Three Things Parents Should Know About the First Week of School

We have enjoyed welcoming our students into College this week. There is a tangible feeling of community across campus. This is important because we want our children, parents and staff to feel a strong sense of belonging. Together we are stronger. It’s one of the main reasons why Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi is so special. There is also a feeling of anticipation as children and staff aim high for the year ahead. From a parent perspective it may seem as if this week has just been about settling in. So let me share three very important dynamics that are unfolding in every classroom.

Building Positive Relationships

We believe in the importance of getting to know our children as individuals.  We know that your child is unique.  This week our teachers have invested time in getting to know and understand each child as a person and as a learner.  We have also invested time in team building activities because it is equally important that your child develops positive relationships with their peers. Cooperation and collaboration are essential skills both in College and the wider world.  We will continue to focus on building positive relationships in the weeks ahead.  The quality of these relationships with teachers and peers will underpin your child’s personal growth and inform his/her learning this year.

How can you support your child build positive relationships?
You can support your child by arranging playdates.  Developing quality friendships can support the development of conversational skills, interpersonal skills and emotional self-control.

Establishing  A Positive Learning Environment

You will be familiar with the expression: jump out of your comfort zone. The most exciting learning takes place when children feel confident enough to jump out of their comfort zone.  Before this can happen, classrooms and other learning spaces need to become your child’s comfort zone (to jump out of).  We want them to feel safe and secure so that they feel comfortable:

  • Making a mistake (and learning from it)

  • Asking for help when they need it

  • Taking risks with their learning by trying new strategies and exploring new ideas

  • Becoming more independent

These are the key features of being a ‘risk taker’ in the IB learner profile. Children who develop these skills and qualities are much better equipped to face challenges and achieve.

How can you support your child become a risk taker?
Help your child understand that making mistakes is part of learning.  Share examples of when you have made a mistake and were able to learn from it. Encourage your child to ask for help when he/or she needs it.  Again, share examples of when you have benefited from seeking assistance.  These are essential skills for success in Senior School, university and beyond.

Fostering Curiosity

On a recent visit to Georgetown University, I met with an admissions officer who shared, ‘there is a difference between a competitive candidate and a compelling candidate.’ A compelling candidate demonstrates a genuine passion for their area of learning.  We seek to ignite these passions: from the awe and wonder of our youngest children exploring nature in our outdoor spaces, to the inquisitiveness of our oldest students learning about chemical compounds in our science lab.  This week teachers have been posing big questions to spark our students' curiosity and set their imaginations racing.  We are looking forward to some exciting topic launches in the weeks come.

How can you develop your child’s passion for learning?
You can help support your child’s learning by reading the class teacher’s weekly newsletter and talking  about his/her learning each week.  Rather then asking, ‘what did you learn today?’ as soon as they get home, sit down with a snack and a drink and try prompting a discussion by saying, ‘tell me about…’ or ‘can you explain…’. If your child shows an interest in a particular topic, then buy them books or take them to visit exhibitions that will enable to take this interest further.


It is incredibly rewarding to see these dynamics at play in the classroom, in the garden, on the sports field and on stage.  It has been a successful week and we are looking forward to building on this foundation in the weeks and months ahead.