A class of students learning an international school curriculum posing together in a circle on a map carpet in a classroom.

What Is an International School and Why Should You Consider One?

As a parent of a school-going child, you may wonder how you can provide an education that prepares them for our rapidly changing world. International schools offer children a range of unique benefits and competencies that they will continue to use throughout their education and far into the future.

At Tessa, we’re proud of the diversity within our community, and we understand that a quality international education offers so much more than language instruction. Keep reading for a comprehensive introduction to international schools, the special features they offer, and why you should consider enrolling your child. 

What Is an International School?

According to a report by ISC Research, the popularity of international schools has grown significantly in the past ten years. As of 2022, we’ve seen an astounding 60% increase in the number of international schools across the globe. Why is this? Since most parents today are involved in a global workforce, they are aware of the benefits an international education offers as the world grows more connected each day.

Forward-thinking parents seek an education for their children that provides the skills and attitudes necessary for navigating an increasingly connected society. That’s where international schools come in. What is an international school

International schools provide globalized education to students, often introducing them to different languages and cultures. Typically located in diverse, metropolitan areas, international schools are particularly appealing to expat families who may be seeking a familiar learning environment for their children. Of course, the benefits of international schooling apply to every child, no matter their background. What unique features do they offer?

A line of students learning an international school curriculum dressed in cultural attire speaking to each other at a cultural event.

An international school curriculum is transferable and diverse.

Special Features of International School

When you enroll your child in an international school, you can expect an enriched educational experience that provides the following special features: 

  • Transferable Curriculum: International schools often follow curriculums like the International Baccalaureate, which is the same all over the world. As a result, children who transfer from one international school to another can adjust seamlessly on an academic level. Tessa is proudly recognized as an IB school offering the Primary Years Program (PYP). Academic programs are certainly major factors to consider when choosing an international school
  • Familiar Learning Environment For Expat Students: Intentional schools can provide much-needed familiarity to expat students. For example, Tessa is accredited by the French Ministry of Education, providing a learning experience that our French expat families are acquainted with. As many students and their families are experiencing a new culture, international schools support the needs of the multicultural experience.
  • An Introduction To Global Citizenship: Global citizenship refers to a valuable quality that an individual possesses. It’s an understanding and respect for the world’s interconnectedness and diversity. A global citizen is aware of the world around them and takes meaningful action. These individuals display qualities that employers all over the world are seeking. At Tessa, students are immersed in a wide variety of cultures and are taught to appreciate the differences among them. 

Why You Should Consider International School

There are so many reasons to consider international school for your child. At Tessa, we provide Spanish, French, and Mandarin bilingual tracks in addition to lessons in English. However, the learning experience at Tessa goes beyond language proficiency. Our lifelong learning model sets the foundation for positive development and endows our students with skills that will continue to serve them throughout life.

A class of students learning an international school curriculum presenting an internationally-themed play in front of spectators.

Our international school curriculum prepares students to thrive.

Isabelle’s dad said of her experience with us: “It’s not just bilingualism. Tessa helped my daughter speak complete sentences in Spanish (which is amazing!), but every day, there’s something new and enriching: from the cultural speakers to Liberty Science Center visitors and music classes – it’s great knowing that your child is at an elite school that’s really pulling out all the stops to help them develop.” 

Are you curious about our international school curriculum

Contact Tessa for more information!

French Primary Student Smiling

Understanding the French National Curriculum at Tessa International School

At Tessa International School, we are proud to offer a comprehensive program that combines the International Baccalaureate (IB) framework with the esteemed French National Curriculum. This unique blend of education, combined with specific adaptations for each language track, brings together the best of both worlds, focusing on academic excellence, cultural immersion, and global engagement. Let’s explore the benefits of the French National Curriculum and its significant role in fostering a vibrant French community within our multicultural environment.

French Class at Tessa International School

Elevating Academic Standards through the French National Curriculum

The French National Curriculum is known worldwide for its high academic standards. At Tessa International School, we integrate this curriculum seamlessly into our educational framework to provide students with a well-structured and comprehensive education. This helps students progress systematically and ensures a smooth continuity in their learning journey.


