A boy is riding a horse.

Why You Should Send Your Child to Summer Camp

Summer is a season of adventure, exploration, and growth. As the school year winds down, ensuring their children spend their time in an enjoyable and enriching way may become a challenge for many conscientious parents. One option that often stands out is sending children to summer camp. This choice can be very beneficial, offering advantages that extend far beyond the few weeks of summer.

A boy in the water game

At Tessa Summer Camp, students explore a range of fun multi-sensory activities in the target language.

Benefits of Summer Camp

According to the American Camp Association (ACA), the camp experience is recognized by child development professionals as valuable in helping children mature socially, emotionally, intellectually, morally, and physically.

A girl visiting the science center

Summer camps promote children to grow, learn, and thrive in a supportive and stimulating environment.

Gaining education outside a traditional school setting

Summer camp is an exciting opportunity for kids to fill long summer days with engaging activities and outdoor play. Kids learn and socialize in a community that is more flexible and vibrant than the traditional settings of school or home.

Dr. Peter Scales, internationally known as one of the world’s foremost authorities on positive youth development, described camp as “one of the few institutions where young people can experience and satisfy their need for physical activity, creative expression, and true participation in a community environment.” He believed that most schools don’t satisfy all these needs. Hence, camps are designed to maximize students’ summer vacations and improve learning in ways that schools often fall short.

Improving Academic Competence

Summer camps often integrate educational components into their programs, enabling children to learn in a fun and interactive environment. A review on multiple research indicates that students completing summer programs aimed at preventing summer learning loss can be expected to score about 20% higher than students who don’t participate.

Fostering Independence and Confidence

At summer camp, children have the opportunity to make decisions and navigate life away from the comfort of home. This independence fosters self-reliance as they learn to manage tasks and challenges on their own. Overcoming obstacles at camp boosts their confidence and helps them realize their capabilities.

Developing social skills and build friendships

Camp encourages children to interact with peers from diverse backgrounds, fostering a sense of community and friendship. Through collaborative activities and shared experiences, children learn valuable social skills such as communication, cooperation, empathy, and respect. According to a study on young adolescents from six different camps by the ACA, parents reported significant positive changes in their children’s social skills and happiness levels after attending summer camp.

Summer Camp at Tessa

Finding the best summer camp for children can be a real challenge. It is important to look for a camp that will suit your children’s needs and your expectations.

Tessa “Fun, Friends, and Discoveries” Summer Camps offer a perfect balance of academic and fun activities. One of the biggest differences between us and other camps is that we are a language immersion camp, offering a unique and enriching experience for children. Studying a language can be enjoyable and effective; at Tessa Summer Camp, campers love to learn Spanish, French, or Mandarin!

Tessa International School Summer Camp offers these advantages:

  • Excellent native speaking teachers
  • Varied outdoor and indoor activities
  • A new theme and adventure each week
  • Weekly registration and extended hours
  • A bright and inviting space
  • Rigorous safety measures with dedicated staff
  • Flexible cancellation and refund policies

Through exploring a range of multi-sensory and highly interactive activities with their teachers in the target language, our campers have fun while learning a language and being exposed to different cultures. All our teachers are native speakers with experience in bilingual education, able to emphasize the culture of their countries in an authentic fashion with support from a team of dedicated experts.

Learn more about why a language immersion camp can be a better choice for your child(ren) here

 

The benefits of summer camp can last a lifetime. It is an opportunity for children to grow, learn, and thrive in a supportive and stimulating environment. At Tessa Summer Camp, with excellent teachers and diverse activities, we strive to provide the most memorable and rewarding summer experience for our children.

 

Are you ready to explore the only international leading private school in Hoboken? 

Contact Tessa International School to learn more! 

An international school student smiling while drawing during an art activity

Why Opting for an International School Will Transform Your Child’s Future

At Tessa International School, we understand that choosing your child’s educational path is one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. Education is about acquiring knowledge that shapes a child’s future and prepares them for the complexities of the modern world. For this reason, there are many great reasons to choose an international school. 

Opting for an international school offers unique academic benefits that can profoundly transform your child’s future. What defines an international school? They are educational institutions that provide students with a globalized learning experience through multiple languages, cultural immersion, and curriculums that promote global citizenship. 

