Four things to think about when choosing a school for your child

Four things to think about when choosing a school for your child

Sending children to a new school is always a little nerve–wracking – whether your child is moving from kindergarten to primary school or from primary to high school.  “What should I look out for when choosing a school for my child?”, many parents ask. It’s still the first semester of the school year, yet we notice that there are many parents starting to gather school information, do research, and arrange school visits to reserve a school place for their child for the next academic year.

Choosing the right school is one of the most important decisions you can make to ensure a better future for your child.  Make the right decision and you could put them on a path towards lifelong learning, a prestigious college education and a successful career. 

However, with so many schools offering different environments, teaching styles, and learning philosophies, the research experience can feel overwhelming.  It seems that public schools don’t leave us so many options, but if you’re looking beyond the local public school, we recommend that you consider a few key principles.  Here are the 4 most important aspects in finding the best international, or bilingual school for your child.

1. CURRICULUM

Every school has strengths that will enhance your child’s experience.  Getting to know what those strengths are and how you can support them will benefit your child’s education.  Some schools offer a wider range of study than others. Before considering school locations, tuition, or teachers’ qualifications, the available curriculum is a crucial factor you have to prioritize, since each curriculum offers a different learning approach, different sets of values to students, and is recognized by various universities.  If you’re intending to send your child study abroad, you should choose a school based on a curriculum that aligns with that of your target country. 

For example, in the UK, certainly, the A Level is what’s common. All of the students in the UK, A Levels for high school before they go to university.  So, if you have your heart set on studying the UK, choosing a school that offers A Level program will be a good choice. On the other hand, if you know that you want to go to a U.S. School, AP (Advanced Placement) is a really good track to take. The reason for that is because a lot of the AP subjects are taught in US High Schools and recognized by US universities.  

If you are not sure where you want to go, so you want to leave your options open, or maybe apply for universities in multiple countries including those outside of the UK and US, the IB (International Baccalaureate) Diploma may be a wise choice because it’s recognized globally, and it is offered and taken by students all over the world.

This point should be central to the decision-making process, especially for parents with children in secondary school approaching the time when college applications begin.  Those with older kids learn about the standardized test the curriculum is geared toward, as well as which diploma is granted upon graduation. Besides the in-class curriculum, it is also important to examine the extracurricular options a school offers.  The best institutions will have a balanced blend of sports programs, community service activities, and a range of cultural activities such as visual and performing arts, debate, and music. Parents can also use questions like, “If my child starts to fall behind academically, or behaviourally, what kind of support would you put in place?”.  This will give you a sense of what the school does above and beyond the classroom to make sure every child is valued.

2. TEACHERS AND CLASS SIZES

Quality of learning at a school is only as good as the quality of its teachers, who are arguably the determining factor that influences a child’s education and development.  Though it can be difficult to evaluate teachers from outside, here are some basic questions that parents can ask to draw general conclusions. What are the qualifications the school requires of its teachers?  How much and what types of professional development courses are required? What is the teacher turnover rate?  

Above all else, what is the average class size?  Would you rather send your child to a school which allows 60 students per class or one that limits the number of students per class to a manageable 20 kids?  Obviously, you would prefer the latter option since fewer students per class would allow the teacher the liberty of giving individual attention to each one of her students – thereby optimising the student’s learning capabilities.  Even the best teachers can become swallowed by a giant sea of eager students. 

Research has proved that students tend to learn more in smaller classes, have higher grades and also perform better in their examinations and non-academic activities.  As a rule of thumb, one teacher for every 30-35 students per class is an accepted industry norm in good primary/secondary schools. Class size is usually the dominant factor in tuition fee levels.

You should generally expect that schools with higher tuition have more qualified teachers and smaller class sizes.  Lastly, visit the school and meet the teachers if possible. The school’s response to your request to visit the school will tell you a lot.  Are they friendly, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable about the school and its curriculum? (One way to find out areas that might be weaker for a school is to ask, “What would you change about your school?”)  

3. PROXIMITY

It likely goes without saying, but parents should strongly consider daily commute times for your child to and from school.  This becomes necessary from a safety perspective and to prevent your child from suffering the repeated discomfort of a long journey to and from her school every day.  As a responsible parent, you have to consider your child’s comfort and also ensure that the school is close enough for you to reach in the shortest possible time whenever needed.

The distance is not only a factor for your children, but it also becomes important for your own lives.  You may find that your own social lives will start to mirror those of your children, with birthday parties and playdates in the neighborhoods where other families at the school live.  If you can’t avoid living far away from your school of choice, it’s important to make sure that the school provides transportation options or that public transport is easily accessible.

4. FEES

This is a practical consideration, but obviously very important, especially if you’re not going to send your child to a public school.  Oftentimes, parents tend to enroll their children in the most expensive bilingual, international schools – assuming they are the best, looking at their exorbitant fees and an impressive array of hi-tech facilities.  This is a common misconception in Vietnam and need not be true always. As much as we want our children to study in best of the schools, our budget is also imperative to which school we chose.

