We Are Huili: Transitioning from Grade 6 to Grade 7

Our first article in this We Are Huili series is from Ms. Hu, mother of Emma, a pupil currently studying in Huili School Hangzhou Junior High Grade 7. Ms. Hu has clear thoughts about her child’s education. She respects and supports Emma’s ideas, believing that every child needs to create their own path in life, with the parents playing a supporting role. Below, Emma’s mother shares some thoughts about her daughter’s journey in joining Huili School Hangzhou, and her first year at the school.

Choosing the Right School

We hope to send Emma to study abroad after graduating from high school, and we had long planned to first send her to a bilingual or international high school.  Emma participated in a bilingual summer camp, where she really enjoyed the dynamic learning environment. It was this experience that strengthened our commitment to choose a bilingual school for her.
Our main goal for Emma is to not only achieve good learning results, but also to become a well-rounded, independent teenager.

The G20 summit helped Hangzhou become a genuinely international city and we were lucky to find an outstanding bilingual school right here in our home city. In fact, before choosing Huili, we visited several different schools in Hangzhou. We visited Huili twice; once for the Meet the Master parent information session and once for a Junior High thematic information session. We were deeply impressed by the preparation and organisation of both events. I remembered that during the session, several parents were concerned about the criteria used for teacher selection and from what I can see, the school does set very high requirements for teachers.

Meeting Challenges in a Pleasant Learning Environment

After school started, Emma fitted into the new environment very quickly. She likes her teachers and classmates a lot. She often misses her classmates during the holidays and wants to go back to school as early as possible. Every time I walk into the campus, Emma’s classmates will walk over to greet me and give me a warm smile. It is brilliant to be part of a caring and supportive community!

What has surprised me the most this year, is that Emma has become fond of doing homework. At Huili, Emma’s favorite subjects are mathematics and Chinese. During classes, the teachers encourage everyone to be different and creative. Writing is not a struggle anymore, as every pupil is able to express their own thoughts and opinions. After studying in the school for just over a term, Emma’s composition has become natural and smooth, with deep meaning expressed clearly.

Positive change is not achieved overnight. Emma did well in English tests in her previous school, but when she entered Huili, she encountered great challenges with the classes taught in English such as science. Emma and I were a little anxious at that time.
As a parent, the best I could do was cover up my anxiety, communicate more with teachers and help Emma find an effective solution. Through extra English tutoring and school support, she managed to make significant progress in her language skills, which resulted in better grades in science.  There is still a need to improve her spoken English, and both Emma and I are confident that she will continue to improve rapidly through the wide range of activities provided by school that allow her to practice her English, such as the Model United Nations.

Learning to be Independent through Boarding

Boarding at Huili School Hangzhou is the first time Emma has lived on her own, so I felt a little bit worried at the beginning. However, during our initial visits, we were deeply impressed by the warm and welcoming environment of the boarding school. Ms. Armstrong, the Boarding Mistress, is a kind person. She also has clear ideas and high standards for the management of boarders. Every week, she sends an email to communicate with parents about the latest activities and news about the boarding school, which helps parents stay connected. This helps me feel relieved. Parents now are not allowed to go into the dormitory to clean their child’s room and unpack luggage for their children. This is the responsibility of the children, the aim is to encourage the children to be more independent. Teachers at the boarding school will offer help if needed.

Emma has made significant progress after several months of boarding life. Now she is able to change her own bedding and manage her time efficiently. I am grateful to the school for giving me a chance to allow my daughter to grow up.

Meeting Challenges in a Pleasant Learning Environment

Although Emma lives at school and comes home once a week, I don’t feel estranged from her. On weekends, we chat together. The Huili School Hangzhou official WeChat account is also an important way for me to know more about the school activities.

At Parent Teacher Conferences, teachers of all subjects communicate with me one-on-one, providing practical advice based on Emma’s individual situation. For example, the PE teacher told me that the focus of last semester was swimming and he recorded every bit of Emma’s progress. In addition, both her strengths and weaknesses were recorded in a final report, which moved me profoundly as a parent.

The art teacher is also attentive. At the parent meeting, he explained Emma’s character and her own way of expressing emotions to me in detail through analysing every painting she created during the term. In addition, he combined art classes with themes that have been discussed in the English classroom, helping pupils to create thematic three-dimensional pictures. This ensures pupil learning is transferable between subjects, which encourage pupils to develop a real passion for learning.

We really enjoyed the Chinese New Year Activity Day event. Emma grew up in the city and had few chances to experience traditional celebration activities. The school prepared such interesting activities on campus, so that pupils were able to experience profound Chinese culture. As a bilingual school, Huili does not only focus on developing our pupils’ global mindsets, but also focus on deepening their understanding of the rich heritage and culture of China, which is exactly what we want.