At Tessa International School, our distinctive educational approach nurtures bilingualism while seamlessly blending the globally acclaimed IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) Framework with the robust French National Curriculum and US Standards. This fusion, alongside our Spanish and Mandarin tracks, creates a holistic and dynamic learning environment that equips students with the skills and competencies they need to thrive in the classroom and beyond.

Bilingualism and Immersive Language Learning

What is the point of an international school? One key advantage of an international school education at Tessa International School is the emphasis on bilingualism. In today’s interconnected world, the ability to communicate in multiple languages is a valuable asset. 

Our unique approach enhances language proficiency while fostering a deep appreciation for different cultures and perspectives. Benefits of international education are well known and established, for example, bilingualism has been shown to improve cognitive abilities, such as problem-solving and multitasking.  

Students at our international school experience a rich, multilingual environment where they are encouraged to think, explore, and communicate in English in addition to a choice of French, Mandarin, or Spanish. This immersive approach ensures that language learning is natural and effective. Though language learning is a major benefit, there are other compelling reasons to choose an international school.

A pair of international school students doing a science experiment at a table

Students at our international school benefit from multilingualism and cultural immersion

The Comprehensive IB PYP Framework

At the heart of our globally conscious educational philosophy is the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), a transdisciplinary framework integrating various subject areas. The PYP Framework at Tessa International School emphasizes excellence in Science, Social Studies, Language & Literacy, Math, the Arts, Social-Emotional Learning, and Physical Education.

A pair of international school students doing a sensory experiment at a table

Our international school introduces students to holistic learning through the IB PYP curriculum

By exploring real-world challenges, students learn to apply their knowledge meaningfully, preparing them for future academic pursuits and career success. The PYP Framework’s emphasis on holistic development ensures that students are intellectually, emotionally, and socially well-rounded.

Nicholas’s parents have noticed the positive impact of our didactic methodology. They said: “We are very pleased with the education Tessa has been providing for our son. We feel they offer an environment in which he can thrive and shine. In the few months he’s been there, his knowledge of Spanish has grown tremendously. We love hearing him count and sing in Spanish! And we can tell the teachers and administration care about each and every one of the students; he is genuinely happy to go to school each day. We are very happy to be a part of the Tessa family!”

Essential Skills for Future Success

An education at Tessa International School equips students with essential skills that extend far beyond the classroom. Our inquiry-based approach fosters critical thinking, research, self-management, social skills, and effective communication. 

  • Critical thinking is cultivated through activities encouraging students to analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information from multiple sources. 
  • Self-management skills are developed through goal-setting, time management, and personal responsibility. Students learn to take ownership of their learning, becoming self-directed and motivated. 
  • Collaborative activities emphasize teamwork, empathy, and effective communication and nurture social skills. 
  • Effective communication is a fundamental skill that our students develop through our approach. They learn to articulate their ideas clearly and persuasively, in writing and verbally, through presentations, debates, and group discussions. 

These highly transferable skills are good reasons to choose an international school, as they are vital for academic achievement and are highly valued by educational institutions and employers in the global marketplace. 

Shaping a Brighter Future

At Tessa International School, we are committed to nurturing well-rounded individuals who are academically proficient, emotionally intelligent, and socially responsible. By choosing our Spanish, Mandarin, or French Immersion school, you provide your child with an education that transcends traditional boundaries. Opting for the Tessa International School will profoundly transform your child’s future. 

Enrolling your child in our school invests in their academic success, personal growth, and a lifelong love of learning. Together, we can shape a brighter future for your child, one filled with endless possibilities and opportunities.

Do you want to explore one of the leading private elementary schools in NJ

Contact Tessa International School for more information!

Two students happily smiles

An Education Based on Happiness

The pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human aspiration, demonstrably linked to positive life outcomes. Beyond subjective well-being, research increasingly reveals a causal connection between happiness and cognitive function, academic achievement, and social engagement. Happiness plays a key role in how well students learn and a child’s emotional well-being is the strongest predictor of adult life satisfaction. 

Any great school needs to foster a deep-seated love of learning. At Tessa, happiness is one of the three pillars of our school mission. Ensuring the well-being and happiness of our students is at the heart of everything we do. 

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient or EQ, is the ability to perceive and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. This ability is essential for preparing students for real-world interactions and becoming happy and effective global citizens. 