Tuition and other fees of bilingual and international schools in Vietnam will expectedly increase from year to year, therefore, parents should choose a school where you can sustain to pay fees regularly, otherwise this will become a burden for you.  It’s worth noting that when signing up for international or bilingual schools, parents have to foot the bill for costs other than tuition and campus development fees, such as admission fees, assessment fees, bus rides, cafeteria lunches, uniforms, extracurricular activities, stationery and textbooks… through out the school year.

There is no need for you to risk potential bankruptcy in your haste to send your child to the – most expensive school – possible.  Instead, you need to focus on whether you are getting full value for the money you are paying in terms of quality, safety, facilities, extra-curricular activities and the assurance that the all-round development of your child is being taken care of in the best way possible.  There are several reputed public or bilingual schools across the country which are not only a lot cheaper, but also give a comparable and better quality of education to their students. To learn more about international schools in Ho Chi Minh city, you can refer to our free ebook, “International schools in HCMC”, where we cover every detail about the international school system in Ho Chi Minh City, including curriculum, tuition and other fees, extracurriculars… and provide you key insights about some potential schools. 

Please click here to download.

Conclusion

Choosing the right school for your child can be a tough, intimidating decision.  While the quality of education remains the most important criteria, the opportunity to develop your child’s creative, physical and social skills is also a key attribute that needs to be given equal importance.  We hope this article can help you be more aware of the exact factors that you need to consider in your endeavour to select the right school for your child.  

Should you have any concern or any topics you want us to cover, feel free to leave your comments below.  You can subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates delivered straight to your inbox, and find more parenting coverage at https://blog.e2.com.vn/e2-talk-tips-and-tricks-parents/

Expert Tips to Improve Your Child’s Focus in Class

Expert Tips to Improve Your Child’s Focus in Class

It’s common for students at all grade levels to have trouble staying focused.  Whether it’s struggling to pay attention in class or having a tough time completing homework assignments, focus issues can lead to poor academic performance.  There can be many reasons children struggle to focus in school – from sleep deprivation, mismatching learning styles to having ADHD. 

However, the good news is: with proper goals and guidance, it’s possible to help your child improve her focus and concentration.  Concentration is like a muscle that requires regular exercise to strengthen. Below are some tips to help your kids build their concentration muscles.

1. Understand your child’s learning style (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)

Different students have different learning styles.  Some children process information easily when they see it, some when they hear it and some need practical knowledge of it and are able to touch it.  Identifying which category your child falls under is a good place to start. It can give you a better idea of why your child might be struggling, how you can help them memorize lessons better and for a longer time. 

>> Take this 3-minute quiz to discover your child’s preferred learning style.

If your child is a visual learner: Children who are visual learners understand information better when they are able to see it.  In this case, the child will be able to concentrate better if she is allowed to read the information and write it down as well.  Study tips for visual learners:

  • Making flash cards – If your child is learning spellings or even concepts, writing them down on small cards and repeatedly showing them to her will help her understand and learn these concepts that much faster.
  • Drawing – Asking your child to draw what she is studying may also help her visualize the material better.
  • Doodling – Often, we see our children scribbling while studying and think that they’re distracted but what really happens is that the doodling helps them recall what they have been studying at that point and so remembering it at a later stage becomes easier.

If your child is an auditory learner: Children who learn better when they hear information are auditory in nature. Study tips for auditory learners:

  • Reading aloud – Children who are auditory in nature learn better by reading the material aloud or listening to someone else reading.  In this regard, they might find audio books more helpful than paperback books.
  • Music – Listening to music may also help these children increase concentration in their studies.

If your child is a kinesthetic learner: Children who are kinesthetic learners need to be able to touch and feel their subject matter to understand and process it better.  For these children, learning by practical applications may be more helpful than reading aloud or writing. Study tips for auditory learners:

  • Providing your child with hands-on learning opportunities, such as doing experiments, role-playing or using 3-D materials.
  • Break up long lessons into smaller chunks, change teaching locations (sit on rug, sit in desks, go outside, switch seats, etc.)

2. Offer a nourishing diet and make sure your child gets enough sleep

Eating healthy food has a direct link to how well a child concentrates and there are different foods that help increase a child’s concentration.  Eating junk food or food rich in sugar makes a child sluggish while food rich in proteins such as almonds, eggs and lean meat have the ability to raise awareness and increase concentration levels!

Therefore, parents should send their child off to school with a balanced breakfast consisting of carbohydrates and protein (e.g. eggs and toast, a bean burrito, or oatmeal and yogurt) will help them pay better attention in class.  Also, cut down on fast-food as much as possible since new research is suggesting an association between junk food and ADHD-related behaviors. You can find more brain-boosting food for your child in our well-designed infographic.

“A power nap for 20 minutes after school or in the afternoon helps increase concentration.”

Additionally, insufficient sleep at night (less than 8 or 9 hours) can lead to a variety of behavioral and learning difficulties, from poor conduct to slipping grades.  For that reason, parents should set consistent times for getting to bed, restrict media in the hour before sleep, and help your child establish comfy bedtime rituals with soft pillows, stuffed animals and anything else that might help them relax.  The National Sleep Foundation recommends 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night for school-aged children between 6 and 13 years of age, and 8 to 10 hours each night for teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17.

