The first school that your child attends is really important for all aspects of their development. It should be a place that incites in them a love and joy for learning.
"The Asian Parent" Parenting Magazine visited Magic Years to speak with our community and to learn more about our values, curriculum and teaching practice. Through the interviews that were carried out with Head of School, Ms. Khanum Thampi along with some parents of students at MYIS, it is hoped that this article provides greater insights into the school shedding light on our values, curriculum and teaching practice.
Ms. Khanum: Magic Years was founded in 1991 with the aims of building a school that can provide a nurturing environment to support children in strengthening their capacities for growth, learning and overall development.
The first Magic Years campus was built along Sukhumvit Road. At these early stages, the school began at a house that had been turned into school grounds, supporting nursery and kindergarten classes. As the years went by, the school progressed and implemented a Primary Years Program. It was later was certified by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) as an IB World School. As more parents learned about the school from their friends and relatives, the school began to take in more enrolments which spurred the need for the school to expand its grounds in order to cater to the larger numbers. Presently, Magic Years International School is located in Samakee and is open for students from nursery levels to upper elementary.
How is Magic Years International School different from other schools?
Ms. Khanum: I would say that we are different from other international schools in four major ways. Firstly, parents feel relaxed and less worried in our school because our classroom walls are see through and parents are always welcome to watch their children in their classroom environments. Our staff at the school, be it teachers, guards or drivers treat every student with respect and know all the students by name. Second, students feel good coming to school. For younger children, spending a lot of time at a place that is not their own home can be a challenging experience and may be difficult for them to adjust to. Here at Magic Years, parents are encouraged to sit in with their child in the classroom until they develop the confidence to go through their days independently with their fellow classmates. Third, we are surrounded by nature on campus grounds which helps to create conducive environments for learning. Our campus includes wide open areas, large grass covered playgrounds, a sand area, many different types of playground equipment, trees and a small goat farm for children to interact with and explore. Finally, Magic Years is one of the few schools in Thailand to adopt the IB Primary Years Program curriculum.
Can you please explain more about the IB curriculum?
Ms. Khanum: Here, our teachers view each child as unique individuals with capacity and ability. Such a view is crucial in helping children grow and develop into good citizens. By doing this, children are encouraged and are guided to develop the skills needed to not only live happy in society but also, to actively serve their communities. The IB or the International Baccalaureate curriculum is developed by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO). It is a combination of curriculums from around the world, highlighting the multicultural society we live in and all its universalities. As such, students that graduate from this educational system are often widely accepted by many universities around the world. Teachers who teach the IB curriculum are required to be especially trained in recognising and supporting children to develop skills and traits as stated in the Learner Profile of the IB curriculum, which includes being caring, inquirers, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, knowledgeable, balanced, reflective and risk-taking individuals.
In terms of language skills, Magic Years places high importance on a child’s mother tongue. This is because with a strong grip on a their mother tongue, it will be quicker and easier for them to develop a second language. Teachers here work to help children learn to read, write, listen, speak as well as understand language in its totality whether it be in their mother tongue or English, which is the language of instruction here at Magic Years.
What skills does Magic Years believe is important for children to possess?
Ms. Khanum: Children at Magic Years will develop qualities according to the IB Learner Profile of the IB curriculum. They are also encouraged to develop good life skills such as being responsible and having a good sense of understanding of the world so that they will be able to conduct themselves well in different environments, be it at school or in the home setting.
How is the new Campus different from the old campus?
Ms. Khanum: Before building the new campus, we carried out a survey with the children and parents about what they would like to see at the new school. The younger children drew pictures of a school they would like to be in and explained to their teachers why they drew what they did. For example, they were asked to explain why their school should have a big slide. All these ideas were then gathered and presented to the architect. This was followed by many rounds of consultation to ensure that the new school grounds would be able to capture all the ideas collated as much as possible. We also kept all the things that the children loved from the old campus and brought them to the new campus. This included the goat farm and even some of the trees. We believe our school is not just one filled with tables and chairs but rather, a garden of learning and inspiration to our children.
