Described as a wonderland by visitors, Little Scholar Academy (LSA) in Shanghai is an international half- and full-day, bilingual pre-school and kindergarten where children explore English and Chinese through stories, songs, and games. Committed to making learning and school joyful experiences, LSA emphasizes the importance of developing both head and heart by adhering to five values: teaching children to make positive, productive choices; encouraging children to understand that there are no "mistakes" but rather grand opportunities for learning and growth; inspiring children to develop a love for life and a joyful spirit; offering quality education to families from varying economic situations; and finally, delivering the most effective, progressive educational practices available.
Classrooms are arranged for children to choose toys, books, and supplies freely, so they can feel comfortable and empowered to decide how to spend their day. Classroom teaching teams consist of one foreign lead teacher, one local lead teacher, one to two teaching assistants, as well as an ayi (“aunt”) for the youngest classes, all of which evince LSA’s commitment to a truly bilingual educational experience. At present, 300 students ages two to six, attend LSA. While 15 nationalities are represented, 65% are Chinese, and 10% come from North America and the U.K. The teaching staff of 30 includes 15 teachers from China, 12 from North America, and one from the U.K.
LSA’s curriculum for its youngest learners is based on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework, part of the U.K. National Curriculum, but modified by LSA’s Academic Director and teaching team to suit the particular needs of international learners. Students engage in activities to learn basic concepts such as kindness, gratitude, friendship, and honesty. An emphasis on creativity shapes LSA’s programs in English literacy, phonics, math, and Chinese. Art and music class contribute towards the development of creative expression, social awareness, and confidence. Additionally, cooking, music, and physical education are a regular part of the weekly schedule. Gym classes are designed to develop teamwork and basic gross motor skills, such as moving around safely and carrying and pulling objects.
Students, aged four to six, follow the English Literacy curriculum, designed to prepare students for the U.S. Common Core Standards. The math curriculum eases students into the Singapore Math program, which encourages the use of multiple strategies to arrive at a logical conclusion, rather than simply memorizing facts. This approach allows students use their hands and minds to learn important skills that are necessary for success in the 21st century classroom. Math is taught in both English and Chinese until age 4, in order to expose students to vocabulary and concepts to help them succeed in any environment. The following year, math is taught entirely in English.
The Chinese curriculum is based on the Chinese National Standards. Students learn to read and write pinyin and begin to understand how to trace and write Chinese characters. All students benefit from this Chinese immersion environment; by the end of their years in pre-K and kindergarten, students have a wide set of skills that prepare them for any international school they might attend.
LSA is mostly interested in hiring single teachers but would also consider interns, outstanding newly-certified candidates, and married couples with a non-teaching spouse (for whom local employment opportunities are available). Candidates must come from the following government-approved English-speaking countries: U.K., U.S., Canada, Australia, Ireland, South Africa, and New Zealand. Candidates must provide documentation proving two years professional educators' experience or a notarized TEFL/TESOL certificate. Teachers up to the age of 50 may obtain a work visa to work at the school.
The LSA benefits package includes annual airfare and a discount on tuition for children of employees. Teachers enjoy daily breakfast and lunch as well as transport to and from the school. Teachers earn more for working in the after-school program, and the school gives awards and performance-based bonuses. Professional development involves weekly mini-trainings along with in-service opportunities each year. First aid certifications are renewed annually as well. Local health insurance is fully covered in the second year of the contract. In the first year, employees are reimbursed up to 4800 RMB. There are local employment opportunities for non-teaching spouses. These benefits could mean some savings or the chance for a family of four to live on one salary.
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Please note: The information presented about this school was valid on the date published. This information may change, and the most up-to-date information can be found on the school profile.