3. Limit screen time

There is no doubt that TV and video games can offer parents a much-needed break from sibling squabbles and choruses of “I’m bored,” but in the end, screen time seems to only affect children’s attention spans for the worse.  A 2019 study found that kids 5 and under who spent two hours or more on a screen were 7.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The Mayo Clinic advises forgoing media altogether for kids between the ages of 18 to 24 months.  For children between the ages of 2 to 5 years, screen time should be limited to one hour of “high-quality” programming. 

When it comes to older kids, it’s up to parents to decide how much screen time is right for their child, but limits should be set.  Parents can place restrictions on screen time by doing the following:

  • Have tech-free zones or times in the house.
  • Have children charge their phones out of their bedrooms at night.
  • Eliminate background TV.
  • Limit your own screen time.

Also find more creative ways to unplug your screen-addicted kid here.

4. Break big tasks down into smaller, more manageable pieces

This is another strategy for helping children to approach a challenging task.  Studying an entire chapter in one go is quite difficult for a child. It always helps to break it down into pages or even paragraphs so that the child feels a sense of accomplishment for finishing a small task and this will motivate them to continue on.  By breaking things down, your child has a clear idea of what needs to be done and a sense of accomplishment once it’s completed. That accomplishment can be a big motivation-booster! This is true not just for studies, but for household chores as well.  

For example, if your child is learning to tie their shoes, make the first goal to master the initial knot. Then move on to making two loops with the strings until they know exactly how to do that, and so forth.  Another “piecemeal” strategy for building concentration is to use a timer to help kids organize themselves, for instance, “Here’s a book about planets. I’m going to set this timer for 15 minutes, and I want you to write down as many facts about Mars as you can in this time.”

5. Set up a reward system

Rewards don’t necessarily have to be tokens such as chocolates or toys.  They can also be in the form of praise or even further studying! Children are more likely to repeat behaviour that earns praise.  This means you can use praise to help change difficult behaviour and replace it with desirable behaviour. In fact, incentives or rewards for completing tasks can be effective motivators for most children with ADHD.

At Everest Education, we always encourage our parents to praise the effort, not the results.  Research on praise and mindsets shows that when we praise children for being smart, it promotes a Fixed Mindset.  In contrast, praising your child for their work will encourage a Growth Mindset. It sends a message that Effort is what led them to success.

Instead of giving your children ice cream if they’re “good”, chocolate if they’re attentive, or maybe even money if they get good marks at school, we suggest parents praising your child’s hard work to improve focus.  Point out even small improvements. And let your child know that focus skills can get better. That can help your child develop a “growth mindset.”

Want more tips on what to say, and how to say it when praising your child?  Watched this video to meet Tony Ngo – Chairman and Co-founder of Everest Education to learn more about his simple technique to raise more confident kids.

Last but not least, remember to talk about your child’s strengths, not just challenges.  When kids understand what they’re good at, it builds confidence and helps them stay motivated when things get tough.

What Everest Education does to help students focus

At Everest Education, we design our classes to engage students from the start to manage these potential challenges.  There are no classes where the teacher stands and lectures at the front of the class. Instead, Everest teachers lead students through fun, challenging activities, and students work through material at their own individual speed.

In our Singapore Math courses, students use learning manipulatives and engage their sense of touch while they derive formulas through play.  When students encounter new concepts, they grapple with interesting puzzles that make them think and test their hypotheses. Using tools like the bar method, students then use pictures to represent their thinking in a more organized way. Only once they have demonstrated understanding with their hands and pictures do students then see and memorize math formulas.  This Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract (CPA) method ensures that students don’t get bored, and that the information is always leveled appropriately for them.

In our English courses, students are mastering each sub-skill of listening, speaking, reading, and writing at their own speed and with their own leveled materials.  For example in English reading, students in the same class often have a wide range of reading levels. They each know their own reading levels, and our teachers guide them to choose the books or articles at the right level in Reading A-Z or Newsela.  The key: they choose the books that interest them! One boy might choose a book on soccer, while another girl might read about space exploration. This way, instead of acting out in class, students act responsibly. Most importantly, when they see their reading skills develop quickly, they develop an innate confidence and a love of learning.  Through this personalized learning approach, Everest Education students increase their English skills twice as fast as they would in school alone.

3 Reasons Why Your Child Does Not Stay Focused In School

3 Reasons Why Your Child Does Not Stay Focused In School

School has been in full swing for a while and you probably have a good idea how your child is performing. It’s not uncommon for parents who get the first report card to say, “she can’t focus and is easily distracted.” 

Sometimes, just being a kid can make it hard to focus.  There are so many distractions. So, if your child zones out at school or at home from time to time, it isn’t unusual.  But what if that happens a lot?

If your child has a hard time focusing, especially with young students, you might be wondering why – and whether he or she could have difficulty learning .  In many cases, the concentration issues children have in school can be caused by a number of different reasons. However, many parents and teachers always assume that the problem is lack of motivation, and forcing your kid to pay attention only makes the problem worse!

