The Silver-Lining in the ECE Online Learning Experience

Written by: Veronica Martin and Michelle Wang,ECE Coordinators

As Early Childhood Educators we all understand that face to face learning in a classroom that is purposely set for our youngest learners with hands on intentional teaching practices is best for students. Who could have foreseen the dramatic changes to learning that has taken place in 2020? However, these changes have allowed us to redefine our classroom from the physical to a virtual online space and while not the ideal environment for young children, this has allowed our youngest students to demonstrate, diversify and explore different learning traits and dispositions. These have included areas such as flexibility, problem solver, creativity, ICT savvy and even the ability to see the silver-lining in life.

All ECE Children have adapted to the online learning process, being flexible in how they seek their friends out over Zoom or Seesaw. They learnt about Zoom, Camera, White Boards, screen shots and other ICT tools. Using these new-found skills children have been able to share aspects of their home life and this has made this online learning platform a more meaningful experience, as pieces of their home life are communicated with each other and class teachers. Some of the K4s have been using ‘break-out’ rooms to allow small number of students to converse with each other. Talking about what is important and meaningful to children such as their toys and the people in their homes are valuable ways that we make connections with each other.

How does a tadpole become a frog? In K3C a co-teacher found some tadpoles in her compound and shared them with the children. They had a discussion around metamorphosis asking the 3-year-olds to understand what it means. Using our online platform, Seesaw as a way to support this learning at home cements children’s understanding of the natural world.

Children have been sharing all their creative endeavors as they have used the craft packages sent from school. Each co-teacher also had the same package so together over Zoom, the  children and teachers have been making items and using them in the learning process. With Spring is in the air in K2C & K4C classes, where the students created flowers using pipe cleaners and play dough, while having a discussion on how flowers grow.

These abilities and experiences would not have been possible without solid foundations; this structure has relied on the relationships built at school, with class teachers and the connections developed over time with our families. YCIS has always believed in supporting strong relationships with families and never have these been so important as they are now. Our youngest learners watch our families and see how they deal with this situation and they model their behavior from those closest. Each day teachers are greeted with the smiling happy faces of children who are happy to learn and eager to participate. This experience has allowed all, children, families & teachers to build resilience which is needed to keep our foundations strong and unified; our silver lining.

Earth Day – 50th Anniversary

Written by: Melissa Shaw, Primary Coordinator

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Earth Week was a great way for us to explore how all of us can be responsible for looking after our Earth. It was another way that we could reiterate with our students that no matter how young or old, we can all make a positive change in our world! This certainly aligns with our Mission at YCIS to be ‘Globally competent and compassionate leaders, who aspire to, and act for, a better world’.

To start the day, our Earth Day celebrations began with a bang with nearly 200 Lower Primary students joining us for our opening assembly. We had a range of activities for all of our students to participate in through our Zoom sessions and blog activities! We explored our Helping Hands values, being responsible citizens and our UN Sustainable Global Goals.

The theme ‘Climate Action’ can be a challenging concept to understand for our Primary students and therefore we explored ideas that were developmentally appropriate for them. We were visited by Secondary student Kevin Du, who is part of the group ‘Stop Single Use Shanghai’. This group has done a lot of work within out YCIS community to promote the idea of using reusable items such as chop sticks, straws, bags and cups. He encouraged the children to think of an everyday item or action that is not very good for the Earth and how we could change that to make it more environmentally friendly.

Our Art sessions focused on upcycling and reusing old items for a new purpose rather than throwing them away. This was a wonderful way to introduce our Earth Day Upcycling Competition. Ms Anita Dai, our Upper Primary Art Specialist shared, “Students were excited to invent something using only discarded materials. They showed creativity and flexibility with their ideas and techniques.  It will be exciting to see what innovative projects they come up with”.

The excitement didn’t stop there! The Environment Committee invited guest speaker d’Arcy Lunn, founder of the NGO Teaspoons of Change, to carry out a series of workshops around the crucial notion that we can all take small but significant steps that added together have a great impact on our planet. These Zoom sessions were fun and engaging. We explored different examples of ‘teaspoons of change’ with our younger students and talked about what their teaspoon of change could be. He used examples from his ‘tiny house’ of little changes he has made to look after the Earth. We also introduced our ‘Teaspoons of Change Picture Project’ and look forward to receiving entries this week!

We hope Earth Day was a way to inspire and motivate our students to become more aware of their actions and what they can do to look after our planet. We hope that it was an opportunity to bring about discussion as a family and talk about what actions the whole family can do as their part to make the world a better place.

Student Leaders Working for Climate Action

Written by: Andy Clapperton, Head of Learning

At the very centre of our Mission at YCIS is the concept of aspiring and acting to make positive change in our world, and with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day last week it was wonderful to see our students at the forefront as change-makers.

