From ESL to EAL


Last School year the SSIS English support teachers made the decision to change the name of our English language support program from English as a Second Language (ESL) to English as an Additional Language (EAL). We feel this more accurately describes the services we provide for our English language learners here at SSIS, as a large number of our student population are learning English as a third or fourth language.  We honor and have great respect for you home languages and cultures.


The EAL Program at SSIS

English as an Additional Language (EAL) 

The EAL Support Services at SSIS are available to non-native English speakers with limited experience in an English-medium school. Students receive support through referral at the time of admission or by the classroom teacher. The students are supported in their development of both social and academic language skills, utilizing the curriculum of the respective grade level. The EAL specialist works closely with the classroom teacher, and together they assess and monitor students’ English language acquisition. Students learn language in a safe and nurturing environment in which language is easily accessible. Students receive support in small group “Pull-out” instruction and through “Push-in”, in class support in which the EAL specialist co-teaches lessons or provides in-class small group language strategic lessons.

Students may be considered for exit from EAL Support Services when they consistently demonstrate grade level language proficiency. The EAL specialists and classroom teachers carefully review recent assessments, test scores and evaluate classroom performance to make a recommendation for exit from support services.

The aim of the EAL program is to:

  • Promote EAL student learning by facilitating their full and equal access to the curriculum
  • Provide an optimum environment for learning language
  • Support EAL students’ transition to our school culture
  • Enable students to participate successfully in all school activities
  • Develop English proficient language skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing
  • Build the students confidence in using English both in and outside of the classroom

Parenting Toward Responsible and Respectful Children

Pursuing the two Rs

Some parents may work a little too hard at parenting through words alone.  Let’s face it, words are readily available, can be delivered quickly, and are easy to cite later (“How many times must I tell you…?!”).

But responsibility and respect (the two ‘R’s) are hard to teach with words.  Teaching R & R is done through the granting of privileges based on evident readiness to handle them properly, and by providing rewards that have been earned.  The opposite—entitlement—is taught by granting rewards and privileges based on little or no evidence of deservedness or readiness, perhaps just because her/his peers enjoy the privilege, or because you’re tired of the whining.  Dr. Marsha B. Sauls describes it as “rewarding children just for existing.”

Both R & R and entitlement are learned behaviors, primarily assimilated through the actions of parents, teachers, grandparents etc.  Children, however, can slip quite easily into a state of entitlement, since it’s easier for the adults to inadvertently teach entitlement than to deliberately and methodically teach responsibility and respect.  Giving in to a child’s demand for an indulgence solves the problem in the immediate term, and busy parents are naturally driven to solve as many problems as they can as abruptly as they can.  Resisting surrender until a reward or privilege is earned instills responsibility and respect, but leaves you with a less-than-happy child for a while.  Hopefully all parents indulge their children at times; the question to ask is, “Am I doing it so often that my child is developing an ‘entitled’ attitude?  How can I really tell?”

As the holiday season approaches, the appearance of either responsible & respectful or entitled behaviors tend to come forth in children.  At this time of year your family might be one of many preparing for the events and rituals that mark your own personal, spiritual or cultural seasonal celebrations.  In many households in many parts of the world these celebrations include gift-giving.  Joyful gift-giving is central to many holiday notions of generosity, affection, and community.  But let’s face it, for most kids the focus is quite different, and while your heart may be made full in the act of giving, the focus for the children is likely to be fixed on the receiving.

Nothing unusual about that.  What’s important is a child’s reaction in the receiving of a gift not wanted or not receiving the gift he had in mind.  Just as with privileges not yet granted, or rescinded, there is a responsible and respectful way to handle disappointment and there is an entitled way.  In either case, the child will be disappointed, and it will probably show.  But the R & R child will process the disappointment fairly quickly and move on; the entitled child will escalate their disappointment into anger and belligerence.

Parents understand that they do not own their children, that they are merely temporary caretakers, nurturing their children out of love.  Some children understand this too.  But an entitled child has come to believe that they “own” their world, own their rewards and privileges, and in a sense own their parents.  You can’t rightfully deny or take away their belongings—not if you are seen as being one!

What do the parents of responsible and respectful kids know that the parents of entitled children don’t?

When a child abuses a privilege granted, we generally take away the privilege until a more responsible attitude and behavior pattern emerges.  Same with rewards—if they are unappreciative, we decide to reward less often.  But when that reward or privilege was originally given for no real reason—e.g. his friends get to play outside before doing their homework so he should be allowed to do that too—the child will not readily accept the notion that (to get it back) she must actually earn her rewards and privileges the second time.  This seems unfair to the child.  In fact, because it’s backward logic, it is unfair.  And because they didn’t really earn the reward or privilege the first time around, they truly may have no idea what “earning” something even looks and feels like.

