Ten Questions To Ask When Choosing The Right Education For Your Child

Sending your young ones off to school is an exciting, yet intimidating process for any parent. Not only do you want to ensure they are getting the best education possible, you want to be confident knowing that your child will be in a happy and nurturing environment when they head off to school each morning.

It’s important that both parents and the students are comfortable with a new school, whether the child is going off to school for the first time, or if you recently moved to the area and are looking for the best educational setting for your child.

To start your search, ask yourself a few questions first. Private or public school? Are religion and values an aspect of the experience that you want for your child? Are extracurricular activities an important factor in your child’s overall educational balance?

Once you have your own plan in mind, you can always ask your neighbors and coworkers who have children of a similar age for recommendations about the best elementary schools or best private elementary schools in the area. You can also do a web search based on the answers to the questions above to start a list of facilities that meet your initial criteria.

Once you have found a school or schools you like, make an appointment to visit their campus or schedule a virtual tour to speak with their Admissions Director. You’ll have an opportunity to learn more about the school philosophy, environment, faculty, facilities, and curriculum.

Here are common questions we hear from prospective parents:

– What are the admission criteria?

– Is there a spot available for my child right now, is there a waiting list?

– How many children are in each class, what is the student to teacher ratio?

– What makes your school the best choice for my child?

– How do teachers identify students who may need extra help and how do they provide that assistance?

– How often do teachers communicate with parents?

– How are behavioral problems handled if any arise?

– What will my child’s school day look like?

– What happens if my child gets sick at school?

Strelitz International Academy would love the opportunity to meet with you and your young student, show you around our campus and answer any questions you may have. Choosing a school for your child is an important decision. We want you and your child to be confident that choosing our school will exceed your educational expectations.

Building A Great Educational Partnership

Building an educational partnership is an important component of student growth. With parent conferences over and the end of the first trimester nearing, there are a few things to ensure that positive communication remains open between parents and teachers.

Communication about student progress is continuous: At the beginning of the year, teachers introduce themselves and discuss classroom routines at Parents’ Night. SIA teachers continue to communicate with highlights of classroom experiences through their newsletters and posts on ParentSquare. Parent-Teacher Conferences are held during the first and third trimester. SIA’s reporting system closely aligns with the IB philosophy, and teachers provide detailed information about student progress. Throughout the year, when teachers have information they would like to share with parents they will call, write a note, or send an email or ParentSquare message.

Teachers’ biggest passion is supporting student growth as they develop into strong learners with agency. As parents, you want your child to make the most out of their learning day. Keep discussions open with your child’s teacher. Share what you know about your child’s development and listen to the recommendations of the teachers. Working together, we are a great team for educational success.

Here are some great tips for partnering with your child’s teacher:

Help your teacher get to know your child: Often, the things you observe your child doing at home, the teacher also observes in the classroom. You may have strategies to share with your child’s teacher that works for you at home. If you are new to the school, share information that has helped your child to be successful in the past.

Ask questions: If your child brings home news of classroom happenings that leave you with questions, ask the teacher. Discussing situations with students or even other parents can sometimes stray from the facts. Never hesitate to ask about a situation from the teacher’s perspective so you get all sides of a story.

Openly discuss concerns: Listen to the recommendations of the teacher and if strategies are suggested, follow through at home and we will do the same at school. If you still have questions after speaking with your child’s teacher, you are welcome to reach out to a director.

Early Literacy Development for Infants and Toddlers

As our little ones come into the world, we watch them develop so many new skills in their first year of life. They smile, they pull up, they crawl, they speak. Did you know that many of these skills correlate to reading readiness a few years later.

Early literacy development is a process that begins in the first years of life. How do you engage an infant in activities that encourage early literacy? Best practices include many techniques which combine developmental milestones with “preparing” our youngest learners to become future readers. Simply engaging in everyday conversations, telling stories, and singing songs promote language. Even games like “peek-a-boo” are all ways to incorporate early literacy into daily routines. Singing repetitive songs while changing diapers, buckling seat belts and preparing dinner are easy ways to incorporate language and early learning with a simple daily routine.