Ann ’21 was at the heart of the development of a range of online and offline activities that took place on Friday, April 24 in order to get our community thinking about what we can and should do to move ourselves towards alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Cognisant that the idea of Climate Action can seem like an overwhelming concept for the individual, the Environmental Committee invited d’Arcy Lunn, founder of the NGO Teaspoons of Change, to carry out a series of workshops around the crucial notion that we can all take small but significant steps that added together have a great impact on our planet. These Zoom sessions were well attended and extremely engaging. In particular, he gave us a live tour of his tiny house – a purpose built sustainable dwelling that is completely self-sufficient – explaining how features such as the solar panels and the compost toilet help the accommodation achieve extremely minimal negative environmental impact.

Throughout the programme of activities, our students stepped up as globally competent and compassionate leaders, acting for a better world, and the activities Ann ’21 and team put together certainly made for a rich learning experience!

Quote from Ann: The climate crisis is becoming more and more severe, so change needs to happen. No question about it. I think taking action is our responsibility as citizens of the Earth; it is devastating to imagine that our future generations will have to live in a world where natural disasters are more and more frequent, resources are depleted, habitats are falling apart, and biodiversity is lost at an ever more frequent rate.

I hope that members of the YCIS community will continue participating in great initiatives such as The Million Tree Project, and also focus on the little things that can make a difference, such as switching off the lights and air-conditioner every time someone leaves a room, refusing single-use straws, forks and spoons, and gradually making those behavioural changes a natural habit.

Life is Sharing

Written by: Roseline Yang, Parent Relations Officer

Everyone is unique. Everyone has a unique way to perceive and interpret the world in which we live. No matter our age, gender, cultural and social background, we all have a special story to share regarding how we have lived and experienced this unprecedented worldwide pandemic situation.

Let me share with you what I have witnessed  about our school community and the spectacular way in which every member of our school community has come together to join forces and find creative ways to engage our children  in their learning.


Phase I: Beginnings

  • Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved”- School leaders and teachers worked together to establish basic e-Learning structures, and class parents took the initiative to help each other by sharing e-Learning materials to overcome the technological challenges with downloading.
  • All things are difficult before they are easy by Thomas
    Fuller – Prompt and direct communication from parents to class teachers (and students to teachers) regarding e-Learning allowed the School to keep re-
    adjusting this new, unknown way of teaching and learning for all.
  • Remember upon the conduct of each depend the fate of all” by Alexander the Great – Using appropriate channels of communication to address questions to the school leadership team also allowed the School to quickly take appropriate action and recalibrate internal structures of communication to better serve parents & students.
  • Unity does not mean sameness. It means oneness of purpose by Priscilla
    Shirer – Trust in each others’ roles and abilities to do their job, as well as proactivity offering support and help, were key elements in the creation and continued development of this e-Learning programme.

Phase II: Learn to re-adjust

  • It takes humility to seek feedback. It takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it and appropriately act on it.” by Stephen Covey – School leaders reached out to families of younger children to check-upon their wellbeing and learning adaptation.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining” by John Milton – Parents and teachers discovered children with a high capacity to adapt to a new situation and exhibit skills and qualities that had not been visible before.
  • “It’s encouraging to see that we’re not alone. We can learn from each other” by James Kim – School counsellors offered parent workshops and parent support group meetings for parents to connect and share about their tips to face and adapt to the situation.

Phase III: Share & Grow

By sharing and exchanging ideas, people will get to know each other and learn about their community” by Linda Ashcraft – Various opportunities for our students and parents to be part of the spirit of our community.

  • Design the Yearbook cover for this year on the theme of ‘YCIS Pudong Stories’ by Friday, May 15
  • Share your photos and experience about what you have learnt about yourself during your ‘Stay at Home’ & ‘E-Learning’ period, ‘Earth Day/Climate Action Day’ and soon ‘May the Fourth’

  • Get involved from now in our international school event ‘Global Community Day’ by:
    • Joining the virtual flag parade on May 15 (you will just need to prepare your traditional costume & do a Zoom rehearsal)
    • Teaching a special recipe from your region or country in the week of May 15
    • Contributing a song to the Global Community Playlist for the day of the event
    • Creating material related to your favorite myth, legend or hero by May 8.

No matter who you are: parent, teacher or student, when you take the time to share about your experience and vision, you will not only be able to help others learn & grow, you will also be able to deepen your knowledge, strengthen your relationship with your home culture and build a new relationship with other members of our school community.

We are looking forward to hearing from you! Please email us at:

Staff Focus: Lucia Hu

Written by: John McEnhill, Primary Coordinator

Hello Lucia! I hope you have enjoyed what is coming towards the end of your first year here. Can you tell us a little about your background, and how you have come to be at YCIS Shanghai?