This article will help you to pinpoint the cause of your child’s inability — or refusal — to focus in the classroom.

Signs of concentration problems you might be seeing

Having trouble with focus doesn’t mean kids have a “problem.” But it can definitely cause problems in school and in everyday life.  For example, kids might be late for practice a lot. They might be day-dreaming or staring out the window at home or in class. They may be disruptive or unable to finish work in class or may struggle to finish their homework. 

Having a kid with a concentration problem doesn’t mean that kid is not working hard or isn’t intelligent. It also doesn’t mean she’s not interested in something, even if it seems that way. Kids may want to focus on something, but can’t  manage to do it. Trouble with focus can show up in many ways and it can change over time. There are a number of behaviours that you might notice in your child, including:

  • an inability to sit still
  • is easily distracted
  • has problems following instructions
  • has problems organising themselves, or is constantly losing things
  • has difficulty completing school work
  • has poor handwriting compared to other children of the same age
  • is experiencing learning difficulties
  • displays behavioural difficulties such as aggression, moodiness or irritability
  • experiences friendship issues, such as difficulty making and keeping friends
  • shows clumsiness or poor gross motor skills, such as running or jumping.

Since difficulty paying attention is widely associated with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), that tends to be the first thing teachers, parents, and clinicians suspect. But there are a number of other possibilities that can be contributing to attention problems. To avoid misdiagnosis, it’s important that these other possibilities, which are not always obvious, not be overlooked. 

3 main reasons behind your child’s lack of attention

Reason #1 – Mismatch learning styles 

Often, the distractions are environmental or outside distractions that are unique to your child’s individual learning style.  Different students have different learning styles: some learn best by seeing, some by hearing, and others by doing.  If your child’s teacher emphasizes a learning style that doesn’t match with how your child learns, this can result in a lack of focus and understanding.  For example, if your child is a visual learner and they are reading a very boring book with no pictures, maybe they need more visual stimulation to draw their attention. Or maybe your child is an auditory learner and your house is noisy and they can’t stay focused. 

According to Dr. Carly Hannaford, neuroscientist, and educator, up to 85% of students are kinesthetic.  This little fact changes everything. Dr. Hannaford states that only 15% of children can process linearly, look at the teacher when they are talking and can repeat back what they heard.  That’s why our dream of having attentive kiddos in class is not going to be realized. Not without some serious change-up.  Knowing your child’s learning style is key to finding the distractions that are unique to them so that you can help them find ways around it.  If you don’t know your child’s learning style, get them take our free quiz here.

Reason #2 – Your child is not appropriately challenged

Inattention can also be a result of feeling under, or over-challenged.  If you’re repeatedly getting calls or notes sent home that your child is disruptive or acting out, perhaps the source of their behavior is due to a lack of stimulation in a school setting.  Children who aren’t appropriately challenged by their schoolwork can quickly become disengaged. They might start to lose interest in the material, stop paying attention altogether, get lazy at school and actually have worse grades because they zone out.  

When children are under-challenged, they tend to find ways to engage and stimulate themselves.  This may mean energetically disrupting the classroom, or becoming the class clown. When children are over-challenged, they may try to distract others with high energy behavior.  This is also why children having high energy level is often misdiagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Both scenarios can result in a cycle of negative behavior that hinders learning.

Reason #3 – Your child is not getting proper sleep or nutrition

Nutrition also can hugely impact children’s ability to focus at school.  Even us as adults find it hard to focus when you’re hungry, so do our children.  “There is pretty solid evidence that children who are hungry are not able to focus, so they have a low attention span, behavioral issues, discipline issues in the school,” says Sibylle Kranz, an associate professor of kinesiology and a registered dietitian nutritionist in the Curry School.  “Having children who are well-fed and not hungry makes a difference in their individual performance, and also how much they are contributing to or disrupting the classroom situation.”

Brain development and growth depend on nutrition and lay the foundation for learning and behavior.  According to the Society for Neuroscience, recent studies reveal that diets with high levels of saturated fats actually impair learning and memory.  Therefore, changing your family’s diet to a healthy, balanced diet is very important to help your child reach his or her full potential for concentration, memory, focus and mental capacity.  Avoid giving your child processed, sugary foods such as boxed breakfast cereals and snacks. Set a positive example by following a nutritious daily diet yourself. Parents can also refer to our top 7 brain foods you can offer your children to optimise their chances of having a good day at school.

Sleep is very important, as well, especially for young learners.  It helps us recharge, gives the brain a chance to exercise neuronal connections, and gives our bodies time to repair muscles and replace chemicals.  So, when your child is not getting the right amount of sleep, they can be easily distracted and more likely to make errors. Children who have excessive screen-time, especially prior to going to bed will surely have poor focus in class.  Additionally, recent studies have shown that some children diagnosed with ADHD may actually be sleep deprived

So what can parents and teachers do about this?
Like any skill, concentration can be learned and improved.  Just because your child is having a hard time focusing in school, doesn’t mean she has a learning difficulty such as ADD or ADHD.  Whatever your child’s problem is, you can bet that there’s a list of solutions totally unique to her.  

