How are schools helping families through the pandemic?

30th July 2020 by Gracie Stewart 3 Min ReadFrom ensuring home-based learning matches the quality of education delivered in the classroom, to managing the financial impacts of the outbreak, SHINHE CHO, Digital Marketing Manager at International Community School Singapore, shares some of the ways the school is helping families through the pandemic.Tuition freezeSingapore is among the 10 most expensive countries in the world for an international education. So, it’s no great surprise that COVID-19 has brought about financial difficulties for many families. However, while school fees still need to be paid, there’s some good news for parents; many international schools are looking to freeze tuition fees for the 2020-21 academic year.At ICS Singapore, the Board of Directors has voted to freeze tuition at the current rate as a way to help support families during this difficult time. This means the current published fees will remain the same for the next school year.As a registered charity, ICS operates solely on tuition and donations. All profit is placed into financial reserves at the end of each school year to be reinvested directly into the school and children’s learning. The decision to not increase tuition for the upcoming  year means ICS will use its financial reserves to cover the difference between the originally planned 3% increase and the actual 0% increase in fees. Staff wearing masks, ready to welcome students backOnline learning hubSince the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown measures (including the Circuit Breaker here in Singapore), schools around the world have been rolling out online learning. This has allowed students to continue their studies without interruption. While home-based learning can’t substitute entirely for classroom learning, according to former Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, “it’s important that schools blend the two, so they can harness the best of both worlds in a modern education system”.As a result, ICS Singapore has introduced an Online Learning Hub to keep the community connected and engaged. The idea is to promote continuous learning whether at school or at home. The Online Learning Hub provides useful tips, resource recommendations, health and wellness advice, online learning expectations and more, and is a one-stop shop for students’ continuous learning. The school has also introduced an #OnlineLearningWins hashtag across its social media accounts as a way to promote positive home-based learning. Socially distanced desksNew health and safety protocolsThere’s plenty for children to look forward to when they return after the summer break; catching up with friends, for starters! However, not everything will remain the same. Schools wil be looking to introduce a “new normal”. This means finding ways to reopen without putting pupils, teachers and their families at risk.ICS has been working hard to get the campus ready to resume face-to-face learning on 12 August. The team says that they’re committed to providing the safest possible environment for children to learn in. To this end, they’ve implemented all of the protocols and procedures the Singapore government has mandated on campus. This includes evaluating changes in the following areas:Operations: How children access campus, the bus service, drop-off and pick-up, and use of the canteen, gym and playground.Scheduling: Safe distancing of students in hallways, staggered bell schedules, and altered recess and lunch times.Teaching and learning: Distanced desks in classrooms, equipment wiped down between classes, wearing masks, no mixing of small groups, and assigned seating and collaboration work.Social-emotional: Individual counselling available, and K-12 in-class presentations by counsellors about safe behaviours and safe classrooms.Find out more about ICS and contact the school at

20+ homeschooling & e-learning ideas

This is a great article from Tekkie Help – over 20 tips on how parents (and kids) can manage the technical and practical aspects of homeschooling and remote or online learning. And some very helpful resources and ideas to help parents do their ‘new’ job!How to be organised & what tools to useWith schools beginning to close to stop the spread of coronavirus, you may find yourself working from home with a new side-gig: teacher.If you’re new to homeschooling, you’re probably wondering how you can help your kids learn and keep them occupied while you work. Is it possible to avoid a screen-time free-for-all and keep your sanity?To make homeschooling a unique and fun experience for both you and your kid, using some kind of technology has become a must. Not only does it put a twist on traditional learning, but it also makes your teaching job easier. We have put together a basic “toolbox” of how to get up and running with homeschooling, engage your kids more in the learning process, and teach them how to manage their time, focus, and master their own productivity.#1 Access resources at homeFirst things first, see if your teacher or school has online learning facilities via Google Classroom, Zoom or another platform. Schools in Singapore are very prepared and generally provide some online resources. For seamless access to these online platforms, you need to ensure firstly that you have enough devices for all your children. This can be a challenge, especially with many parents now working from home too. You may need to work out a schedule to rotate and share the computers you have in your household, or alternatively consider buying another device. As a cost-effective option, Tekkie Help have a number of refurbished Macs starting at around $400.Secondly, you will need to ensure your Wi-Fi network is up to handle the increased demand placed by conference calls, video streaming and more. Check out our blog article on setting your IT set up and running for seamless remote working.#2 Set up a routineLooking for a homeschool daily schedule? This quarantine homeschool schedule template has been making the rounds as a COVID-19 daily schedule. You may want to try to follow your child’s regular school schedule or decide on a plan with a family meeting. These printable schedules let you plan out your day, or you may prefer to use special apps to manage time tables – we love Tiimo for primary school children (offering a free 30-day trial). To encourage self-management, you can also set various alarms that match your schedule to let kids know when it’s time to move on to the next planned activity.#3 Set up parental controlsUsing technology to home school is essential, especially if you’re busy working too. But how do you prevent your children getting sidetracked and using their devices to access other content and apps? This is where setting up parental control software can really help and give you peace of mind that learning hasn’t taken a detour! Apple’s in-built controls are fantastic as not only are they free, they also enable you to set access rights on specific apps and websites.Set up with Family Sharing, you can remotely control each child’s electronic access and check on their productivity! It’s fairly intuitive to set up but if you need help, our team of Tekkie Specialists can assist.#4 Use free online resources It’s so lovely to learn that people are giving up their time to help support parents and children at home by streaming free webinars. Mo Willems, of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Elephant and Piggie fame, is hosting “lunchtime doodles”. Jarret J. Krosoczka, author of the Lunch Lady graphic novel series and the National Book Award finalist Hey, Kiddo, is hosting daily drawing webcasts on YouTube.Khan Academy is a great, free resource for instructional videos on many topics. Mystery Science is offering free science lessons during school shutdowns. Many educational websites are offering free subscriptions during school closures. The streaming audio service Pinna is offering families and teachers two free months of access to their audio streaming service for kids aged three to 12. To activate, go to Pinna and use the promo code “PINNA4KIDS”. There are plenty of educational and entertaining podcasts for kids, including NPR’s WOW in the World, Story Pirates and Brains On!For greater engagement and to draw your kids away from small screens, you may want to run these online resources on your TV. If you don’t have a smart TV, you can do this by either streaming over the Wi-Fi using a media device such as AppleTV or Chromecast. Alternatively, you can plug in your computer directly to the TV using an HDMI cable.#5 Get physicalWith kids kept indoors more than usual, don’t forget to provide plenty of wiggle time. The Kidz Bop YouTube channel has dance-along videos. Mark Kanemura, a former backup dancer with Lady Gaga and contestant on So You Think You Can Dance, is offering virtual dance parties on Instagram. Cosmic Kids Yoga has free yoga resources for young children; and Go Noodle features short videos to get kids moving.If you’re not on a Stay Home Notice, take your work outside and let the kids dig, or just observe nature. They can track what they see in a science notebook. Tinkergarten, the outdoor early learning programme, is offering Tinkergarten At Home for families with weekly activity ideas and other resources.#6 Watch documentariesIf your kids Netflix, you can chill (or get some work done). And there are plenty of quality films to get you through quarantine. Common Sense Media keeps a list of the best documentaries for kids. For an all-family TV break, shows about cooking and travel can be great crossovers.Be kind to yourself; remember, this is temporary and no one expects perfection! You’ve got this!Written by Tekkie Help Read more in our Homes section.