 I was born in Taiwan and moved to the United States when I was 5 years old.  I still remember going to school and EAL class, only knowing the words “yes,” “no,” and “ok.” My family had lived in South Dakota, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, and finally Southern California, so I know how it feels to be in transition.  I attended the University of California at Berkeley in Northern California and stayed in the San Francisco Bay Area until we moved to Beijing in 2013.  Although my undergraduate degree is in Mass Communications, after working for some years I returned to school for a Masters in Counselling Psychology.  My son was just turning 3 when we moved to Beijing for my husband’s work at United Family Hospital, and while there, I started to gain experience providing counselling for both the expat and local community.  Growing up I had retained my ability to speak Mandarin from watching soap operas, but there was still a period of working out the kinks of speaking smoothly while in Beijing.  After a year of having a personal tutor, I was finally able to read Chinese enough to use all the necessary apps by the time we moved to Shanghai.  After giving birth to our second son in Beijing, we moved to Shanghai in 2016 where I worked at the Community Center Shanghai, ELG, and then Raffles Clinic before coming to YCIS Pudong.

Tell us a little more about what your role as Regency Park Campus Counsellor involves?

Generally speaking, I work with students who may be experiencing challenges due to emotional or relational issues with students, teachers, or family.  This may mean meeting with parents and teachers, or observing a student in the classroom, in order to discuss what may be affecting a student’s behaviour or emotional reaction.  I could also provide limited individual counselling for students and families or refer them to professional counsellors in Shanghai.  I am also the Child Protection Officer for our campus and I work with our team of Child Protection Officers to update material, deliver and track trainings for staff, join regular committee meetings, follow through on child protections cases and documentation.

In the current situation, how do you feel the Counselling team has been able to support the students, and the wider community? 

As this Coronavirus situation expanded, one of the first things we all worried about was everyone’s level of possible stress and anxiety – whether for students, parents, or staff members.  I am thankful that there was a quick response from professionals in the community to create material on how to understand and respond to COVID-19 for families and how to communicate this situation to children.  For the age group of our primary students, mental and emotional health is intertwined and dependent on their parents’ and caretakers’ mental and emotional health.  Children usually develop anxiety because an adult in their daily environment is experiencing and displaying anxiety.  Therefore, when we first started e-Learning in February, I focused on getting information to parents about how to manage the e-Learning schedule, building in routines (ie. exercise, sleep, family time), managing our children’s behaviour with rewards and consequences.  We eventually focused on providing parent online support groups so that pressing concerns and struggles could be shared and discussed.  All of these efforts were to help the parent feel supported, feel more connected and less isolated, gain tips and ideas to help with a better sense of control or direction for their own unique challenges.  The focus to help reduce parental stress and anxiety also supports reducing our students’ possible anxiety.

How do you think pastoral care, and the role of Counsellors, supports students in their academic and wider life success?

 I think by now, most adults would agree that our life experience has plenty of rough and tough parts in relationships, feelings of inadequacy or failure, disappointments, making difficult decisions, and even physical challenges. Whether we can focus and perform to the best of our ability academically or pick ourselves up and keep going even in the face of loss or shame, oftentimes depends on our self-concept, emotional health and ability to cope.  This is precisely what pastoral care and school counsellors work to develop. Through various stories and activities, we try to guide how to frame concepts about self and of the world, success and failure, which helps to process and make choices in response to challenges.

Your son, Micah, is at YCIS Pudong, in Year 4 and Noah is in ECE. How are you finding YCIS Pudong from a parents’ point of view?

We are very thankful that Micah and Noah are able to attend YCIS Pudong.  They both enjoy the campus, their teachers and learning activities along with their classmates.  We, as parents, are super happy about the dual focus on English and Chinese, including Chinese studies, and the range of learning they have access to from computer to violin.  We have been excited for CCAs and access to IIIP on campus and during the school day.  We have also been impressed by the work and dedication of all the teachers and staff to coordinate and provide clear communication for all of these activities, holiday events and sports days.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like trying new restaurants, listening to music, singing and playing the guitar by myself – completely amateur so not for other ears J. Getting a massage and meeting for coffee with a friend is always rejuvenating.  I also love attending workshops and seminars as I feel excited about active learning in groups and being involved in group discussion. When I can schedule alone time, I sometimes enjoy practicing mindfulness in a walk outdoors focusing on the sights and sounds and my own movements.  I’m sure I look funny to a passer by.