Emotionally intelligent individuals often cultivate fulfilling relationships that contributes to happiness.

Our school employs RULER, the renowned methods of the Yale Center for Social and Emotional Intelligence (YCEI), to guide students towards enhanced emotional awareness and interpersonal skills. RULER is an acronym for the five skills of emotional intelligence: 

  1. Recognizing emotions in oneself and others
  2. Understanding the causes and consequences of emotions
  3. Labeling emotions with a nuanced vocabulary
  4. Expressing emotions in accordance with cultural norms and social context
  5. Regulating emotions with helpful strategies

Research on the impact of RULER shows that emotional intelligence can benefit youth development by modeling people’s behaviors and maintaining positive school climates. Implementing RULER can also improve leader, educator, and student outcomes in schools serving PreK to 12 students. Specific outcomes include: 

  • Development of emotion skills
  • Fewer attention and learning problems
  • Greater social and leadership skills
  • Less anxiety and depression
  • Less stress and burnout
  • Better performance in school

Creating a Positive Learning Environment

 A healthy physical school environment promotes learning by ensuring the safety of students and staff. Additionally, researchers found that school facilities, such as lighting and space, can also affect students’ degree of happiness. 

Located on three floors of the Monroe Center, our facility has been designed to offer our students a modern, bright and warm space. The architectural features are designed to promote healthy learning, enhance students’ focus, and encourage a positive attitude. Through bright classrooms and purpose-built facilities, our community’s well-being is our priority.

A bright and warm classroom at Tessa International School

Classrooms at Tessa are designed for a positive learning experience.

Take a virtual tour of Tessa International School here.

Providing Community Support

Beyond the walls of the classroom, Tessa boasts a vibrant parent organization (PTO), which plays a vital role in Tessa’s community-building efforts. It is the School’s and PTO’s joint mission to build a cohesive, global-minded community and work together to make a difference in every child. Our active and close-knit community provides a strong support system for families, fostering friendships and a sense of belonging. 

Parent Organization organized Back to School Events to raise students' happiness.

Parent involvement can help students make social connections.

A sense of community is vital to help students feel engaged and connected to the learning process. By organizing events such as United Nation Days Celebration and Career Week, parents and teachers can foster social connections with students inside or outside the school. This can be especially important for children to practice their social skills, including learning the rules of conversation and age-appropriate behavior. 

 

To ensure that our education fosters happiness, we provide concrete support psychologically, physically, and interpersonally for students to thrive in this fast-changing world. We believe that happiness is a fundamental need – a key priority in our educational aims. It is one of the most important assets in fueling children’s life-long success and the achievement of many other goals. 

 

Do you want to explore education provided by one of the top Hoboken private schools?

Contact Tessa International School to learn more!

A student in the international baccalaureate at TESSA working at a table

What Is the IB Primary Years Programme?

If you’re exploring educational options for your child, you’ve likely heard of the international baccalaureate. What Is the IB Primary Years Programme? Rooted in the belief that education should go beyond the confines of traditional classroom learning, an IB education aims to nurture well-rounded leaders equipped with the skills, knowledge, and mindset to thrive in an interconnected world. Today, we’ll explore the philosophy at the heart of the IB Primary Years Programme, its benefits, and why you should choose the program at Tessa International School.

What Is the IB Primary Years Programme?

What does the international baccalaureate mean? The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an internationally recognized educational program that provides a comprehensive and holistic approach to learning. Specifically, the IB Primary Years Programme is a transdisciplinary, inquiry-based, and learner-centered educational framework. The curriculum is meant to be engaging, significant, challenging, and tailored to suit the individual learning levels and developmental needs of students.

A student in the international baccalaureate program waving two flags

The international baccalaureate program at Tessa is an intellectually enriching environment.

With a focus on international-mindedness, the IB organization encourages students to appreciate different cultures, follow their natural curiosity, and develop a sense of social responsibility – all values we cherish at Tessa International School.

The IB Primary Years Programme offers a challenging and rigorous curriculum based on constructivist and social-constructivist learning theories. Under the constructivism learning theory,  students construct a knowledge of themselves and their community. The PYP curriculum emphasizes collaborative inquiry, agency, voice, and the student’s involvement in their learning. Students are encouraged to engage their sense of personal agency and self-efficacy to take positive action within the school environment and throughout their lives.

