The Importance of Play - A Parent’s Perspective
Written by Saana Pietilä - Mont'Kiara International School Parent
Why play is important to me
I come from Finland, where kids play until they start school at the age of seven. Their first two years of school are only four hours long, and every 45-minutes, there is a 15-minute play break. The Finnish education system is currently regarded as one of the leading systems in the world.
Children don't see playing as learning; it is just something that comes naturally to them. It is a part of living and how they perceive the world. When kids play, they develop a sense of themselves and others.
This made me curious about how much playtime my kids have during the day. My kids have been at M’KIS for four and a half years and I recently landed an internship at M’KIS, which opened the door for me to observe the classroom in action. As a parent, I had a very different perspective of what actually happened in the classroom and was pleasantly surprised at what I found out. My experience below is focused on kindergarten.
One thing I learned is that purposeful play is used extensively by M’KIS teachers. Teachers provide students with various options regarding what they can play. An example of this is where, during playtime, students built a house for animals and were given creative freedom about how they did this. Students saw this as playtime, but, in reality, they were learning social, problem-solving, and creative thinking skills through play. Additionally, they were also learning about animal habitats. I watched in awe as the teachers guided their students in the right direction and encourage them to ask questions along the way. It was a fun way to learn.
“I invite my students to learn.” - M’KIS Kindergarten Teacher.
When students are provided choices, they are more creative, open-minded, and curious. I witnessed an example of this when students were shown paper and pencils on a table and asked, “what can we do with these?”. The teacher knew that she wanted them to make a book, but she wanted the students to come to that conclusion by themselves and was interested in the ideas they would come up with as alternatives.
Regular recess and free play time provide students with another opportunity to practice their social and emotional skills, without them even realizing it. This is a safe zone for them to see where the limits are, explore various interactions, and, most importantly, make mistakes. This type of play allows them to learn how to independently overcome difficult situations and work through their feelings
It was an eye-opening experience for me. I learned that my kids play much more than I realized. Just looking at the timetable did not provide me with the entire picture. It may not be free play all the time, but they do play. Even though, as a Finnish parent, I will always want my kids to have more playtime, the most important thing for me is that they are happy and that they want to go to school. It is a pleasure to pick my kids up in the afternoon and to see the smiles on their faces.
“Play gets kids ready for learning, teaches them how to pay attention, and how to play well with others. When parents and teachers have fun, the kids fun too!” - Saana Pietila - Proud M’KIS Parent.
National Honor Society Induction Ceremony
On November 12th, seven M’KIS high school students were inducted as members of the National Honor Society. Founded in 1921, the National Honor Society is a US-based organization that celebrates selective students who have demonstrated high academic achievement, leadership abilities and service to the community. According to the NHS website, there are over 1 million students worldwide who participate in their school-based chapters. NHS is guided by four principles: Scholarship, Leadership, Service, and Character. These four principles help shape the purpose of the club community which is to further each student’s inherent leadership potential as involved citizens.
At M’KIS, students in grades 10-12 are initially invited to apply to join the club based on a cumulative GPA of 3.7. Interested students complete a personal informational form which highlights their academics, extracurricular involvement and outside service activities. A committee of faculty members, along with Principal Alan Shanks, reviews each informational form and applies a rubric of criterion to select the new members. Based on the criterion, the committee selected the following inductees:
As new members, they will join famous former NHS members such as talk show comedian/political commentator Jon Stewart, journalist Katie Couric, Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep and M’KIS’ own Head of School, Mr. Laboski. Alongside current members, they will serve the M’KIS community in events such as free tutoring sessions on Wednesdays, bi-annual Parents Night Out, and the “Sea of Pink” Anti-Bullying Week. On behalf of the greater M’KIS community, I’d like to commend them for this great accomplishment.
Alumni Feature - Rebecca
Alumni Feature - Rebecca, a graduate from 2005, recently visited our campus to take a walk down memory lane. She was amazed at how the campus had been transformed over the years, but this paled in comparison to her excitement at being reunited with Mr. Roderick; it was truly a tear-jerking moment to see the two of them reconnect.