Parenting toward responsible and respectful children requires the parent to first realize that it is not their job to ensure constant happiness for their kids, and attempting to do so actually puts their child at a disadvantage emotionally, socially (these children are less inclined to share, to habituate manners, or to wait their turn), and some argue vocationally, since a distorted view of reality does not usually serve one well at the office in later life.  R & R parenting sets limits that may lead to periodic rejection by the child, but it doesn’t last and the respect gained is well worth it.  These parents know that not every disappointment or embarrassment can or should be shielded from their child’s reality, since it is those very experiences that instill an aptitude for empathy to the feelings of others.  These parents also know that a child’s promises of better behavior later for a reward or privilege wanted now is a backward argument, and not usually sincere.

So how are rewards and privileges to be earned? 

Richard and Linda Eyre, authors of “The Entitlement Trap”, suggest teaching children how to earn credits by doing household chores.  These credits build up until something desired (likely the latest electronic gadget) has been earned.  Whether you use this technique or not, ‘earning’ is a powerful concept that has remarkable power to teach about reasonable goals, setting priorities, and accepting necessary limitations.  And the pride in having something self-earned (including a privilege) goes a long way in the development of a child’s sense-of-self.

We all hope to raise our children with an attitude and appreciation for responsibility and respect rather than entitlement.  You’re no doubt doing a very good job of it now, but this is tough stuff with some kids.  Children have their own nature and are rapidly developing a unique personality…don’t blame yourself if your child seems to have an entitled attitude despite your most determined efforts.  Just stick with it, do your best, take care of yourself—remember that you are in fact doing the hardest job in the world.


What is the Difference Between a School Psychologist and a School Counselor?

What is the Difference Between a School Psychologist and a School Counselor?

Both school psychology and school counseling training brings together the knowledge base of several disciplines, including child psychology, child development and education.  School psychologists are trained with an counselor.jpgemphasis on moderate to intense special education considerations, while school counselors are trained to deal with problems more common to the everyday student including those with relatively mild special needs.  School psychologists are licensed to administer several kinds of psychological tests (including aptitude, personality and IQ), while a school counselor is normally not so licensed. While some school psychologists have first-hand knowledge of educational methodology and actual classroom experience, such “hands-on” background is more common to the school counselor.

In the school setting, counselors typically work with the total school population regarding a variety of issues – family and academic problems, social and behavioral problems, career planning, course schedules etc.  In some schools, elementary counselors in particular conduct in-class lessons about family changes, friendship maintenance, study habits, etc.  With middle school and older students, they may also be involved in issues such as chemical dependency prevention, the onset of puberty, and crisis intervention.

For school psychologists their first responsibility is often to the population of students at risk for failure and who have identified disabilities. With these populations, their roles include assessment (comprehensive evaluations of disability and risk), consultation regarding home and school instructional and behavioral interventions, and direct interventions including crisis prevention/intervention, individual and group counseling and skill training. In this latter role, school psychologists may overlap the duties of counselors and social workers, and often will work jointly with these other professionals by serving on crisis support teams.  Relative to counselors, school psychologists have more advanced training in mental health screening, diagnosis, and therapeutic technique.  School counselors, on the other hand, tend to be more familiar with the functioning of the school “system” as a whole, and thus contribute their skills across a broader spectrum of issues, departments, and individuals.

Ron Wilson
EC/ES Guidance Counselor


Random Acts of Guidance – My Child Has No Friends

It’s quite upsetting to see your child sitting alone at recess, crying for not having been invited to the party, or watching other children at play outside of the window.  But lots of children suffer from friendship-making problems and accompanying anxiety.  The concern becomes greater, of course, when the problem has not corrected itself in a short amount of time.

Photo Credit: sharkbait via Compfight cc

Some children have a difficult time making friends out of deep shyness, and so hesitate to join in even when they would be welcome.  For others, being more mature than their peers (emotionally or academically, but especially in their use of more sophisticated language) can make them feel like social outcasts.  And other children may be hyperactive or over-emotional, making their company something of a challenge for others to enjoy.  Some make the mistake of trying too hard to be “cool” or “funny”, just making matters worse.
In almost all cases the best advice is more, more, more.  More exposure, more variety, more interaction.  Encourage them to join new and different kinds of groups (easier in home countries than as expats, granted).  Urge them to sign on to an ECAP activity that they haven’t done before and normally might not have been interested in, especially if it’s a new ECAP that nobody really knows about yet.  Suggest that if they play on the web every recess, they might want to visit the atrium or use the swings for a change.  Talk to your child’s teacher about class seating and other forms of grouping that might be alterable.  Talk with other parents and try to arrange play dates, or even a jointly planned (by the kids) party.