Graduates of the IB Primary Years Programme are poised to move on to the next level of their IB education. Ultimately, they will lead fulfilling lives and positively contribute to the global community. Now that you know the initial question: what is the IB primary years programme? It’s time to explore the benefits waiting in store.

Benefits of the IB Diploma Program

So, what benefits can you expect for your child? Here at Tessa, we understand the advantages of introducing children to IB teachings early on. Academic advantages include:

  • Global Recognition: The international baccalaureate program is recognized and respected worldwide, opening doors to higher education institutions and career opportunities globally. Universities often value IB graduates for their well-rounded skill set and commitment to community service.
  • Critical Thinking Skills: The program’s emphasis on agency, self-directed learning, collective inquiry, and curiosity equips students with skills beyond memorization. These skills are essential for success in any educational endeavor and the professional world.
  • Producing Well-Rounded, Confident  Leaders: By incorporating agency, student-centered learning, IB PYP students develop a strong self-concept and awareness of their community. As a result, they become academically capable, socially responsible, culturally aware, and ready to lead.
A student in the international baccalaureate program working with a teacher at a desk

The international baccalaureate program at Tessa offers students a solid foundation for success.

Why Choose the IB Primary Years Programme at Tessa?

At Tessa International School, we are committed to providing an exceptional IB education through our accredited Primary Years Programme. Our dedicated and highly qualified faculty are passionate about fostering a love of learning and guiding students through the intellectual challenges of this rigorous program. Their expertise ensures that students receive the support they need to excel in their studies.

Many opportunities for our students to participate in skill-based extracurricular activities allow them to fulfill the requirements of the curriculum while exploring their passions and interests. The IB Diploma Program at Tessa International School empowers young leaders by fostering critical thinking, global awareness, and social responsibility. The earlier students are introduced to these benefits, the better. Start exploring a bright educational future for your child now!

FAQs

Q: What does the international baccalaureate mean? 

A: The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an internationally recognized educational program that provides a comprehensive and holistic approach to learning.

Q: What does having an IB diploma do?

A: The international baccalaureate offers students a broader range of benefits and opportunities, such as Global Recognition and various skills.

 

Are you ready to explore Hoboken private schools?

Contact Tessa International School to learn more!

A class of primary students at Tessa International School holding up a poster of the earth written in Spanish.

4 Benefits of an International Education: A World of Opportunity

In an increasingly interconnected world, providing your child with an international education is a vital investment in their future. Beyond the traditional classroom setting, international education offers many advantages beyond academic achievement. At Tessa International School, our students benefit from four key aspects of international schooling that contribute to the holistic development of young minds. They carry these benefits well into their adulthood. Keep reading to discover them!

1. Cultural Competence Is One of the Benefits of International Education

What are the most important benefits of having international students in a school? One of the most significant advantages of an international education is the cultivation of cultural competence. Exposing young children to diverse cultures from an early age fosters an understanding and appreciation for global perspectives.

Through interaction with peers from various backgrounds, children learn to navigate and embrace differences, developing a sense of open-mindedness and empathy. This cultural competence becomes a lifelong asset, preparing them to thrive in an interconnected world where collaboration and understanding across borders are essential.

2. Students at Tessa Benefit From Improved Language Proficiency 

An international education involves exposure to multiple languages. Little minds are like sponges, absorbing linguistic nuances with ease. At Tessa, we take advantage of this optimal window of opportunity by providing a multilingual environment where our students soak up Spanish, French, and Mandarin lessons.

A class of Tessa International School primary students presenting a concert on multiculturalism.

Multilingualism is a benefit of international school that improves development.

Multilingualism enhances cognitive abilities and provides a solid foundation for future language acquisition. Proficiency in multiple languages facilitates effective communication and opens up opportunities in an increasingly globalized job market. Moreover, it fosters a deep appreciation for language as a tool for connecting with others and understanding different cultures. Multilingualism is one of the most unifying benefits of international education.

3. Students Develop a Global Perspective and Strong Critical Thinking Skills

International education fosters a global perspective, encouraging little ones to think beyond geographical boundaries. Exposure to diverse curricula (we offer international baccalaureate and kindergarten programs accredited by the French Ministry of Education) and teaching methods challenges children to think critically, analyze situations from multiple angles, and develop problem-solving skills.