As a family, we now love watching superhero movies to save the world vicariously while taking turns on the treadmill or being competitive while playing board games or foosball. We love travelling and nice hotels (who doesn’t?) and when the weather is nice, to go for a picnic in a park with a tent.

e-Learning is a YCIS Family Affair

Written by Janelle Garrett with contributions from the Samuel, Lucas, and Daniel Lewis and their mother, Kitty Potter

The Lewis family is a longtime YCIS family that joined our YCIS Pudong community four years ago after they moved from Beijing to Shanghai. During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lewis family traveled to be near family in Sydney, Australia and then returned to Shanghai to quarantine in their home in March. According to the Lewis brothers Samuel ’22, Lucas ’25 and Daniel ’30 (the number indicates their graduating year), e-Learning is necessarily a family affair. The three brothers all shared some of their experiences with e-Learning as they figured out new ways to share space and get along, become more independent and creative with their learning, get their work done, learn to do some household chores, engage in physical activity, and have fun as a family.

Here are a few of their take-aways:

The flexibility of e – Learning can be a powerful force for learning.

 “While some people miss the structure of school, I prefer some of the flexibility e-Learning. I find it easier to manage my time and get work done, and even go deeper with my learning, while feeling less pressure. I really miss socialization of school, my friends and my activities. But I’m really talkative and attention-seeking, and in a traditional classroom I often get distracted or am distracting. This has been a good lesson in time management practice for IB, for university and for life. Having more choice over when and how I do my work, and even some of the content, makes me more interested and willing to invest more time and more of myself into it, which makes it more meaningful.”   Samuel, Year 11

“e-Learning is more convenient for me in some ways, I’m able to set my own time, I just got a big piece of work done instead of having to follow a really rigid schedule and stop doing something to go to the next thing when I just got going. This makes the workday a lot more efficient and liberating.”  Lucas, Year 8

Connection Matters.

“I love the Zoom sessions because I get to see my teachers and it is easier to know what you need to do later, I also love to see my friends and at the end of the session we get to chat. But I still can’t wait to go back to school and play football with my friends.”  Daniel, Year 3

“I miss people—my friends, even teachers. Zoom is better than nothing—it is really nice to get on a Homeroom call on Zoom and see everyone! But it’s nowhere near as engaging. It’s important to feel that connection. Being in person makes a huge difference”

“…I miss eating lunch with my friends. I’m a bit disappointed some people didn’t make it back before the borders in China closed, I hope things open up and they can come back soon. I’ve tried to stay connected with many of my friends calling them on Teams, and chatting on WeChat, Instagram, SnapChat, etc. Recently, I’ve also had friends coming over to my compound and hanging out, which is the best!”  Lucas, Year 8

“I really miss my friends and can’t wait to get back to school. The last few weeks as things are opening up in Shanghai have been so good because I’ve gone over to people’s houses and been able to recharge socially… I also realized I know a lot of people beyond just my classmates, from participating in activities like Model United Nations, World Scholars Cup, and various camps—and one of the best parts of COVID-19 has been connecting online with all of these friends around the world.”  Samuel, Year 11

Motivation is hard to master—and you can’t do it alone.

“Surprisingly I’ve been pretty motivated and disciplined, but motivation is dwindling. When the IGCSE Exams that we’d been preparing for over the past two years were cancelled, that was like a kick in the head, and it became a lot harder to stay motivated and not feel like we had wasted valuable time. I’ve appreciated Mr. Lee and my teachers reminding us about the important things we’ve learned along the way, that exceed what any exam can show. For example, I’m really enjoying the research I am currently doing in Science on the body’s immune system response to COVID-19. I learned a lot about myself during this time—I’m more capable of taking care of myself than I thought. But I’ve also discovered some things I can’t do on my own…and I’ve been very grateful for teachers, friends, and family that have helped me through it.”      Samuel, Year 11

“I can do more on my own now than when e-Learning started. But doing work on my own can get very frustrating. Sometimes I’m trying to think hard and my brain just wanders and I have to think what subject is this? And I wish I had my teacher, and it is hard because my parents can’t always help if they are working.”    Daniel, Year 3

You can have fun…even with your family.

“It hasn’t been easy, we’ve had a few fights since we are brothers, but actually we’ve had some really good family time. Being trapped with your family for several months has been a good bonding experience and we’ve had a lot of fun together and laughed a lot.”    Samuel, Year 11

“Our family sometimes plays cards after dinner, like Go Fish. We like basketball, especially my brother Lucas. My brother Sam plays Risk with his friend a lot too. I like playing videogames. My brothers play a lot of Nintendo.”  Daniel Year 3

“e-Learning in Australia was special and fun because I got to hang out with my family and play with other kids after classes were done and do things outdoors I can’t do in Shanghai.”    Lucas, Year 8

Their mother Kitty, has been busy juggling parenting responsibilities and e-Learning for three kids with her job at Apple leading the Asia division for Human Rights and Stakeholder Engagement as part of the Supplier Responsibility Team. Her husband Mathew shares parenting and e-Learning supervision duties whilst he negotiates working from home and meetings for the Morgan Lewis law firm.