Building Strong Foundations in Mathematics and Sciences

The French National Curriculum emphasizes the importance of mathematics and sciences. This focus enables our students to develop a solid foundation in these essential subjects. By mastering these skills, students gain the tools they need to tackle complex challenges and thrive in future academic and professional pursuits.

Promoting Critical Thinking Skills

Developing critical thinking skills is a key aspect of the French National Curriculum. We encourage students to analyze, interpret, and reflect on information independently, enabling them to make informed decisions. Through engaging discussions, collaborative projects, and research-based activities, students cultivate their ability to think critically and articulate well-reasoned arguments.


Supporting Teachers with Established Resources

Our teachers at Tessa International School benefit from a well-established system of resources and teaching materials. This support empowers educators to deliver quality education and provides students with access to a wide range of educational materials, textbooks, and digital resources. This ensures that students receive a comprehensive learning experience.


Globally Recognized Education

The French National Curriculum holds international recognition and respect, opening doors to universities and educational opportunities worldwide. Students benefit from the globally recognized curriculum, enhancing their chances of admission to prestigious universities and facilitating seamless transitions between educational systems across different countries.

Creating a Vibrant French Community

The French Accreditation plays a crucial role in creating a seamless educational experience for French nationals or families who may relocate abroad. By aligning our curriculum with the French National Program and obtaining homologation, we ensure that students can seamlessly transition between our institution and any French educational institution worldwide. Moreover, the integration of the French National Curriculum fosters a vibrant French community within our school. This provides students with opportunities to engage with native French speakers, celebrate French traditions, and participate in cultural activities that deepen their understanding of the French language and its significance in the world.



Tessa International School stands as a beacon of educational excellence, combining the distinguished French National Curriculum with the globally recognized International Baccalaureate approach. Through this fusion, we provide our students with a well-rounded education that fosters academic rigor, cultural immersion, and global engagement. Our vibrant French community, supported by the French Homologation process, ensures a seamless educational journey for our French students, allowing them to maintain their cultural identity and educational trajectory. At Tessa International School, we strive to prepare our students for success in an interconnected world, nurturing their intellectual growth, cultural appreciation, and language proficiency. Schedule a tour or join our upcoming events to learn more about our programs.  


Bilingual Adventures: The Transformative Benefits of Learning languages in Summer Camps

Summer camps are a wonderful opportunity for children to explore new horizons, make lifelong friends, and create lasting memories. If you’re searching for a summer camp experience that goes beyond typical activities, why not consider a bilingual summer camp? These unique programs provide an immersive language learning environment that offers numerous benefits for children. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the advantages of bilingual summer camps, with a special focus on the enriching experience offered by Tessa International School’s French, Mandarin and Spanish Immersion Camps.

Enhanced Language Skills

Language acquisition is a primary benefit of bilingual summer camps. When children are exposed to a second language in a fun and interactive setting, they naturally absorb vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar rules. Tessa International School’s Summer Camp is designed to provide a full immersion experience, allowing campers to practice their target language with native speakers and peers, thereby accelerating their language skills development.

Cultural Appreciation and Global Awareness

Bilingual summer camps provide children with the chance to embrace different cultures, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of diversity. At Tessa’s Summer Camp, campers will not only engage in language immersion activities but also learn about customs, traditions, and celebrations from around the world. By exploring various cultures, children gain a broader perspective, develop empathy, and become global citizens.

Cognitive Advantages

Bilingualism has been shown to have positive effects on cognitive development. Research indicates that bilingual individuals often exhibit improved problem-solving skills, enhanced memory, and greater cognitive flexibility. Bilingual summer camps, like the one offered by Tessa International School, nurture these cognitive advantages by engaging campers in stimulating activities that require active language processing, critical thinking, and creativity.

