Frequently Asked Questions - The International School

Frequently Asked Questions

Admissions

How many students are at TIS?

Enrollment in PreK through 5th grade has been over 450 students for several years.

How many students do you admit each year?

Space availability varies year-to-year between the grades and our three language tracks depending on the prior year’s enrollment and retention. The most common ages for new students to enroll are in prek (3-year-olds) and lowk (4-year-olds). We also enroll new students in kindergarten. Please contact the admissions office to find out more about the grade and language openings for your child.

How old do children need to be to start at TIS?

Children must be 3-years-old and potty trained to begin at TIS. As long as space is available, students may start in Pre-K on any of our pre-set start dates after their third birthday (the week of October 15, 2016, the week of January 2, 2017, or the week of February 18, 2017). For Low-K, children must be 4 years old by September 1. For kindergarten, children must be 5 years old by September 1.

As an independent school we have some flexibility with the September 1 date. For the benefit of the child's immediate and long term development, we encourage parents not push children ahead of their chronological age peers.

Can preschoolers/kindergarteners attend half days or partial weeks?

As long as space is available:

  • Children in the 3-year-old class ("PreK") may attend 3 or 5 days per week, either half or full days. 
  • Children in the 4-year-old class ("LowK") attend 5 days-a-week, with a choice of half or full days. This helps the child feel comfortable and at home with the school routine. 
  • Children in kindergarten attend five days-a-week, full days, with a rest period in the afternoon.

Does my child need to speak Spanish, Chinese, or Japanese to attend TIS?

TIS admits children with all language fluency levels from beginners to native-speakers. However, most students starting at TIS in preschool or kindergarten do not have any prior language exposure or fluency. Children applying to 1st-5th grades must demonstrate grade-appropriate language fluency that will enable them to do their academic work in the target language.

Do you accept students with learning disabilities or special needs? 

TIS does not have separate programs or on-staff resources for special needs students. However, our small classes can be beneficial to many students who have minor learning differences. Depending on the need, the extent of the disability, and availability of outside help, it may be possible for student with learning differences to thrive at TIS. An open and honest partnership between the school and parents is always important; it is doubly important for students with learning differences.

The International School’s Student Support Services (SSS) is a formal committee designed to help students who may need extra support to succeed academically.  The SSS process is modeled on a research-based method of academic support commonly used throughout the United States.  Through the multi-tiered process, the school’s educational leaders use their cumulative expertise to help meet students’ unique needs through strategic and intensive interventions, data collection, progress monitoring, and additional student support.  If you feel that your child may need additional academic support or challenge, if your child has medical or family circumstances that may affect academic achievement, or if your child has a formal behavioral or academic diagnosis that may affect classroom performance, please talk to your child’s teacher about SSS.

What if my child exhibits learning difficulties after s/he starts at TIS?

The focus of The International School’s Student Support Services (SSS) is to provide resources and strategies for teachers to directly support the student’s learning and achievement in the regular classroom environment. The process generally begins with the teacher identifying and recording student academic and behavioral observations and sharing them with the SSS Coordinator. Then, the teacher works with an SSS coordinator to implement classroom-based strategies and to monitor the student’s progress.  Through this process, the school’s educational leaders use their cumulative expertise to help meet students’ unique needs through strategic and intensive interventions, data collection, progress monitoring, and additional student support. 

If you feel that your child may need additional academic support or challenge, if your child has medical or family circumstances that may affect academic achievement, or if your child has a formal behavioral or academic diagnosis that may affect classroom performance, please talk to your child’s teacher about SSS.

Does TIS offer any programs for students with behavioral problems?

If behavioral problems arise, the teacher and Head of School or Head of Early Childhood will work with the parents to address it. The International School’s Student Support Services (SSS) aims to create a formal network to identify and support students’ academic and behavioral needs through a multi-tiered intervention process and provide ongoing support for students and staff that results in a safe and productive learning environment.

The student support services team will provide resources and strategies for teachers to use in the classroom and provide strategies and resources for parents at home. Depending on the outcome and the impact on the class, it may be necessary for the student to leave the school.

What if my child has a food allergy?

TIS has been declared nut-free throughout the whole school. We have many students with additional food allergies, and are prepared to work with parents to make the school a safe environment for the large majority of children with food allergies. For example, if a child has a severe soy allergy, that child’s classroom (where the children eat lunch and snack) will be declared a soy-free room.

How does TIS select the students it admits?

Students are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.

How far in advance can I reserve a space for my child?

We begin to accept applications in September of the year prior to the student's start date. Once all places are reserved, additional applicants are placed on a waitlist.

What is the application process?

  1. The International School uses Ravenna for online inquiry and application. To begin your application, go to Ravenna and create an account.  Make sure to create your account using an email address you will have access to throughout the admission season as this will be your primary email contact with our school.
  2. The admissions office will notify you if space is available or if your child will be placed on a wait list.
  3. In March, we start sending enrollment contracts to new families in the order their application was received. The contracts are due back with a $300 deposit which reserves the child’s space for the fall.

