SIA Launches new Transitional Kindergarten Program

SIA Launches new Transitional Kindergarten Program

The Strelitz International Academy is excited to launch a new Transitional Kindergarten Program for eligible new and re enrolling students.  The SIA TK program is designed for students old enough for kindergarten but who need an extra year to develop their kindergarten readiness skills.  Transitional Kindergarten is a program that bridges the gap between preschool and Kindergarten, providing an extra year to acquire kindergarten academic, social and emotional readiness for students who need it.

In order to start Kindergarten in Virginia, a student must turn 5 by September 30 of their kindergarten year.  That means that some students start kindergarten before their fifth birthday while others on the older end of the group will turn six years old as early as October 1.  As a result of being so young, some younger students with summer birthdays find themselves struggling to keep up with their peers.  In many cases, an extra year to grow and mature has long-term positive consequences on a child’s social, emotional and academic success.

The TK program is not for all younger children of kindergarten age.  A child’s kindergarten readiness is determined through teacher evaluation and parent observation of both academic and social skills.  Children who may be ready for kindergarten academically but may need time to work on impulse control, social skills and fine motor control may benefit.  Many studies have shown that students who are ahead of their peers in both academic and social and emotional skills have long-term positive impacts on a child’s social, emotional and academic success.  In TK, students will have the opportunity to hone this confidence into leadership skills and advanced academics in their later elementary school years and beyond.  Transitional Kindergarten gives these students the advantage that their older kindergarten peers have as a resultof their age. SIA’s transitional kindergarten program is designed to provide parents with a developmentally appropriate, research-based program which grants children that gift.

Parents are sometimes hesitant to hold their child back due to social stigmas from their own school experience; however, there are many long term benefits of holding younger children back a year.  Instead of struggling to keep up as  the youngest student in the class, when completing the transitional kindergarten program, these students will have the opportunity to take the lead in kindergarten the following year.  Over the years, we have had parents decide to hold their children back a year in the EY4 class or Kindergarten in order to give their child the gift of a year.  The transitional kindergarten class will give these students the advantages of both the extra play of EY4 and the academic skills of Kindergarten.  Transitional Kindergarten students will have a similar curriculum to kindergarten, however, they will have more time to work on the skills they need within the IB World School Program. The class will be a full day from 8am until 3:30pm with the option to include fullcare.  Students will work on reading, writing and math with more time to play.  In addition, students will participate in the same specialty and enrichment classes as the SIA Kindergarten Program including PE, Art, Music, Hebrew, Violin with the addition of Swimming.

For more information on Transitional Kindergarten at the Strelitz International Academy, please contact Carin Simon, Admissions Director, 757.424.4327

The Strelitz International Academy is now enrolling for the 2023-2024 school year for all grades.

Our 5 Favorite Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers

Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers

At Strelitz International Academy, we work hard to ensure your child is set up for long-term academic and personal success, and it starts the moment they walk through our doors. Our preschool program is designed to help your child hit all major developmental milestones. Whether that be social development, language development, physical development, or motor development, we help with it all. One of the most important milestones we help with is fine motor skills. Through the many fine motor activities we provide for our preschoolers, your child can go into our elementary age IB World School Primary Years Program Virginia Beach prepared for the next step. 

Fine Motor Skills—Why They’re Important

As children develop, they hit a few key milestones—learning to crawl, learning to walk, learning to speak, and learning to perform daily tasks. Part of their development is learning fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are the skills or tasks that we perform daily with small muscles throughout our body. This includes zipping up jackets, brushing our teeth, tying shoe laces, grasping a pen, typing on a keyboard, etc. Learning to strengthen and control these tiny muscles is the process of developing fine motor skills. This developmental stage is essential in helping children become independent and prepare for primary school.

Our Favorite Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers

While we continually develop our fine motor skills throughout our life, preschool is the age where fine motor skills are just beginning to develop. It is for this reason that preschool is the most crucial stage for increasing fine motor skills. Children can learn this through various age-appropriate activities such as playing with playdough, blocks, puzzles, doing arts and crafts, and playing pretend. 

