixing the past or creating the future? - Considering the numbers above…should our students be job finders or job creators? If learning to create jobs is becoming more critical,  we need to look at problem-solving (creating our meal) versus following a solution (using a recipe). Is creating jobs even enough? When you read/watch the news it isn’t easy to find much that inspires – there is a lot of injustice, violence and dishonesty – should we therefore be focusing on things such as mindfulness, contentment and being harbingers of peace. If there is truth to the above, should schools be more strength-based and patience and passion-driven, rather than following something that one could argue was made in the past to serve people living in a world that did not change as fast as our current world? In this scenario, schools must look to inspire, rather than merely dictate what people should know – indeed in some disciplines much of the content learned in one’s first year of university is obsolete by the time they graduate. Yet, skills of connecting, habits of health, attributes of kindness, the value of hard work, and the character of doing the right thing even when nobody is watching remain constant. With this in mind, the joy of exploration, the desire to work hard and the willingness to unlearn are becoming increasingly more important. 

Be well - please be reminded that classes resume for students on Monday 26 October 2020.

Sincerely,

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


Vol 1 Ed 7 2020-2021 SY October 9, 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food, and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself.” - Tecumseh

Today our island received news of a positive symptomatic COVID-19 case outside of quarantine. No doubt you are now well informed about the island’s developments and hopefully have read the information from CIS. Please be reminded that CIS uses email as its main platform of communication should we need to provide further updates.

In our announcements today, you may have noticed that after school activities were cancelled for Friday afternoon, as well as weekend activities. Doing so is always a difficult decision because it disrupts many people’s planning, including students, staff and parents. On a personal level, I feel this too, because normally I would be coaching volleyball after school. The main rationale for after school activities being cancelled in this case is that several of our after school activities involve third party instructors who also work with people from other schools and organizations. Thus, in consultation with health authorities and to mitigate risk, we have cancelled activities until we know more about the positive symptomatic COVID-19 case at the other school and its reach. We understand that the above is not ideal and disrupts students, staff, parents and the school - yet at this time risk mitigation superceeds disruption. Please know, as of today, we anticipate school being open as normal on Monday 12 October 2020. We appreciate the community’s cooperation and understanding.

Be well - may you, your family’s and friends have a pleasant and quiet weekend.

 

In partnership,

Jim

 

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 


Vol 1 Ed 6 2020-2021 SY October 2, 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Somethings to Ponder

“Relationships are harder now because conversations become texting, arguments become phone calls, and feelings become status updates.” - attributed to many

The ubiquity and reach of social media platforms is startling. Indeed, the rate of social media use is astonishing, and is even more startling when considering the following approximate numbers from 2020 so far.

  • Cell Phones - There are close to 5.2 billion cell phones users worldwide
  • Email - There are over 4 billion email users worldwide → roughly 300 billion emails sent and received each day
  • Texting - In the USA alone, more than 10 trillion texts are year → over 27 billion texts per day
  • WhatsApp - Over 2 billion users worldwide
    • The minimum age to use WhatsApp is 13 (16 in the European Region)
  • Snapchat - Over 240 million daily users worldwide → an average of over 4 billion snapchats per day
    • The minimum age to use Snapchat is 13 (older in some regions)
  • Instagram - Over 1 billion monthly users worldwide → an average of 95 million photos are shared per day
    • The minimum age to use Instagram is 13 (older in some regions)
  • Facebook - 2.7 billion monthly active users worldwide → 1.8 billion daily users
    • The minimum age to use Facebook is 13 (older in some regions)
  • Twitter - Over 325 million monthly users worldwide → an average of 500 million tweets per day
    • The minimum age to use Twitter is 13

Social media is like The Force in Star Wars - it can be found everywhere. The Force is strong and has two sides - one of good and one of evil. I fear that social media, in Star Wars terms, leans to the darkside of The Force. Yes, there is the good side for sure; sharing updates with family on a different continent is certainly a great example of social media’s good side. Yet, social media is also the bastion of cyberbullying, cybercrime, and poor judgement. This great tool/platform of communication and learning is also a great tool/platform for all manner of exploitation. Some estimates are as high as 70% of young people in North America and Europe experience adverse social media effects.

Unfortunately, there is no fail safe way to protect our children - and ourselves for that matter - when it comes to the darkside of social media. There is wide agreement however, that talking with our children about responsible and safe use is the most valuable way to stave off the darkside of social media and promote the good side. I wonder too, that in the future will social media contain stark messages about health (like we see on packs of cigarettes) as a warning to proceed with caution - or - will society find a way to effectively and safely use social media as a powerful learning tool.

