Supporting Your ES Child in Developing More Independence

The COVID-19 pandemic created significant challenges this past school year. As the school year is off to a good start on campus, here are practical ideas to help your child be successful both in and out of school. Independence is a key attribute that we at UNIS Hanoi strive to help our students develop. This month focus on more independence at home to support students growth in this area in school. Have a read of the articles below, try some new things with your child. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact Kris Bezzerides ( students in D – G3) or Frank Becvar (students in G4 and 5) for support. 


Whether it’s keeping track of assignments or taking care of school property, responsible behavior is a must for school success. And the best way to teach your child responsibility is to give her responsibilities.

Sit down with your child and make a list of tasks she’s ready to handle on her own. Then make a checklist of everything you expect her to do. Agree on small rewards for a job well done, and consequences for times your child shirks responsibility.

Here is a starter checklist of responsibilities you can adapt:

  • Going to bed on time.
  • Getting up on time.
  • Fixing breakfast.
  • Packing and carrying their own bag.
  • Getting along with siblings.
  • Keeping room clean.
  • Completing assigned chores.
  • Reading at least 15 minutes a day.
  • Taking care of personal hygiene.
  • Feeding/caring for pets.
  • Limiting recreational screen time.

Reprinted with permission from the October 2020 issue of Parents make the difference!® (Elementary School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2020 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc.


When children are born, it’s the job of their parents to protect them in every way they can. Once kids reach elementary school, however, they become more capable and are able to do lots of things for themselves.

Unfortunately, many parents still try to protect their children from everything. And all of that well-intended “protection” can smother their children’s budding independence.

Overprotective parenting makes it difficult for children to learn essential skills—such as communication, negotiation, perseverance, responsibility and decision making.

To avoid the many pitfalls of overprotective parenting:

  • Don’t do everything for your child. Let him do things for himself. Will he make mistakes? Probably. But he will learn from those mistakes.
  • Don’t rescue your child when he forgets things. 
  • Don’t call the parent of a child your child is complaining about. Give your child a chance to work it out. However, if it is a serious problem, such as bullying, contact the school immediately.

Reprinted with permission from the October 2020 issue of Parents make the difference!® (Elementary School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2020 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc.


As your preschooler explores and tries new things, it’s only natural that he will experience some failures. Learning how to bounce back in these situations will serve him well in school and in life.

To help your child recover:

  • Be empathetic. “I can see how sad you are that you didn’t make it across the monkey bars. It’s disappointing when you try to do something and it doesn’t work out.”
  • Offer encouragement. “Sometimes kids must grow before their arms are strong enough to make it across the monkey bars. You’re growing fast and I think you’ll be ready soon. Let’s try again and see how far across you can get!”
  • Be a good role model. Your child notices how you react to your own disappointments, so handle them with grace. For example, if a new recipe doesn’t turn out well, say “I tried something new and gave it my best shot—that’s what matters most. I’ll try again.”

Reprinted with permission from the October 2020 issue of Parents make the difference!® (Early Childhood Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2020 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc. Source: J. Lahey, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, Harper.

Uniquely Dot Day

This week in Elementary school we all celebrated International Dot Day. The students decorated their homeroom doors with dots in many unique ways, as a celebration of the beauty of creativity. Meanwhile, in art classes, students from D-5 created dots with a space in the middle. Each grade level used a different technique to develop their dotty design. Every unique dot was linked together to form a collaborative artwork with this year’s UNIS theme #strongertogether. We encourage families to watch this short video where you can see dotty doors, some from home, many inventive dotty creations, and even dotty outfits.

A big thank you to all the students, teachers, members of staff, and families who helped support International Dot Day this year.

Ms. Emma, Ms. Vicki and Ms. Angela


Get Ready for International Dot Day 2020

Next Tuesday, September 15, is International Dot Day where people all over the world celebrate art and creativity, using their imaginations making dots in all sorts of different ways.

We will celebrate in school next week in both art classes and in homerooms making many dots. We’d love all children is ES to help make the day memorable by dressing in dotty clothes. A dotty, spotty t-shirt or dress, dotty, spotty socks, or even a dotty hat. If you don’t have anything get creative and make something.

Each class will be covering their door in their dots and we’ll share all the wonderful achievements via next week’s Tin Tuc. If families would like to create dots at home and decorate their doors too that would be great – we’d love to see what you do, email your photos to

For more information about the history of Dot Day listen to this Youtube video from Peter H. Reynolds author of the international bestseller The Dot.

