Friday, December 13, 2019

Five ways that Southpoint welcomes international families



As an international family living in Varanasi, we obviously value our children being able to learn and live cross-culturally. Part of that is mastering a second language, but another large part of that is learning to interact with people who are from different backgrounds. This is one of huge benefits of living overseas. However, without an environment that promotes their growth and understands their unique challenges, it would be entirely possible for us to live here and never see our children reach the goals we have for them socially and academically.

Here are some of the ways that Southpoint helps us to reach our goals and thrive as an international family in Varanasi.
1. Schedule flexibility. One of the perks and challenges of living internationally is that our family often travels for large chunks of time. We take time to see our families and visit friends in different parts of the world. Our children learn so much from experiencing life globally, but it can be hard to maintain a strict academic schedule. Southpoint has helped us with this by working with us when our children miss large periods of time at school. They have not required them to prove grade level competency through rigorous testing upon their return, but the teachers are able to work with them and observe where they have progressed and where they may need extra work.

2. Able to work with students individually. As a parent of twins, I know all too well how different two students of the same age can present themselves, in personality, in academics, and in interests. As a teacher with a classroom of students coming from different backgrounds, school experiences, and even parts of the world, I can only imagine the challenge they face in insuring that all students are challenged and mastering the material. Our children are at a very basic level with Hindi, but naturally excel in English. The talented teachers at Southpoint have been able to identify these areas, and they adapt their teaching to meet them where they are at.

3. Small class size. This was the biggest draw in placing our children at Southpoint. Without this, our children would not get the individual attention that allows them to learn at the level of their strengths and weaknesses. The teachers can know each and every student, and I see that they really care about our children and want them to excel. Smaller class size allows for creativity and self-expression. Smaller class size allows Southpoint teachers to come alongside a student to give an encouraging word or a gentle push to try again.

4. Hands on learning. Our children are growing up in a totally different age than we, as their parents, did. Technology is everywhere, in our very hands at all moments. In our excitement to embrace all the knowledge that the internet makes so accessible, it is easy to forget to teach the simple, practical skills that I grew up with - things like sewing, farming, cooking, handcrafts. However, Southpoint, with its attention to the environment and wholistic learning, has incorporated these essential skills into the curriculum. I love that my children have opportunities not to only learn about how plants grow from seed to plant to fruit, but to get their hands in the dirt and participate in farming. They are learning hand-stitching and traditional art forms. No amount of internet can substitute for being able to master these basic skills.

5. Growth over test results. The teachers at Southpoint really care about their students. They really want them to learn. They have a passion for teaching. For example, I have seen year after year that my sons’ teachers really expect and hope that my children will master Hindi, both spoken and written. They are willing to adapt their lesson plans to meet them where they are at. They are optimistic about their potential to learn, and they continue to work toward this goal. While their test results in Hindi may not be an accurate reflection of their hard work, yet the teachers are excited to see their progress. Testing is not emphasized to the point where it inhibits true learning and growth. Growth is seen in so many other ways at Southpoint: in mastering a dance, in presenting an art project, in reading a good book, in athletic skills, in interacting with classmates.
Thank you to Southpoint teachers for caring about our students’ growth in all areas. We as a family are blessed to be part of the Southpoint community. Our lives are enriched in so many ways through your dedication to learning.

- Evelyn
(mother of Jaya - class 1 and Micah, Titus- class 5)