In the next article, we will highlight some of the best techniques to help improve your child’s concentration quickly and easily. You can subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates delivered straight to your inbox, and find more parenting coverage at https://blog.e2.com.vn/e2-talk-tips-and-tricks-parents/

What Everest Education does to help students focus

At Everest Education, we design our classes to engage students from the start to manage these potential challenges.  There are no classes where the teacher stands and lectures at the front of the class. Instead, Everest teachers lead students through fun, challenging activities, and students work through material at their own individual speed.

In our Singapore Math courses, students use learning manipulatives and engage their sense of touch while they derive formulas through play.  When students encounter new concepts, they grapple with interesting puzzles that make them think and test their hypotheses. Using tools like the bar method, students then use pictures to represent their thinking in a more organized way. Only once they have demonstrated understanding with their hands and pictures do students then see and memorize math formulas.  This Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract (CPA) method ensures that students don’t get bored, and that the information is always leveled appropriately for them.

In our English courses, students are mastering each sub-skill of listening, speaking, reading, and writing at their own speed and with their own leveled materials.  For example in English reading, students in the same class often have a wide range of reading levels. They each know their own reading levels, and our teachers guide them to choose the books or articles at the right level in Reading A-Z or Newsela.  The key: they choose the books that interest them! One boy might choose a book on soccer, while another girl might read about space exploration. This way, instead of acting out in class, students act responsibly. Most importantly, when they see their reading skills develop quickly, they develop an innate confidence and a love of learning.  Through this personalized learning approach, Everest Education students increase their English skills twice as fast as they would in school alone.

How I got into Stanford?

How I got into Stanford?

One of our students, Linda Tong, has been admitted to Stanford University, Class of 2020 and several other elite schools, including Columbia, Berkeley, Wellesley, Georgetown and Barnard.

We had a great conversation with her where she shared many interesting tips on the college application process, drawing from her own experience.

This video will dissect Linda’s strategy, including how to succeed as a well-rounded (giỏi toàn diện) student, what really attracted her to “The Farm” (the nickname for Stanford), and how she applied our SOAR technique to conquer the dreaded interview.

Scroll down to see the transcript below.

 

See full transcript

Tony: Oh hi everybody, I’m here with Linda.

Linda: Hi!

Tony: And I’m super excited today to have this conversation with you.

Linda: I’m really excited to be with you as well.  [Shakes hand]

Tony: [laughs] Linda is here to talk about her experience.

Linda: Mm-hmmm!

Tony: Getting into Stanford.  And I’m super super excited; she’s got the right gear on.

Linda: [laughs]

Tony: I wish I brought my Stanford shirt in today too!  So can I ask, what got you excited about applying to Stanford in the first place?

Linda: I think for me it was definitely the interdisciplinary focus that Stanford.  So in high school, I was a very well-rounded student. I never had one single spike or defining interest, but what I did really enjoy doing was exploring a lot of things.  So I was really into coding, but at the same time, I also liked classics a lot. So I’ve been taking Latin and Greek.  

Linda: I love the language, I love the culture, and I love the history. I think Stanford really encouraged that and they have a huge focus on finding intersections between different fields and finding the connection between them.  So, I think that’s what stood out to me the most about Stanford. 

Tony: Hmmmm………Does Stanford talk about a specific program that ties coding and classics together?

Linda: I think Stanford still has a lot of different majors that combine different subjects.  For instance, if you’re doing Symbolic Systems.

Tony: Yeah!

Linda: That’s Computer Science with Linguistics, Psychology, and just a lot of different things.  Or if we’re doing MCS, that’s Math and Computer Science. Or even a Human Biology major.

Tony: Mm-hmmm!

Linda: That’s very unique to Stanford, we cannot find that anywhere else.

Tony: Oh really? I did not know that.

Linda: Well, you can fact check if you’d like. [laughs]

Tony: [laughs] Well, when I was there, they had the element of the BioX department, which was a huge deal, combining Biology and Engineering fields together.  

Linda: Right.

Tony: And I think they were one of the first.

Linda: Yeah.

Tony: You’ve mentioned that you’ve had a variety of interests in high school, but I feel like when students apply, they have a big challenge.  You are generally given this advice, “Hey, being a well-rounded student doesn’t actually help you in this application.”

Linda: Exactly.

Tony: So can you talk about that conflict?  Were you a well-rounded applicant, or were you a “pointy” applicant?

Linda: So, I think for me, it was a combination of both.  I think it’s really good that you bring up that point because it was definitely one of my insecurities in the college admission cycle.  I was very scared that if I did not have one defining interest, I would not stand out in such a competitive applicant pool.

Tony: Uh-huh.

Linda: Especially, I think this year Stanford had…………well, last year, Stanford’s acceptance rate was around 4.3% and they stopped publishing it. [laughs] 

Tony: [laughs] I’m sure it’s not higher than 4%.