We offer several options for tuition payment plans, as well as financial aid available for those in need. Please see tuition or financial aid for details.

Can prospective students and/or parents sit in on a class?

Yes, we welcome prospective families to visit the school, sit in on classes, and talk to current families. Please contact the admissions office to arrange it.

If my child is admitted to preschool, does that mean she is automatically admitted to the elementary school?

Yes. Re-enrollment for current students takes place in February or March each year, before any new students are admitted.

Can we apply after the application deadline?

TIS does not have an admissions deadline. As long as space is available, we admit children from our applicant pool on a first-come, first-served basis. Children who have not had their third birthday yet are placed on a delayed school schedule for their PreK class. We have three additional start times throughout the year for those who have their third birthday during the school year. Please contact the admissions office for details.

 

Daily Life

What is the procedure during recess and lunch breaks? What do children do when inclement weather makes it necessary to stay indoors?

TIS students eat lunch in their classroom and have outdoor, unstructured play at both recess and lunch times. We ask that all students have rain jackets and boots at school so that classes can go outside even when it is raining. The main campus has a large tent on the playground, and the prek campus has a covered outdoor play area.

Students are always supervised by teachers and/or administrative staff. TIS also has an EMT/Security officer who is generally on the main campus playground when classes are there.

What will a typical day be like for my child?

Click here to read about the "typical day" in preschool and kindergarten.

Does TIS serve lunch?

Parents have a variety of choices for their child’s lunch. Every class has a microwave oven (used by teachers for younger children), so you may send lunches that need to be warmed (though not cooked). There are also three optional on-campus lunch delivery options for an extra charge. Click here for more information about lunch options.

Do you have before and after school programs?

Yes. All students may be dropped off at 7:30am at no extra charge. After school, SquareGator provides on-site after school care until 6pm each day and on most no-school days. We also have many other providers who offer a wide variety of fun after school programs.

See what is offered after school for details.

What are the school's main policies and procedures?

Please see TIS policies & procedures in the Parent Handbook.

Do you have a bus system?

No, however many of our families carpool or take public transportation. Enrolled families may list a carpool need in our weekly parent bulletin by sending information to ITKEditor@intlschool.org. Click here for alternative transportation options.

 

In the Classroom/Academics

Who are your teachers? What experience and education do they have?

TIS teachers are experienced professionals from 16 different countries with native-level fluency of the language that they teach. 100% of our teachers have bachelor’s degrees and 40% have master’s degrees. See more information on the staff and faculty here.

What types of assessments does TIS use? Do TIS students take standardized tests?

As an International Baccalaureate school, we use a variety of assessments to assist the learning process. From the IB web site:

“Assessment is an important part of each unit of inquiry as it both enhances learning and provides opportunities for students to reflect on what they know, understand and can do. The teacher's feedback to the students provides the guidance, the tools and the incentive for them to become more competent, more skillful and better at understanding how to learn.”

Formative assessments help the student – and the teacher – understand the concepts, how much progress they are making, and what they need to do in order to improve.

Summative assessments are a final assessment of learning, for example at the end of a unit of work, or at the end of the school year. Teachers use rubrics to assess student learning, and they share those rubrics with the students at a grade-appropriate level so students know what is expected of them.

Teachers give grades using the rubric so students can see exactly where they need to focus for improvement.

In addition, TIS students take two type of standardized tests:

  • ACT Aspire tests in 3rd, 4th & 5th grades in math, science, and English. TIS students generally perform as well as or better than their peers on these tests even though the math and science tests are administered in English and TIS students study those subjects in Spanish, Chinese or Japanese. 
  • Language proficiency tests in 5th grade administered by the governments of China (the HSK), Japan (Japanese Proficiency Test), and Spain (DELE). TIS students generally pass these tests even though they are generally designed for and administered to much older students and adults.

For more information, please visit: National Standards and International Baccalaureate.

How is technology used at TIS?

TIS has carts of networked Macintosh notebook computers in every building (except PreK) for classes to use in learning activities. In addition, every teacher has a networked large-screen Macintosh desktop computer for lesson planning and sharing resources with students. With our small classes, the large-screen iMac is perfect for sharing on-line resources. The teachers also have access to several projectors if needed for larger groups of students.

How are behavioral issues addressed in class and on the playground?

From the Parent Handbook:

"When students make mistakes, our goal is to present an opportunity to learn and to make better choices in the future. Discipline without understanding on the student’s part is meaningless. So the first step in any infraction at school is a conversation with the child’s teacher or another staff member. If two students have a conflict, the staff member may mediate a discussion between them.