“When Sam started in the K3 Panda Class at YCIS in Beijing, I had no idea 13 years later we would find ourselves still here in China with three boys all at YCIS Pudong. YCIS has been very important to our family and one of the constants in our busy lives and the many changes we have seen moving to different places around Greater China. At the start of the COVID-19 epidemic, Mathew and I felt like it was back-to-the-future, having lived through SARS back in Beijing. But this has been a wholly different experience.

I am so grateful we were able to spend the first part of the transition to eLearning in Sydney with family, close to beaches and parks where the boys could get their energy out. I thought constantly (and guiltily) about friends and school families back in China stuck inside apartments. It has been both impressive and touching observing the commitment to learning by the boys’ teachers, knowing that they are experiencing many of the same challenges and stresses balancing their personal and professional lives under the most extreme circumstances.

We were so excited and relieved to get home to Shanghai. Even though China is “getting back to normal,” this journey is far from over and there will be plenty of opportunities to consider what we’ve all been through and how this will change our world. My hope is that the boys, years from now, will be able to reflect on what they learned: how we have always taken for granted our ability to travel the world and visit family in the US and Australia; how much other people usually do for them (Thank You Cao Ayi and all the women who have helped our family function over the years); how important friendships and community are, and that relationships need to be nurtured.

The boys can’t wait to get back to school. Mat and I can’t wait either.

How to Boost Your Immune System Naturally?

Written by: Ms Tania Smits, YCIS Parent and Professional Holistic Health Coach

What I have learned through experience is that when living a healthy lifestyle, your immune system is stronger. This can be evidenced by recovering more quickly from a cold to staying unaffected by the yearly flu altogether.

As a Holistic Health Coach, I can see my clients getting healthier and stronger by applying the methods I share in my Holistic Health education and training sessions.

As the world comes to grip with Covid-19 developments, there has been a lot of helpful information shared about prevention through personal hygiene. Practical advice includes washing our hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, using hand sanitisers, and covering our mouth and nose with a tissue or a sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

To keep our immune system healthy, it’s also suggested that we eat well, exercise, get enough rest, and take supplements, such as Vitamin C.

As a Coach, I completely agree with those recommendations, but I also look at keeping stress levels under control, connecting with your community, family, and friends, and engaging in a mindfulness practise. Research from the field of psychoneuroimmunology – the study of the effect of the mind on health and resistance to disease – suggests that our immune system becomes weakened when we’re feeling stressed or anxious.

Developing a strong immunity is like training a police force so that they’re on standby, ready for any attack. Just like a police force, you can actually build your immunity slowly and steadily, too.

Below you will find an overview of my professional recommendations for building a stronger immune system. Don’t try to do these perfectly; rather, implement the things you can maintain on a regular basis so that they become a habit.


The food we eat gives our bodies the information and materials it needs to function properly. Our vegetable intake is oftentimes inadequate, and I recommend starting here.

You should eat five servings of vegetables each day, with each serving being the size of a small fist size.

Here are some ideas on how to achieve this:

  • If you are far away from eating the five serving sizes today, simply try adding one more serving to what you are currently eating.
  • Say to yourself, “Every time I fill my plate, I serve vegetables first” as an easy way to remember to eat your vegetables.
  • Whenever you eat a snack, try choosing a serving of vegetables.
  • Drink a vegetable juice every time you have access to it. This is a quick way to add a lot of nutrients at once. You can easily include two serving sizes of vegetables in a juice. Add some ginger to spice it up or add a green apple for some sweetness. Avoid adding fruits other than green apples.
  • Each evening, calculate and record the number of servings of vegetables you had, and think of ways to add more.

Kitchen Remedies for Respiratory Health

Increase your intake of these three foods that I’ll bet you have in your kitchen right now!

They will help to ward off bugs and viruses:

  • Garlic: This is both antimicrobial and antiviral
  • Oregano: This spice has powerful antiseptic and antibiotic properties
  • Thyme: An excellent remedy for respiratory infections and coughs, Thyme can help you to cough out mucus and unsavoury invaders.


If you are looking for immune health, choose these foods and/or supplements:

  • Vitamin C: Biggest immune booster
    • Oranges, grapefruit, bell peppers, kiwi, spinach, kale, broccoli
  • Vitamin B6: Supports biochemical reactions in the immune system
    • Salmon, Tuna
    • Chicken
    • Chickpeas
    • Green vegetables
  • Vitamin D: “AKA sunlight”
    • It’s recommended to take a supplement (Vitamin D3 has the best absorption), especially during winter months
    • Might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression and anxiety.


