From September 27 to October 3, 2019, 14 students and seven teachers from Step by Step School (SBS), New Delhi, India, were part of an exchange programme to Singapore.
It was a most memorable learning experience in a realistic and fun manner and has left an everlasting impact on the entire team.
The programme was designed with the intention to provide the students with different opportunities to apply and generalise the skills they are taught in the classroom into real life situations. These skills include social, communication, language and self-care skills that are essential for them to be assimilated into the mainstream. Another major objective was to get the students to experience and negotiate a completely unfamiliar environment and a new culture, with a view to practice and enhance their thinking and problem-solving skills.
Broadly, though all the children have a similar functional profile, they differ in their individual needs in the areas of social and work skills, cognitive abilities as well as training requirements. Trips like this help us as teachers to address any shortcomings the children may have.
Nine students were placed at APSN Chaoyang School (CYS) to experience a different classroom setting with a different set of teachers and peer group too. Five students attended APSN Tanglin School (TS) to experience new mentors and a new work culture in an unfamiliar work space. At both schools the warm and friendly reception set the tone for hands-on interactive learning over the next few days.
The exposure and the learning experience provided to the children at both the schools seamlessly fitted in with our objectives at SBS. This helped the children to upscale their respective skill sets.
Having returned from the trip, the students have been observed to:
Be more confident
Tanya’s mother, whose daughter was placed at APSN CYS, stated, “She has become a lot more confident and now is comfortable talking to people.”
Suhaani’s (a student placed at APSN CYS) Infocomms Technology teacher shared how she now initiates conversations, asks appropriate questions and participates more in class.
Vivaan’s (a student placed at APSN CYS) teacher said, “He has been more communicative and is a happier boy. He enjoys being part of a group. He is able to accept changes with lesser resistance.”
Be more responsible and forthcoming
Sanya’s parents, whose child was placed at APSN TS, felt many pleasant changes have happened. For example:
- She has started using escalators that she did not use for many years.
- She serves water to guests and offers tea, and even makes tea for them.
- She folds her clothes.
- She helps her mother in the kitchen.
- She takes on responsibilities.
- She is more independent.
All the children seem to have benefited greatly. They managed independently without their parents, with only their friends and teachers for support. They have developed warm and trusting relationships and have visibly increased their circle of interaction in school.
The trip was a great motivator for the parents, as it helped in reaffirming their belief in their children’s abilities of being potential contributing members of society.
None of this would have been possible without the Sparkz ladies who initiated this exchange programme and have sustained it over the years. We are most thankful for this unique opportunity and a fantastic learning experience. We look forward to many more of such learning journeys at APSN.
Priyali Goel and the SBS Team