ES Counsellors Closely Monitor the Transition of New Students

Entering a new school can be one of the most stressful and intimidating childhood experiences. It is a transition that must be handled carefully as new students are adapting to a new campus, unfamiliar academic demands, new friendships, and often in international schools, a new culture. The unpredictable environment caused by COVID-19 has added another level of complexity to the process.

The ES Counsellors work very hard to ensure that the transition of new students is as smooth as possible. They meet with all new students by grade level groups multiple times early in their tenure at UNIS Hanoi for a general status check and to ensure that their assigned Phoenix Buddy is properly supporting them in their adjustment. When meeting in these groups, new students often find it cathartic to realize that they are not alone in experiencing this key transition and this often helps alleviate some of that “new student anxiety.” Counsellors then work individually with any new students who are experiencing a bumpier transition.

The counsellors will continue to monitor the progress of our new students through personal contact, homeroom teachers, and of course, parent feedback. Please don´t hesitate to contact one of the ES Counsellors if you feel your child is experiencing transition difficulties or if other issues arise.

New ES Students at the “New Student Check-In with the Counsellor.

Kris Bezzerides
ECC – Grade 2 Counsellor

Frank J. Becvar
4th and 5th Grade Counsellor

UNIS Hanoi ES Arts Week 2020

This week all of the Elementary students, from Discovery to Grade 5 participated in our first ever Arts Week. Even those still in Distance Learning were able to create art and sing or dance at home with their families. Below we share a short video that is a snapshot of a wonderful week.

The children also contributed art and music to our Virtual Exhibitions and Concerts through grade level Padlets.

Please click the links below to have a look at all of the wonderful ways our students expressed their own creativity.

Visual Arts Padlets Music and Performing Arts Padlets

Discovery  and K1 Art

K2 Art

Grade 1 Art

Grade 2 Art

Grade 3 Art

Grade 4 Art

Grade 5 Art

K2 Music Sharing

Grade 1 – Music and Choir 

Grade 2 Virtual Talent Show

Grade 3 Virtual Talent Show

Grade 4 Virtual Talent Show

Grade 5 Virtual Talent Show

Many thanks to all of the parents, teachers and students who participated and shared their creativity in so many different and unique ways.


The ES Arts team.
Ms. Emma, Ms. Vicki, Ms. Noor, Ms. Liz and Ms. Abella

Discovery and K1 Arts Celebration

Instead of our annual Discovery and K1 Arts celebration of music and art, we are creating something unique and special. This year, all students, whether now back at school, or still participating in distance learning have been working together to make up stories about dragons. They have worked in their homeroom on the stories, then with the specialists, they have created the artwork, and made their own music and dance moves. All of this work will be shared with you soon via the Tin Tuc so watch this space for something rather wonderful!

Transition Resources


Several weeks ago the D-12 counselors offered a session for families who are leaving UNIS this year. We had a range of parents attend, including some who have already left Hanoi. Please find the slides from the ES portion of the workshop for reference if you were unable to attend.


In addition, Monica Mayer, our wonderful librarian has created a Lib Guide where you can find titles to support you as your travel through the journey of transition. There are additional resources to be found on the Counseling section of the ES Specialists Blog here.

The ES Counseling Team



Motivating Your Child at Home – Distance Learning – Week 11

Motivating Your Child At Home – Part Two

It is natural that all of us – parents and children – will have our ups and downs. If your child has hit a down patch, then it might be time for you to consider (or reconsider) the tips below and how they might boost your child’s motivation. 

In this article (part two of two) we will continue to offer ideas that match teacher’s techniques from the classroom to ways you can improve motivation at home. 

Your child’s teachers constantly consider which ‘educational levers’ they can pull to make improvements in energy, motivation, and performance of their students.

Here are this week’s levers for your consideration:


Release the pressure

If your child is feeling pressure, ask yourself what the most important outcome is for your child’s learning that day. Do you run the risk of winning the battle (pushing your child to finish an assignment) while you lose the war (your child will be less and less motivated about distance learning, overtime)? 

Whilst teachers encourage, challenge and sometimes push children in their learning, they also know when a child has had enough. Stressed kids don’t learn, so sometimes it is best to call it a day and come back fresh the next day.

Time limits are fair and motivating – and this is how ‘real school’ works too

Setting realistic times for working can be key to helping kids stay on task. Our class periods in the elementary school are 50 minutes long and children have the ability to self regulate by moving around and getting water when they need to in order to work more effectively. They also have the motivating energy of sitting among their peers.  