Linda: Exactly, so, I actually thought a lot about that. At boarding school, you’re encouraged to pursue a lot of interests and you’re given the opportunity and resources to do just that.  So, I definitely took advantage of a lot of the resources at my boarding school, advice that you gave me that Stanford is actually intellectual vitality-focused.

Tony: Mm-hmmm!

Linda: So, for me, I’ve always considered myself a very intellectually curious person.  I love learning. I really enjoy exploring the subjects and because I think I had well-rounded interests, that was what Stanford was looking for. 

Tony: I see, so step me back, when you look at the application, I often tell students to try to make sure that their position as an applicant is very clear.

Linda: Right!

Tony: So we actually form, what we call, a positioning statement.  

Linda: Sure.

Tony: We didn’t talk about this, but when you submitted your application, could you try to summarize, “Who is Linda?”

Linda: Right, I think for me, it was my diversity of experiences and my diversity of interests.  But also with the classics bent. [Laughs] So, for my main essay, I wrote about how I grew up exploring languages.  So, I came to the U.S. as a second language English learner. So, for me, that was really difficult process, but it taught me perseverance and it made me love the language learning process.

Tony: Mm-hmmm!

Linda: In middle school, I started taking Latin and French.  Now, I’m doing ancient Greek and Python. [Laughs]

Tony: [laughs] All sorts of languages.

Linda: Exactly, and I also started Vietnamese this summer.

Tony: Nice!

Linda: Yeah!  So, I love learning languages.  But at the same time, I think that because I enjoy navigating different situations, that was another big part of my upbringing.  So I’ve been to public school, private school, boarding school, international school, in the U.S. and in China. So, for me, getting to meet people who come from a really wide variety of backgrounds and learning how to connect with them was a huge part of my experience as well.

Tony: Mm-hmmm!  I see, so if I can try to summarize.  It sounds like, it’s not only that you had all these different experiences, I’m sure there are other students out there that have learned 2, 3 or 4 different languages.

Linda: Right sure, absolutely!

Tony: But it sounds like you were able to tie it with a very clear theme about navigating different new environment and cultures.

Linda: And I think, for me, the main essay, I put it in there because I’m a classics nerd, I’m not going to lie. [Laughs]

Tony: [laughs]

Linda: But the theme that I chose was about wandering.  So in Latin, the word for wander is erraverunt, which is where we get the English word, “error” from.  

Tony: Hmmm!

Linda: So usually, in English, when we would talk about error, it does have a negative connotation because you’re failing and making a mistake.  But for me, I learned to love that process. I learned to love wandering, to love failing and to learn how to cope. 

Tony: That is fantastic!  So, I also feel like so many students feel this pressure. 

Linda: Sure.

Tony: That you have to talk about these huge achievements in order to get into Stanford. 

Linda: [chuckles]

Tony: But the reality is, as an interviewer myself or advising other students.  I know it’s not about having that, “I won the Olympics” or “I won first place in this competition.”

Linda: Right.

Tony: But it’s about the learning process. 

Linda: Absolutely!  I think that in such a competitive applicant pool, I think so many kids are qualified.

Tony: Mm-hmmm!

Linda: For me, I also won National AP Scholar, where I got summa cum laude on the National Latin Exam and the National Greek Exam.

Tony: But you don’t need to write an essay about it!

Linda: Exactly!  I don’ t think those metrics are what set you apart, I think  growing up in Asia and living in a very Asian environment , we do put a lot of emphasis on numbers.  

Tony: Yep!

Linda: We talk about SAT scores, GPA and exam scores.  That’s what we’re heavily focused on because we value those metrics so much.  But again, having the boarding school experience and talking to you as well, I learned that there are things that schools look for that we cannot reflect through those metrics.

Tony: Right.  So, is it fair to say though, that to be considered, you do need to have the exceptional metrics like GPA and SAT scores.  

Linda: Right.

Tony: But to differentiate yourself, you need all those credits.

Linda: Right, I think it’s absolutely helpful to have them, but it’s not enough.

Tony: Fantastic.  So again, lots of kids with perfect scores don’t get in; it’s all about that extra step.  

Linda: Right.

Tony: So, on the interview process itself, you and I spoke about how to communicate your story clearly and persuasively, especially in this interview format.  What was it like to interview at Stanford? 

Linda: I actually really enjoyed my experience, so my interviewer, he did his undergrad at Stanford, he studied Chemistry.  So for me, I was applying as a Classics and Computer Science major, but I think the techniques that you taught me helped me connect more with my interviewer.  

Tony: Mm-hmmm!

Linda: Being a reflective listener, asking the right questions, and if I’m talking about something, my experience, how does that relate to you?  So you would ask them about their experience and find the common ground.

Tony: So sorry, just to summarize that.

Linda: Okay!  [Laughs]

Tony: Being a good listener and reflecting back to what you’re hearing in terms of the feedback, right? 

Linda: Yes!

Tony: Okay.

Linda: And something else, the storytelling technique that you taught me,  S.O.A.R. Situation, Obstacles, Actions, and Results.