This broader worldview is a unique benefit of international education that equips children to navigate the complexities of our interconnected world. These critical thinking skills are invaluable, empowering young learners to approach challenges with creativity and adaptability, which are essential for success in a rapidly evolving global landscape.

Two young Tessa International school students in class raising their hands.

Students at our international school develop cognitive solid and learning abilities.

4. Network Building and Future Opportunities

The friendships and connections formed during an international education can last a lifetime and extend across the globe. Building a network of friends from different countries provides a unique support system and rich cultural insights. As our friends at Tessa grow into adults, these global connections can open doors to exciting opportunities in various fields. Navigating diverse social and professional environments becomes a distinct advantage, setting the stage for a bright future.

Why is international school important for students? In an increasingly interconnected world, providing your child with an international education is a smart investment in their future. What is the impact of international education? This educational approach equips students with the necessary tools by fostering cultural competence, language proficiency, global perspective, and network building. As we look ahead, providing our children with an international education is a commitment to preparing our little ones for the challenges and opportunities of a world without borders.

Are you ready to enroll your child in our international school?

Contact Tessa to learn more!

End of Unit Projects in the IB PYP

The Primary Years Programme (PYP) promotes the holistic development of children. In addition to academic skills, the focus is on character building and social, physical and emotional development. Many lessons include problem-solving tasks and projects that encourage students’ creativity. Our students are regularly encouraged to choose creative ways of solving problems, also when presenting what they have learned at the end of a teaching unit. Each End of Unit is concluded by a celebration and/or a project. 

 

End of Unit Project

 

Last week, all of our primary students met to work on a project together, to conclude their unit of inquiry. At Tessa International School, we have three dual-language tracks: French, Mandarin and Spanish. Students from the different tracks love to interact with each other, sharing the language but also different concepts they studied independently in their classrooms. 

Their Unit of Inquiry, Who we Are, focused on the central idea that as responsible citizens, we contribute to our community.

They learned about: 

  • What a citizen is.
  • Rights and responsibilities of citizens.
  • Community helpers and their role in the wellbeing of our community.

 

For this project, they explored the use of community buildings, and the duties of community helpers.

Divided into small groups, they were given a problem: how could they reuse a big pile of cardboard (that they collected in a previous project) and make it into something useful to the community? They came up with the idea to build a city: they needed a hospital, a school, housing, a fire station… 

This project allowed them to put into practice various skills such as problem solving, team collaboration, geometry, civic education, literacy and arts- a true transdisciplinary activity!

 

The Leadership Idea in PYP

The PYP Unit of Inquiry strongly promotes ownership by empowering students to take action at the end of a teaching unit based on what they have learned. During their projects, PYP students are inspired to think about themselves and their world and to solve problems. 

The Remarkable Advantages of Social Emotional Learning: A Case Study

Educational paradigms are currently undergoing a profound and fundamental change. As we learn more about how children’s brains develop, educators are increasingly shifting away from a narrow focus on content, punctuated by occasional standalone lessons on social and emotional development, and into a new mode of instruction in which these formerly separate realms are integrated into one holistic curriculum. A recent case study demonstrates the success of these principles put into action.

CASEL, SEAD, and SEL

In order to understand the significance of the case study, we must first understand the principles of Social Emotional Learning (SEL). The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has developed a coordinating framework to be utilized by educators, families, and communities to promote intrapersonal, interpersonal, and cognitive competencies in students. To that end, CASEL has developed a framework of 5 Core Competencies.

  • self-awareness
  • self-management
  • social awareness
  • relationship skills
  • responsible decision-making

The Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEAD) works closely with educators, community leaders, families, employers, and partners like CASEL to fully integrate this approach into K-12 academic curriculum. The goal of SEAD is to compile and release a Report From the Nation, which will outline specific actions intended to usher in a new era of education. This model will support the full development of students, providing them with the skills and emotional maturity to excel not only in academics, but into adulthood.

Case Study: Capital City Public Charter School

SEAD’s first report in the series is a case study of a Washington, D.C. charter school. Capital City provides an innovative learning environment for its 1,000 K-12 students by being part of the Expeditionary Learning network, which emphasizes mastery of academics, production of high-quality work, and development of character.

