Two Students’ Stories of Generosity

Written by Andrea Griego (Student Support Coordinator)


Katelyn Kai-Ling Tseo is a Y2 student in Ms. Liau and Ms. Qian’s class. October 6th was Katelyn’s birthday and, after speaking with her parents, Katelyn also known as Katie made a conscious decision to accept donations towards the school’s charity, Seeds of Hope in lieu of birthday gifts. Her parents told Katie of the idea and she fell in love with it. Katie’s mother said, “Of course we loved the idea! Our kids (Katie and little brother Thomas), like many in YCIS, have more than enough toys. After Katie’s birthday party last year, with a pile of gifts in front of her, we talked about this idea of ‘giving instead of receiving’ and she immediately asked ‘Mommy, will YOU still give me a small birthday present?’ After hearing a reassuring yes from me, she wholeheartedly said yes to the idea for her 7th birthday party. And after this year’s success, Thomas has also agreed to ‘giving instead of receiving’ if we have a big party for him!”13 To follow through with her birthday plans, she held an animal themed party and invited the entire Year 2B class. She informed them that presents would not be accepted and instead donations for
charity would be appreciated. Her classmates had a lovely time celebrating but most importantly with their help, and other donations from friends and family, Katie was able to donate 5,000 RMB to Seeds of Hope.

Emmanuel Teh in Year 5A loves to bake, but he does it for a thoughtful and caring reason. On the weekends, Emmanuel can be found at Sacred Heart Church happily baking and selling cookies to support the Walk Into Life and Learn (WILL) Foundation’s project to build an Eco home for children. 14Recently, these chidren have been displaced from their current home in Chong Ming Island. The WILL Foundation wants to give children who are left behind in life a chance to flourish. Their goal at “Walk Into Life and Learn”  emphasizes character and skills building according to each child’s potential. Anne, Emmanuel’s mother is proud of her son’s choice and says, “It is a proud moment for the YCIS family, I hope Emmanuel will inspire his schoolmates to make a difference for a better world.” Each package of cookies cost 10 RMB and all proceeds go straight to the project. Emmanuel says, “I just want to help them get back on their feet. I feel happy when I help others and I want them to feel happy too.” He will continue to bake and sell cookies for the WILL Foundation’s project until the new house is fully funded.

Because of Katie’s generosity and Emmanuel’s thoughtfulness and caring, they have received the school’s Global Child Award. When Katie was asked why she decided to be so generous, she said, “It made me feel happy to give to others.” Both Katie and Emmanuel are showing others that they have internalized the values and Philosophy and Objectives of YCIS. They are making a difference in the lives of others in the best and most creative ways that they can. Congratulations to Katie and Emmaunuel for being Global Citizens and caring kids.

Staff Focus: Mr Minecraft (Primary Technology Integrator)

Written by Roseline Yang (Community Relations Officer)

1Mr Alex was a Year 1 Co-Teacher for 5 years before moving to the position of Technology Intergrator for the past three and a half years.  Let’s meet Mr Alexander Tabunets!

Why do students call you Mr Minecraft, what does your role consist in?
I believe that children love Minecraft, this famous application that allow them to build anything they can dream of. Added to the fact that I lead one of Minecraft ASAs, I guess that built up this nickname for me! When children see me, they wave at me excitedly and shout “Mr…Minecraft”! (To be fair, I am not the only one doing Minecraft in our school).

My role consists of teaching technology (computers) to Year 1-2 and providing support to Year 3-4 in all aspects of technology. The aim is for teachers to be able to integrate technology in their teaching program. The use of technology is also integrated into the Year 5-6 curriculum.

One example of  how technology was integrated into the curriculum was in Year 3’s Ancient Egypt unit. Children conducted online research about pyramids and temples of Ancient Egypt. They identified their characteristics and their use. Then, they sketched it and used Minecraft to recreate a pyramid. It was a very detailed project as they had to label the structure “Great Pyramid of Giza” and write a description with the dates it was built and it’s purpose.

