Educating future generations around the globe…

Best Boarding Schools in the world

small-church-perched-on-the-hill-1288850-mChoosing a boarding school for your child is a daunting task. As the influence of the immediate family is minimised and your child will spend most of his time in the company of new peers, it is very important to choose an institution very carefully. Excellent academics are a must, but beyond that you need outstanding pastoral care and a strong emphasis on character formation, a sense of community and respect and kindness among peers. Which boarding schools are the best world wide? Historically, the most prestigious boarding schools used to be Swiss, led by the elite boarding school Le Rosey that attracts children from families around the world. St George’s School in Switzerland is another institution that attracts international pupils who continue on to leading universities around the world. Swiss boarding schools are particularly attractive because of their often stunning setting, offering extracurricular opportunities such as skiing, swimming and hiking on a weekly basis.

If you focus on purely academic results, you may be leaning towards choosing a British boarding school, and this choice is increasingly attractive among families who would have opted for a Swiss boarding school in the past. Many Swiss boarding schools do not publish their IB results, but when they do, they tend to be far below the standard of the top British boarding schools such as Sevenoaks, Cheltenham Ladies’ College or King’s College that all achieve average point scores near 40 or above. Of course, they do have an advantage as they have a far higher share of native speakers, but if you want a rigorous academic education at a high level of English that prepares your teenager for entrance to leading universities, a top British boarding school may be the safest choice.

For parents emphasising an international community and a global upbringing, the United World Colleges with campuses in Singapore, US, Wales, India and more locations around the world are highly sought after. They offer a rigorous programme that involves pupils in the community around the clock, keeping them busy with extra-curriculars and community service beyond academic studies.

Families who have their eyes set on an Ivy League education for their children will also be attracted by the most prestigious US boarding schools, led my the Philipp Exeter Academy and  St Paul’s School in New Hampshire.

Which school will you choose?

The Asian Correspondent has a great list of leading international boarding schools that includes many additional ideas.

What is Montessori

The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth. Maria Montessori

Montessori schools have become increasingly popular around the world over the last decade, including in global expat cities like London, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur. Many schools call their approach Montessori inspired even if they are not Montessori accredited. Parents should therefore know what exactly the Montessori method means.

Maria Montessori was one of the most important early years educators of the 20th century, the innovator of classroom practices and ideas which have had a profound influence on the education of young children the world over. She was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome medical school and became interested in education through her work as a doctor, treating what today are known as children with special needs. When she went on to establish schools for the disadvantaged children of working parents in Rome she approached their education as a scientist, using the classroom as her laboratory for observing children and finding ways to help them to achieve their full potential.

It soon became apparent that Dr. Montessori had developed a highly effective method of teaching which could be used with great success with each and every child. She began to travel the world, establishing schools, lecturing about her discoveries and writing many articles right up to her death in Holland in 1952 at the age of 82. She was a true pioneer of child-centred education. Her innovative classroom practices and ideas have had a profound influence on the education of young children all over the world.

Montessori saw that children learn best by doing and that happy self-motivated learners form positive images of themselves as confident, successful people. She created specially designed resources to foster independence and a love for learning from an early age.

The Montessori approach is holistic and aims to develop the whole child. Fundamental to the approach is the belief that a child’s early years from birth to six are the period when they have the greatest capacity to learn. Montessori schools provide a stimulating environment for children to acquire new skills according to their own interests and pace, while teaching them responsibility and independence.

That said, Montessori schools come in many shapes and sizes around the world. There are “pure Montessori” schools, which are generally accredited schools with a Montessori certificate. Then there are schools that use a blend of Montessori methods with traditional methods, where very often the head teacher would have a Montessori diploma. It is quite common in the London, for example, for preschools to have Montessori materials and elements but combine those with a certain amount of structured learning time to prepare children for entrance assessments at private schools. In Asia, you have “Montessori schools” that push early learning such as reading and writing or Mandarin skills in children as young as 3. So if you are looking for a “pure” Montessori school, find out what the main Montessori organisation is in your country and what their accreditation is called. I am personally a fan of “blended” Montessori schools like the one my daughter attends, where she has plenty of free play and “Montessori time” (as they call it), but also a certain amount of teacher-led structured learning time about dedicated topics.