  • For example with a Grade 2 student:  use a timer to set a 15 minute work session and then a 3 minute break (water, jumping jacks, quick chat) and then another 10 – 15 work session and then a longer break. 

A cautionary tip! Sometimes, when your child is doing well and is ‘on a roll’ we might be tempted to push them to work for a longer period of time.

When a normal school day ends and a child hasn’t finished their work or a fun project they still have to go home. In this way, children can sometimes leave school “on a high” and be eager to come back to school the next day to finish their work. At home, if you keep stretching the learning period into extra time you are likely to demotivate your child rather than get them excited to come back the next day.

In short: stick to the agreed time limits, even when your child is doing well! 

Help your child with the process, not the product

As the adult, you can use your best judgement about when to help your child with distance learning, and what to help them with

We recommend, when you are looking at the distance learning activities, to identify quick ways you can assist your child to get set up with a task and be ready to do the learning. 

For example, if a child needs to work with a template it might be more efficient for you to draw the template quickly, and unleash your child to the actual task (where the learning will take place). 

In this photo the adult at home can quickly draw the template required for a literacy task. This allows the student to jump into the learning rather than get frustrated and delayed by drawing up the guidelines.

For many children a big challenge they have with distance learning is setting up all the requirements for the lesson and managing themself and their time. Saving your child extra minutes, and potential frustration and errors by helping “scaffold” the task at hand might be a technique to deploy from time to time.  

Asking the right question leads to thinking and action

Child Effective Parent
“I don’t know what to do” “What do you think needs to happen?”
“I don’t get it” “Can you read me what the question says?”
“This is too hard.” “What is the first part of the activity? What do you need to do first?”

Parents – we don’t expect you to compel your child

Teachers ask students to be ready to learn and to give their learning their best shot. But when children at school are tired, sad or frustrated, teachers switch gears because they know children cannot learn when they aren’t in the ‘green zone’. 

Your child’s teacher would be troubled to learn that their students are being held to standards at home, during this disrupted time, that are higher than those of the normal classroom. When in doubt about how long your child should work, and what is reasonable for them to complete independently, ask your child’s teacher. 

Keep the conversation going

Continually finding (new) ways to make distance learning a success for each child is truly an example of adults needing to be flexible, responsive and open-minded. It is hard work! On our upcoming student conference day both the ES counsellors will be available via Zoom call to talk to parents about motivation – or anything else that is on their mind. The link and password to the Zoom will be sent next week. 

As always we are here to support.

Warmest regards, 

The UNIS ES Counseling Team

Kris Bezzerides (Discovery – Grade 2,

Dylan Meikle (Grades 3-5,

Motivating Your Child At Home – Distance Learning – Week 10

Motivating Your Child At Home – Part One

Dear Parents,

Motivation is a common topic for discussion in our community these days, so if you are wondering how you can help to continue to motivate your child at home you are certainly not alone. 

Whilst younger students are developmentally eager to please their parents and teachers, the length of time that we have already engaged in distance learning is taking a toll on the motivation levels of all learners.

This article (part one of two), will make connections between how teachers work in the classroom and teaching strategies that parents can use at home to leverage quality learning. 

Reflect to move forward

Teachers are reflective practitioners. After teaching a lesson or a unit a quality teacher will typically ask themself “what can I do differently next time to improve student learning?” Good teaching teams and schools build ways for teachers to reflect together.

As parents at home, reflecting on how distance learning is going, and making small and large changes should be expected and is not a sign of defeat! Children and schools are always changing, so the learning dynamic in your home should be flowing and changing too. If you are living with a spouse or partner then we encourage you (just like our teacher teams) to reflect on the following ideas together.

Make space for learning

There are environmental cues that help students know that it’s time to work. By now, you may have already heard that (ideally) you should create a special place for your child to do their distance learning. This provides students with some cognitive clarity around the idea that “when my body is in this space, I’m here to work”. 

If you haven’t yet set up a designated space for your child to do their desk work – give it a try. And if you have set one up, now might be the time to change it up. Variety, after all, is the spice of life, and this rings true for both the classroom and home learning environment too. 

In a regular school year, teachers frequently move their desks and tables around their classrooms. This sparks student interest and refreshes their spaces. They also use the strategy of ‘regrouping’ (where children will work in different groups, in different parts of the classroom) throughout the year. 