Tony: Mm-hmmm!

Linda: So for me, it’s really important to have a story because again, as an applicant, you want to appear as a whole person and really humanize yourself by having a story.  I think that’s why it’s so important to be a good storyteller.

Tony: Totally!  So, we work with a ton of students and we find that they have a tendency to either have a very bland list, they list out all the accomplishments they’ve done, resume style.  And that’s what the rest of the application is for.  

Linda: Sure.

Tony: Or they may want to tell a story, but it’s just not clear where it’s going.

Linda: Mm-hmmm.

Tony: So, we have a framework, S.O.A.R, that you and I discussed.

Linda: Mm-hmmm.

Tony: “Situation,” to describe what the environment is like, that you’re in.  And then, what’s the conflict? What’s the conflict and “Obstacle” that you had to deal with in order to succeed and overcome this challenge? 

Linda: Right. Mm-hmmm.

Tony: “A” is the Action.  So what “actions” did you take in order to resolve that obstacle or that conflict?  

Linda: Mm-hmmm.

Tony: Sometimes students make the mistake of identifying stories that are too passive.  Things happen to them and they just think about it. But I think that it’s critical to actually have something where they take thought and describe that process.

Linda: Mm-hmmm.

Tony: And then finally, the Result, “R.”  The result here, again, does not have to be that superstar championship, but actually the key learning.  What the insight? How did you grow as a person? Why was that a meaningful experience to you, right?  

Linda: Mm-hmmm. 

Tony: What was one story that you talked about, either in the essays or in the interview if you don’t mind sharing?

Linda: Sure, actually one story that I talked about was teaching a seminar at my school for Martin Luther King Day.  So, for me, I really like ancient history, but I’m also passionate about the way it relates back to social justice issues.

Tony: Hmmm!

Linda: So I think, it’s really interesting to be seeing classics in the 21st century because it feels so distant, but it’s also so relevant.  

Tony: Totally.

Linda: In my classes, we were discussing Ovid and how the men in these stories relate to the modern Me Too movement.

Tony: Wow! That is deep, in the essay?

Tony: Actually, I have some students go through it and it becomes too mechanical.  “This happened, then I did this and that was the result.” But actually, they want to see those insights of where you were in the moment, what you were thinking, and what you were feeling.

Tony: Any last words of advice for someone who wants to apply to have the best chance to get into Stanford?

Linda: I think a really important aspect is to know why you’re applying.  So, almost every school has an essay and their supplement. It might be, “What are you looking forward to the most when you’re here?” or “Why are you applying to X school?” I think at the same time, you should know why you want to go here.  I think as an Asian applicant, part of it was getting wrapped up in the peer pressure of going to a name-brand school.

Tony: Totally.

Linda: Also doing it for the prestige.  I have a lot of friends who took a shotgun approach to the college process, where they applied to all the top schools, even though they’re so different from each other.  So I think, it’s about really knowing what you want and also knowing what you want to get out of your experience.

Tony: Yeah, Stanford and Harvard were totally different! 

Linda: Right.

Tony: In terms of the day to day experience for me.  I feel like, certainly, when I was in high school, I had no idea that there are these huge differences.  So we work very closely with students to make sure they do their research.

Linda: Absolutely!

Tony: Not just on numbers, but what is it like to live there?

Linda: Exactly!

Tony: What kind of environment are you looking for?  What are the activities you hope to be involved in when you hope to be involved in when you’re there?  Can you imagine yourself in that environment?

Linda: Absolutely, I think, even when I was going through the process my senior self, I wasn’t asking myself the right questions.

Tony: Mmmm!

Linda: It’s only after having gone through the college process.

Tony: Yeah!

Linda: Something started clicking and this is what I realized, this is why I wish I knew the right questions.

Tony: [laughs] Hugely valuable, well thank you so much for your time!

Linda: Thank you so much! [Hugs]

Tony: [hugs] Thank you for coming by!

Linda: But I’m really grateful Tony, for all of your help and for your support.  I don’t think I could’ve done it without you.

Tony: I’m super excited to see how your academic and professional career unfolds and I really hope you stay in touch.

Linda: Absolutely!

Tony: Let us know if we can help anymore!

Linda: Thank you! [High-five]

My 1 Simple Technique to Raise Confident Kids

My 1 Simple Technique to Raise Confident Kids

“You’re so smart!”, “You did a great job”, “That’s terrible” – children receive these messages (or their negative counterparts), along with many other messages on a daily basis from their parents and teachers. Are these just words or do they mean more? How are children affected by the words we use to praise, coach and criticize them? Research on praise and mindsets shows that when we praise children for being smart, it promotes a Fixed Mindset. In contrast, praising your child for their work will encourage a Growth Mindset. It sends a message that Effort is what led them to success. Want more tips on what to say, and how to say, when praising your child?

Meet Tony Ngo – Chairman and Co-founder of Everest Education to learn more about his simple technique to raise more confident kids.