Fine Motor Skills Puzzles

Playdough

Playdough is one of the best ways for children to develop fine motor skills. With playdough, preschoolers can squish, squeeze, pull, poke, press, roll, and pinch the dough into exciting shapes. This tactile experience is entertaining and helpful for developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. 

Blocks

Another fine motor activity that preschoolers can participate in, is blocks. Whether this is wooden blocks, legos, Lincoln logs, or others, blocks introduce balance, alignment, transferring, etc., to their small muscles. 

Puzzles

Similar to blocks, puzzles help children develop fine motor skills by helping them recognize shapes, twist them, flip them, turn them, etc., to fit into a specific hole. These small movements help to strengthen their muscles and make them more adept.

Crafts

Another great fine motor activity for preschoolers is participating in arts and crafts. This can include any craft, such as painting, drawing, coloring, or even origami. By gripping a pen, pencil, paintbrush, or crayon, the muscles in their fingers learn to move independently of their wrist and hands. Similarly, origami requires folding, cutting, etc., which uses spatial awareness in addition to fine motor skills to create an entertaining result. 

Play

Interestingly enough, playing pretend is also an effective way to strengthen fine motor skills. Pretending to cook a meal, eat a meal, or go grocery shopping allows preschoolers to practice their fine motor skills in a fictitious real-world setting. Through these activities, they can learn how their bodies function in relation to the space around them without the dangers that come from actually cooking.

Fine Motor Skills in Later School Years

Fine Motor Activities in the Classroom

The development of fine motor skills not only helps children perform daily tasks but also prepares them for success in their later school years. Activities such as writing, typing, performing labs, filling out tests, etc., all use the fine motor skills developed in childhood. While it is possible to learn these skills later on in life, why not set your child up for success earlier? Instead of having to catch up, they will already be ahead. 

Strelitz International Academy—Incorporating Fine Motor Activities in the Classroom

Practicing motor skills is an essential part of their childhood development. Preschools and daycares should incorporate these fine motor activities into everyday classes to help children grow and learn. At Strelitz International Academy, we provide preschoolers with a wide variety of activities that promote fine motor skills development. Through self-directed learning and teacher-guided play, preschoolers continue to develop their fine motor skills and general motor skills. We offer Magna-tiles, blocks, play dough, puzzles, and dramatic play areas (kitchen, baby dolls, and cars), that all aid in this development.

It is through our preschool program that Strelitz students can progress and enter our elementary age IB World School Primary Years program in Virginia Beach. Our preschool/kindergarten graduates learn and develop in a way that sets them up for later success in our program. Discover how the IB program works and learn more about how we introduce new skills to our preschoolers by visiting our website. 

Increase your child’s long-term success. Speak with the Director of Admissions and schedule a tour today by calling us at 757-424-4327.

7 Activities and Play Ideas for Kindergarten Students

Play Ideas for Kindergarten Students

Activities and play are essential for the growth and development of a child. With fun play, children create the foundation for their educational development. These fun play ideas for kindergarten classes are designed to coincide with their developmental stage and help them gain new skills. At Strelitz International Academy, we offer our kindergarten students the opportunity to direct their own play and learn at their own pace. This learning experience helps set the stage for success in our IB PYP School in Norfolk and any further educational exploits.

How Play Helps with Childhood Development

Children are naturally motivated to play and explore new things. As they play, children use their senses to explore their environment, learn new things, communicate their feelings, and gain new skills. It is for this reason that play-based learning is incredibly important to the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development of children. By playing, children develop a sense of things around them through inquiry, exploration, interaction, and problem-solving. To help encourage this development, learning environments should be geared towards a student-led, teacher-supported approach that predominantly occurs through play-based learning.

Different Play Ideas for Kindergarten Students

In order to help encourage play-based learning, we have put together a list of some fun play ideas for kindergarten students. These ideas are geared towards developing their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional needs.

Pretend Play

Playing pretend can help to build a child’s sense of abstract thinking. By developing imaginative situations and scenarios, children can develop a sense of abstract subjects such as numbers, symbols, and language. You can encourage play by setting up stations where children can dress up, pretend to cook, play as a vet, and more. A shopping store station can also encourage the use of numbers, writing, and more.