Increased Confidence and Self-esteem

By participating in a bilingual summer camp, children develop increased self-confidence in their language abilities. Tessa International School’s Summer Camp offers a supportive and inclusive environment, where campers are encouraged to express themselves in their target language. Through interactive games, role-playing, and presentations, children gain confidence in their linguistic skills, empowering them to communicate effectively and assertively.

Social and Emotional Growth

Bilingual summer camps provide a platform for children to build new friendships and develop their social skills. Tessa’s Summer Camp fosters a collaborative and inclusive environment, where campers from diverse backgrounds come together. The camp’s engaging activities promote teamwork, cooperation, and communication, nurturing campers’ social and emotional growth.

Long-term Educational Advantages

The benefits of bilingual summer camps extend far beyond the summer months. Research suggests that bilingual individuals often excel academically, with improved problem-solving abilities, higher test scores, and increased creativity. By attending Tessa’s Summer Camp, children gain a strong foundation in a second language, which can pave the way for future language learning success and open doors to broader educational and career opportunities.


Bilingual summer camps offer a unique and enriching experience for children, providing a perfect balance of outdoor fun, cultural exploration, and language learning. Tessa International School’s Summer Camp stands out as an exceptional choice, offering a nurturing environment where children can thrive linguistically, socially, and emotionally. By attending this bilingual summer camp, in Spanish, French or Mandarin immersion, children embark on a journey that not only expands their language skills but also broadens their horizons, cultivates global awareness, and instills valuable life skills.

Learn more about Tessa International School’s Bilingual Summer Camp here.

Why Early Bilingual Education Boosts Brain Function and Development

Why Early Bilingual Education Boosts Brain Function and Development

There has been an immense amount of discussion and research done on bilingualism in recent years. As scholars and educators dive deeper into the effects of studying multiple languages, more and more evidence is found to support international language learning.

Over the past two decades, researchers have focused specifically on the cognitive benefits gained by children who are introduced to bilingualism at an early age. Specifically, they have measured the ways in which children learn and react to various aspects of their education and found astounding results for multilingual children.

According to NPR.org, these results show benefits so great, they will be utilized and carried throughout your child’s entire life. It is a lifetime of learning in a way that is unparalleled to any other learning approach available.

Bilingual Education Benefits

While the benefits of bilingual education are exponential, there are several benefits that are so great, they should be considered priority in terms of learning. Among these benefits are invaluable skill mastery of things like problem solving, concentration and focus on any given task, and the ability to think critically and choose words with purpose and meaning.

“Researchers found that young adults proficient in two languages performed better on attention tests and had better concentration than those who spoke only one language,” according to LiveScience.com.

Problem Solving Skills

For starters, children who are introduced to a second language, are essentially challenging their brains to sort out multiple information and channel appropriate times to use each piece. By doing this, it is similar to solving riddles or puzzles – it forces the brain to consider information as a whole (call it “big picture thinking”) and sort out conflicting data. In terms of language learning, the child must sort out each language and decipher which language is appropriate to use at different times.

“Bilingual people often perform better on tasks that require conflict management… (because they possess) the ability to ignore competing perceptual information and focus on the relevant aspects,” explains the US National Library of Medicine.

Mastering Focus

Another benefit of bilingual education is the inadvertent mastery of focus and concentration. Since bilingual children must constantly think before speaking in order to ensure they choose the correct language to adequately communicate, they are naturally training their minds to reach mastery levels of focus and control.

“Because both of a bilingual person’s language systems are always active and competing, that person uses these control mechanisms every time she or he speaks or listens. This constant practice strengthens the control mechanisms and changes the associated brain regions,” the National Library of Medicine explains.

Critical Thinking

This level of concentration and focus that children with bilingual education will master, is what leads to an impressive critical thinking development. Essentially, by training their minds to pause before speaking and focus on what they wish to say, bilingual students learn the basis for a lifetime of critical thinking skills.

“Bilingual children as young as age 3 have demonstrated a head start on tests of perspective-taking and theory of mind – both of which are fundamental social and emotional skills,” reports NPR.org.