You should get your child enthused too: ask them where they would like to set up their “new” learning space. Have your child take some pride in the space by adding motivating (but not too distracting) items to their work area like cool pens and erasers. 

Proximity is a teaching strategy that works at home too

All teachers know this trick intuitively, and the best teachers deploy it as an intentional strategy. As the old saying goes: “keep your friends close, and your distractible student closer”!

If your child is unable to complete a distance learning task independently, because their ability to manage time is still developing, or their focus wanders, then try positioning your child in closer proximity to you.

In the classroom teachers will ‘preferentially seat’ (this sounds like we are flying in business class) students so that they are physically close to them. Teachers can then preemptively provide support if the student gets stuck and they can monitor their work output to keep energy and focus up. At home you can achieve this by seating your child in a space with you nearby to provide timely help and positive reinforcement.  

Catch and Release: not just for fishing

‘Catch and release’ is a fishing technique where caught fish are unhooked and released back into the wild. 

When you are monitoring your child’s learning at home you should seek to provide them with opportunities to come to you for help and guidance, but then try to ‘release’ them to a period of independent work. How long that period is, before you ‘catch’ them again, is dependent upon their age. This is what happens in classrooms – obviously teachers don’t sit with one child all day. Instead, they cycle through their classroom, connecting with each student, providing help and then moving on. 

If you are unsure how long your child can reasonably be expected to work independently, ask your child’s teacher on our upcoming parent/teacher conference day. 

Schedules are obvious, but overlook them at your own peril!

If possible, sit down with your children at the start of the day and co-create their schedule. Just like in their classrooms they will know what is happening that day and can provide input into the order that they complete tasks. There are many articles out there to support you with this, here is an excellent one.

A topical aside: Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton was marooned with his men on the polar ice in 1915 for 16 months. According to the New York Times, “He did not lose a single man, and one of his primary tools was routine. They had a structure every day: They did exercise, they did work, they had game time, they had mealtime. And that structure kept everybody alive. I never forgot that — the power of routine.”

Keep it upbeat and invest in levity

Our last tip for this week: and that is in normal classrooms teachers use rigor, high expectations and humor and empathy in equal measures. Don’t underestimate the power of a few jokes and a brain break along the way. 

As always we are here to support.

Warmest regards, 

The UNIS ES Counseling Team

Kris Bezzerides (Discovery – Grade 2,

Dylan Meikle (Grades 3-5,



Parenting is a Learning Journey – Distance Learning – Week 9

Dear Parents,

This week UNICEF Vietnam shared with the community a webpage that provides parents with some timely tips and reminders. We thought it would be a good moment to share their resource. Here is the link:

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has upended family life around the world. School closures, working remote, physical distancing — it’s a lot to navigate for anyone, but especially for parents.” (from UNICEF) 

In the spirit that as parents we can all continue leaning, here are the strongest connections that we made. What was yours?

Dylan: “Make a schedule for you and your children that has time for structured activities as well as free time. This can help children feel more secure and better behaved.”

Comment: After our recent holiday I wasn’t sure how I was going to ‘dig any deeper’ and come back to guide the distance learning for my two children as well as continue to work full time. I decided to reinvest in structure and routine and this week has been our best week at home yet. With my two children we start the day like a school day – the girls get dressed and ready for their day – before their first Zoom call. After the call we create a schedule of all the work that they need to do (in two attractive colors, of course!) and we add little boxes for each item that they have learned to enjoy checking off. Part of the routine is that we put a limit on the time that we spend on our daily learning: all work must be done by 12 noon and then the children make themselves lunch.

Kris: “Take a pause. Feel like screaming? Give yourself a 10-second pause. Breathe in and out slowly five times. Then try to respond in a calmer way. Millions of parents say this helps – a lot!”

Comment: With so much ‘together’ time and the responsibilities mounting I can feel my voice reaching a volume that is highly undesirable by all. As a counsellor I teach students about stopping, breathing and thinking before they act. Now it’s time to hone that practice myself. When I felt myself about to yell the other day I stopped and counted to 10 and took a deep breath. It worked and I was able to get back to the task at hand in a much calmer state.

We also humbly direct you to our Week 4 letter about the importance of routines. This letter includes information, links and some self-assessment about how some basic parenting routines may set us all up for success. How have bedtimes, morning routines and your child’s levels of independence and responsibility changed during this time?

As always we are here to support.

Warmest regards, 

The UNIS ES Counselling Team

Kris Bezzerides (Discovery – Grade 2,

Dylan Meikle (Grades 3-5,