Explore Something New

Exploring a new object, thing, or area is a wonderful way to help children understand the world around them and how it works. This can be as simple as playing outside, burying toys in a sandbox, setting up a sensory box, or putting out a pool. These activities encourage children to discover hidden things, play around in different environments, and learn cause and effect. This helps to develop their cognitive skills as well as their general and fine motor skills. 

Playdough Activities for Kindergarten

As we mentioned above, sensory objects, toys, and bins are a key way to get children talking and communicating their feelings. Playdough is a fun, relatively, mess-free activity that stimulates the senses. Molding, cutting, squishing, and pulling also help children strengthen their hand muscles and develop fine motor skills. 

Read Together

Reading is another way children learn language, symbols, and comprehension skills. Books can even take on an instructional role—teaching children their ABC’s or numbers in a fun and unique way. By reading out loud, children get to experience the book in a fun and engaging way, while also learning communication and language skills.

Drawing/Painting

Similar to playdough activities for kindergartners, drawing and painting activities help introduce creativity and abstract thinking to their lives. By mixing colors, using pencils, paintbrushes, and pens, children develop various skills that are useful in later educational topics.

Blocks/Puzzles

Building with blocks and using puzzles are a great way for children to learn and recognize shapes, sizes, and colors. These types of games help children with their spatial awareness, logical thinking, and organization skills. All of which are needed in scientific, technological, and mathematical classes later in life. 

Music/Singing/Dancing

Another engaging way to encourage language development is through music. Whether your child is introduced to an instrument, learning a song, or dancing to a beat, they are developing mathematical skills in a creative way. Plus, fun songs can be a great way to introduce concepts such as counting, rhyming, and literacy.

Prepare for the Next Stage of Schooling

In addition to helping with development, play-based learning helps children prepare for the next stage of their schooling career. Developing fine motor skills helps children to be prepared to use pencils, pens, and other materials in the classroom. Mathematical and language skills set up the foundation for reading, writing, and basic math. Playing pretend helps children regulate their emotions and express them, while also encouraging them to interact with other children and developing social skills. All of these activities that are seemingly just play, are actually incredibly beneficial for setting your child up for success in their later education. 

IB Primary Years Program (PYP) Schools near Norfolk

Are you interested in enrolling your child in a child-directed, teacher-supported environment? Consider sending your child to Strelitz International Academy. We offer a kindergarten environment that sets them up for success in a way that is developmentally appropriate. Our kindergarten graduates learn and develop in a way that sets them up for later success in our IB program elementary school in Norfolk, VA. Discover how the IB program works and learn more about our kindergarten program by visiting our website. 

Are you ready to increase your child’s long-term success? Speak with the Director of Admissions and schedule a tour today by calling us at 757-424-4327.

Please Limit Your Covid Exposure Potential This Holiday Season

Students are Wearing Mask While Going To Private School

The holidays breaks are closer than we think, and under normal circumstances we’d all probably be in the process of making plans to visit family and friends to enjoy some special times together. However, as we all know, these are not normal times and we’re all making adjustments to keep ourselves and our family members safe in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.

Now that Strelitz International Academy has been in session for more than a month, we’re happy to announce that we have not experienced any COVID cases within our school community thus far. We have worked very hard to keep our students, faculty, and staff well protected and it appears that our efforts have been well worth it.

We’d like to keep this success going, which is why we’re asking our students’ parents to please limit your out-of-area travel this coming holiday season if at all possible. If you already have plans and intend to travel over the holidays, we kindly ask that you notify our School Nurse or the Head of School so we can take the proper precautions recommended by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) upon your student’s return. This may include, but is not limited to, temporarily excluding your child from immediately returning from school after returning.

We will be assessing the potential risk factors involved with your travel, including the mode of transportation used, high risk events you and your child may be exposed to while traveling, and if you are travelling to an area that is considered a “hot spot” for COVID-19 cases.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, the following are examples of activities and situations that can increase your exposure threat:

– Being in an area that is currently experiencing a high level of COVID-19 cases. You can check the CDC COVID-19 tracker [link: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#cases_casesinlast7days] for domestic travel, or their international Travel Recommendations by Destination [link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/map-and-travel-notices.html].

– Going to a large social gathering such as a wedding, funeral, or party.
– Attending mass gatherings such as sporting events, concerts, or parades.
– Being in any crowded area such as restaurants, bars, airports, bus and train stations, or movie theaters.
– Traveling on a cruise ship or river boat.