In practice, this results in “learning expeditions”, such as when 3rd and 4th grade classes compared Washington’s temperate forests with tropical rainforests, incorporating trips to a local park and the National Zoo into the lesson plan. Another example is when 9th graders studied the ecology of local fish, with an emphasis on habitat preservation/restoration and the impact of human activity on fish populations.

This holistic and engaging approach to education makes Capital City fertile ground for the integration of Social Emotional Learning. SEAD’s case study demonstrates this by zeroing in on teacher Samantha Clark’s 6th grade math class. In this lesson, students have been learning geometric concepts by working, alone and in groups, on blueprints depicting their city. Clark calls a volunteer (Brandon) to the overhead projector to display a tightly scripted “peer critique” protocol for the feedback process.

  • First, Brandon describes exactly what he is working on and mentions problems he is having completing his portion of the project.
  • Next, Clark asks “clarifying questions” to fully understand Brandon’s concerns.
  • Then she provides specific feedback, leading with positive comments and following up with helpful guidance.
  • Brandon is then given a chance to respond before returning to his group to put into practice what they have just learned.

This process keeps students engaged, on task, and working together harmoniously. “I don’t see social and academic skills separately at all,” Clark says. “I don’t think first about designing a lesson and then think next about how to develop students’ social-emotional skills. It’s all one.”

To ensure high-quality instruction such as that provided by Clark, Capital City teachers are supported by instructional coaches, given dedicated time to create lesson plans, and frequently meet with other teachers across all grade levels to discuss overarching concerns and goals.

As a result, this charter school outpaces its overall district in growth of student proficiency (as measured by PARCC), and 100% of Capital City’s graduates go on to enroll in college. Despite these impressive achievements, head of school Karen Dresden is always striving to improve. “Our job is much broader than preparing kids for a test;” she says, “we’re preparing kids to do well in college, in careers, and in life. We want to make sure that they have all those skills.”

Other Examples

Also included in the case study are four other examples of successfully implemented SEL approaches.

  • San Francisco Unified School District – The pre-K – 12 math curriculum is taught using principles of “growth mindset,” in which students are taught to expect and embrace mistakes as learning opportunities. This approach focuses on enhancing conceptual thinking, problem-solving skills, and procedural fluency, avoiding the strict right/wrong binary that has led so many students to believe they are “bad” at math.
  • Facing History and Ourselves – This non-profit organization engages students in an examination of social justice issues throughout history with the goal of encouraging students to engage in and understand their role in an active democracy.
  • New Tech Network (NTN) – The NTN focuses on project-based learning, integrating content knowledge with critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and student responsibility.
  • Center for the Collaborative Classroom – This non-profit provides continuous learning for teachers to support the academic, ethical, and social development of children.

Integrating SEL into academic curriculum is clearly beneficial for not only students, but for teachers, parents, and communities as well. By utilizing these principles we can raise the next generation to be socially conscious problem solvers, effective communicators, and well-rounded humans, leading to a better future for all of us.

For more information on innovative approaches to learning, contact us!

Why Do Children Learn Languages Faster than Adults?

 

It’s a well-known fact that children pick up languages more easily than adults, and research supports this claim. But why is this the case? In this blog, we’ll explore the various factors that explain why children are better and faster at learning languages than adults.

The Environmental Advantages Children Have When Learning Languages

 

 Children have certain environmental advantages when it comes to learning languages that most adults don’t have. Unlike older children and adults, children aren’t formally instructed in language. Instead, they learn by being immersed in multilingual environments and passively “absorbing” the language through contact. For adults, immersion can be effective but costly. Children, on the other hand, have more time and energy to devote to language learning, and aren’t inhibited by anxiety or self-doubt, they learn much faster through immersion.

In addition, children aren’t judged as harshly as adults when it comes to language competence. They’re also less likely to be tested and feel less pressure to perform. This allows the learning process to be more natural and playful.

The Cognitive Advantages Children Have When Learning Languages

Children also have a cognitive advantage when it comes to learning languages. Babies and children form neural connections at a rapid pace, which makes learning new languages easier. As the brain develops, it becomes more specialized and reinforces the neural pathways that are regularly used. This is why those who learn a language at a very young age have the accent of a native speaker. Later in life, the brain’s neural shortcuts force us to fall back on the sounds and phonemes of languages we already know.