The adult’s role is to help students understand and reflect on their own actions and reactions. Such a meeting can end with resolutions or goals. When a child makes mistakes, behavioral or academic, the best part a parent can play is to let the child own the mistake. If a parent responds emotionally, then the parent owns the incident, and the child becomes a bystander to the parent’s meltdown.

Instead, a parent should ask, 'Do you understand what happened? Are you happy with the result? Do you feel you did your best? Is there anything you would do differently next time?'"

How much homework do students have each night?

From the Parent Handbook:

Studies show that homework rates are generally higher in independent schools, and they are bound to be higher than the national PTA guidelines in a language immersion school such as ours.

The outside limits for homework at TIS are:

  • Grade 1: up to 30 minutes plus up to 15 minutes of English reading with parents or alone
  • Grade 2: up to 40 minutes plus up to 15 of English 
  • Grade 3: up to 45 minutes plus up to 15 of English 
  • Grade 4: up to 50 minutes plus up to 15 of English 
  • Grade 5: up to 60 minutes plus up to 15 of English 

These are outside limits; there may not be this much homework every night. After this amount of time has elapsed, you should stop the child from working further and notify the teacher of what happened. If directions are not clear to the child or to you, notify the teacher. If you think the work is not productive or fruitful, calmly discuss with the teacher what you observed at home.

It is normal human nature to resist work at home after a day of work, but that does not mean we have to have big discussions or dramatic scenes with our children. Instead, we can assist them best by keeping them focused and moving forward, and reminding them that they will have time to spend on their preferred endeavors as soon as they finish.

What is the difference between Montessori and the TIS program?

The best way to understand different schools is to visit each program, speak to the staff and observe classes in session. We are not experts in Montessori, but we have compiled some information that may be helpful. Montessori programs differ from one another, so please consult the schools you are considering for more information.

Program Basics

The International School (TIS): At TIS, students are fully immersed in Spanish, Chinese or Japanese so they acquire another language and culture while learning a rich preschool and elementary curriculum. Lessons are taught through the International Baccalaureate (IB) inquiry-based program with real-world concepts in science, social studies and the arts. Our focus is on developing confident, capable world citizens.

Montessori: Montessori classes vary greatly – each school has its own approach to teaching. There are no regulations for a school to practice the Montessori ideology. In general, classrooms are deemed child-centric with a prepared environment: filled with hands-on materials designed to stimulate children's senses and motor skills, and to promote self-directed learning.

Curriculum

TIS: The International Baccalaureate (IB) focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. The curriculum is based on IB "units of inquiry" that are focused on real world concepts in science, math, social studies and the arts. The IB method encourages children to explore questions that relate to the curriculum and then, with the teacher's guidance, to find answers to their own questions. Children learn to look beyond the facts, to think critically, and to uncover the "big idea" in every lesson.

Montessori: There is no formal curriculum for Montessori schools. Students are presented concepts and allowed to set their own pace. Much of Montessori schooling is based on students learning life skills, choosing their own interests, and motivating each other when faced with academic challenges. Traditional subjects are presented at different stages in a child’s development.  

In the Classroom

TIS: With the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, TIS teachers create lessons for experiential learning including hands-on experimentation, field trips, technology, guest speakers and library resources. Classes have no more than 19 students, with two teachers in preschool if classes are over 10 students. Kindergarten classes also often have two teachers. Children have homework generally beginning in 1st grade to develop independent study skills and to reinforce concepts and language learned in school.

Montessori: Montessori classrooms allow for multi-age learning, usually in 3 year increments. In this multi-aged approach, it is common to see Montessori classrooms with 25-30 children per class. Older kids are typically encouraged to teach the younger kids, and the teacher becomes more of a facilitator. Often, children are learning very different things simultaneously within the classroom. It is common for Montessori schools to avoid assigning homework during elementary school. The programs often thrive on individuality, freedom and learning through discovery and process.

* Seldin, Tim. "The Montessori Foundation." The Montessori Foundation. The Montessori Foundation, 03 Aug. 2010. Web. 01 Oct. 2012.

What is the difference between Waldorf and the TIS program?

The best way to understand different school programs is to visit each program that you are considering, speak to the staff and observe classes in session. Following is a summary of some of the differences between TIS and Waldorf programs*.

Program basics

TIS: At TIS, students are fully immersed in Spanish, Chinese or Japanese so they acquire another language and culture while learning a rich preschool and elementary school curriculum. Lessons are taught through the International Baccalaureate (IB) inquiry-based program with a focus on developing confident, capable world citizens.

Waldorf: Waldorf schools focus on the developmental phases in childhood and nurturing of children's imaginations. These schools generally cater to the needs of children rather than “the demands of the government or economic forces”, so there is a lot of emphasis on creativity and free-thinking.

