01 Oct KIS, Are extracurriculars really still “extra”?
KIS International School
Are extracurriculars really still “extra”
Michael Hirsch & Caroline Laleta Ballini
1 October 2019
How does a student stand out from all others when applying to a Grande Ecole or university of his choice, facing candidates with excellent marks?
Universities and the employers of the future aren’t looking for robots who have memorized millions of facts, but instead are looking for dynamic individuals who are lifelong learners.
They prefer applicants who can work with other people, who apply academic learning to solving real-world problems, manage their time and achieve work-life balance. Students now get to tell their own story about who they are, what their dreams are, their uniqueness, and their valuable accomplishments.
KIS International School in Bangkok embraces a different approach to extracurricular programs. Through running a three-program school, from kindergarten to IB graduation, KIS is set up to be more student-centered. The classrooms and extracurricular programs revolve around the needs and development of the student. KIS has time to prepare students for the academic and organizational demands of the IB Diploma so that it is a rigorous and challenging program, but not one that is overly anxiety-producing. Additionally, all of the programs support outside of classroom learning that enriches and reinforces the school’s objectives.
“Extracurricular” Experiences within the Curriculum
One of the biggest benefits of the IB for parents is that its program requires students to complete the types of experiences that make students look attractive to universities. At quality IB schools it is expected that all students participate in community service, organize their own events, develop leadership and teamwork skills, and participate in the arts or athletics.
In the Primary Years Programme, students complete 5th Grade with The Exhibition that explores a topic of their interest and demonstrates their learning.
At an IB school within the Middle Years Programme students present their Personal Projects at the end of 10th Grade. Students complete a 9 month-long project where they investigate a topic of their choice, create a product, and write a formal academic essay describing their process, decisions, and research.
In the final two years of schooling, students participate in the Creativity Action Service (CAS) program and are expected to take on approximately 150 hours worth of self-directed activities that represent creativity, action, and service. Students explore areas of interest, learn valuable time management and organizational skills, and have opportunities to apply a wide variety of academic skills.
“Extracurricular” experiences outside of the curriculum
KIS approaches extracurricular activities in a different way, much more process oriented, putting an emphasis on creating ways for students to grow intellectually, emotionally and in their ability to lead and take on serious responsibility. For example, the performing arts are an opportunity for students to solve problems through making scenes, creating choreography, making decisions about set design and costumes, and to manage lighting, sound, and the stage.
Several times a year, students create their own productions. They design and execute their own advertising, run lighting and sound, make decisions about direction, manage the stage, and in some cases create their own scripts or compose their own music.
At a progressive school the Student Council is an opportunity to engage in leadership, to develop programs and policies to address student needs, and to negotiate and collaborate with adults. At KIS Student Councils have written their own constitution, engaged in campaigns with speeches, learned how to set and manage agendas and meetings, created a recycling program, participated in designing and selecting the new school uniforms, and worked with school administrators to develop a policy to decrease waste from school printers.
All students are encouraged to participate in athletics, not to become professional athletes, but instead are preparing for a mentally and physically healthy life. They develop leadership and organizational skills through organizing tournaments and using their knowledge and skills to help with coaching younger players.
Extracurricular programs should be fun and should help build a sense of community at a school, but they can be more than that too. Parents should encourage their children to participate in extracurricular programs that fit their interests, build on their strengths. Schools must support their students through creating student-centered experiences that support growth, exploration, and the development of responsibility. Students must show initiative and take full advantage of the existing opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge.
Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award
KIS International School is proud to deliver the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, which is the world’s leading youth achievement award, operating in over 140 countries.
The Award brings together practical experiences, skills development and community responsibility in order to equip students for life. Doing the Award is a personal challenge and not a competition, and requires sustained effort over a period of time. Students participating in the Award will have new adventures and experiences, and will stand out from the crowd when it comes to job and university applications.
The Award is available to students aged 14 and up, and is comprised of three levels, each of which is progressively more challenging and requires the completion of four sections in order to achieve the Award: Voluntary Service, Physical Recreation, Skills and Adventurous Journey. n