Too little water intake can cause dehydration, headaches, or fatigue, and can compromise your immunity. Be sure to drink the recommended intake of water for your body each day.


Several studies have found that exercise not only helps our heart health, circulation, and raises the oxygen levels in our body, but it also helps with stress, anxiety, and depression.

Try to get 30 minutes of exercise in every day.

Since gyms are currently not open in China, think about other ways to get your exercise in. These are some (mostly free) options:

  • Go for a brisk walk
  • Go for a jog outside
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Download an online yoga class
  • Follow the Spartan 30 days Burpees Challenge WeChat group and guess what? You will be doing 30 burpees every day and can check in with hundreds of others also taking part in the challenge
  • Download the NTC (Nike Training) app from the app store. You can indicate the equipment you have access to, select the time and intensity level, and get started
  • Jump rope
  • Or jump on a Trampoline! You can buy one of those small trampolines in Decathlon and take regular breaks during the day to jump and get in some good exercise.

I suggest that to have the best success with this, you can involve your family members, friends, house mates, etc. in real life or online to motivate one another.


 Be mindful of how much news you’re consuming these days. Whether it’s from social media groups or from “official sources.” Helpful questions you can ask yourself are:

  • “How much is the minimum amount I need to consume to stay aware?” and
  • “Which sources do I want to read?”


Our immune system stands a better chance of resisting infection when we make a conscious effort to look after our physical and mental health. Mindfulness strength is like physical strength; it is like a muscle in your body. It grows only when it is nourished and exercised.

Here are some ideas on how to start your mindfulness practise:

  • Adult colouring books: Help reduce stress by engaging your mind in a relaxed way.
  • Yoga: Increases body awareness, relieves stress, reduces muscle tension, strain, and inflammation, sharpens attention and concentration, and calms and centres the nervous system.
  • Meditation:
    • I highly recommend ‘’ – and its free to do the basics for 10 days!
    • com: Free meditations to do at any time of the day, when waiting in line, when walking, when stressed, when having difficult emotions, when you can’t sleep
    • Louise Hay meditations
  • Box breathing:
    • Also known as (four-) square breathing, is a technique used when taking slow, deep breaths.
    • This can heighten performance and concentration while also being a powerful stress reliever.
      • Step 1: Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to the count of four. In this step, count to four very slowly in your head.
      • Step 2: Hold your breath for another slow count of four.
      • Step 3: Exhale through your mouth for the same slow count of four, expelling the air from your lungs and abdomen.
      • Step: 4: Hold your breath for another slow count of four.
      • REPEAT three more times (for a total of four breaths)


Researchers say adequate sleep helps T-cells in your body fight off infection. Most adults need a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night for improved health and well-being.

With the current Covid-19 disease situation, you may find yourself have a harder time falling asleep. I hope these practical tips will help you:

  • Create a sleep routine; going to bed around the same time each night
  • Do not read news (especially Covid-19 related) right before going to bed
  • Do not charge your digital devices next to your bed; if you leave your phone in your bedroom, switch it to airplane mode
  • Do not eat right before going to bed, especially heavy meals as this might cause digestive upset
  • Drink an herbal infusion as part of a relaxation routine in the evening
  • Sleep in a cool and dark room
  • Your daily exercise will help you to feel physically tired at night
  • Your meditation routine will help you to put your mind at ease. Additionally, you can listen to some guided meditations from Buddify or Headspace if you find it hard to fall asleep.

Building your immune system is not difficult, but it requires continuous efforts. Even small efforts pay off, so start today and build along the way. Start training your police force and make them ready for future attacks, especially in unique times like we are experiencing today.

For more information about Tanja Smits and her Holistic Health practice, or to contact her, please email:

Sustainable Development Goals Building Future

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action adopted in 2015 by all United Nations (UN) Member States with the aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and improve the lives and prospects of all people by 2030. Much progress has already been made in meeting the 17 Goals, but more work needs to be done in the decade to come. Last year, the UN Secretary-General called on all sectors of society to mobilise for a decade of action. Institutions, governments, and private sector organisations need to be at the forefront of this change, and people, including the youth, need to generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required transformations.

At YCIS, the school is committed to inspiring students to take part in this change from a very young age. That’s why last month, YCIS Pudong campuses organised an ‘SDG Fair’ to educate students about the 17 global Sustainability Development Goals. To create collaboration between different sections of the school and encourage work between different class levels, Year 12 students were asked to lead the fair’s activities for K4 and Primary students as a ‘Creativity, Activity, Service’ (CAS) project, as part of their International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) curriculum.