Curriculum

TIS: The International Baccalaureate (IB) focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. The curriculum is based on IB "units of inquiry" that are focused on real world concepts in science, math, social studies and arts. The IB method encourages children to explore questions that relate to the curriculum and then, with the teacher's guidance, to find answers to their questions. Children learn to look beyond the facts, to think critically, and to uncover the "big idea" in every lesson.

Waldorf: Waldorf philosophy regards stages in human development and personal relation to material as the primary way to deliver information that a child will learn. In the same way, Waldorf emphasizes verbal learning, crafts and play of the same importance as it does formal material.

In the classroom

TIS: With the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, TIS teachers create lessons for experiential learning including hands-on experimentation, field trips, guest speakers and library resources. Classes have no more than 19 students, with two teachers in preschool if classes are over 10 students. Children have homework generally beginning in 1st grade to develop independent study skills and to reinforce concepts and language learned in school. As students progress through the grades, they will typically have different homeroom teachers for each grade.

Waldorf: At Waldorf schools, the same teacher often stays with a group of students for up to eight grades, and may focus on a single subject for as long as a month. Waldorf classrooms will often have 28-32 students in each class. Teachers and assistants introduce concepts gradually to help children slowly discover the world around them, and children are encouraged to teach one another.

*"Waldorf Answers - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Waldorf Education." Waldorf Answers - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Waldorf Education. N.p., 2012. Web. 26 Sept. 2012.

 

Language Teaching & Learning

What is full language immersion?

“Full immersion” is a way of teaching language by completely immersing the learner in that language for most of each day. The learner will hear only the target language for both regular conversation (e.g. talk about getting dressed and eating meals), as well as subject matter learning (e.g. math and science). A significant body of research shows that with language immersion, young children learn their second language the same way they learned their first – by listening, absorbing, imitating, and then trying it out. The more time a child spends hearing and using the second language, the more fluent she will become. Full immersion, which is how TIS teaches, is in contrast to "partial immersion" programs where half the day is taught in English and students achieve a lower level of language proficiency.

What will the first days at TIS be like for my child if s/he doesn’t speak the language?

Our teachers have many years of classroom experience, and they love children. Knowing that the children will not understand the spoken language at first, the teachers use their warmth, familiar activities, and visual cues to help the children understand and feel at home. For example, the teacher will pick up a scissors while saying “use your scissors” in the target language. The children quickly learn the Chinese, Japanese, or Spanish word for scissors. By the end of the first week, your child will know that the teacher is another grown-up who loves them and who happens to use different words.

How do teachers handle children who enter TIS with no prior language exposure?

While students with no prior language exposure will speak to their peers and teachers in English, their teachers make a concerted effort to repeat back to them their question or response in the target language and then proceed to pose or answer their question in the target language. Our experience has shown us that after a few months in a full immersion, setting most children will begin to address their teachers in the target language.

Is any English used in TIS classrooms?

In general, it is extremely important that the teacher uses only the second language in the immersion classroom. Speaking English may help comprehension at a particular moment, but in the long run it becomes a hindrance to learning the second language. If English is used regularly, the child will not focus on the Spanish, Chinese or Japanese instructions – he will simply wait for the English translation.

From preschool into the beginning of first grade, teachers speak to the children in the target language and expect that the children will answer in English. The children naturally use their second language as they become more comfortable with it - first with words, then sentences, then paragraphs. By second grade, the children are generally expected to use only their Spanish, Chinese or Japanese in the classroom.

Starting in first grade, all students study English language arts with English specialists for one hour every day. This allows them to grow their English skills to or beyond grade-appropriate levels by fifth grade. English is also used for art, music, PE and library.

Given all of the above, the teacher will use English as necessary - if a child needs to be comforted, and for issues of discipline and safety when complete understanding is necessary at that moment.

What if no one at home speaks Spanish, Chinese or Japanese?

Most of our families do not speak the language their child is learning, so our teachers expect that. Teachers send home weekly emails explaining the class work, enabling parents to engage with their child about the topic of study. Parent notices and report cards are issued in English.

From a recent parent survey: 

"The email information I receive from TIS (ITK, specialist news, teacher emails, English teachers, etc.) is instrumental. My 2nd grader is always impressed when I know what she is talking about in library or what project is coming up in English! It makes it easy to use the vocabulary he is learning through student/learner traits, too. "Wow, that Olympian is really a risk-taker!" "I am trying my best to be open-minded." "I can tell you have been talking about what it means to be caring."

New families sometimes worry about how they will help their child with homework if they don't speak the language. TIS parents will tell you that because they don't speak the language, their children become resourceful and independent learners. The parents' responsibility is to provide time, place and encouragement - and the rest is the student's reponsibility. Click here for a short video clip of a 5th grade parent explaining what she does when her daughter has homework trouble!

How will my child adjust to having class in a different language?

Many children are nervous about starting a new school, whether the program is in English or not. Your child may need some time to adjust to this new challenge. He may need more sleep than usual - an earlier bedtime often helps in the first month. By the beginning of October, every child should be over the initial adjustment and look forward to school.