It is because of the brain’s elasticity and rapid neural formation that babies and young children are able to learn languages at a faster rate. This is sometimes referred to as the “critical period”. It is theorized that if a child does not learn any language, including non-verbal languages, during this time period that they may never be able to learn any language, because the necessary neural foundation for it has been permanently damaged. We can’t know the answer to this question because testing it would be inhumane.

The Critical Period of Language Learning

It’s difficult to determine which factors contribute the most to children’s superior language learning abilities. However, we do know that the earlier a child is exposed to language, the better. It’s theorized that if a child doesn’t learn any language during their “critical period,” they may never be able to learn a language effectively and easily in the later years of their development, because the necessary neural foundation for it has been permanently damaged.


At Tessa International School in Hoboken, we offer fully immersive bilingual environments that allow children to learn languages naturally. Don’t miss the critical years for language learning – visit us today to learn more!

Family Home Learning Tips: Online Educational Resources for Early Childhood Learning

Family Home Learning Tips: Online Educational Resources for Early Childhood Learning

While everyone is adapting to the current social distancing norm for health and safety, many parents are struggling with how to keep their families occupied and focused on learning while simultaneously juggling adult responsibilities. To say it’s been challenging would be an understatement, but as parents, we are resilient and will find a way to make it work because, well, that’s our job as parents.

If you feel like you’re ready to pull out your hair if you have to juggle being the parent, the teacher (seriously, how do they do it?), and an employee/employer all at the same time for one more day, rest assured, you’re not alone. Parents across the globe are facing the same dynamics right now, and our communities are stepping up to lend a hand everywhere. To help, we’ve compiled a list of some highly educational fun and free activities being offered to families right now that can be done in the comforts of home.

The Indianapolis Children’s Museum

If you’re looking for an all-inclusive online learning experience geared toward children, check out the “Museum at Home” feature of the Indianapolis Children’s Museum website. While being closed due to the COVID-19 social distancing phase, the museum is offering free educational sessions that include exhibit tours, story time, science experiments, sports coaching for physical activity and new daily behind-the-scenes sessions are added as well.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

For some educational animal fun while staying indoors, check out the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s “Home Safari” feature. Every day at 3:00 p.m., the zoo shares a new live video feed of a different animal in their facilities. The videos feature various care takers who speak with online guests, answer questions about the animals, and share insight into how each animal lives. Previous videos are available to view online any time as well.

COSI Connects: Digital Doorway

The Center of Science and Industry (COSI) is offering a “Digital Doorway” program for children which features several online activities, videos, and virtual tours of their facilities. There are informative video clips on topics such as the COVID-19 virus as well as various activities like making chocolate crystals and other at-home science experiments. Children can also take a virtual tour of their dinosaur exhibit and learn about excavation and paleontology studies.

Cosmic Kids Yoga

If you’re dealing with limited space or trying to avoid play dates and the park, but still want to get in some physical activity for your littles, try checking out some online yoga classes geared towards children. Cosmic Yoga is offering a free 2-week trial for new families looking to add a bit of healthy activity to their child’s home quarantine routine.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Met Kids Site

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Met Kids site is uniquely tailored to the interests and mindsets of young children. This site is free to the public and features a map that allows them to explore the museum on their own as well as a “time machine” that can search by various eras for further educational resources.

Art for Kids Hub

If you’re looking for some free online arts and crafts tutorials for kids, check out Art for Kids Hub. This site offers countless videos that teach children different techniques for drawing, painting, and even some sculpting and origami tricks as well.

Improving Your Child's Language and Literacy Skills

Improving Your Child’s Language and Literacy Skills

Few things are as critical to a child’s educational success as a firm grasp on language and literacy skills. The ability to communicate effectively crosses over into every area of study your child will embark upon in their lifetime. This fact alone makes these skills crucial to their future ability to grasp complex subjects.

The Importance of Language and Literacy Skills

Being proficient in one or more languages has unparalleled benefits that will be seen across the board in your child’s education. Since language is the basis for all teaching efforts (and also the key to communicating effectively overall), it’s understandable why it’s such an important skill to hone.

The importance of language and literacy skills go well beyond the communication aspect, however. Students who focus on deepening their language base will find themselves gaining proficiencies in their other studies as well.