Rebecca is from Brisbane, Australia and currently lives in Manila, Philippines. After graduating from M'KIS, Rebecca studied a Bachelor of Economics and Masters of Natural Resource Management, University of Queensland, Australia. Currently, Rebecca is a Transport Specialist for the Asian Development Bank, East Asia Sustainable Infrastructure team. Rebecca’s best memories of M’KIS are her friends and the amazing opportunities she had to play basketball all over Southeast Asia. Model United Nations (MUN) also played a big role in Rebecca’s school life, and played a big role in her decision to pursue a career in Development.
"Your network is so important, and as a graduate of M'KIS you are lucky to already have a global network of friends. Don't take that for granted - remember to keep in touch with your friends; you never know where life will take you. Don't try to please others when you are figuring out what to study, or your first job. Explore your options, be patient with yourself and enjoy the journey of figuring out what you're good at and what you love to do. Work is so much easier when you are doing something you are truly passionate about."
We are proud of everything that Rebecca has achieved since graduating from M'KIS. It's wonderful to see our alumni succeed in pursuing their passions, and we encourage all our alumni to visit us when they have the opportunity. Thank you, Rebecca.
Go Tigers - ISAC Champions
The past week has been great for our M'KIS sports teams. Three of our teams have won their respective ISAC Divisions. The three teams that won are:
Here is what some of the coaches had to say:
"On a blistering Saturday morning, the M'KIS Varsity Boys Soccer team was victorious in the ISAC Div2 tournament. After a hard-fought 3-1 victory against a strong and physical KLASS team, the boys watched on as the girls played their hardest game against ISKL. They then went on a goal rampage against a brave and young Brainy Academy team with a final score of 5-0. The boys then stuck around to support the girls' team and share in their victory. A great day for Tiger sport and Tiger spirit. Well done boys!" - Coach Nicholson, Varsity Boys Head Coach
"The day started with a resounding 5-1 victory followed by an unlucky loss in their second. Galvanized by securing a place in the semifinals, the Tigers roared into the final with a convincing 2-0 victory. What followed was a tense final against KLASS. After falling behind, a sublime free-kick brought M'KIS back into the game and restored their belief. Following a goalless period of extra time, M'KIS finally finished the tournament as Champions after a nail-biting penalty shootout. The girls played their hearts out, gave 110% for the cause, and encouraged each other every step of the way. A fantastic team performance that warranted their overall victory." - Coach Jenkins, U13 Girls Head Coach.
Well done to all teams. Go Tigers!
Growing an Arts-rich Learning Community
"The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create."
–President Barack Obama
Learning art, and learning through art, helps students develop the knowledge, skills, and creative capacity to succeed in their studies, work, and life. As a part of continuing efforts to improve and enrich the instruction and learning opportunities that we provide our students, Mont’Kiara International School has been working towards greater integration of the arts in instruction and creating an ‘arts rich’ environment within the school to help support students’ holistic growth and learning.
The Arts in Schools
There are three ways to view arts education in schools: through the arts as curriculum, through arts-enhanced instruction, and through arts integration. Arts as curriculum refers to formal classes offered in visual and performing arts offered by the school. Arts-enhanced instruction refers to using songs, visuals, or other artistic media to support teaching in a subject. A well-known example would be singing the ABC’s as a tool to learn the alphabet. Most people are familiar with both of these approaches to teaching the arts.
Arts integration may be less familiar. The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. defines Arts Integration as an approach to teaching in which students demonstrate understanding through art and engage in a creative process that connects art to another subject. Teachers approach their curriculum by integrating standards and concepts in the arts with standards from other subjects. Concepts from the art and the other subject are both taught and assessed.
Evolving STEM into STEAM
Much has been written about the need for STEM education, learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, to meet growing demands in these fields. Recently, more and more educators are calling for the arts to be integrated into STEM initiatives in STEAM approaches that leverage inclusion of the arts to promote design-thinking, creativity, curiosity, and engagement.
