By Nick Yates, ISB Communications
New year is a time to refresh and experience new things. Whether they’re following the Western calendar or the Chinese zodiac, students at the International School of Beijing (ISB) have plenty of opportunities to try hobbies and sports and discover their passions outside of the classroom.
With co-curricular and after-school activities (ASAs), ISB believes in giving students inspiration and a chance to find their place in the world and serve others. A huge variety of ASAs is offered to students from Kindergarten to Grade 8. Ranging from Harry Potter-themed makerspaces to cookie baking to tennis, most ASAs see students meet for one hour once a week. They’re fun and enriching, teaching skills and good attitude. Learning does not stop once the school days stops.
What follows is just a tiny selection of the Elementary and Middle School ASAs provided at ISB, with the full range made possible by world-class facilities and expert facilitators from the faculty and wider community. ASAs fall into four categories: Performing Arts; Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics (STEAM); Movement and Games; and Life Skills and Service. Students are just as likely to be designing robots or practicing coding as they are to be dancing or performing in a jazz/rock band.
Representing all the ASAs would take an entire website. The following list is a taster. It is not in ranking or any other order and was selected by the ISB Activities and Communications teams.
Chess Club – Mondays
Featuring coaching by a local chess master, this is one of ISB’s most popular ASAs. Chess is clearly cool these days. Role models like Magnus Carlsen surely help. The world’s best chess player for the last decade has lately topped the global rankings in another game – fantasy football. As well as acing the Fantasy Premier League game played by more than seven million people worldwide, Mr. Carlsen is also a fashion model. ISB Middle School students can start their journey to such multi-talented stardom on Mondays after school.
Chinese Dancing – Wednesdays
Anyone who’s seen local grannies doing their famous choreographed dancing in the parks of Beijing know how stylish and graceful Chinese dances can be. Bust some moves and get a glimpse into Chinese culture in this class led by Dtop Dance School.
Cookie Corner – Mondays
Kids learning how to make classic American cookies? We’re already drooling, so it’s no surprise this ASA teaching about baking and international food is a mainstay of the program.
Fun Golf – Wednesdays
Golf Degree is a local training center managed by ISB alumni. They run this ASA for beginners. Students learn the basic golf swing, skills, and etiquette, and develop fitness. Sessions take place indoors and the coaches bring lots of age-appropriate equipment for students to learn with.
ES Service Council – Tuesdays
ISB believes in the power of learning through serving others and organizing charitable initiatives. Even the youngest learners get involved. Run by students and supervised by teachers, the Elementary School Service Council was set up to give students opportunities to take compassionate action. In partnership with the High School Interact Club, the Council is currently coordinating donations of gently used school supplies for two local children’s centers.
Tennis – Tuesdays and Thursdays
Anyone for tennis? Taking advantage of ISB’s excellent sporting facilities in a dome with a state-of-the-art air purification system, the Tennis ASA is an introduction to the game led by coaches from ISB partner Love Tennis. There’s one session for Elementary School students and one session for Middle School students, both in a small group format.
Hogwarts Makers Space – Thursdays
More than two decades on from the publication of the first novel, Harry Potter remains a huge hit among children. For Grades 3 to 5, Hogwarts Makers Space recreates the world inhabited by Harry and his friends, and offers arts, crafts, and cooking. Students make things inspired by author J.K. Rowling’s works – from snitches to wands to mugs of Hogwarts’ favorite drink.
Five-Star Sports ASAs – On a number of days
ISB partner Five-Star Sports runs a variety of ASAs in basketball and soccer for Kindergarten to Grade 5. There are sessions for different age groups for boys and girls. Professional coaches cater for all abilities but activities are geared to players new to these sports.
Meanwhile, the ClubFootball Girls Soccer ASA is a free-of-charge service offered to the ISB community on Tuesdays by ClubFootball, a youth soccer club. Over 25 girls in Grades 3 to 5 play with ClubFootball’s qualified coaches from the UK. ISB greatly values girls taking part in team and contact sports, and this program helps the school promote participation in sports like soccer when the young strikers reach Middle and High School.
Le Petit Fashion Designer – Thursdays
Ooh la la! Le Petit Fashion Designer explores the world of fashion by introducing historical eras, cultural backgrounds, and renowned designers, while teaching the basic process of design (pattern tracing, cutting, sewing, motifs). For every two classes, students complete a doll-size dress or accessory from start to finish. This ASA encourages participants to build on their hand-eye coordination and visualization while exploring their creativity.
ES Model United Nations (MUN) – Mondays
Model United Nations (MUN) ushers students into the world of diplomacy, simulating the real UN as a format to practice public speaking and debate big issues like global warming. At the end of February, ISB will host the 27th Beijing Model United Nations (BEIMUN) for High School students. ISB also uses its experience leading one of the oldest and largest MUNs in Asia to offer tailored versions of the experience for younger students. Twenty Grade 4 and 5 members have been meeting weekly in preparation for a Primary Years MUN with peers from other local schools in May. Senior delegates from BEIMUN join this ASA to lend their expertise, and ES MUN members will for the first time act as junior delegates at BEIMUN next month.