I’m quite interested to know why you decided to specialize in ICT.
During my first year at YCIS, other class levels had a smartboard but not in Year 1 and I was wondering why as I thought it would be very beneficial for children to interact with knowledge in another dimension through touching and manipulating. The school’s leadership team aware of my thirst to try and use technology gave me, in my second year as Year 1 teacher, a smartboard in my class to experiment with. And that is how I fell in love with my second passion: Technology!

In less than 20 minutes, I created a literacy lesson using the smartboard. It was a matching phonics game that was making sound when the correct pair was connected. The children and I enjoyed it so much that I started to use the smartboard for all my other subjects: Science and Mathematics.

Oh, so you did not know anything about Technology before? Actually, what was your first passion? What was your specialty before teaching in YCIS?
I knew about technology but I did know much about educational technology and its impact on children and their learning. It was only after I saw how the smartboard could be used that I fell in love with experimenting with technology in the classroom.  So I didn’t know much about educational technology before but I guess that my passion for programming is related to my first passion: Understanding the mechanisms of languages!

Actually, I am a linguist. My 1st degree was in English and teaching German. I taught for a few years in Primary and Secondary Schools after graduation and meanwhile, I was studying for my 2nd degree which was Japanese and Japanese Literature. After that, I also taught Japanese through instructions in English to Grade 6 students whose specialization was in French in an experimental school. But it was 15 years ago! Now I am studying for my Master’s of Science with specialisation in integrating technology into K-12 classroom program.

Wow! How many languages have you learnt? How many can you speak?
Oh, I learnt many but my main interest was to understand the system and mechanisms of a language, not to learn to speak. Once I had a taste of it, then I was not so interested in it anymore. Learning Chinese was the first language that pushed me to go to the country to develop it and besides culturally, I was very attracted by discovering Tibet, which is still one of my objectives!

So amazing! Do you have any other incredible things to share? Are you passionate about sports? Any championships like Mr Dave?
Well, not any national championships like Mr Dave, but I used to be the captain of a soccer team in High School. I also practiced different types of sports such as karate and athletics. Before coming to China 15 years ago, I used to do Power Lifting at a quite good level.

Actually, last time we were having lunch at the cafeteria, some colleagues were commenting on how you managed to lose 30 kg in just a year! Can you tell me more about this other incredible story of yours?
3When I arrived in China, my main focus was my work and learning Chinese and I stopped exercising, I put on a lot of weight. However, I was not ashamed of my new shape. I was just cozy and comfortable with being overweight for many years. That is how the majority of parents and teachers who were there some years ago knew me. Yet, in 2011 I started to have strong headaches and after consulting the doctor, I was told that my blood pressure was too high and that I would have to go under medication for life. I got so scared that I decided to take up running but unfortunately, I hurt my knee and I could not run anymore. So, I started to look for another way to solve my health problem to avoid going on medication. To make a long story short, that is how I found ETL (Eat to Live) plant-based diet recommended by numerous people including the person (Dr. Fuhrman) who had created it for himself, when diagnosed “never to figure-skate again because of his knee’s injury” I read his books, explaining how the food you eat impacts your health, and even changes your genes. The results were quite incredible: I started to lose 2 kg a week from 107kg, then it slowed down and after 5 or 6 weeks, I was losing 1 kg per week. And I lost it all without doing any sport! My blood pressure went to normal within three months. When I went to see the doctor, he could not believe that I had not taken his medications.

So, all of this happened between April and September of 2011 (5 months) then I took up running again and in May of 2012, I ran my first Great Wall Half Marathon followed later by the full Great Wall Marathons.

Wow! Sorry, I’ve been side-tracked but your story is so interesting. Let’s go back to our main topic and finish this interview with this last question: what do you think of the impact that technology has on the children’s education?

The learning children do in school prepares them for the future, and for this reason it is important to incorporate technology in the classroom. Over the years, technology has evolved tremendously and will continue to do so. Those changes should be parallel with teachers’ lesson plans and learning techniques of the children.

4From my teaching experience, the difference is tremendous. Technology has a huge learning impact on the children. And this must be because technology makes learning so much more fun. A simple example: with an iPad application called Letter School, students can practice to trace and memorize numbers and letters which come with amazing visual and sound effects. I often used it in in Year 1 and many students improved their handwriting through the use of this app.