Stanford Psychologist Says Parents Should Do This to Raise Confident Kids

Stanford Psychologist Says Parents Should Do This to Raise Confident Kids

Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University and a leading researcher in the field of motivation, has emphasized differences between two mindsets that people use to understand themselves, guide their behavior and affect their achievement.

The first is Fixed Mindset, which suggests that your abilities are innate and unchangeable. The second is Growth Mindset, based on the belief that you can improve through practice.

Those with a Fixed Mindset are likely to give up when they face an obstacle. Meanwhile, those with a Growth Mindset will view obstacles as a chance to learn and grow.

Are you not smart enough to solve it … or have you just not solved it yet?

This video reveals the power of “Growth Mindset”, how it can help students succeed in and out of the classroom, and how you can apply a Growth Mindset at home, at school and in your future career.

See the transcript here

World-renowned Stanford University’s psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea.  The power of our mindset.

In her early research, she studied how people cope with failures by watching how kids grapple with hard problems.  So she gave children in a school a series of puzzles to solve. 

The first ones were very easy, but the next ones were hard.  Confronted with the hard puzzles, one 10-year-old boy yelled out loud: “I love a challenge!!!”.  Another looked up with a pleased expression and said: “I was hoping this would be informative.” 

Carol always thought you coped with failure or you didn’t cope with failure.  She never thought that anyone LOVED failure. 

Not only weren’t these kids discouraged by failure, they didn’t even think they were failing.  They thought they were learning. At that time Carol thought that human qualities were carved in stone.  You were smart or you weren’t, and failure meant you weren’t. If you could arrange successes and avoid failures, you could stay smart.  Struggles, mistakes, and perseverance were just not parts of the whole being smart picture.  

The other hand those children on thought that human qualities such as intellectual skills could be cultivated through effort.  And it wasn’t just a feeling — working through challenges with this effort actually developed the brain. And that’s what they were doing, developing their intellectual skills or simply put, getting smarter.  So what does this mean for you?

It shows us how a mindset can have a profound effect on your life.  And that there are two mindsets: Fixed mindset and Growth mindset. If you believe that your qualities are carved in stone, you are showing a Fixed Mindset.  You believe you only possess a fixed amount of intelligence, a fixed personality, and a fixed moral character. And everything you encounter is a test to measure these traits.  Well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them! That’s why people with a Fixed Mindset shy away from challenges. They are scared their deficiencies could be unmasked through making mistakes. 

The Growth Mindset is the opposite.  Growth Mindset based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through effort.  Now Growth Mindset doesn’t mean everyone has the same talents and abilities, but it does mean everyone can grow through hard work, mentoring, and perseverance.  So why waste your time trying to look smart when you could actually be getting smarter?

Let’s take a quick look at the world of sports.  Michael Jordan actually wasn’t a natural. But he was the hardest working athlete, perhaps in the history of sport.  It’s well-known that Jordan was cut from the high school varsity team, he wasn’t recruited by the college he wanted to play for, and he wasn’t drafted by the first two NBA teams that could have chosen him.  Weren’t they foolish?

Now we know he was perhaps the greatest basketball player ever, and we think it should have been obvious from the start.  When we look at him he see MICHAEL JORDAN. But at that point he was only Michael Jordan. 

When Jordan was cut from the high school varsity team, he was devastated. So his mother told him “to go discipline himself”. Boy, did he listen?  After that he used to leave the house at 6 in the morning to go practice for 3 hours before school. He had a Growth Mindset. He believed he could improve his skills through hard work, and that’s how he became the Jordan we all know today. 

So what can we do to engrave Growth Mindset into ourselves and others?

Just knowing about the two mindsets can produce incredible results.  The other thing we can do is praise more wisely. When we praise people for the process they engage in, their hard work, their perseverance, they learn to stick to challenges.  

Praising talent, on the other hand, makes them vulnerable.  When we tell someone: “You did that so quickly, I’m impressed.”  They subconsciously hear: “If I didn’t do it quickly, you wouldn’t be impressed.” Or: “You got an A without working, you’re so smart!”.  They actually think: “Oh, if I work, you’re not gonna think I’m smart.”  

Instead when you give praise to other people, you should try something like: “I like the way you tried all kinds of strategies on that math problem until you finally got it. You thought of a lot of different ways to do it and found the one that worked.”  This way you praise hard work and not the so-called “talent”. Also telling people they are “smart” is one of the biggest mindset crimes you can commit. In one study, they even discovered that telling people they are smart lowers their IQ!

Here’s a common question people have about mindsets: Can you have both mindsets?  Many people have elements of both. You can have different mindsets in different areas.  I might think that my personality is fixed, but that my intelligence can be developed. Or that my social skills are fixed, but my creativity can be developed. 

Carol found that whatever mindset people have in a certain area, that mindset will guide them in that region.  You have a choice. Mindsets are just beliefs. They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re just something in your mind and you can change your mind.  So try your best to put yourself in the Growth Mindset every time you face a challenge, that way you will be better than yesterday. 

Thank you for listening. If you enjoyed this video, please like and subscribe to see more videos like this.  Leave us comments and questions below, and study with Everest Education to see how we apply these methods in the classroom.