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International Sunshine Home

International
Sunshine Home is often cited as Xiamen’s premier bilingual school for younger
children. Opened in 2010, Sunshine Home has grown from three classes to 20
classrooms covering students between 1.5 years and 8 years of age.

One of the school’s strengths is that it combines the
insights and approaches of educators from the United States and China. The
organization has a robust curriculum and teaching approach that relies on a
Western approach — positive reinforcement, emphasis on creativity and small
class sizes. At the same time, the local and foreign teachers are careful to
respects and celebrate both Chinese and Western cultures.

The Montessori method is used extensively at Sunshine Home,
which includes many licensed Montessori instructors. The hallmarks of a
Montessori classroom include uninterrupted blocks of time to work on the
subject matter that is of interest to them, whether it is mathematics,
language, geography, etc. Students direct their own learning, with teachers
tracking interests and progress over time, modeling proper behavior and grace,
and teaching self-control rather than a dependence on external discipline.

Sunshine Home also focuses extensively on language
development. Students and staff use English and Chinese both in class and in
their daily work, creating an immersive language environment. Native-language
instructors teach Chinese and English classes.

With at least three staff members for each class of 18
students, the school uses a low teacher-student ratio to tailor each class to
the needs of the students and to increase classroom safety.

The school’s curriculum includes three-week subject blocks
that build over time and that are periodically reinforced. Popular themes
include Animals, Family and Friends, and Outer Space. The subject matter is
age-appropriate so that while students under the age of three are learning
basic words like “the sun,” older students in the Elementary classroom are
exploring the life cycle of a star.

The main teaching methods include structured game play,
music and dance, independent study, group story time and play-based activities.
Unlike traditional local schools, the staff avoids group recitation,
call-and-response and formal lecturing methods. Students are not assigned
homework.

Students are divided into groups by English level rather
than age. Sunshine Home uses English levels to organize its students because
mixed-age classrooms mirror the natural learning method of children, which
includes learning both from parents and from their brothers and sisters.
Younger students look up to, learn from and aspire to be like their older
classmates. Older students earn the confidence that comes from demonstrating
subject mastery, teaching what they know and being the object of affection and
admiration.

With students from more than a dozen countries including
China, England, New Zealand, Pakistan, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S., Sunshine
Home is experienced in addressing the needs of international families.

      

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