Infant Daycare

At ages eight to sixteen months, older infants love to sing and dance. How does this help with early literacy? Singing and dancing are just a few of the activities that help our young learners develop a necessary phonological awareness which helps ready them for reading. There are many research based ideas which link music with early literacy development. For example, while singing or listening to music, children need to retain patterns and rhythms in their memory, which is also an integral reading readiness skill.

As our children grow and become toddlers at sixteen to twenty- four months of age, this early literacy development continues in various ways. As our infants become toddlers and begin to develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, they love to use instruments during musical play. As children clap, drum or shake to the beat, they learn to listen to, recognize, and attempt to imitate these same rhythms and patterns that are in their memory. Once again, this helps children develop phonological awareness, making meaning from sounds. Toddlers are well known for their desire for independence and personal preferences as they develop a sense of self. They have their favorite books and often ask for those to be read over and over. The importance of this repetition cannot be understated, as both babies and toddlers thrive on routine and consistency. Keep those favorites by their beds, in your diaper bag or in the car. It’s an easy way to incorporate books into their day and a healthy distraction when babies get fussy.

Have you ever seen a toddler “hiding” in a box? Surprisingly, even this favorite activity of most toddlers has a connection to early literacy. Empty boxes encourage creativity and develop higher level thinking skills. While building with these boxes the children are learning about spatial relationships and problem solving, which are directly related to reading. After all, reading is a complex form of problem solving at its heart through decoding letters and making meaning. As a child narrates this exploratory play while playing in, out and with the box, language skills are advanced as well.

To develop a child’s lifelong love of reading, children should be interacting with books early and often. The earlier that we can help children begin to associate books and reading with positive emotions, the better we are fostering a love of reading and preparing them for reading success in the future.

Strelitz International Academy Students Return To School on Campus!

SIA students returned to campus for in person learning on August 24. After almost 6 months away from their school campus and their friends, SIA students were so excited to come back to school!

It was a very unique and busy summer as the Strelitz International Academy prepared to return to campus. After going virtual on March 13 along with every school in Virginia, SIA Head of School Heather Moore was determined to open school safely on August 24 as planned to be able to better meet the educational, social and emotional, and childcare needs of the Strelitz families.

As word spread that Strelitz was opening, the admissions department became flooded with inquiries. Many families who had previously been satisfied with their neighborhood public schools applied for admission to SIA. The International Baccalaureate Program, Jewish Education and face to face learning made the decision to switch an easy one for many families in Tidewater. By mid summer, many classes had waitlists.

Opening school safely is not an easy task. It requires many safety measures to be implemented, including no parents or visitors on campus, mask wearing, social distancing, desk screens and a daily health screening done by parents along with student temperature checks during carpool drop off.

Heather Moore explains, “Our COVID team began meeting in May to begin researching and planning a way to open school safely this fall. The team met regularly and developed safety protocols and ordered equipment to ensure we could open school. Once we had a plan to safely open, we opened summer childcare p for early years on July 6 to help our families who had been in need of childcare for their little ones. We created a COVID parent handbook to help everyone acclimate to the new rules that parents, faculty and children would need to follow to maintain a safe environment.”

A virtual meet and greet was planned for the Friday before classes started so that students could meet their teachers and see their classroom before the first day of school. Parents and students were so grateful to be back on campus and didn’t seem to mind this unusual start.

On the first day of school, students were ready for school with their personal assortment of cute masks to express their style, parents were patient in the drop offline, and even our littlest learners were happy to be handed off to their teachers. The students have been amazingly resilient and parents were thrilled and grateful.
SIA parent Jasmine Amitay wrote on the SIA Facebook page, “Thank you for everything you did (and keep doing) to keep our kiddos safe! The boys had the best 1st day ever!”

