Editor’s note: This week, we’re sharing a special guest post from Juli with bina, an online education platform that’s specially suited for expat children. Here’s what she has to say about this unique school option:
Beyond borders: navigating transnational education with bina
Louis grabs a blanket from his living room in Boston; Adela runs to get her sunscreen and hat from her bedroom in Costa Rica; Clea stuffs her backpack with a flashlight and her favorite snacks in Chile.
Bubbling with excitement, they all race back to their classroom to share what they’ve gathered for their imaginative collaboration project—”surviving in the desert”. After that, they’ll experiment with how sun or shade exposure affects evaporation using a sponge “cactus”. These three 5-year-olds come together daily to join their bina online class despite their geographic locations.
We’re making transnational education happen for people in their living rooms worldwide. Whether they’ve relocated to a new country, live in remote areas, or prefer a cozier educational setting, families turn to bina for a fresh approach to learning.
There are many reasons to pursue new schooling options, and navigating them can seem daunting. You might wonder, “How is bina different from other schooling options?”
bina is pioneering what we call “precision education”—a term we use to describe the balance of personalized education and standardized education. We’ve created a curriculum that exceeds the UK and Australia standards, as well as the U.S. Common Core. We delved deep into comparison to ensure we thoroughly covered them all. Then, we went on to dissect them into “micro-credentials.”
bina’s mapping of skills and knowledge allows students and their adults to look at learning evidence and plan the learning path accordingly. Students are supported and challenged according to their needs in each subject. The best part is that we’re internationally accredited, so bina students can easily transition to schools anywhere!
Research shows that thematic learning modules significantly improve the acquisition, retention, and application of knowledge and skills. We must view our planet through various lenses to craft educational content that suits students worldwide. To answer ‘Whose geography/ history/ culture/ arts/ legacy are we teaching?’ We decided to approach our curriculum in a way that transcends borders: biomes (e.g. tundra/rainforest/freshwater)! Our students study 8 different habitats across the globe, examining and deepening their understanding through a different “lens” of study each year. Currently immersed in the “desert” unit, students deep-dive into desert native populations, create desert-inspired music and engineer earthquake-resistant structures.
Tiny class sizes
We understand the importance of one-on-one teacher attention, but we also embrace the social aspect of education in a group setting. Small class sizes are our happy medium. There are up to seven students in a bina group, allowing the perfect amount of time for interaction between our students and their educator.
We group our students by time zones, so they share a daily rhythm easily. Every day, we teach students from the north to the south of the time zone, from Sweden to South Africa. We even have some families who toggle between time zones throughout the year.
Social-emotional learning as a foundation
One of the best things about bina is that we are laying the groundwork for our students to participate in lifelong learning and curiosity. A big part of bina—and daily life—is being able to interact with each other sensitively, talk about our emotions, and adopt a “growth mindset” towards everything we do. This week, our older students have been practicing how to debate kindly with one another.
Each group of students is matched with two educators, a master teacher and an assistant teacher. All our educators taught internationally before joining bina. They are native English speakers, highly educated, and masters of their craft.
- What grade levels does bina offer?
bina’s students are between the ages of 4 and 12. They navigate their learning journey according to their skills, knowledge and developmental phases rather than age. That means that our students are grouped with others who match their rhythm. We don’t have kindergarten; we have “cheetahs”, which may have 4, 5 and 6-year-olds working on building the same foundations- like writing a complete sentence with capitalisation and punctuation or adding within 20.
- What subjects does bina teach?
Our curated curriculum incorporates a range of elementary school topics. We teach literacy, numeracy, well-being, social-emotional learning, technical and social science, movement, and the arts. Our littlest learners also have a motor skills class.
- Is bina homeschooling?
bina is at-home-schooling but not homeschooling. It is an internationally accredited school with real-time daily lessons with teachers and peers. Students learn alongside their classmates and
with their educators. Parents can still get their favourite midday cuddle and ensure the highest quality of education with physical and psychological safety. We support families with short, actionable suggestions and actively listen and respond to their needs.
- Is bina legal in countries that don’t allow homeschooling?
bina is a fully accredited online school. However, whether your family can attend bina compliantly depends on your residency and the local rules. It’s best to research whether online schooling will work for your location, and we are happy to support you through this process.
Join us to learn how bina could be a good fit for your family, no matter where you are!