Overall, children who participate in bilingual education programs are proving to be more adept at communication in general, as well as having a greater cognitive ability and focus than their monolingual counterparts. Research continues to pour in on the benefits of bilingualism in early childhood education, but the results already reported have shown exponential plusses to international language learning.


Learn more about a bilingual education at Tessa International School here.

5 Tips to Teach Your Child to Share

I was standing at the door one morning as a child entered eating a breakfast roll. I jokingly asked if I could have a bite, to which the response was a resounding ”NO!” The mom told her child that it is nice to share, but the child insisted that “Mommy we are not supposed to share food!”.
In fact, young children do not yet grasp the concept of sharing. It is a complex developmental task. Here are a few tips on modeling teaching your child to share.

Too Young to Share?

If you’ve ever taken your young child to a public playspace you’ve undoubtedly heard parents or nannies barking at their little companion to share.

“Share, Frances!” “Arthur, you need to share!”

But there’s a difference between telling your child to share at playtime and teaching and modeling sharing behaviors to your child.

Sharing is so difficult for little ones because it involves so many of the big hard skills that they just haven’t mastered yet: self-regulation, communication, patience and empathy. They’re difficult concepts, and for that reason, sharing truly is a developmental milestone.

Before the age of 3.5, in fact, children really aren’t even able to wrap their minds around the concept of sharing, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics

“Sharing is complex and something children aren’t ready for developmentally and cognitively until about the age of four – and for some children older,” says Rachel Duda, VP of Learning at Vivvi. “If your child isn’t doing this yet at the age of 2 or 3 it is not something to be concerned about, because they’re not developmentally ready.” 

Before they get to this milestone though, she says, “It is important that grownups model sharing in everyday life and narrate and name what’s happening.”

Here are five steps to help you model and teach sharing to your child during playtime:


No Grabbing Please

Imagine being lost in a world of play with a toy and then another kid (or grown up!) grabs it and takes it away. Ouch! That can be so upsetting and disruptive. Sharing and taking turns is so much easier when there’s a firm No Snatching rule in place.

For a child that can understand fairness, this concept can be discussed: snatching never feels fair and little children really desire a sense of fairness. For a child not yet able to comprehend that, a little parenting redirection can help. When a snatch happens, help the child responsible give the toy back to the child who had it first and then help them negotiate sharing using the steps that follow this one.

Admittedly as parents, sometimes we need to pick up our child’s toys and get them out the door or in the bed—even when they don’t want us to do it. But here, we suggest giving your child warnings. “Two more minutes with the blocks before bedtime,” etc.


Complete their Play

When your young child is playing with blocks or dolls or pots and pans, they have a game at play. Although everyone else may be completely oblivious to what they’re doing, your young child has developed rules and missions and feelings for this game in their mind. And they’d really, really like to finish it before they have to give it to the next child in line. You can understand that, right?

Help them come to a natural completion of their play before they pass the toy off by allowing them the time and space they need to finish their game.


Put a time frame On It

You can help your child find a natural completion to their play by asking them how much longer they need. Would your child like one, two or three more minutes with their toy before they share it?

For example, you’d say, “Mila, it really seems like Libby would like a turn with that doll. How much longer would you like with a doll to finish up your game?”

If Mila says “I don’t want to share” you can remind her that she gets to choose how much longer she gets with the doll. Would she like one, two or three minutes?


Taking Turns

Once you’ve navigated your way through the initial share, you may see this is a toy many children are interested in having a turn with.

Help them figure out an order for their share rotation – who goes first, second, third. You may find the children organically play and pass off to the next child without any interference necessary. Yippee! If that isn’t the case, you have a few options. You can remind each child, “one more minute then pass to Elsie,” or you can bring out a timer.

Tip: Make sure to narrate and thank children for showing kindness. “Gigi, you passed the toy to Leon so gently! Great job!”


Give your child freedom to create the play on their own terms – but also are available to help with conflict resolution when needed.