Another example with programming – K4 and Year 1 children use Bee-Bots, pre-programmable toys that help to understand the concept of directions. Then in Year 1 they start using Bee-Bots maps and Bee-Bot software which they review every year. Every year they get more challenging tasks to complete. Starting from Year 2 they begin learning Scratch programming – they create their version of a Bee-Bot, and write a simple code to make it move in different directions and create and add music loops. In Year 3 it gets more complicated – students create two or more characters and create a code to make these characters interact. This type of education helps children to learn the basic inner workings of computers. Children can feel successful at getting a computer to do what they tell it to do. It helps them to develop the ability to communicate their thoughts in a structured and logical way. Apart from this, different ways of coding and solving problems can inspire children to grow and become more creative. Coding is a kind of story-telling. You create your story and make it interactive. The skills that students develop through coding can set them up for success in written and oral communications in school. Also, Scratch is a great programming language to start with. If you understand how it works, it will be much easier to learn other programming languages. Programming is very logical and definitely changes your brain to be more efficient. So, starting early is definitely great for students!

Thank you so much for your time, Alex. It has been a tremendous pleasure to talk to you. Although you’ve always been very friendly, you seemed to be such a discreet person. There is always so much to learn from each other. Thank you for teaching me this lesson of humility and opening a window of curiosity for any individual. You never know one person until you really take the time to talk to him or her.

Parenting Skills Tips

Written by Zoe Andrews (School Counsellor)

a-0%ef%bc%9apicture1Our School Counsellor, Zoe Andrews, ran a series of four parenting skills workshops in October.  The workshops covered some common challenges parents face and provided practical strategies and techniques to help parents and children navigate modern family life. Here are some helpful parenting tips:

Keep in mind your child’s brain development influences their emotions and behaviour!

  • Brains are not developed when children are born
  • Brains reach full development by around 22 years of age
  • Children’s emotional brains are more developed than their logical-thinking brains
  • The part of the brain responsible for logical thinking, empathy, reading social situations and understanding social cues is the last part to develop
  • To help brain development, make sure your child has a well rounded experience:
    • Academics
    • Free play
    • Active lifestyle
    • Learning from mistakes

a0%ef%bc%9a-picture2Pay attention to how you communicate with your children

Try to identify where your child’s anger comes from, before judging him/her and getting angry yourself

  • Anger is a normal human response to certain situations
  • Anger can also be used to hide other emotions, such as sadness, frustration, shame, guilt and anxiety
  • The best way to help your child when they are angry is to stay calm and model appropriate responses at home
  • “Emotion Coaching” is another very effective way of helping your angry child.

Set clear rules with your child and stick to the rules!


  • Appropriate discipline and boundaries are very important
  • Children need firm, consistent boundaries for healthy development. It shows a parent loves them.
  • They will always test boundaries
  • Children also need appropriate discipline
  • Studies have shown physical punishments do not work in the long term, punishment does not teach children appropriate lessons
  • Physical punishment models aggressive and impulsive behaviours
  • If you are struggling to find ways of appropriately disciplining your child, try “Logical Consequences” instead. You can find out more about them in the presentation and on this video clip:

All of the workshops aimed to develop new ways of thinking about children’s development and gave parents the opportunity to learn new skills to use when communicating and supporting children through their development.

Parent feedback of the workshops:

picture3“I attended all four parenting skills workshops and I found completely new ways of thinking about parenting that have been leading to big progress for me and my little one in communication and anger management. Very engaging, informative class with great instructor. Very honest and genuine experience sharing from the participants. I would highly recommend this workshop to all parents. And the workshops do not just end there! Actually it is a start for me. The sources quoted and the books recommended during the workshops can be great resources to help me further explore and practice parenting so as to support my little one from her childhood all the way to adulthood.” – Rachel Ma, mother of Shannon Shi in K2’s.

If you missed the workshops or if you want to find out more, you can find a summary of the workshop slides (password: RPCP).

Parent Resource Blog:

In addition, the School Counsellor and Learning Support team are developing a parent resource blog with lots of interesting information and articles for parents.  This will be available from the start of Semester 2.

