Flashback: 2020-2021 Parent Workshops at ISKL

The strength of the partnership between ISKL, students, and parents sets our school apart and is essential in making our community special.
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Have you heard of pandemic parenting? This new term many parents wished they never heard of or experienced was brought to us by the infamous COVID-19. Although no two parents are the same, one thing remains- each parent or caregiver has to adapt to a new version of parenting in a pandemic.

The World Bank stated simply making content available is not enough. Parents’ engagement is essential to support students’ learning, especially in this new blended learning environment.

Thinking of how to support our diverse parent community of over 65 nationalities, The International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL) hosted a myriad of parent workshops to support parents navigating those new ways of learning with their children. A lot of our workshops covered both learning strategies and well-being, important components to ensure a smooth transition for our families.

Indeed, transition is not just about coming or going to a new country or school, it is about change, and we have all gone through tremendous change over the past few months. ISKL, committed to its engagement for a strong parents-school partnership, developed a comprehensive series of workshops to equip parents for blended learning but also to remind them that they are not alone. Those workshops are not just providing strategies and insights; they provide opportunities to share moments and remain connected and committed as a community.

From navigating the digital world to the importance of well-being, let’s look at some of our Parent Workshops held by our Elementary School (ES), Middle School (MS), High School (HS) counselors, and Faculty during the 2020-2021 academic year:

Finding Balance in a Digital World

As schools in Malaysia adapt to virtual learning due to the global pandemic, children’s screen time has increased exponentially. Recognizing this, MS counselors Liesbet Recter and Jennifer Gold and Tech Coordinator Dr. Bron Narsiman conducted a workshop –  “Finding Balance in A Digital World”  – on how parents can mediate their children’s technology media use.

The session dived into strategies in managing child/ren’s screen time, how parents can be media mentors, and being mindful about screen use. Parents were also given books and tools recommendations to help with digital balance.

Parenting Students in The Digital Age 

On a similar topic but adapted for younger group ages, the ES team presented helpful tips on parenting in the digital age to ensure that students can continue learning productively and safely.

This session talks about tips for successful online learning, establishing online boundaries and privacy, ensuring time away from the screen, technical help, and ES library resources.

Understanding the Learning

The ES Teaching & Learning Team led grade-level focused workshops inviting parents to partner with them to explore resources that can help them engage their child/ren in rich learning and critical discourse across Mathematics and Literacy. During those sessions, parents had the opportunity to look at the ISKL ES Parent Learning Connection, as well as strategies and dispositions for learning that will help their child/ren succeed.

As well as interactive workshops, ISKL has also been producing short but insightful videos on well-being strategies for parents to watch at a convenient time.

The Art of Mindfulness

ES Counselors Chris Wright, Emma Gedge, and Lynn Kogelmann conducted a short workshop for ES parents to explain how being mindful can help children and adults maintain attention and focus on the things that matter. The session included ways to ground ourselves so that we do not get distracted by everything happening around us, breathing exercises to try, and apps popular with children that can help with mindfulness, such as Cosmic Kids, Headspace, and Calm.

Self-regulation at Home

One of the most significant gifts that we can give our children is co-regulation, as we strive to validate their feelings and provide them with assurance. Our ES Counselors shared a video explaining what self-regulation is and its benefits, as well as strategies to support young people in navigating challenges and choosing how to respond to events in their lives.

Strategies to Enhance Well-being

To provide parents with the appropriate information to nurture their family’s well-being, ES Counselors Chris Wright, Emma Gedge, and Lynn Kogelmann devised a workshop offering hands-on practical strategies that can be carried out both by the parents themselves and their children. The counselors expanded on topics relating to mindfulness, such as the STOP practice and ways to care for self, such as the power of positive self-talk. These are but a few strategies that both parents and child/ren can apply to help in the journey towards well-being.

We already talked about the fact that we have all gone through changes during this pandemic, but families have been going through a lot of transition, especially in our transient community. Our Counselors provided parents and students with much appreciated support and strategies to go through those transitions as prepared as possible.

Parent Workshops at ISKL
The Art of Mindfulness | Self-regulation at Home | Strategies to Enhance Well-being

Supporting Your Child Through a Transition

Supporting your child through a transition is important as goodbyes are sometimes inevitable. During this session, ES Counselors discussed the importance of identifying the telltale signs of a rough transitional period, Building A RAFT concept (Reconciliation, Affirmation, Farewells, Think Destination), and simple activities that parents can do to bond with child/ren.

MS/HS Leaver Workshop

To help both MS and HS parents and students better understand and cope with the challenges of leaving, MS/HS Counselors Alison Lewis, Liesbet Recter, and Heather Cook conducted a workshop that comprises helpful strategies for transitioning smoothly to the next place. 

Towards the end of the workshop, breakout rooms were held to discuss coping mechanisms and whether they were productive and brainstorming reconciliation for both parent and child.

Transitioning for University

HS counselors hosted a workshop for parents of Grade 12 students from the graduating class of 2021 to help prepare them for their children’s transition towards this new phase of life.

From understanding the Cross-Cultural Kid model to the typical emotional responses that parents could expect as their child enters university for the first time, parents were given tools and resources to navigate their children’s transitions, learning that with proper preparation and clear and open communication, transitioning to university can be a smooth and memorable journey.

On Letting Go and Looking Forward

Complementing the workshop mentioned above, HS Counselors, in collaboration with Grade 12 parents, organized a virtual workshop on the topic of Empty Nesters to discuss the ups and downs of having your last child leave the home and to address parents wellness as they embark on this new identity. 

The session focused on transitions and building on the principles of RAFT (Reconciliation, Affirmation, Farewells, Think Ahead) and included breakout discussions focused on issues faced when children are leaving home for the first time. Other parents also shared stories and tips to help parents prepare for the transition to life after ISKL.

Parent Workshops at ISKL
MS/HS Leaver Workshop | Transitioning for University | On Letting Go and Looking Forward

Financial Considerations – Higher Education

An emerging question for parents when their child enters High School is the topic of University and how it can be costly, especially when looking at Universities abroad. Acknowledging this, HS Counselor Shaun McElroy led a series of workshops and information sessions on essential information that parents need to know about financial matters related to higher education. For families looking into enrolling their child/ren in an American University, Shaun touched on ways to apply for financial aid for Non-US Citizens.

“The strength of the partnership between ISKL, students, and parents sets our school apart and is essential in making our community special,” a quote by Rami Madani, ISKL Head of School, during one of his “In Partnership” sessions. For ISKL leadership, the “In Partnership Program” is vital because it “enables us to join as a community, listen to each other, and share our expectations. This helps us learn and grow both as a school and as a community- and is a vital component in creating our strong school/parent partnership.” 

Our commitment to building a partnership with our families is exemplified by our status as a parent-governed school that is led by a parent-elected Board, the support of our dynamic and active PTA, and by research that demonstrates the importance of the parent-school partnership in developing essential life and learning skills and habits.  

Every year ISKL uses community data to inform the offered sessions and curate the content for the 2021-2022 school year accordingly. We value balancing our parent partnership program with consistent learning and sessions that are responsive to emergent needs. Looking ahead, parents can expect more workshops by our ISKL teams on various tips and tricks, Parent Learning workshops, university 101’s, and many more.

Read more about our parent workshops at the ISKL Blog, and do follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter to check out other ISKL news. For existing ISKL parents, please head on over to the ISKL In Partnership site to check out the latest parent information or training sessions for 2021-2022!

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