How can I help my child with the transition to language immersion?

Encourage your child by telling her how proud you are that she is learning Chinese, Spanish, or Japanese. Take advantage of opportunities to expose your child to the immersion language and culture outside of school. This helps her see that the language is not just something for school, but something for life.

Try not to put your child on the spot to "say something in Spanish" until she shows the initiative herself. Recognize that your child may not speak the language at home for a long time - at pick-up or drop-off you may be surprised to hear your child use her new language when talking to the teacher!

When will my child start speaking his/her second language?

All children will start to use their target language on their own and at their own individual pace. It is not uncommon for children to spend the first year just soaking up the second language. Just like young babies learning their first language, your child's comprehension will increase daily, and but she may not be ready to speak it for some time. When the children are ready to speak, it’s amazing to see how much they know.

Since children at The International School learn language in the context of every day life, their first words are often phrases like, “more juice please”, or “blue paper.” Because of this, it is awkward for children to be asked to “perform” for others. A request to “say something in Chinese” will seem most unnatural.

Similarly, your preschooler may not understand the concept of translation. He is learning the meaning of his new language, and will start to think in his second language rather than translating his thoughts from English. Once your child shows a readiness to use his second language at home, encourage him to do so. Give him the benefit of the doubt if you are uncertain about his pronunciation or word usage.

Will my child's English suffer?

Research on this question is both voluminous and unequivocal: studies consistently show that by the end of the elementary grades, immersion students perform as well as or better than non-immersion peers in English and math skills. Nevertheless, in the first few years of any immersion program, there may be certain lags in English language arts. However, there is significant transference of literacy skills between languages, and once formal English instruction is introduced (in first grade at TIS), children catch up quickly.

All our first through fifth grade students study English language arts daily. By third grade the lags are generally gone, and by fifth grade the immersion students’ English skills often surpass those of their non-immersion peers. The TIS English department has a list of recommendations for parents who wish to support their child’s literacy skills at home. Please see the English Literacy page for more details.

How will my child learn to read and write in English?

TIS students start formal English classes in 1st grade. In first through fifth grade they study English with English literacy specialists for one hour per day in classes that are designed to complement their language learning. Students quickly catch up to and generally surpass their English-only peers in the course of elementary school.

How will my child's learning compare to her peers at other schools?

The International School’s curriculum content is shaped by the Oregon Standards for Science (which are aligned to the National Science Standards), the National Social Studies Standards, and the Common Core State Standards for Math, which have been adopted by 38 states including Oregon. TIS chose these sets of standards because they represent strong, clear thinking on the concepts children should be learning. These standards provide a minimum benchmark for students and teachers at TIS, with actual student achievements frequently exceeding these academic targets.

TIS applies these standards through the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme, with its focus on student-led inquiry and hands-on engagement. This ensures that our students are gaining essential knowledge, while at the same time developing critical skills for independent, lifelong learning.

Is immersion the right choice for my child?

Although every child is different, an immersion program will be an exciting and stimulating experience for most children and their families. The TIS program will enable your child to fully appreciate a diverse world, and to communicate freely with people in another language. Being bilingual will enhance job opportunities, and will make it easier to learn a third language. As you contemplate this decision, it is important to remember that your child will realize the full benefits of an immersion program by following the program all the way through fifth grade.

What language do the children speak amongst themselves?

In the early childhood classrooms (preschool and kindergarten), most children speak English to one another even as they quickly start using target language words and phrases with the teachers. By the end of kindergarten and 1st grade, students are able to and strongly encouraged to use the target language when talking with their peers.

What if we speak another language at home (not English & not the immersion language)?

We have many TIS students who speak English in the neighborhood, Chinese, Spanish or Japanese at school, and a third language at home. If your family speaks another language at home, we encourage you to continue doing so.

What is ‘language acquisition’ and ‘production’?

‘Language acquisition’ describes the perfectly natural way we learn our own first language. Typically, parents do not teach their small children grammar; they do not teach their children lists of vocabulary; they rarely correct their small child’s language, unless the child is saying something that is factually wrong. In spite of this lack of specific teaching, all small children master their own mother tongue at remarkable speed. Small children make rather predictable errors as they start to use their mother tongue, but automatically self-correct as they continue to recognize patterns in the language and build proficiency naturally.

Immersion programs make use of the brain’s natural capacity to learn languages in much the same way as we learn our mother tongue. Many factors are involved, but the key one is: we acquire language when the focus is on meaning.

We refer to ‘production’ when children starts to speak a language. Just like babies understand a lot of language before saying their first understandable words, second language learners understand a lot before they start to ‘produce’ - or speak - their second language.

Shouldn’t children master their mother tongue before they learn a new one?

No. A large body of research shows that it is not necessary to postpone starting additional languages. The children will still develop their mother tongue as long as they receive regular input, for example from their parents and family.

