I If you’re thinking of going to China to teach in an international school, you may be interested to know what the typical school day looks like for students. As you can probably imagine, it’s similar to school days in other countries with just a few differences. So chances are you’ll be in similar territory and you don’t need to fret over it.
The school day generally starts at 8 am and runs through to 3 pm. Reception classes generally have a shorter day and finish at lunchtime. Most international schools have a uniform for students but staff are just expected to dress professionally.
Primary classes have both a National and International Homeroom Teacher who take responsibility for students’ pastoral and academic needs. Similar to Form Tutors in western schools, the Homeroom Teachers are parents’ first point of contact when communicating with the school about their child’s wellbeing or progress.
International schools are focussed on creating multilingual learning environments and equipping students for the challenges of the 21st century so lessons are taught in English and Chinese where possible in subjects such as science and maths, with Chinese language, literature and history taught primarily in Chinese and English literature normally taught in English. Wherever possible, students will be encouraged to make links between their learning and international culture. In the primary, equal time is usually devoted to both languages and this can change in secondary depending on the subject. Modern teaching methods try to create a balance among the various academic disciplines and most schools encourage a mix of classroom and non-classroom based learning. Technology plays a key role in the students’ day and homework is set each night to consolidate each child’s learning.
Wellbeing is an increasingly important aspect of education and at lunchtimes, children are encouraged to eat healthily. Often, menus are created with the help of nutritionists and the meals are balanced to provide the nutrition needed and to help students keep their brains active throughout the afternoon. Lunchtime is usually around the middle of the day and throughout their break children are encouraged to socialise and to share what they have learnt during the morning.
As part of each school’s commitment to producing rounded, multi-talented individuals, there are extra-curricular activities on offer such as sports and performing arts. These form a vital part of students’ social development and all children are encouraged to find an activity that they enjoy and that they excel at.
So, the typical day is registration, lessons, lunchbreak, more lessons, home time. Sound familiar? Of course, it does. The biggest difference you will find between western schools and Chinese international schools is that in China every student will be fully engaged with their education. There is a reason that China outperforms other nations when it comes to academic attainment and it is the fact that staff, parents and students take their education seriously. The other difference, of course, is that the school will be multi-lingual. And who knows, you may even pick up a bit of Chinese!