In preparation for the fair, the students studied the SDGs and reflected on each individual’s part in contributing to them. Then, the Year 12 students took on the responsibility of highlighting one of the SDGs, creating posters and brochures, organising different activities for the fair, where they showcased their individual goals and targets and explained what is being done to support their goals in China.

During the all-day SDG Fair, the Year 12 students then presented their work to the students at Regency Park Campus. In an exhibition-like event, the younger students moved from one station to another to learn about the various goals, and each Year level was allotted a time to participate in the activities. When talking about the challenges of organising the fair, Elena, YCIS Pudong Secondary student, recalled: “One of the biggest challenges in the organisation of the fair was to ensure that all of the brochures, presentations, and activities were well suited and appealing to young children. Many of us don’t have experience working with children, and it took several rounds of discussions and editing before our material reached the conciseness and effectiveness that we were aiming for. Throughout this process, we helped one another and learned through collective ideas.”

By working on this project, Year 12 students were able to develop a better understanding of the SDGs’ importance both internationally and domestically and were empowered to realise that they are an integral part of creating change. The project also helped them develop their research skills, collaboration with others, and public speaking.

At the same time, by learning about these goals,the Regency Park Campus students gained different perspectives about global issues, such as gender equality and lack of access to clean water. By being introduced to topics such as poverty, hunger, and high-quality education, they began to understand the unique challenges facing communities all over the world that they may not have known about before.

Learning about the SDGs is nevertheless a year-round process at YCIS. For example, the IB Geography class is centered around the Sustainable Development Goals, and there is an SDGs-dedicated school assembly every month, during which a different goal is discussed and becomes the focus of that month.

The SDGs are also closely related to YCIS Service Learning, as most of the community and service activities address one or several goals. During Service-Learning events, students collaborate with different school members, meet like-minded people, and make connections in the broader community, sparking more ideas through combined efforts, and taking a step closer to realising the aims of the SDGs.

According to Mr Dudley Stuurman, Social Sciences Teacher, CAS Coordinator, and World Classroom Coordinator at YCIS Pudong, “To solve the world’s biggest challenges, we strive to encourage our students to be active participants in their local and global communities. Children that are in school today will grow up to be adults in an increasingly interconnected and multicultural society. They will need empathy to develop healthy relationships throughout their lives. Learning about SDGs from a very young age will contribute to building compassion in children and will help them become passionate, engaged adults”.

At YCIS, projects like this help students truly develop a critical understanding of topics such as the SDGs and allow them to delve deeply in learning why SDGs are necessary, leading them to be inspired to make positive changes — whether in big or in small ways — to the world around them.

Celebrating 2020 Chinese New Year

Writer: Michelle Wang (ECE Chinese Coordinator); Sissy Shen (Primary Chinese Coordinator); Amy Yang (Secondary Chinese Coordinator)

Dear Parents and Students,

Happy New Year! We hope you are all well.

In the past, Chinese New Year has traditionally been a time of gathering and celebration with family and friends and we always look forward to a longer holiday. However, the Spring Festival holiday in 2020 has been a little different, a holiday we didn’t expect at all! Under the clear sky and the bright sunshine, our YCIS campus is unusually quiet and strictly under the protection of our campus security. Although this matter is worrying, as long as we really understand the situation, deal with it correctly, and maintain physical and mental health, we are sure that we will win this battle. We also want you to know that at this time, there are so many people around us who are working hard to find ways to control the spread of this virus and ensure the health and safety of everyone, as well as teachers and all the YCIS Community members have been dedicated to supporting each other.

In this particular situation, we would also suggest parents take this as an educational opportunity to discuss some topics such as: life, freedom, environment, earth, kindness, gratitude, courage, truth and community of common destiny with children. Therefore, ECE and Y1 teachers have shared some related resources, from Y2 and above in Chinese Studies we launched PBL (project based learning) tasks. These will shape the perspectives of the students and support their future development through giving them a broader cultural and interpersonal mindset as global citizens. More information and resources have been shared by teachers through the online learning platform. We also see improvements in the quality of the e-Learning every day, while also acknowledging its challenges. It’s brand new to all of us; quite an adjustment! We are collecting feedback from teachers every day and also from students to ensure we make incremental improvements to our e-Learning offerings. The first two weeks have shown a high level of engagement in our online learning platforms by our students.

Thank you again for partnering with us during this unprecedented time. We can still remember the last school event before the Spring Festival which was full of happiness and laughter. As one of our major traditions, we celebrated the Chinese New Year with special events from ECE to Secondary. We would like to take this opportunity to give you a quick review of the 2020 Chinese New Year celebration events, and to offer our sincere thanks to everyone who has given their time, talents and enthusiasm.