In partnership,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


Vol 1 Ed 5 2020-2021 SY 25 September 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Somethings to Ponder

“Children today are cosseted and pressured in equal measure. Without the freedom to play they will never grow up.” - Peter Gray

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room.” - Socrates (roughly 400 BC)

Being a parent is difficult, and so is being a child. As I become older and wiser (not really wiser - probably older and wider is more accurate), I am becoming more convinced that we as parents inadvertently make our children’s lives more difficult because we may not be involved enough or often more accurately in recent years - too involved. Parents often know what their child is doing each waking moment. Children may be over-scheduled with adult-lead activities. Adults are quick to jump in to attempt to solve issues for their children. There is a fast-growing body of evidence that the above, all with good intentions, are doing a disservice to our children. Indeed, young students today (whether in kindergarten or university) as a whole, demonstrate less independence, then say, we did when we were younger, and certainly our parents and grandparents. Some researchers attribute this to the notion of Play Deficit Disorder. Children in developed countries today play less than children of previous generations. At play, many important life lessons tend to be learnt in an authentic setting through trial and error, taking initiative, creating, having time to reflect and solve things by oneself or with peers rather than having an adult step in (arguably too quickly). Indeed, at play, people develop emotionally, physically and intellectually and socially.

While the western world may have coined the term Play Deficit Disorder. Some parts of the eastern world have coined the phrase, “High Scores Low Ability,” referring to long term results of children spending most of their time studying to attain high scores on tests - that in the grand scheme of things have limited relevance to “real-life.” The result being that children have less time to be independent, creative and to find ways to solve complex social issues on their own or with their peers.

The life lessons of play help young people (and older people for that matter) grapple with important life skills of honesty, humility, bravery, empathy and respect. These important lessons can be learnt in a class or adult-organized setting, however, they can be truly experienced and internalized in the setting of play. For example; long term studies over the past 60 years in the USA show that accompanying the decline in play, there has been a steady decline in empathy, as well as a steady rise in anxiety disorders and narcissism in students.

It is worrisome that Play Deficit Disorder or High Scores Low Ability may be influencing generation(s) of potentially anxiety ridden narcissists who lack empathy. If play helps galvanize lessons of empathy, humility, honesty, bravery and respect, then perhaps playing outdoors without electronics is something that should be further cultivated or re-cultivated by us, as parents.

 

In partnership,

 

Jim

 

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 


Vol 1 Ed 4 2020-2021 SY 18 September 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts.” – Robert Fulghum

Feedback

Last Sunday while walking on the beach I overheard what sounded like an older brother shout at a younger brother, “You are doing it wrong - leave me alone - I will do it myself - you don’t know how to do anything!” To be sure, I heard many wonderful sounds of people and the environment too, such as friends cheering on each other on skimboards. It is interesting how words of encouragement or discouragement vary between activities and people. For example; the audience at a symphony is different from a football/soccer game, a grandparent talking with a grandchild is different from two siblings talking, parents watching their child in a school performance is different from watching a movie at home, the audience in a classroom is different from a music lesson, and the list goes on.

Do such differences make sense? Does the behaviour of an audience help or hinder the people being watched? Does shouting things when watching young people make sense? What if your child was playing an instrument in a theatrical or music performance? Would you shout things like…Come on! Speed it up! Slow down! Great song! For crying out loud put your fingers on the right note! Hey, conductor, change the music! Similarly, would you do things like go to every rehearsal and shout and cheer while your child is practicing their music… or would you talk to the conductor after the rehearsal and tell them your child should be playing percussion instead of strings. Would doing all or some of the above make sense?

What if you were observing your child in the classroom? Would you cheer things like…Read faster! Write slower! Look what the other person is doing, why don’t you do that! Come on, keep your head up, and be ready for the next question! Turn the page or I will strangle you! Would you... Booo! Start clapping slowly and build to a crescendo of fast clapping! Would doing all or some of the above improve a child’s learning in class or during work at home?

What if your child was playing a sport, yet we cheered as if it were a theater or musical performance? Would we do things like…Wait and clap and cheer very loudly at the end of the game - so loudly that the players come back on to play another half of football...Bring flowers to the athletes after the game…Thank the coaches…Remain silent while the game is being played. Would doing all or some of the above help our children?