We understand how important family time is, but we also understand these are very trying times for everyone. Please help us keep everyone safe this holiday season by keeping us in the loop of any travel plans.

How you can help prepare your kids (and yourselves) to return to group care, camp or school

Teacher Reading to Preschoolers

Many of us are probably experiencing “quarantine fatigue.” We have been home with our families for far longer than any of us has ever been in the past. Literally. In the house or our yards, many of us without the distraction of going into school, work, or shops. As we begin to fantasize about what it will be like to return to some of our previous routines, keep in mind that things will not “return to normal.” There will be, at least, for the most part, a new normal. One that may include: mask-wearing caretakers, counselors, and teachers; morning welcome screenings with temperature measuring and being asked the same questions day after day; new illness policies, a lower bar for sending home children who are not feeling well; new policies for return after being sick. There will be a robust emphasis on handwashing, covering coughs, sneezes, and not touching the T-Zone (eyes, nose, mouth). Some kids may wear masks to camp or school. Activities, schedules & seating will need to be audited to accommodate safe spacing & limiting the number of people in a space.

It is imperative that we talk to our kids now about what things may look like & feel like in the coming weeks and months. You, as the parent, get to set the tone, share the messages at an age-appropriate level, set the stage in a way that you see fit. Now is also the time to be modeling the behaviors and skills your child will need to use at camp or school: meticulous hand washing with soap and scrubbing for 20 seconds; keeping a distance from those who are coughing or not feeling well; keeping their hands off their faces (not easy for any of us); covering coughs and sneezes; what to do if we cough or sneeze in our hands. Most of you have been working on this long before COVID-19, but now you need to find the momentum to keep it going.

We all must work to maintain and strengthen our immune systems so we are up for the task when we head back into the midst of other humans. This includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, staying hydrated, and moving our bodies every day.

Speaking of the immune system, this is NOT the time to push off necessary vaccinations. Your child’s provider may be making appointments for the summer or even seeing patients for well checks and needed vaccinations. It’s important that infants and toddlers continue to receive their immunizations on time. Immunizations keep infants and children safe by protecting them from vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough (pertussis). The second round of Measles, Mumps & Rubella, as well as Varicella will still be required for Kindergarten. We cannot return to camp or school, only to find ourselves dealing with a measles outbreak as our communities gather back together.

There is much to consider, sort, digest, and adjust to during this health crisis. If we, the adults, are feeling the stress, we know that our kids are, too. Preparing them (and ourselves) for a healthy return to care, camp and school can help increase confidence and reduce anxiety. Jewish Family Service and our school counselors may be able to help you and your family. It is not too early to begin filling toolboxes with the skills and knowledge that will help our children make healthy, successful transitions back to camp and school.

Resources:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/talking-with-children.html

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-to-talk-to-children-about-the-coronavirus-2020030719111

https://jfshamptonroads.org/services/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/10-tips-for-talking-about-covid-19-with-your-kids

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-guidelines-covid-19-isolation

https://time.com/5829312/covid-19-caution-fatigue/

Parenting Styles That Can Cause Entitlement in Kids and What To Do To Change Them

Teacher Reading to Preschoolers

Everyone wants what’s best for their children, but sometimes that means providing guidance that may not be popular. Yet many parents still give in to their kids’ whims simply to avoid a tantrum, negotiations or confrontation. And while it is okay to give in every once in a while, doing it consistently can lead to self-entitlement issues in your children, which will end up making everyone more miserable in the long run. Here are a few parenting styles that can cause entitlement, and what you can do to provide better guidance:

The Enabler: Enabling your child can start with small things but can quickly escalate to the point where you are constantly frustrated by your child’s behavior and still do nothing to adjust it. Examples might include if your child expects you to drop everything so you can give them a ride to the mall or to a friend’s house or to keep their room clean and tidy because that’s what you’ve always done. Instead, let your children know that you will take them to things like extra-curricular activities for school, but that you are not a taxi. That you will do laundry on certain days but will only wash what is properly placed in the laundry hamper. If your child has to wear a dirty soccer uniform because the rules were not followed, it will quickly reinforce your expectations.