What can I expect to see in my child at the beginning of the immersion process?

Children who are especially confident and extroverted might try using the new language immediately, and be very proud of showing off new words and phrases. Most children, however, may appear unable or reluctant to use the new language. The brain naturally goes through a ‘silent period’ at the beginning of the acquisition process. The child may appear to be inactive, and not participating, but there is in fact a lot of activity going on within the brain. Think of it as an essential period of incubation.

It is important to recognize and respect this silent period, which can last many months in some cases. There will be no particular advantage in trying to force the child to speak, and in fact we may do more harm than good. In the early stages of language acquisition a child will understand far more than he or she can say or write just as a baby understands a lot before speaking intelligibly. In other words, perception or understanding is always far in advance of production, or active use of the language.

Will my child experience a form of 'culture shock'?

Yes, he/she might. People are familiar with the term ‘culture shock’ when we go to live in a new country. The symptoms of culture shock can be very subtle, and are easily confused with other issues. In many ways, entering a language immersion program will involve some level of culture shock, but also ‘language shock’.

Add to this all the challenges of entering a new school, and fitting in with a new group of children. All these factors bundled into the first few weeks can have quite a drastic effect on the child’s psyche. The child can appear sad, angry, unsettled or moody. The good news is that these symptoms are normal and temporary, our teachers and counselors are skilled in dealing with them, and our children emerge from the experience greatly strengthened in many ways.

Should I try to speak the target language at home with my child?

If the target language at school is not your natural home language, it is not necessary to use it at home. To give your child more exposure to the target language, it is good to find suitable children’s books, DVD’s, recordings and so on. Do not be upset if the child is reluctant to use the target language with you. Languages have strong emotional ties, and it may just not feel right for the child to speak to you in Japanese or Spanish or Mandarin, if this is not the language you normally use.

Won’t my child be behind other local children if she is educated in a foreign language like this?

A lot of schools offering immersion programs like TIS observe that the youngest students in these programs may score below other monolingual English-speaking students who take the same standardized test in second grade. However, in our over 20 years of experience and in a significant body of research, we see that most of our students score on par with or better than their monolingual peers by fourth grade.

Is it really necessary to keep a child in the TIS immersion program all the way through fifth grade?

Children receive and retain the most benefit from an immersion program from being in it as long as possible. TIS students are developing their target language skills at the same time as they are learning a full International Baccalaureate curriculum including math, science and social studies. The benefits of all aspects of this education grows with each year in the program.

What percentage of the instructional program is offered in the target language?

At TIS all subjects are taught in the target language except for English, art, music and physical education (PE) which are all taught by English language specialists in those fields. In grades one through five, students study English one hour per day and art, music and PE for a total of nearly 200 minutes per week. Early Childhood students (preschool, low k and kindergarten) study art, music and physical education with English language specialists once per week.

What are the stages of language acquisition? How long will it take for my child to start speaking a second language?

  • Children learning a second language are likely to go through a "silent period" where they are building their receptive vocabulary but are not yet producing language. 
  •  The silent period is followed by early production of language where students will start to speak in one or two word utterances. 
  • Gradually, students will progress through a series of stages, building vocabulary and more complex sentence structures until they have reached a level of advanced fluency. 

Although all new language learners progress through the same stages, the length of time each student spends at each stage may vary greatly.

  • Children master the concrete, everyday, ‘here and now’ type of language relatively quickly and easily. 
  • By the end of the first year in an immersion classroom children will show good comprehension and may sound very fluent to the casual listener. On closer scrutiny the child will still have a rather limited command of the language. 
  • Doing academic work in a foreign language is immensely more challenging than merely speaking, and calls for a much deeper and more sophisticated range of both language and logical skills. 
  • This Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP – a term coined by Canadian researcher Jim Cummins) can take several years to build. It is compounded by the fact that school children, irrespective of the language they are working in, are maturing and developing both their academic skills and their ability to use language to apply these skills at the same time.

Will my child be bilingual when he/she leaves TIS in fifth grade?

Many of us imagine bilingual to mean ‘perfect’ proficiency in two or more languages, but this is very rare. Even outstandingly bilingual individuals tend to have one language that is stronger than the other. In general, by the end of fifth grade, TIS students are sufficiently proficient in their TIS target language to conduct a significant aspect of their lives in that language.

For example, the student will be able to study at college in a country where that language is used, or use the language at work, or collaborate professionally with speakers of that language etc. The student will be able to appreciate and derive enjoyment from the cultural heritage of the language, including enjoying films, novels, plays etc. in that language, and develop an understanding of the economic, political and social life of countries where that language is spoken. This is far above the type of language we need for tourism or occasional social contacts.