The process of becoming a truly “arts-integrated” school is a long journey requiring collaboration, professional learning, and passion. Earlier this year, Stuart Stotts, a Kennedy Center teaching artist, visited Mont’Kiara International School to lead arts integration workshops for the entire faculty. Commenting on the power of the arts to support the development of 21st-century skills, Stuart shared, “I think that the subject of the professional development, Arts Integration, is a natural fit to expand on the excellent practices that teachers at Mont’Kiara International School already bring to their instruction. I think that many of the teachers I worked with recognize the value of nurturing creativity, collaboration and critical thinking in explicit activities and ongoing emphasis.”
Clearly, creating an arts-rich school environment is a powerful way to support student learning and develop 21st century skills, whether it is approached through rich formal arts programming, the use of music and visual arts to enhance instruction, or in a fully arts-integrated approach. Few things have the power to connect us as powerfully to the world, ourselves, and each other as does art. As educators increasingly recognize the value of creativity and social-emotional growth to student learning, the value of the arts in education becomes clearer each day.
Written by Mr. Matthew Boomhower, Head of Innovation and Learning at Mont’Kiara International School.
Homes for Malaysia - EPIC Home Build 2019
The M'KIS Homes for Malaysia club participated in our second annual home build in October. The club leader, Mr. Shanks, along with three M'KIS teachers, 11 M'KIS high school students, and a group from IGB, worked in collaboration with EPIC Homes Malaysia (http://epic.my). They spent four days employing newly learned skills and sweating for a greater cause. Students and teachers were divided into four teams: wall, structure, floor, and roof. Each team was led by two EPIC 'Master Builders' and had specific jobs and target deadlines each day for putting the house together. Everyone worked from 9 am to 5 pm daily. In four days, they were able to watch the build site grow from bare ground to a fully constructed home for a deserving Malaysian family of four. "Nothing can beat the feeling of accomplishment you get when you hand the keys over to the family," said Mrs. Schmidt, who has been on the build two times. For one senior, the experience was life-changing. "I never knew I was capable of creating such an amazing thing. This has changed my life," he remarked on the way home from the trip. Another senior shared the amazing experience with her parents, and now they have been inspired to contact the company to go on another house build as a family. It feels good to be a part of something so special. "Not only have we changed the lives of one family, but the experience has also changed our lives forever," said another student. M'KIS is proud to work towards doing good in our host country!
All Business in Grade 2 at M'KIS
The grade 2 “Big Sale” gives a practical insight into their current International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) unit of inquiry, ‘people create structure within a system.’ Our grade 2 students have been exposed to industry specialists and marketing professionals throughout the last few weeks in order to further their understanding of how all the elements in a business work together.
As a part of their preparation, Mr. Brews, our M’KIS Director of Marketing and Communications, shared insights into what marketing is all about. He took the students through the four P’s of marketing: Product, Price, Place and Promotion and added a fifth element, People. Students engaged in debate throughout the presentation on how they can spot a need in the market, how they can differentiate their product or service, what their pricing strategies are going to be, and how they are going to deliver their product or service.
Once the students identified a need, decided on a product or service, and developed a detailed plan, they set a meeting with Mr. Spence, our M’KIS Elementary School Principal, to pitch their ideas and request financing for their project. Students embraced this opportunity and impressed Mr. Spence so much that he had no choice but to approve the financing.
The learning continued as an industry expert and M’KIS parent, Mr. Song from Bosch, came to class to talk to the students about the company he works for and the products they sell. Mr. Song spoke about the company’s structure and all the various jobs that were available within the company. It was a real eye-opener for these young minds.
The unit will culminate in the “Big Sale”, providing students with an opportunity to implement all that they have learned. It’s wonderful to see how these students embrace these concepts and start to see how things function together as the unit progresses. It’s just one of the many things we love about the IB PYP here are M’KIS, and we are very proud of these grade 2 students.