The Rescuer: If your child constantly “forgets” things that require you to help them out in the 11th hour, they will always expect you to come to their rescue. This might include helping them out with school projects, bringing them their lunch or gear for swim practice, etc. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t jump in from time to time for legitimate reasons, but you shouldn’t make a habit of it. Instead, let your children know that you will not rescue them for repeated forgetfulness, then help them figure out better ways to keep from needing to be rescued. It may be difficult to play out, but the behavior should change on its own once your child understands they need to be responsible for their own actions—and will pay the consequences in one way or another if they don’t.

There are several other types of parenting styles that can lead to entitlement in your children, but the best solution in every case is to have a frank conversation with your children about what you will and will not do for them, and what you expect from them. Strelitz International Academy will help you reinforce your position by engaging your children at school and making them responsible for their learning. Together, we can create a positive environment at both home and school that will make your children better, more well-rounded citizens of the world.

Educational Program at IB PYP School

Students at Strelitz International Academy

 

: Educational-Program-at-IB-PYP-School.jpg

Highlights of Our IB PYP Programme:

  1. Inquiry-based approach so learning can thrive in the classroom and beyond.
  2. Helps to boost a child’s brain using skills, knowledge and fun activities.
  3. Utilizes globally significant transdisciplinary themes to guide deeper learning.
  4. Cultivates educators who are dedicated and passionate through unique professional experiences.
  5. Highlights the translation of best practices in the classroom to inspire student engagement.

EY3 Learning About Passover Via Distance Learning

Students Learning About Passover Via Distance Learning

Tradition and technology intermingled this spring as EY3 students learned about the traditions of Passover in a rather non-traditional way. As part of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) of the International Baccalaureate curriculum, there are six transdisciplinary themes:

  1. Who we are
  2. Where we are in place and time
  3. How we express ourselves
  4. How the world works
  5. How we organize ourselves
  6. Sharing the planet

At the beginning of April, our EY3 teachers began introducing the “How the world works” theme through virtual learning sessions. The central idea of the theme is the concept that various cycles occur in nature and throughout the world. With that in mind, our EY3 classes began with a line of inquiry about cycles in our everyday lives. Our teachers chose a very relatable way of introducing this idea in that cycles are continuously happening all around us every day. Some thoughts included our daily routines of waking up every day, having breakfast, going to school, and more.

As Passover approached, our teachers easily segued into the idea of other cycles in our lives, including the yearly cycle of our Jewish holidays. This led to learning that Passover occurs in the spring, which is a part of the cycle of seasons. In context, Passover was a spring festival that was connected to the offering of the “first-fruits of the barley,” as barley was the first grain to be ripened and harvested in the Land of Israel.

It’s actually pretty heady material if you think about it. But through engagement, association, and involvement, our students were able to digest the subject matter and relate to it in a way that made sense in their young minds. And in a manner that will help them better understand future concepts as they are discussed.

This is the very foundation of what the Strelitz International Academy is trying to achieve in creating students who are well-rounded and encouraging them to develop independence and take responsibility for their own learning. We focus on the development of the whole child as a thinker and inquirer in both the classroom and in the world outside—even if that means we need to use new models of teaching, such as using distance learning, to continue education in the face of adversity.

Primary Years Distance Learning Reflections

Primary Years Distance Learning

It is hard to believe that we are in Week Four of Distance Learning. Though we miss our students more than anything, we have developed a great routine “at school” which is hopefully reflected at home! Thank you for all of your support. We know at times it can feel overwhelming, and parents are expected to be super humans because of this quarantine.

Educators around the globe agree that this is an opportunity for us to develop resourcefulness, agency, and strong bonds as a family. We, as many other schools all over the world, will be adjusting our curriculum as needed when we return in the fall. Our teachers have amazing superpowers and we know our students will be fine academically.