Secondary Students’ EOTC Excursions in China

Edited by Roseline Yang (Community Relations Officer)

a5-picture1What does EOTC stand for and what is the purpose?

EOTC – Education Outside the Classroom – is an educationally enriching programme for Secondary students to gain insights into Chinese culture, geography and history by visiting various regions throughout China. Our Year 7 to Year 10 students recently came back from these overnight excursions full of knowledge, self-reflection, and cultural awareness, feeling part of one and the same learning community.

  • a5-picture1Where did the students go this year?

Different parts of China with a full-program including cultural and sporting activities. Click on the blue links (password: family) to see photos to know more about their learning and re-live their adventure during that week!

a5-picture-2Year 7- Xi’an(password: family):

Exploring a Muslim district, one student said his goal was to further respect culture diversity and other people’s backgrounds and beliefs. Another said he had grown so much during this trip.


During EOTC, I learned that you can overcome anything if you just believe in yourself –– Sasha Sia-Jacob

a5%ef%bc%9apicture3Year 8 – Yangshuo (password: family):

Surrounded by nature, one student shared that his most memorable moment was his first time rock climbing on a real rock wall. Another student was proud of his first time cooking dumplings.


I had to climb three trees! But we got the most pomelos and I won merits for my team. The farmers said we were the best group they’d seen! – Alexis Pableo

a5%ef%bc%9apicture5Year 9 – Fujian (password: family):

As for the Year 8s, there were many new challenges for these students with different activities including camping, rock climbing, cooking, tea making, to name a few. But most importantly, …


We challenged ourselves to climb the most difficult rocks and learned about the importance of great teamwork while kayaking. – Anna Chan, Catherine Xu, Nikita Xu, & Cherry Zhang

a5%ef%bc%9apicture-6Year 10 – Guizhou (password: family):

This trip was filled with a variety of challenges and cultural activities which included a Service Learning project to help restore a local school.


We brightened up the school and were rewarded with bright smiles on the students’ faces. – Sven Develing


Mono-culture VS Multi-culture, which one is more international?

Written by Sissy Shen (Primary Chinese Coordinator) and Michelle Wang (ECE Coordinator)

y1-chinese-studies2Generally speaking, people would assume international schools should follow the Western standards in education and use English as vehicular language, and on top on that, have an international body of teachers and students coming from a wide range of different nationalities. This is what people would generally assume international education really is. But is this truly international education? Here at YCIS, we have a different point of view and therefore a different approach.

y5-fieldtripConfucious said: “We are striving for harmony but not sameness”.  We believe that being able to bring different cultures together is a key aspect of international education. In fact, this ideal transcends education and goes beyond, into the very nature of human development. This is something that can’t be attained merely through conventional studying, but on the contrary one has to be directly immersed in it in order to fully comprehend it.

y4-fieldtrip-old-times-of-shanghaiWestern and Chinese are probably the most influential cultures in our World today.  Bringing these two cultures together is an essential step if we really want the next generation to nurture a truly international perspective so necessary to address the problems and challenges resulting from the globalized era we are living in; a new world that requires a broader cultural and interpersonal mindset.

time-to-receive-hong-bao%e5%8f%91%e7%ba%a2%e5%8c%85%e5%96%bd%ef%bc%81Ever since the foundation of YCIS, 85 years ago, this has been the idea behind our school; to combine the social and communal approach of Eastern education and the Western focus on developing the inner and very distinctive potential of every individual. This endeavor to combine the best of both worlds makes our approach to international education unique and different from so many other similar schools. From the early days in the kindergarten playground to the more academically demanding setting of the primary school classrooms, we strive to offer not only a bilingual education, but also a truly international environment were both concepts can come together in harmony and have a positive and deep impact on our students, and the communities we serve. We enable students to become truly global citizens with a rich background of Western and Chinese cultural values.

we-have-beautiful-chinese-namesIn order to achieve this goal, we spare no effort to provide our students with this enriching learning environment, for instance in the kindergarten years we intentionally mix Chinese cultural elements with the everyday life of the class, giving students a chance to experiment and apply by themselves the richness of Chinese Culture.