Consider that while children often make the claim that they have no friends, in truth their unspoken complaint may be that they don’t have the friends they’d prefer.  This occurs among children who are more intensely focused on social status (popularity, athletic prowess, etc.), and would like to be a part of the “in” group but are not.  When this is found to actually be the case, home conversation might best focus on the delights friendship can provide emotionally rather than socially.

In any case, don’t ignore the problem. Talk with your child about their relationships, their confusions and even their errors and missteps socially.  Social skills are like any other learning, requiring analysis, strategy & practice (yes, do role playing at home! Does your child need practice in how to listen, how to share, how to cooperate, how to invite someone to play, how to react when someone declines to play with them?).  Some children see the rules and develop social skills naturally; others must, with the help of loving adults, be guided.

Ron Wilson
ES Counselor

Teaching Tenacity

“Random Acts of Guidance” – Teaching Tenacity

One minute your child is doing his piano practice, when suddenly he throws his music to the floor, “I can’t do this!” he angrily shouts.
Obviously, giving up rather than persevering is not something you want to encourage. The ability to focus and finish a job is a real challenge for a young child because he’s still learning how to stick with a task. Kids are just beginning to learn how to rely on themselves. Your job as a parent is to nurture the skills that will help your child transition from helpless to tenacious.

Say something empathetic like, ‘When I was your age, I had a hard time with [e.g. subtraction] too, but I practiced every day and finally it all made sense!'” This will help focus your child’s attention on the effort everyone has to make to learn something new—even you.
Praise effort rather than outcome. Praising your kid for her natural abilities— “You’re the best athlete!” rather than her effort, “I see that you tried really hard and helped the other kids”— can make your child avoid taking risks because she may feel that the only way to impress you is with perfect results. Cheer for your child’s work ethic, how hard she’s trying, and the fact that she’s not giving up.

Don’t jump in and rescue. Your desire to save your child from frustration born from a toppled Lego masterpiece or a science fair volcano that won’t erupt is natural — but totally counterproductive when it comes to teaching him tenacity. If your child has already moved into a defeatist mode, the best tactic is redirecting him from the activity and putting it aside so he can tackle it afresh later.

Model the benefits, as well as the joys, of self-reliance. If you’re frustrated because you can’t get your pictures uploaded to your Facebook page, get lost even though you’re following the GPS directions, or once again have forgotten to buy one of the key ingredients you needed for tonight’s dinner, get your sense of humor on and let your child see you pull it together.
Adapted from an article originally published in the June 2012 issue of~Parents~magazine.

Creating a Family Mission Statement

Photo by Stuck in Customs

Invite the children to the dining table or the den or any place that feels comfortable to all of you. Go ahead and throw some pillows on the floor, perhaps. You may put out some crayons or colorful markers along with some big sheets of paper for jotting your ideas down.~

Go through the following list of questions with your children.~

How important is our faith or spirituality?
Are we committed to some cause?
What are the guiding principles we/I think children should grow up with?~
What are our “always and every time” rules of personal conduct? The “never ever” rules?
What do we want others to think of when our family name comes up?
Looking back in ten, twenty and thirty years, how will we know we created the kind of family we are proud of?

Do some of their answers surprise you? Take note of those things that you didn’t expect. And give yourself a little pat on the back when your kids show wisdom beyond their years. Share your responses with them and see if they agree. Remember, there are no wrong answers.~

Let your kids disagree with you. Take the time to find out why they think the way they do and let them know why you think the way you do.

Adapted from an article by Dr. Lynne Kenney. For the original content, visit

Corporations Spell It Out. Your Family Probably Should Too.

Random Acts of Guidance

Your values are your reference for positive behavioral expectations in your family. Your family values are the mission statement or “code” you have established. Your values also reinforce your family rules on a day-to-day basis. All families have such a code, but can all members name and describe its features?

Once you have identified and confirmed your family values as a whole [in next week’s issue of this newsletter, I’ll offer some suggestions for how to go about developing a family mission statement], the world both in and outside of the home feels less threatening—to all members. For the children, expectations for self-discipline (when mom and dad are not around) become clear; for parents, discipline now makes better sense to the kids and is seen as fair and predictable.

When your children do not behave according to the family mission statement, rather than moving directly to punishment or confrontation, really knowing what your values are gives you the tools to guide (“process”) the situation in a more constructive way. Your goal will be to help your children develop skills and habits that are values-based.

Random Acts of Guidance Archive

Random Acts of Guidance (RAG) is a feature of the elementary newsletter, and will appear weekly. The intention is to provide conversation starters on current educational topics of importance or interest, information upon which to further home-school dialogue and trigger at-home family discussion.

If you’ve missed previousRandom Acts of Guidance in the newsletter, you can access them on our blog or clicking on the counselor page.