Kathleen Visconti

Head of School

Tessa Receives Two New Accreditations

Tessa received two new internationally recognised accreditations. The school has been officially authorized as an IB World School for the Primary Years Programme, by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), and received the accreditation of the French Ministry of Education for our French pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten classes. 

Tessa International School became the first school in New Jersey to offer both the IB PYP and French National Program.  

These dynamic and goal-oriented programs provide our students with the skills to challenge themselves in an environment that holds them to the highest academic standards. This great honor acknowledges Tessa’s high standing as one of the best schools available, where your child can gain academic excellence and global understanding.

What does it mean to be an IB World School? 

Tessa International School is authorized to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Program. The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) is a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1968. The four programs offered by the IBO, taught in more than 5,000 schools around the world, have gained a reputation for their high academic standards, for preparing students for life in a globalized 21st century, and for helping to develop the citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world. 

A student leaving Tessa International School is prepared to transition smoothly into any schools in the IB network worldwide, and has the skill base to enter any other private or public school.

The PYP offers an inquiry-based, transdisciplinary curriculum framework that builds conceptual understanding. It is a student-centered approach to education for children aged 3-12. The PYP has evolved to become a world leader in future-focused education. The PYP is an example of best educational practice globally, responding to the challenges and opportunities facing young students in our rapidly changing world.

The four programs of the IB form a continuum all the way through highschool, and the curriculum of each extends beyond expert instruction in academic subjects, emphasizing intellectual, emotional and social development. 

Research shows that IB Students are likely to perform well academically – often better than students in other programs and often more likely to be recruited by top universities worldwide.


What are the benefits of the French Homologation? 

The French Ministry of Education has accredited Tessa International School for its preschool through kindergarten classes (Maternelle) as of September 2022. The French Accreditation leads in innovative teaching methods and has one of the world’s largest educational networks. There are over 535 schools in 139 countries (outside of France) with an AEFE (Agency of French Education Abroad) accreditation. 

A student leaving Tessa International School is prepared to transition smoothly into any schools in the AEFE network in the US, France, or any country in the world.

In a school like Tessa, where three languages are offered, such an accreditation does not only benefit the French language track but the Spanish and Mandarin ones too. The skills included in the French curriculum are sequential, progressive and developmentally relevant. We incorporate them in all 3 language track’s curriculum. 

The French curriculum is renowned worldwide for its high quality and opens the way, after highschool, to the world’s best universities, including English-speaking institutions.

Its approach focuses on research, problem solving, analysis and synthesis and alternance of group work, pair work and individual work. Students learning through the French curriculum are taught to truly respect academic prowess and independent, analytical thinking, emphasis on cultural knowledge.

The benefits of having this accreditation provides a level of uncompromised excellence for setting students up for success. 

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.


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!

A Look at the Importance of Differentiation in the Classroom

A Look at the Importance of Differentiation in the Classroom

Whether you’re a parent of one or a parent of a dozen, it doesn’t take long to figure out every child has their own pace and approach to life learning. Some children learn best by utilizing trial and error, some by a hands-on approach, and others may be more inclined to grasp concepts they can observe from the sidelines first. There’s virtually an unlimited number of unique ways in which children (and adults!) learn, so it goes without saying that a universal teaching approach is simply not effective. This is where differentiation learning comes in to play.

What Is Differentiation Learning?

Differentiation learning is a teaching technique that is used to reach each individual student through their own learning methods. In short, it is essentially the process of learning professionals getting to know each of their students well enough to understand how each of them learns best and utilize the best teaching approaches for that student. It requires a true understanding by teachers as well as a highly flexible curriculum approach in order to help maximize a student’s ability to grasp education content.

The teaching techniques involved in differentiation learning aren’t a set of magical approaches or workbooks to follow. Instead, the focus is simply on observing the ways in which students interact and learn individually and planning lessons and learning activities around these observations. Put simply, it’s knowing what ways your students are similar and different and organizing lesson plans according to them.

Why Is Differentiation Learning Important?