On the other hand, during the primary school years we provide countless opportunities for our students to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture through the Chinese Studies curriculum with a wide range of hands-on learning activities, ranging from History to Art and Geography without forgetting technology and Social Sciences. Especially important for us is the celebration of the Chinese Culture Day; an important activity for our students to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture through games, art, plays and physical activities.

y4-chinese-studies2Extra-curricular activities and traditional festivities also offer a great platform to work in this direction and offer our students an opportunity to further their understanding of the cultural diversity and incredible depth of the Chinese Culture.  During Chinese New Year we can see both Chinese and International teachers together with their students dressed in traditional Chinese outfits, dancing to the rhythm of catchy tunes.

Last but not least, and in order to offer the real measure of the extent of our commitment, we can talk about how all this affects our smallest students; they, from the age of four, regardless of their country of origin or cultural background receive a Chinese name.  They are addressed by this name during their Chinese class and they gradually develop a sense of belonging and identification not only to their name but to a greater degree to the whole of the Chinese culture.

k4-chinese-dress-up-day-%e4%b8%ad%e5%9b%bd%e4%bc%a0%e7%bb%9f%e7%9d%80%e8%a3%85%e6%97%a5Education plays an extremely important role in the forging of one’s life and place in the world and society; at YCIS we consider that one of our main missions is to combine the values and perspective of both the Western and Eastern education systems with the final objective of providing a unique multicultural and international exposure to our students, guiding them in their first steps in this world towards becoming truly global citizens. This is what we believe international education really is.

A Day In The Life of a YCIS Soccer Team Member

Written by Hoong Kit Chay (Year 5A Student)

article-3-1%ef%bc%9a-picture1Today was a very memorable day, because I scored an amazing goal for my team during the International Schools Soccer League. This is how my whole day started…

At six o’clock on a Saturday morning, I was woken up by my “walking alarm clock” – my dad. I got out of my bed as quiet as a mouse, so that I would not disturb my sister, who was sleeping soundly on another bed just a few inches away from mine. Then I tip-toed to my closet and took out my YCIS soccer attire and walked quietly into the bathroom where I brushed my teeth and rinsed my face to freshen up. After I changed into my attire, I ate my breakfast, which was prepared by mom.

When we reached the soccer field, I could not see any other YCIS soccer team members. I assumed I was too early. While waiting for my teammates to arrive, I took a ball and went on a pitch to practice my shooting. After a few minutes, many YCIS students and their parents arrived,  including my teammates and our coach, Mr. Lee. Before we started our first match for the day, our coach asked us to warm up by forming a circle on the field to play the “monkey” game. This exercise allowed us to have better control of the ball when we pass to each other during the game.

article-3-1%ef%bc%9apicture-2As soon as we had warmed up, we heard our school name being announced to proceed to pitch number 4 for our first match. Before the match, we did our school’s team cheer which sounded like this ‘What are we gonna do? FIGHT! What are we gonna do? FIGHT! What are we gonna do? FIGHT! YCIS Elite! With the sound of the kick-off horn, the first match started. The first match went fairly well even though we did not win. We worked very well as a team, passing the ball to each other and supporting each other all the time. The second match went just as good as the first one, but the highlight of the day was the third match.

article-3-1%ef%bc%9a-picture3Our third match was against our second strongest opponent, Wellington College. Frankly speaking, I was very nervous at the start of the match, because I have seen how well they played previously. Last year, they had beaten us by a big margin. This time round, my teammates Tim, Miguel, Fraser and I scored a goal each. The most memorable goal was when Fraser crossed the ball from the by-line perfectly to me. I leaped and extended my right foot and my shin struck the ball into the top-left corner of the goal. Fraser scored the second goal with an accurate pass from Miguel. Upon receiving the pass from Miguel, he attempted a slide tackle on the opponent’s goalkeeper who was charging at him. After he slid onto the ground, he repeatedly kicked the ball with his foot even though he was lying on the ground and ended up with a “nutmeg” (ball through the legs) into the goal. We had a sweet victory! My team had never, ever won against the second strongest team until now. Everyone in the team was praised by our coaches Mr. Lee and Mr. Lennart for playing in our assigned positions and passing at the perfect time. There was good team work.  Miraculously, we managed to win the match by a score of 4-3, in what I thought was a fabulous turnaround since we were beaten by others most of the time.