By the end of elementary school, a child who has been in the immersion program from the beginning will certainly be bilingual in many important respects. They will speak mostly without accent; they will use gestures and expressions typical of a native speaker; they will respond spontaneously in the target language; they will have mathematical and scientific competency in the target language.

 

Money Matters

When is tuition due? What payment plans are available?

There are four payment plans available:

  • PLAN A - $300 paid upon signing contract. The entire balance of Plan A tuition paid on or before May 31.
  • PLAN B - $300 paid upon signing contract. The entire balance of Plan B tuition paid on or before July 31.
  • PLAN C - $300 paid upon signing contract. Sixty percent (60%) of the balance of Plan C tuition paid on or before July 31. The remaining balance of Plan C tuition paid on or before January 1 of the following year.
  • PLAN D - $300 paid upon signing contract. The balance of tuition paid in ten (10) equal monthly installments on the first of each month, starting August 1. Monthly collections will be administered through the FACTS program.

Is there a tuition discount for multiple children who attend TIS?

Yes. Tuition is reduced by 10% (in the least expensive program) for the 2nd child, 15% (in the least expensive program) for the 3rd child. The discount is based on the Plan B rate for the selected enrollment option. See tuition for more information.

What expenses are there beyond tuition?

We strive to include most expenses within tuition so that parents are not “nickle and dimed” with extra fees. Field trips, books and performances as well as most school supplies and cultural costumes are included in tuition. Parents must provide a small list of durable school supplies, lunch (send from home or purchase through TIS lunch programs), and after school care if required. There are no other mandatory fees.

The school raises money through a small number of fundraisers throughout the year, and asks every family to contribute annually to the TIS Fund and/or to the Auction Special Appeal. Participation is valued at literally any dollar amount. See giving for more information.

Does TIS offer financial aid?

We strive to make our program accessible to as many children as possible. To this end, we provide financial assistance for up to 20 percent of our students each year - significantly more than the national average.

How is financial need determined for TIS financial aid?

Financial aid grants are awarded based on financial need. To apply for financial aid, a family must complete a Grant & Aid Application, which is filed through a third-party aid assessment service called FACTS. Families must re-apply for every year that they wish to be considered for aid. The school gives priority for financial aid to its returning students.

FACTS processes the application and estimates the amount a family can invest toward the cost of tuition. The school’s financial aid budget is limited, so every family is still expected to make a substantial contribution toward the cost of tuition.

Financial aid application deadlines are January 15 for returning families and March 1 for families that are new to the school. Families who complete their financial aid applications by the deadlines generally receive award notification along with their enrollment contracts. Applications received after the deadlines will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Any applications received after the budget is exhausted will be put on a financial aid waitlist. Families occasionally turn down their financial aid awards, and that money may be available to other students. For more information concerning deadlines, and to request a financial aid application, please contact the Admissions Office at admissions@intlschool.org. The application is also available online at www.factstuitionaid.com.

Is financial aid automatically renewed each year?

No. Families must re-apply for every year that they wish to be considered for aid. The school gives priority for financial aid to its returning students.

What is demonstrated need?

Demonstrated need is the calculated difference between fees and the amount a family can be expected to contribute to the cost of annual tuition.

Do financial aid awards cover the full cost of tuition? 

No. Every family is expected to contribute to the cost of their child(ren)’s education.

Do I apply for financial aid at the same time I am applying for admission?

Financial aid application deadlines are January 15 for returning families and March 1 for families that are new to the school. Families who complete their financial aid applications by the deadlines generally receive award notification along with their enrollment contracts. Applications received after the deadlines will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Any applications received after the budget is exhausted will be put on a financial aid waitlist. Families occasionally turn down their financial aid awards, and that money may be available to other students.

Does applying for financial aid affect admission decisions?

No. Admission offers are made strictly on a first-come, first-served basis without any consideration of a financial aid application.

We do not complete or file our taxes until April 15 or later. How will that affect my financial aid application?

Finishing both the school application as well as financial aid in a timely manner will assure that your child has the best opportunity to be admitted as a student at TIS. We do have a limited amount of funding to offer, and your child may have to be put on a waitlist if all of the materials are not completed, or if the funding is not available at the time of acceptance to TIS.

What if our family is still unable to pay the tuition even after receiving a financial aid award?

If you review the financial aid offer and still feel that your family contribution is not affordable, you may appeal. There is a financial aid appeal form available from the Business Office in which you can state the circumstances in which you feel the application did not adequately demonstrate your financial need.

If, after completing the appeals process, you feel that you are still unable to meet the family contribution, please let the admissions office know as soon as possible in which case deposits paid will be returned.

Will my information be kept confidential? Who will see my information?

Members of the financial aid committee are the only people who have access to and review financial aid application materials. Families who apply for and receive financial aid are not publicized or identified during the admission process or after admission at any time.

What factors are considered when determining financial assistance?