As an IB® candidate school we reflect on the process. Below are some suggested “IB Style” home guidelines as we finish out the school year. We are continually working on developing these IB® Learner Profile (LP) traits and you will see them referenced throughout this reflection:

  1. Open-Minded
  2. Reflective
  3. Communicators
  4. Thinkers
  5. Knowledgeable
  6. Inquirer
  7. Risk-Takers
  8. Caring
  9. Well-Balanced
  10. Principled

Keep an Established Schedule –
IB® LP traits: Open-Minded, Reflective, Communicator, Principled
Though a schedule may not be something your family can do easily under these circumstances, we feel strongly that it helps keep normalcy in place. Use the Meet schedule we provided for your child’s class. Print it or customize your own. To customize your own, open the document and Make a Copy (click on the File tab) and put in a schedule that works for your family including independent working times, brain breaks, and lunch/recess. Teachers know that Distance Learning schedules need to be flexible. If something isn’t working for your family, please let us know.

Set Clear Expectations –
IB® LP traits: Open-Minded, Reflective, Communicator, Caring, Well-Balanced, Principled
These guidelines should include the following:

*Be Ready to Learn – Set up your expectations with your child for being up, dressed, and on time for a scheduled Meet. Eat breakfast before learning time begins. There is no need to show up for your child if they are not awake or ready. Contact your child’s teacher to let them know your child is running a little late or wasn’t able to make it. Teachers may be able to schedule some time to review what was missed.

*Limit Distractions – Make sure that your child has a designated learning space. If needed, designate one item as a fidget and remove all other playful distractions.

*Practice Mindfulness – Once children reach their threshold, sometimes there is no coming back and learning has to stop. Forcing your child to keep going can build up frustration and anxiety. If your child is demonstrating frustration, stop and come back to finish later. Communicate this with your child’s teacher. They may be able to suggest some strategies. Please remember that our school counselors are available to talk to students. Contact Debbie Mayer (mailto:dmayer@jfshamptonroads.org) or Michelle Fenley (mailto:mfenley@jfshamptonroads.org) at any time to set up an appointment.

Respect the Learning Space and Learning Time –
IB ® LP Traits: Thinker, Inquirer, Risk-Taker, Communicator, Principled, Risk-Taker
Some children need help, yet we would like for them to continue to develop agency. If needed, help your child with instructions then leave them to finish the work. Try to avoid sitting right next to them during all of their asynchronous activities. Ask 3 Before Me is a great way for your child to get assistance without always coming to you. Our Chrome books have the capability to use the microphone on a google search, and it can be set up to read selected text. Hear text read aloud (https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/9032490?hl=en). Call a classmate or ask an older sibling if there is a question about an assignment. Pose a question in the Google Classroom stream. Younger students will need a little more assistance, but anything you can do to support them finding an answer on their own is great for developing independence.

Let Them Meet –
IB ® LP Traits
: Caring, Communicator, Knowledgeable, Well-Balanced
Please be mindful and avoid coming into the background area when students are meeting for instructional time. We love having you listen out of the viewing area so you can know what is going, but please do not join a class meeting once learning has begun. For your child and other students, this can keep their attention off of the teacher or class discussion. You can always contact your child’s teacher for an update or explanation. If it is a lunch or social Meet then please join in, but if your child is in a class Meet, please allow the learning to take place uninterrupted.

Accountability is Important –
IB ® LP Traits
– Reflective, Communicator, Thinker, Knowledgeable, Inquirer, Risk-Taker, Principled
We put a lot of time into making learning happen in the classroom, physical or virtual. Teachers are held accountable for lesson plans, being knowledgeable about subject content, and so much more. We also hold our students accountable for their work. We are keeping attendance in various ways, assessing learning, giving feedback and providing grades for assignments. Our teachers may ask you about missed assignments. Please don’t stress or get upset if this happens. We are passionate about what we do. Our teachers are very understanding and can make accommodations or modify activities for your child and family circumstances. We expect all of our teachers, including specialties, to hold office hours, plan and execute learning activities, and be there for our students and families. We will be providing a third term report card with the acknowledgment that learning has taken place despite the circumstances out of our control.

Our entire school was able to transition to online learning quickly. We knew how important it was to not miss a step and get our students into a routine as quickly as possible. We did it in one day while other schools took a week or more to prepare. We love our students and miss being with them in person. We will continue to make necessary adaptations as we go through this process. We are SIA – proud and strong!

SIA Distance Learning is Out of this (Virtual) World

Distance Learning at SIA

In a time of unquestionable uncertainty, one thing is certain, the students at the Strelitz International Academy continue to learn, engage and connect virtually with their classmates and teachers since school went online on March 16.