The way we communicate with our children, family members and friends varies greatly in light of the situation, our own experiences, and our cultural perspectives. It also varies greatly in tone, body language and timing. If there was an absolute perfect way to provide feedback to people, then schools, parents and coaches would be doing close to exactly the same thing around the world. The challenge is that there is no perfect way. Fortunately, there are some guidelines to providing feedback that do transcend school, sport, art, activities, teaching and parenting, namely ensuring the feedback is Kind, Specific and Useful. In our support of people regardless of the endeavor, Kind, Specific and Useful feedback over time tends to help people learn – whether it be at play, at work, at home or at school.

In partnership,

Jim

 

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 


                                                                                                        Vol 1 Ed 3 2020-2021 SY 11 September 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Experience is what you get when you do not get what you want.” - attributed to many

When watching the news, it does not take much time to feel very fortunate that we live in the Cayman Islands. A cross section of news from around the world includes; the International Criminal Court opening a case to examine crimes against the Rohingya, wildfires in the west coast of the USA, world-wide the gap between wealthy and poor is expanding more rapidly than before, each day there are examples of racism in most every country on earth (including our wonderful island), and it is estimated in the coming week the world will surpass a million deaths due to Covid-19.

Many of us in the CIS community travel from a comfortable home to a lovely school to a preferred grocery store then to beautiful locations for recreation - it is important for us to be cognizant that despite of this, our island is not void from issues, far from it.  Yet, in the grand scheme of things we are very fortunate to call The Cayman Islands home. It is important that we do not rest on the fact that we are fortunate, and in many ways life seems “normal” on island, though we still need to have measures in place to manage risks. The Cayman Islands are in the top 50% for Covid-19 cases per capita in the world. I wonder if we are becoming too comfortable with the notion that we may have weathered the Covid-19 storm. Indeed, we have three active Covid-19 cases on island and in the coming weeks the island has a soft opening. It may sound like I have been reading too many “Chicken Little” stories and that the “sky is falling.” Nonetheless, it is important not to let our collective guard down too early, especially when it comes to health.

As a reminder, it is important or members of our community to wash your hands well with soap, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, get plenty of sleep and exercise, and eat healthily, and cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (or cough or sneeze into your elbow). It is important to stay home if you are sick,  it does not hurt to have your masks handy just in case, and it is helpful to stay wise with interactions inside and outside our circle of family and friends. Finally, “Those who think they have no time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” - Edward Stanley

Wishing you a good weekend and may you have the opportunity to have healthy meals, do some exercise and continue to appreciate that we get to call The Cayman Islands our home.

 

In partnership,

Jim

 

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 

    


                                                                                               Vol 1 Ed 2 2020-2021 SY 4 September 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

 Something to Ponder

“Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.” -  Bob Talber 

The notion of teaching them what counts resonates deeply with me on a professional level, and is heightened this time of year on a personal level. My wife and I now live roughly 3300 kilometres from our son and 3200 kilometres from our daughter as the crow flies from The Cayman Islands or roughly 11 hours of travel via airplane and car. In referencing the above quotation, the good news is that our children  can count very well, are  attending excellent universities and have the good fortune of scholarships. This is all fine, however, as I write this (secretly hoping my children might call)  I can assure you academic performance is the furthest from my mind. What is going through my mind, as well as the minds of the other empty nesters I have met along the way, are all the things related to what counts and what matters in life. I, like the other parents, know the academic part of learning will fall into place - and naturally we all want our children to do as well as they can in their studies. What actually is on the collective parental minds though are concepts related to independence, good decision-making, self-advocacy, safety and health. And of course, not having our children at home - it means two less chairs at the supper table each evening. This is  life I suppose - yet I am sure that at this time of year in the northern hemisphere there are thousands of parents (and siblings for that matter) wishing that chairs at the dinner table were not empty and hoping very hard that their children (young adults) are making wise decisions, having fun, being kind to others, and being healthy.

Parent Involvement

Teaching children what counts is a team effort. A team requires many people, a lot of effort, and involves hard work. It inherently encompasses mistakes along the way too. Thus helping our children understand, appreciate and act on what counts requires a strong school / parent partnership. To be sure, success in school is measured not just by academic standing, but also via social-emotional health, engagement in the arts, athletics and service and much more. Arguably these are the realms where our children practice, first hand, skills like, managing independence, coping when things don’t go one’s way, developing decision-making skills and doing the right thing when no one is looking - the things that count.