The traditional festival is the best time for ECE students to learn and understand Chinese Culture. We arranged various activities, including Art, storytelling and new year’s dance to enrich children’s experience. The ECE invited lots of parents to participate in Chinese New Year and cultural celebrations. K2 parents brought dumplings (Jiaozi), teaching children to have the experience of dumpling making. This was a great opportunity for children and parents have fun together. K3 children and their parents worked together to make the hand-made Chinese Zodiac character of the rat. K4 children learned to write Chinese characters ‘Fu’ and ‘spring’ with the calligraphy teacher, in addition to using regular script to write the Chinese characters, K4 children experienced the Chinese characters in small seal script. The children clearly benefited from these experiences.


In Primary, each year level had their own theme this year: Y1: Traditional Festivals; Y2: Traditional Art; Y3: Living in Shanghai; Y4: Chinese Food; Y5: Chinese Treasures; Y6: Traditional Games. There were many amazing cultural activities students experienced in line with to their theme over the entire Chinese Culture Week. The Y5 and Y6 students also designed and organised their own activities and invited the younger Year 1-4 students to visit the Century Park Campus Learning Communities to share their knowledge. Another highlight of the week was the external professional art studio, who were running collaborative art workshops for all Primary students. All these art pieces have been displayed in the corridors at both Pudong campuses. If you pass by, you will definitely be amazed! Parents also had a taste of Chinese theme painting, experiencing the joy of art.

The Chinese New Year Celebration Night on January 17 before the holiday break was another successful and unforgettable event. Inspiration came from the Temple Fair. With 32 activities, including games, Art, PE, ICT, and more, there really was something for all members of the community to enjoy. All the decorations were amazing. The performance was also a big hit once again – the poetry, traditional dance and instruments, Kungfu, Peking Opera and choir, all exhibiting the skills the students learned in their Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs). We also appreciate our Secondary Students offering their time, through service learning, to support the games rooms as well as organising interactive games and quizzes. All the YCIS community worked together to make it a wonderful night!


As you might know, Chinese people begin their preparations for the Chinese New Year more than 20 days ahead. Much earlier than before the actual new year came, our Lower Secondary students received a new and exciting task: they were going to take on the mission of decorating Century Park campus to welcome in the Spring Festival. The theme was: “万象更新”, which means “Everything takes on a completely new look”. It suddenly sparked a load of latent creativities, but could we do our collaborative work more effectively?

Chinese teachers introduced them to “The Design Process”, which gave them a more streamlined approach to their work. They followed the suggested steps: using iPads to measure and record figure, collecting all the relevant information, brainstorming and analysing ideas, and even building demos/models during their presentations in class. The most crucial part was “Seeking Feedback”. They interviewed our front office team, librarians, and the canteen manager. After improving their designs, they started to decorate the campus by themselves. When all the pieces came together, and all the ideas became real, the campus really “took on a completely new look”.

Their enthusiasm for designing continued over the holiday. Although we had to cancel our Secondary Lantern Festival House Event due to the current situation, some of our Secondary students still expressed their wishes by sharing their DIY lanterns from home. We hope those lanterns bring warmth to the families in Wuhan and bring more courage and confidence to all of us.

As we look back on these moments, we look forward more to the moment of reunion and to everyone returning to campus when the spring flowers bloom. Thank you again for living out the essence of the YCIS motto of love and care.

Happy Spring Festival, wishing you good health and success throughout the new year!


Michelle, Sissy and Amy

Learning Environments: Preparing our Students for the Future

Written by: Christine Carey, Head of Student Support/Learning Community Coordinator

At YCIS, we have committed to creating learning environments that do just that by moving toward learning communities over distinct classrooms. This year our Year 5, Year 6 and IB students have been able to learn with this collaborative approach in renovated spaces that encourage meaningful talk, movement and more student accountability. Next year we will extend learning communities concept to other areas of the school.

All teachers in learning communities this year have reported a significant change in their ability to communicate and collaborate to improve student learning since they are not confined to classrooms and separated by walls. In their own efforts to work together in year levels, they are modeling this approach for students. Leaders continue to think, discuss and communicate with others to direct a way forward. Teachers continue to learn, adapt and modify their teaching to best serve the students. These are all skills that we encourage our students to also embody.

We are very excited to host select primary staff members from YCIS Beijing who have been teaching in learning communities for several years now. They will meet with teachers, leaders and parents to offer insight into their journey so that we can benefit from their learning. We believe our parent community will be very interested in hearing how this approach to learning has impacted on student approaches to learning and achievement.

Our end goal is to immerse students in an environment where they are able to learn how to communicate effectively, work together with their peers, interpret problems critically and then solve them creatively. This is preparing them as the future leaders of our world.