SIA is looking at the year a little differently and creatively planning to come together virtually for parent and family events. Many SIA community highlights such as Shabbat Singalongs and parent coffees will not be possible this school year due to SIA’s safety protocols. The Parent Volunteer Committee has met virtually and is working on a schedule of enticing virtual events for parents and families.

After 5 long months of being apart, SIA is back on campus! Students are happy to be able to see their friends, learn with their classmates and enjoy a normal routine. And their parents could not be happier!
To learn more about the Strelitz International Academy, please contact Carin Simon, Admissions Director, csimon@strelitzacademy.org or 757.424.4327

What To Expect When Strelitz International Academy (SIA) Reopens

A major advantage of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) is that students are immersed in their learning environments, to not only learn by example, but also to understand through action. Because of that, we decided to open our campus this August for the fall semester and welcome returning students and faculty. We believe that because of our small class sizes, we can monitor and control their environment, to keep our students, staff, and faculty as safe as possible from the spread of COVID-19.

In order to do so, we fully took into account the need to revise our guidelines and policies regarding illness and health issues. We are utilizing resources and guidance provided by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) to formulate our policies and procedures.

Taking into account that infants through fifth graders cannot safely wear facemasks, shields, or other personal protective equipment (PPE), and they are generally not developmentally or physically astute enough to cover coughs and sneezes, we have put together a policy that will always err on the side of caution.

The full details of our updated illness policy are available on our website and in the August 7th SIA newsletter. In a nutshell, students and staff at SIA must go home or stay home and be evaluated by a licensed health professional who can determine if further testing may be needed for the following symptoms:

– Fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, with or without other symptoms present
– Fever of 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit with other symptom of illness present or an upward trend in temperature
– Cough
– Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
– Stomach pain
– Vomiting or diarrhea
– Body aches
– Headache unrelieved by hydration/rest/cool compress
– Persistent and/or heavy nasal secretions
– Lethargy
– Unusually persistent fussiness
– Rash or skin eruptions
– Chills
– Redness/irritation/swelling of the eyelid lining with crusting, discharge, discomfort, and/or itch

Children with household members who are known to have COVID-19 must not come to school.

The bar will be set low for sending/keeping students/staff home, and it will be set very high when evaluating their return. If your student is sent home, he or she must be picked up within 45 minutes. Please plan appropriately for this possibility.

We thank you in advance for your patience and support.

What is the difference between Honors, AP®, IB®, and college classes?

For high school seniors hoping to continue their education at a college or university after graduating, getting accepted to a school of higher learning can be a very competitive process. College admissions committees are looking for students who show an aptitude for scholastics, receive good grades and score well on their SATs, and strive to push the borders of their studies. In some cases, they also factor in community service or extracurricular activities.

To set themselves apart for other candidates, some students will enroll in more challenging study programs while in high school. In addition to their regular coursework, they may enroll in Honors classes, Advanced Placement classes, or take college courses at a local community college. A fourth option is to choose a school that offers an International Baccalaureate programme, which is an advanced curriculum in itself, as opposed to adding coursework to a standardized publicly dictated curriculum.

Let’s take a look at each:
Honors Classes are courses offered by individual schools that provide slightly more advanced content than traditional high school courses. While Honors Classes do look good on a transcript, there is no standardization of the classes or how they are taught.

Advanced Placement courses are authorized and regulated by The College Board, the same group that develops and administers the SAT. Schools that want to offer AP courses must go through an application process that ensures their courses meet AP standards. Individual teachers may also request approval to teach AP courses. Therefore, as a rule, college admission committees generally rank AP courses higher on an application over Honors Classes.

College Classes can be taken by students while still in high school. These courses can be helpful in preparing students for the college experience while also potentially earning credits toward college work, allowing students to skip required courses once they are full-time college students.

