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Sarah frei webSarah Frei comes from England. After a BA at UCL followed by an MA at Exeter University, she headed to multilingual Switzerland to put her language skills to use.

In her many years at Brillantmont International School, a day and boarding school in Lausanne with a British IGCSE /A Level programme and an American High School programme for 11-18 year olds, Sarah‘s roles have considerably evolved, to reflect the fast-moving world in which we live. She started out teaching English language and literature before becoming Head of Marketing and Communication.

Sarah is responsible for all marketing, branding, communication and school events and also looks after the 4000-strong alumni network.

She is excited by the opportunities created by technology not only to communicate with the multicultural, far-flung school community but also to share knowledge and experiences about educational practice. At the heart of all those activities lies the driving force – the desire for each child to develop their full potential.

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By Sarah Frei, Brillantmont International School

It’s that time of year again when exams dominate the horizon of many young people. For them, the next few weeks are synonymous with stress and hard work. Keeping a cool head, sticking to a well-organised revision schedule and taking time out to relax are key to a balanced approach. Read our top tips for exam success here:

Start revision sooner rather than later.
Don’t put off exam preparation until you really feel the pressure or your teachers and parents start nagging. By planning ahead and reviewing the materials as you go along, the weeks leading up the exams will be a lot easier. Your confidence will be boosted and you’ll be starting from a good place.

Develop study groups.
Your teachers may offer after school study groups covering particular topics or you may choose to set up such a group with your peers. Working together with friends, in person or via What’s App, can be a useful way to revise and test each other, as long as you clearly define boundaries (so you don’t end up simply chatting!).

Constantly review.
This learning strategy applies to the whole school year and not just to examination time. Whenever you learn something new, go over it at home in the following days to ensure that you have fully understood it. If not, ask you teacher for clarification. If you do this on a regular basis, you won’t come across huge chunks of material which you feel unsure about.

Take notes.
The act of writing notes helps us retain information. Notes are essential to revision. Make them as visual as you need, using spider diagrams, mind-maps and workflows in different colours. Whether you use glorious technicolour or simply black and white, clear, condensed notes should provide effective knowledge triggers in all subject areas.

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By Sarah Frei, Brillantmont International School

Hard as it is to think about school when the sun burns bright above, it is nevertheless that time of year again when children are sharpening their pencils, packing their bags and worrying about what to wear on the first day back. Indeed, some may already be back in the classroom.

I'm lucky: my own two children love school and even during the first week of July were talking about the next school year, when frankly I was fed up with hearing the « s » word. However, for many children, returning to school can be a huge source of anguish, giving them a twisted knot in the pit of their stomachs. The root cause may have nothing at all to do with the learning: rather, the fears that torment them are about fitting in, popularity, being one of the crowd.

Middle School students are at a particularly vulnerable age. Look around any Middle School classroom and you'll see what I mean. The flat chested thirteen year old sits next to the eleven year old who still likes to play with Barbies but who struggles to accept that she already has the fully developed body of a grown woman. As for the boys, the one hunched up in the corner, attempting to hide the glaring pimples barely concealed in the dark stubble covered behind his hand, clearly eats industrial strength fertiliser every morning since he grows at least 5cm every night. His neighbour, meanwhile, would be blown over by a sudden gust of wind.

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By Sarah Frei, Brillantmont International School

Next time you go to a restaurant with your children, take a look around and I'm sure you'll recognise the following scenario. There'll be the parents, smart phones firmly out of sight, trying to engage their children in discussions as varied as sports training, Justin Bieber, braces and organising homework. Their children cast envious gazes towards the neigbouring table at which conversation has long died a death, with mum, dad and everyone else hooked to their screens. Then, there'll be the family where, keen to be fair, each child is allowed 5 minutes on the smart phone in between courses- very equitable in theory but in reality a second by second countdown resulting in arguments about who’s had longest.

Sound familiar? As to which family's approach is right, you can be the judge of that.

The reality is that none of us has all the answers when it comes to technology and the big question of technology in schools is something of a hot potato.

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By Sarah Frei, Brillantmont International School

The sun is shining and it’s that time of year when we’re all thinking ahead to the long awaited summer holidays, daydreaming of a break in the routine, whether in colder or warmer climes.

Swiss Public schools break for summer in the next couple of weeks, but children in private schools, may already be on holiday. This means a break of anything between 7 to 12 weeks, depending on the kind of school they attend.

Some would argue that having worked hard all year and in some cases prepared successfully for examinations, children deserve to spend their holiday weeks lounging around. Of course, we all need some rest and relaxation, but there’s no reason why the summer holidays should mean switching off completely. Let’s not forget too, that many working parents may have limited or no holidays so they put their childcare juggling skills to the test!

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By Sarah Frei, Brillantmont International School

With examinations looming on the horizon, many students are looking ahead, considering the next stage in their academic life. Many of the international curricula offered in Swiss private schools provide an element of choice with regard to subject combinations  and therein lies the difficulty. If you’re agonising over which course to choose, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Choose subjects you enjoy
Maybe your Dad is an incredible mathematician whilst mum’s a talented biologist. You want to keep them both happy,but what you really enjoy is history and languages. In that case, go for it! For the next two years, you‘ll be devoting a lot of energy and possibly a few sleepless nights to the subjects you choose, so the least you should do is like them! Choosing subjects to please others risks leaving you frustrated, unhappy and quite simply, out of your depth. Similarly, don’t choose a subject just because your best friend has chosen it !