Early in March, no one would have believed the possibility of the Coronovirus coming to the U.S. In amazing foresight, SIA Head of School, Heather Moore, told the SIA staff to be prepared for the possibility of schools closing. Teachers were asked to imagine a virtual version of the same lessons they were teaching at school.

Janet Jenkins, Primary Years Director, created a Google booklet of the many websites and online tools to help teachers make their lessons engaging. She stated, “At SIA we take pride in delivering a quality learning experience to our students in order to fulfill our mission. The same is our goal under exceptional circumstances that may require changes to the way instruction is delivered. Should the school be closed for any reason for an extended period of time, we will continue to execute daily lessons through the means of Distance Learning. While we are unable to truly replicate the amazing interactive experiences we offer in our classrooms, we will still provide our students with meaningful instruction that meets expected standards and continues to cover grade level curriculum objectives through an online environment.”

Online Learning Program

Head of School, Heather Moore was proud to say, “When schools closed starting on March 16, we were ready for online learning. I was so proud of the faculty and staff at SIA. They have created and implemented engaging online lessons, assignments and hands on activities from the first day of distance learning. When I spoke with other schools nationwide, we have been able to provide assistance and tips on the effective distance learning program that we have implemented from the first week school was closed.”

Online Classroom

Early Years Director, Lorna Orleans knew this was going to be a learning curve for the Early Years teachers, “We are always encouraging learning off screen, and now we would be asking students to get on a screen for their learning.” Nevertheless the preschool teachers persevered, they created classroom websites, morning meetings and hands on lessons to keep the children engaged and connected to the school and each other. In a time of uncertainty, the children crave routine and engagement. The students loved Mr. Adam, SIA PE Teacher’s, active dance videos to get everyone up and moving! In addition, Media Specialist Melanie Columbus created some fun literacy challenges such as the Library Doughnut Challenge based on the book, Arnie the Doughnut. Even the infants and toddlers have been in on the action with virtual bedtime stories and Shabbat singalongs! “I felt that it was very important for our staff and families to stay connected with each other during this stressful time. Shabbat is a time to relax and enjoy each other, so we wanted to ensure continuity for our little ones,” explains Elyssa Brinn, SIA Early Years Assistant Director.

Virtual Learning

Judaic Studies Director, Rashi Brashevitzky, adds, “here at SIA we take pride in being able to continue to provide fun, interactive and engaging Judaic programming for our students from a distance.” Using puppets, stories, songs, and interactive, digital, scavenger hunts and Youtube videos, Brashevitzky has continued to ensure that our students have the necessary tools to learn about and celebrate Shabbat and Jewish holidays. Each of our Primary Years students received special Matzah to use at their Seders and will be well prepared to participate in their family celebrations due to our excellent distance learning program!

The mental health and wellbeing has been an important part of the transition to distance learning. Students are able to go at their own pace, but they are motivated by the daily instruction and connections with their teachers and classmates during class time over Google Meet. Kindergarten Teacher, Terri Kraley wrote to the kindergarten parents, “Please don’t stress – we are in this together! We understand this is a sensitive time and you are also preparing for your week: caring and scheduling for your family.” In addition, school counselors have been available for students and faculty that need support.

Moore explains, “One of the special things about SIA is the close community. I am proud to say that the SIA community and education continues to be so strong even virtually!”

Parent and board member Aaron Kass is so pleased with his children’s experiences and in awe of the dedication of their teachers. His children are currently in grades 3 and kindergarten, and his youngest will be starting in EY2 this fall. “Our family has been blown away by the comprehensive, content-driven approach, full of warmth and care, shown by our children’s teachers engaged in distance learning. It’s clear that the hours they put in “on screen” are backed up by numerous hours of preparation “off screen” and we are so thankful for them.”

Looking to enroll your children at SIA this fall? Even the admissions office is up and running virtually. We are scheduling Zoom calls and giving virtual tours, so that families can continue to enroll for the 2020-2021 school year. Email Carin Simon, Admissions Director to schedule your virtual tour today! csimon@strelitzacademy.org

Primary Years (K-5)

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Early Years (Infant - EY4)

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