Parent involvement in a child’s learning is very important, and certainly varies from age group to age group. It requires a fine balance. Too little and too much parent involvement is detrimental to student growth. The art is in finding the right balance – and, of course,  this too varies from child to child too.

Two forms of parental involvement consistently show a positive effect on student success. One is attending school information sessions such as orientations. When parents attend information sessions, and other similar types of orientation, students tend to have higher rates of school work completion. In fact, when parents participate in predictably come to school events their children tend to have a student work completion rate 15% to 20% higher than students whose parent(s) did not attend such an event. During a pandemic, doing the above is more complex than non-pandemic times because face to face meetings and  larger group meetings are curtailed.

The other form of parent involvement that consistently helps students is having family suppers or meals. Our busy lives often get in the way of the ritual/tradition of eating a meal together. Children who are in an environment in which their family regularly eat meals together (three or more times a week), tend to have stronger academic achievement, lower instances of substance abuse, less behavioural issues, and are more likely to complete high school and / or post-secondary education, and tend to participate in service to others as well as themselves.

On behalf of the CIS team, thank you to our parents for engaging in the school / parent partnership. Below is just a handful of examples I have already observed in the first week of school.

  • Introducing yourself to your child’s teachers, teaching assistants and other staff members

  • Talking with your child and telling stories about your days at school

  • Returning parents introducing themselves to new families to the school

  • Taking the time to understand Google Classroom and Seesaw

  • Asking your child questions about the strengths / dangers of social media

  • Talking with your child about prudent health habits around hygiene, rest, and being Covid astute

  • Listening to our children and not just telling them exactly what to do when a difficult situation arises

Indeed, children's attitudes towards school, their engagement, achievement, attendance, motivation, self-concept, and behaviours are influenced by the attitudes of their parents towards learning and school. CIS is very thankful for the hard work of our parents in support of young people.

Wishing you a good weekend and may you have the opportunity to have a meal together with your child, in partnership,

 

Jim

 

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 


Vol 1 Ed 1 2020-2021 SY 28 August 2020

Dear CIS Community,                                                                         

Something to Ponder

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” - Carl Jung

The start of each school year is a gift of renewal – it is an annual revitalization filled with anticipation. From early childhood students cautious to leave parents for the first time…to high school students who are eager to leave their parents to reunite with friends...to staff excited about the new year...to parents experiencing a swirl of pride, excitement and trepidation - the anticipation of the first week of school is one of the many joys of serving in education. Indeed reopening our school during a worldwide pandemic added to the anticipation, excitement and trepidation of our collective community.

Learning at CIS is a Partnership

Earlier this week, many adults and children in our community came to CIS for new family orientation. I also had the pleasure of talking with many parents at two off campus meetings and an online meeting last week. This partnership not only supports the CIS community, it also allows us to celebrate learning, learn from each other, better manage and ideally thrive in a world that may be more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous then we, as parents, experienced when we were in school.

 Committed to Learning at CIS

We often speak of schools being places of learning…this refers to learning for all in the community - students, teachers, parents, and administrators. Additionally, CIS as a learning community continues to grow and evolve. For close to 15 years as CIS and roughly just over 10 years as the Faulkner Academy, our international school has adapted and continually improved to meet the needs of its community, across different time periods, within different buildings and across changing environmental and economic settings. The reverse is true too, in that the CIS community has also adjusted to changes in education and the reality of being a diverse school that is mission driven. We must continue to anticipate what our students today will need for tomorrow’s world. The challenge of course being that the future is the hardest thing to predict.

We also need to make good use of what we know about how students learn; processes and approaches that are often different than those used in the recent past. Some might argue that even more important than learning, is the ability or comfort with “unlearning” and being comfortable with ambiguity. This requires our school (and education in general) to better leverage the learning implications of current brain research, new knowledge in the field of child development, and balancing what may be important to adults with what may be the passions of children. The world’s knowledge now doubles so rapidly that it is not uncommon for things learned in the first year of university to be obsolete by the time a student enters their final year. With the above in mind, schools have become more complex, elements of parenting have changed and the nature of young people’s lives certainly continues to change. Indeed, change has become the default. We do know that our community principles of kindness, partnership, sustainability and good intent are elements that transcend time and help our students to manage change and be strong global citizens.

Wishing you all the best in the new school year, in partnership.

 

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School


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Jim Urquhart

Director, Cayman International School