After interviewing Head of School, Ms Khanum Thampi, we then interviewed some parents of students who attend MYIS.
The parent perspective: why Magic Years was right for their child
Mrs. Hieng: I looked at many other schools before I decided to choose this school for my children. At the time, my child was still very young and had stayed home for most of his life. So when it was time for him to start school, I was worried that he would be afraid of being in a new environment. When I first visited Magic Years, I fell in love with the school right away. There was a homely feel to the school and I felt this all around as well as in the classrooms. This made me feel confident about my children learning in this environment because I knew that they would feel relaxed, warm and happy. Now, all my four children are students of Magic Years.
Since choosing Magic Years International School, what changes have you noticed in your children?
Mrs. Hieng: I noticed very clearly how quickly they developed confidence, which is also one of the qualities many others notice about the children here at Magic Years. The children here develop a well-balanced lifestyle and are compassionate individuals. My son, Pao, began doing a lot of things on his own because the school supports children in helping themselves go about their daily routines independently. For example, they should clean up for themselves once they have finished eating and put away their plates, cups and utensils. They are also encouraged to be responsible for their own belongings and to observe school rules. I believe they have also developed good qualities as a result of being in a happy environment such as Magic Years. When my children are happy about coming to school, it helps them develop a positive outlook on learning. They become ready to open up their minds to new learning and strive to do well for whatever is put in front of them.
What would you like to tell to other parents who are looking for a school for their child?
Mrs. Hieng: I would like to tell them that their child’s first school is so important. It should be a school that builds a positive impression about learning in children. It should be a school that they are excited to go to in the morning. Your child’s readiness and distance from home should also be taken into consideration. If all these points are considered then I believe that the school will be an ideal place for your child and will be one that instills a love for learning, leaving them happy and in joyful spirits about the process of learning.
In selecting a school for your child, what do you consider most important?
Ms. Ann: I think that a good school is not just a place that provides education to your child but is also a place that supports their life-long learning. It should be a place that motivates your child to learn independently without being forced. The knowledge that they gain should be relevant to their life and should instil in them all the good virtues they need to live happy and productive lives in society.
How did you feel after sending your child to Magic Years International School?
Ms. Ann: Both Bae and Bow are very happy to be studying here. They often tell me that they enjoy learning and sharing with their friends and teachers at school. I was actually surprised to hear that they enjoy sharing. I’ve noticed that they are able to share their thoughts with their friends and accept new ideas from others and sharing is an important part of developing communication skills. What is also important is that they have been able to learn more about themselves. For example, they are more aware of the things they like and dislike which I think is important for children to know.
Every morning, Bae wakes me up at 6 a.m. because he doesn’t want to go to school late. He makes sure to manage his time well so that he is ready and well prepared for school, taking into account the time he needs to get dressed, have breakfast and traveling time. I feel extremely proud of my son when I see him able to express thoughts like this at his age.
What is something you find special about Magic Years International School?
Ms. Ann: Before I decided to put Bay into Magic Years, I visited more than 20 other schools around town. In the end, I found Magic Years the best because I could see the warm social environment the school provides for children. All the parents and teachers here also have a good and strong relationship and know each other well.
The school staff here also get along well with the children and parents. There is also an openness in the school that allows for us to discuss our issues of concern. The teachers are well trained and have good ways of facilitating learning in the classroom environment, creating experiences for the children that help them along their learning journey. Each child is helped in ways that are natural to them and in accordance to their capacity - so there is no force or pressure which often times, causes children to lose confidence in themselves. These things made me happy about choosing Magic Years for my child.
If you are looking for a good school where you can be fully confident that your child will be looked after in the best possible way, Magic Years International School is definitely a school you should consider.
The best way to learn more about our program is to experience it first-hand! Call us at 02-156-6222 to schedule an appointment.
(English translation of The Asian Parent Article published on February 17, 2017)