The International Baccalaureate is a curriculum founded with a mission of creating a better world through education. It offers coursework that focuses on teaching students to think critically and independently, and how to inquire with care and logic.

At Strelitz International Academy, we believe the International Baccalaureate is the best way to prepare students from a young age to move on to higher education, and become successful in their chosen career paths. We have invested a significant amount of time and energy into applying to and working with the IB® to be able to become a IB Primary Years Programme school. Contact us to find out more.

The Top Considerations For Choosing Between Private and Public School Education

Pre-pandemic, there were a host of differences between public and private schools that parents needed to weigh before deciding which of the top elementary schools they should send their children. Some of the benefits provided by affordable private schools include:

– Size: Smaller class sizes provide teachers with a greater ability to track each child’s progress, and gives them an opportunity to work more one-on-one with students when they need additional help.

– Curriculum: Private schools have more flexibility in what and how they teach. Through tuition fees and endowments, they also have more resources for enhancing the learning experience through newer methods such as virtual reality, to provide a more “hands-on” tool to learning.

– Success: Public schools generally strive to meet mandated minimum educational requirements to reach accreditation. Private schools are more focused on the student as a whole—not only pushing the boundaries of their educational opportunities, but also about emotional development and creating good citizens of the world.

– Longevity: With smaller class sizes and teaching methods that go beyond memorizing dates and figures from a book, private school students tend to make deeper, longer-lasting relationships with their peers. These relationships are often lifelong, providing opportunities for these students to be able to continue to help each other professionally after graduating from higher educational pursuits.

– Accomplishment: On a national level, private schools enjoy a nearly 100% graduation rate, compared to 80% from public schools. While graduating from high school is not necessarily a measure for success, it does lay the foundation for taking the next steps toward greater accomplishments.

Now that we’re firmly entrenched in the COVID-19 pandemic, there is one other important factor to consider. While public schools in the area are still pondering whether they will be going back to the classrooms this fall, providing lessons online, or some sort of hybrid of the two, Strelitz International Academy is fully planning on being back on campus. We can accomplish this because we have smaller class sizes and can more closely monitor the safety of each of our students.

Distance learning is a great alternative during these uncertain times. However, we still believe nothing can take the place of our highly qualified instructors interacting directly with their students.

Reasons Why You Might Want Your Child To Attend A Private School

If your child is just reaching school age, if you recently moved and are looking for new educational opportunities, or if you just aren’t satisfied with the education your child is receiving at a public school, you may want to consider looking into a private school. Here are a few reasons why private elementary schools may be a better option for your family:

  Focus: Private schools generally have smaller class sizes so students can get more one-on-one attention. If a child is having difficulty with a particular lesson or concept, private school teachers can more easily identify an issue, and can work individually with the student to get them back on track.

  Safety: With a higher ratio of adults to students, private schools not only have the opportunity to pinpoint if children are having trouble with lessons or concepts, they can also keep better track of the kids as they interact. So, if bullying is a problem or if a situation is escalating between students, adults can identify what’s happening more quickly and can step in faster to disarm the situation.

  Education: Public school curriculums are often handed down from the state level, with some varying degrees of differences being influenced by public school boards in each county or municipality. While private schools can utilize standardized curriculums, they also have the freedom to deviate in ways that can create a more well-rounded education that can also be focused on topics such as religion.

  Resources: Private schools charge tuition and often have endowments or fundraising opportunities that directly relate to providing the resources students will need for an advanced education.

  Graduation: Not surprisingly, private schools across the nation have nearly a 100% rate of graduation, while public schools are closer to only 80%. For students that will be going on to higher levels of education such as college or graduate school, this is an important stepping stone in getting to that destination.

Strelitz International Academy is one of the best affordable private schools in Hampton Roads. We are an International Baccalaureate (IB) candidate school, which means we focus on personal and academic growth, challenging students to excel in their studies and their personal development. We invite you to contact us for additional information on how we are transforming students into successful and positive citizens of the world.

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