One important lesson that I learnt that day was that without teamwork, we wouldn’t have come this far. This was my favourite day in the YCIS soccer team.

3 Effective Ways to Motivate Your Child in Instrumental Practice

Written by Edward Swider, Music Coordinator

dsc_0779Individual instrumental instruction can be beneficial for all students. Children who participate in music lessons learn problem solving, presentation skills, and achieve a sense of accomplishment and growth as they progress. But no matter the skill or interest of student musicians, they often struggle with regular home practice. As a music teacher my number one question from parents is “How can I motivate my child to practice more?”.

dsc_-069All parents and students will be presented with this issue at some point. Remember that self-motivation and discipline is a learned skill that is not first nature to most children. It is the responsibility of families, teachers, and communities to foster these skills with creative approaches to practicing and positive reinforcement.

  • Measurable and Achievable Goals

dsc_-046Assign daily or weekly goals such as playing a difficult excerpt 5 times without mistakes, memorising scales or scale patterns, improving tone, etc.

The most effective technique to improve your child’s practicing is to shift the focus of home practice from a set amount of time to direct tangible goals set by the private tutor and student together.

dsc_-138For younger students this technique requires additional parent involvement, communicating with the private tutor and monitoring the child’s progress at home. In the traditional approach to practicing (a set amount of time) students may simply “run out the clock”. With this approach the time spent practicing is directly related to the student’s effort. The practice time is as long or short as it takes for the student to achieve their goals. It also allows students to easily monitor their own progress week by week.

  • Home Practice Routine

dsc_1036Establish practicing as part of their routine at home, as you do for homework.  Children have routines in nearly all aspects of their life; the order of the day at school, getting ready for bed, washing hands before a meal. This time can be set for when they come home from school, a task to be completed before watching TV or playing video games, or even in the morning before school. Having an established practice routine combined with measurable achievable goals set by the tutor and student together can help students begin to take responsibility for their own education at home.

  • Public Performances

karina-liEncourage your child to perform in front of others. It will give them a sense of self-accomplishment and will help them to be self-motivated to practice more!

Some students love them, most hate them. Public performances are an important part of a student’s music education. It gives them the opportunity to present the skills they have learned to an audience. These performances can come in many forms; participating in an orchestra or band, recitals, or even performing for family and friends at home. These public performances can be difficult in the beginning, but the only way to improve is participate in them regularly. This practice will improve the child’s confidence and public presentation skills which will translate to these skills improving in other disciplines.

dsc_1008An instrumental practice will have ups and downs, students may be extremely interested only to have their enthusiasm wane soon after. It is important to use positive reinforcement while incorporating creative approaches to practicing to encourage your child to achieve their very best. And remember that your child’s music teachers and private tutors are your best resource for encouraging regular effective practicing at home.

K2 Children Make Clouds

Written by Veronica Martin (ECE Coordinator)


We believe that children can learn and develop many different skills through play. By encouraging their interest, we can motivate them to learn in a fun and exciting way. Last week, K2B children created rain and colored clouds in their classroom.




The children had been looking at clouds and rain. This interest developed as the teachers noticed that when outside the children would look at the different forms of clouds. As the weather is changing and storms and rain is moving in, the class learning also moved to rain clouds.



The teachers decided to show the children how rain comes down through the clouds through a science activity. Each child was given a beaker of water with shaving cream on top. They used a dropper to add colored water to the top of the cream and watched as it floated through the clouds and formed rain.

As in every activity, teachers extended this observation by asking the children what they thought would happen. Their answers were thoughtful and demonstrate a level of understanding that we do not always think is there in such young children. One child said that the water would go through to the bottom, another child suggested that the color would mix together.


When children are engaged in thoughtful questioning, they are able to extend their knowledge and thinking ability. Through this experience, children had the opportunity to create a theory and observe, build upon previous learning and communicate together.

img_3843   img_3836

YCIS believes that all children have the ability to develop multi-intelligences and the teachers provide an environment that allows children to be curious about the world.  By letting children experiment ideas, learning becomes a more meaningful learning experience and this allows the children to test and challenge their working theory.