According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), students who excel in language and literacy show:

  • Greater test scores on standard tests
  • Higher levels of focus and understanding
  • Increased ability to grasp scientific hypotheses
  • Higher ACT and SAT scores
  • Greater problem-solving capabilities

These are just a few of the ways in which language and linguistics will lend to the greater overall educational success of your child. Since language development requires children to hone their focusing skills, they will then be able to apply the same level of focus to their other studies.

Literacy Learning Techniques

Whether your child is focusing on one language or multilingual studies, they will have set coursework within their classroom. It’s certainly no surprise that teachers have lesson plans for their students, but you may be surprised to learn how much things have changed since your days in the classroom.

Evidence has shown students respond well to teaching methods that incorporate several different learning aids. Some of these include items that can be used as visual props while others could use online programs and themed learning (animal week, gardening week, etc.).

The key to language learning in the classroom, however, is a focus on interactive conversational opportunities. It’s less about learning grammar rules and more about learning to actually communicate.

“The primary purpose of language is communication – grammar is important, but there’s a bigger picture. Language is no longer seen as being learned through mechanical exercises, it’s developed through students interacting and engaging,” explains Huw Jarvis, a professor at the University of Salford’s School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science.

According to Jarvis, motivation is the most critical component to driving a student’s interest in language learning. Since students tend to learn faster through immersion in situations which require them to find ways to communicate, allowing them to choose their own medium gives way to a greater desire to learn.

Developing a Desire to Learn at Home

In order to truly give your child the full-on immersion experience, it’s critical to continue the language and literacy learning experience outside of the classroom as well. Most parents understand that a child’s educational success is a multi-faceted experience that involves both home life and school life.

So how do we go about providing our children with enriching language learning experiences at home? Engage them and motivate them – it’s as simple (or as complex) as that.

“The best method is the method you like… Languages cannot be taught, they can only be learned,” explains Language Consultant, Luca Lampariello.

Finding out what motivates your child to learn at home involves a basic trial and error process. Unless you’ve already figured out how to motivate your child (and if so, kudos!), you may need to engage in some simple activities with them to see what they like. Find out what drives them to want to learn more.

Finding Out What Motivates Your Child

One of the simplest ways you can help your child nurture a desire to learn and excel with language and literacy is by different communicative experiences at home. Talk to them. Sing to them. Create stories with them involved. Allow your child to “read” you a story by telling you what’s going on in the sequential pictures. There are endless ways to involve them in language learning at home.

The National Center on Improving Literacy explains that by simple daily communication efforts at home, parents can help their child improve their language learning immensely. Daily communications can be as simple as a pointed discussion about their day (asking specific questions to get them to think and give detailed answers), or as thorough as labeling items at home for a language visual.

“Engage in joint reading, drawing, singing, storytelling, reciting, game playing, and rhyming. When joint reading, you and your child take turns reading parts of a book. When reading, ask her to connect the story… Give positive feedback and ask open-ended questions during joint reading to boost her interest and critical thinking skills.” – ImprovingLiteracy.org

By including daily language activities such as reading and storytelling, you’ll gain insight into what interests your child the most. Find stories that inspire them and pique their curiosity – this will help give them a stronger drive to learn more. Asking pointed questions on the topic will encourage them to focus on the task and go deeper for a greater understanding. No matter the topic, that will give way to an overall improved language and literacy experience.

A More Complete Learning Experience

If you want to apply a more direct learning approach at home, speak with your child’s teacher to discuss what methods are utilized in the classroom. Educators are usually more than willing to speak with parents about their teaching methods and how they can be enhanced at home.

You can also take a closer look in their bookbags to gain some insight into what they’re focusing on in the classroom. If you see they have a themed week at school, try continuing the theme at home. As examples, if they have a color theme for a week, use corresponding color foods in dinner plans, colored bath water, or planned outfits for school to bring up topics later.

They key to continuing language and literacy learning at home is to simply communicate. Communicate with your children about their days or share a good story with them. Communicate with their teachers to learn any tips or subject ideas to coordinate home learning themes and techniques with classroom learning. Above all, the most important thing you can do to help your child develop their language skills is to continue to engage them in communication. Talk with your kids and talk often – it’s that simple!

Start Your Journey With Us

Tessa International School

Office: (201) 755-5585 | Location: 720 Monroe St. Hoboken, NJ 07030