While differentiation learning requires a deep commitment to truly understand a student’s individual learning approaches, research has shown it to be a highly effective method. According to Waterford.org, “If you can adapt your instruction to reflect your students’ needs and learning preferences, you can make class time more effective and help students become more engaged.”

When children are presented options for exploring and learning new concepts in a manner they are most comfortable or familiar with, it leads to a greater level of involvement – and, by extension, a deeper understanding of the information at hand. Children thrive in environments that encourage learning at their level, and an increase in learning support also leads to an increase in learning focus.

Adaptive Teaching Techniques

It’s important to understand that this approach does not mean coming up with a customized school curriculum that has been tailored to each and every individual student. It isn’t coming up with 20 separate lesson plans for 20 separate classroom students. Differentiation learning does require flexibility with teaching techniques that can be tweaked to reach students based on their own learning capabilities, however, it is more about understanding the needs of students and providing effective options to help support the best possible learning environment as a whole. By providing a diverse set of learning tools and approaches, this technique allows for a high rate of learning success among students because it breaches any potential barriers by finding the right path for educational growth.


Social and Emotional Learning: Understanding Different Learning Progressions

Social and Emotional Learning: Understanding Different Learning Progressions

When it comes to the education of young children, development and learning opportunities do not end (or even begin) with traditional classroom studies. In fact, while book studies are certainly important, they are, by far, not the only learning process children need to be exposed to in order to obtain a well-rounded childhood development. Today, more and more emphasis is being placed on nourishing a child’s social and emotional learning process to boost essentially every other learning process they encounter.

What Is SEL (Social and Emotional Learning)?

According to Edutopia.org, “Social and emotional learning (SEL) provides a foundation for safe and positive learning, and enhances students’ ability to succeed in school, careers, and life.” By encouraging a healthy social engagement from children and outlining positive behaviors, SEL promotes a strong sense of self confidence, perpetuates positive attitudes toward all avenues of learning, and also gives way to improved social actions such as understanding, kindness, and collaboration.

The basis of SEL focuses on helping children develop more core attributes that will work in tandem with virtually every life experience they encounter. Essentially, SEL works by teaching children to effectively work together while having the skills to not only believe in their own abilities, but to also encourage and understand the abilities of those around them.

Emotional Development

With SEL, successful emotional development is centered around helping children achieve not only a positive self-image, but also arming them with the ability to positively and effectively maneuver through life’s challenges. To accomplish this, SEL focuses on the following emotional skills:

  • Self-Cognizance. This process involves helping children to thoroughly understand their own emotions, including how these emotions are linked to their thoughts, beliefs, and actions. By teaching children how to recognize these internal relations, as well as harness their own unique strengths, kids learn to develop a healthy level of confidence and self-worth.
  • Self-Control. Expanding on self-cognizance, self-control is focused on helping children learn to manage their emotions and find appropriate reactions for their behaviors. Be it reining in impulses or learning to stay on task to achieve a goal, self-control is about taking their emotional understanding to the next level by mastering their reactions to promote positive behaviors and outcomes.
  • Being Responsible. Taking emotional development one step further, SEL gives children the big picture by making them aware of the consequences of their actions for negative behaviors, as well as provides constructive pathways to more positive outcomes. This involves helping children to consider not only their own emotions and abilities, but also those of others around them, in order to effectively evaluate appropriate actions across a multitude of differences.

Social Development

The second aspect of SEL, social development, expands on the personal emotional development of children by casting a wider net to include learning how to build healthy relationships, curbing negative behaviors, and being socially aware of the diversities of others. By providing examples and pathways to both empathize, as well as communicate, with others, children gain a broader perspective on life experiences and are able to improve their overall learning capacity.

When combined, SEL is a critical part of a child’s development because it not only arms them with critical thinking skills, self-confidence, and essential communication techniques, but it also encourages an overall positive outlook on both healthy relationships as well as a deep sense of commitment to learning and connection with others. Social and emotional learning is the foundation for a more engaged learning experience that will last a lifetime.

Tessa International School

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