  • Income, assets, taxes, family size, unusual expenses and circumstances, the age(s) of the parent(s) and number of family members in tuition-bearing schools are among the many factors used to determine financial assistance. 
  • Generally, we encourage you to apply.

Is there a fee for applying for financial aid?

FACTS charges a $30 application fee.

How do I get a financial assistance application?

The applcation is available from the Admissions Office (only after an application for admission has been submitted) or online at www.factstuitionaid.com.

If we have more than one child applying, do we have to complete two forms?

No, one form will be sufficient.

When will our family be notified of our financial aid award?

If application deadlines are met, financial aid awards are sent out at the time enrollment paperwork is mailed. This way, you can make a decision knowing the exact amount of tuition you need to pay.

 

Parents' Interaction with TIS

What kind of interaction will I have with my child's teacher at TIS?

It is important that you and your child's teachers have clear, open communication to help your child with successes and struggles that may occur. At the very least, you will receive weekly e-mails from your child's teacher, in person parent/teacher conferences in November and March, and a formal report card in November, March and June. In addition, we encourage parents to get involved in class activities (i.e. field trips, class parties, special projects) and to contact the teacher proactively with any questions or concerns - while they are still small questions or concerns! Teachers generally have time for short conversations on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays after school, and can always schedule longer meetings if necessary. If you pick up your child right as school closes, it's always great just to pop in and say hello.

"The email information I receive from TIS (ITK, specialist news, teacher emails, English teachers, etc.) is instrumental. My 2nd grader is always impressed when I know what she is talking about in library or what project is coming up in English! It makes it easy to use the vocabulary he is learning through student/learner traits, too. "Wow, that Olympian is really a risk-taker!" "I am trying my best to be open-minded." "I can tell you have been talking about what it means to be caring."

How can I best support my child and the school?

We encourage parents, grandparents and special friends to be involved in the school for the benefit of students, the rest of the community, and themselves.

  • At a minimum, parents should:
  • Keep up to date on their child’s class and school-wide activities 
  • Keep up to date on their child’s individual schoolwork, homework and progress 
  • Participate as requested 

Other tips:

  • Show confidence in the choice you have made for your child, and not become over-anxious if, for example, a well-meaning relative comments that your child seems behind other children in his or her English reading. Tell them you have made a choice for your child to become a global citizen! 
  • Be modest in your expectations that your child will speak the new language in front of you or your family and friends. Many children don’t like doing this because it is unnatural. 
  • If you are fortunate enough to be able to travel together to countries where the language is spoken, allow your child to show as much initiative as possible. This produces some delightful moments. 
  • Children rise to our expectations. Make sure you encourage a positive attitude towards academic achievement, without being unrealistic. 
  • You can support the school by being an ambassador for us, recommending us to others, and being knowledgeable so that you can refute the sometimes inaccurate or uninformed views of other parents. 
  • Support the school very concretely by volunteering in a range of roles, and by contributing to the TIS Fund as you are able. We always need additional financial support to enable us to keep our tuition below actual costs.

What is the best way to communicate with my child's teacher?

The most effective way to communicate depends on the subject at hand. For easily answered questions or small concerns, e-mail is the best vehicle. Teachers check it often and will generally respond quickly. However if an e-mail would be long or complicated, or you have a pressing concern, it is much better to set up a time to meet with the teacher and/or administrator in person. Parents can contact any staff member to request a meeting.

At times teachers can have quick conversations at drop-off and pick-up, but it is best not to count on these times as there will be other people around and the teacher may have other meetings.

What should I do when I have a concern about my child?

Please do not let concerns grow unaddressed. Address any concern directly with your child’s teacher. If your concern is not resolved, please speak with the Head of School or Head of Early Childhood.

 

Transitioning to TIS

If my child starts in kindergarten, how will she catch up with children who did preschool in the language?

There will usually be at least one other child in the kindergarten class who has just started the language, so your child won't be alone. Try to expose him or her to the language before school starts - watch short videos (you might find some on the web), check out music from the library, look for a library story time in that language. It doesn't matter if your child is not understanding the words - don't put pressure on her to get meaning. The idea is just to get her used to the sounds and rhythm of the language so that it sounds familiar when she gets to school. 

Your child may experience a bit of frustration at the start - feeling like she doesn't understand anything when other children do. It may help to prepare your child for that feeling, let her know that it's ok and that other children feel it too. Children's brains are remarkably flexible in kindergarten, and they start understanding before they even realize it. 

How can I help my child with the transition to language immersion?

Encourage your child by telling her how proud you are that she is learning Chinese, Spanish, or Japanese. Take advantage of opportunities to expose your child to the immersion language and culture outside of school. This helps her see that the language is not just something for school, but something for life.

Try not to put your child on the spot to "say something in Spanish" until she shows the initiative herself. Recognize that your child may not speak the language at home for a long time - at pick-up or drop-off you may be surprised to hear your child use her new language when talking to the teacher!