How the Teaching Methods of Private school Differs from Normal schools

Private school Singapore uses the international baccalaureate system of teaching for their students. This involves an enquiry-based learning that is much more flexible than the general methods of learning that have been used in public schools for many years. This is a superior method of learning that helps the child understand what they are learning in a more application based method. The lessons are more integrated and the child is able to understand all of the subjects across the curriculum more easily. This method of teaching helps the students to take more responsibility for their learning, the processes that are involved and also the outcome of what they have learned. If you are looking for an private school to enroll your child in, do check out GESS International School for more information of their outstanding curriculum and teaching style.

The Theory of the Enquiring Minds Method

Adopting such a learning method empowers the students to gather knowledge through the things they see and touch. The students are allowed to explore and raised questions as they try to understand the different forces that help to shape their life. While reading books are a good way to attain knowledge, the theory of enquiring allows one to remember what was taught more effectively.

The Enquiry Cycle

The enquiry cycle adopts a four-stage method that helps both the students as well as the teachers to visualize the progress that they are making in that particular activity. These stages include

Initiating and elicitating

Defining and responding

Doing and making

Communicating, evaluating, and presenting

This model is effective for the teachers to monitor the progress of the child as compared to the last time they checked in. It allows the teachers to plan for the lesson in the following classes to sharpen the skills that the child is performing poorly in. At the end of the day, the success of the IB learning method that is being used in international preschools in Singapore is based on the extent to which the students are allowed to be the creators of their own knowledge that is relevant to them.

How Does This Method Of Teaching Differ From Others?

Most people assumes that the enquiring minds method of teaching just involves the teacher letting the student loose on their own devices to figure out what they can and learn what they want. But this is not true, this method of teaching requires very skilled teachers that know the basic aim of this method. The need to know how to incorporate the lessons that are mandatory in the curriculum of this form of learning. Unlike other schools where the teacher only lectures the students about the different topics and then takes an examination at the end of the term, this method requires constant evaluation and application so that the teacher knows the students have learned what was to be taught. The students are able to do this on their own terms and due to the fact that they are not pressurized with the stress of an exam, they are able to ask more questions and understand the topic at a deeper level. The subjects of these curriculum are the building blocks on which the students base their enquiries. Even simple questions like how school dinners can be improved will help the children learn topics such as the economy, history, geography, and also science. Most of the topic will need an interdisciplinary approach that helps the child learn many subjects through a single assignment.

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Learning a new language without forgetting it in a few months

Learning a new language is not on the bucket list of a lot of people. And this is because they don’t really know how learning a new language can improve the quality of their life. Well, it might surprise you to know that there are mind-blowing benefits associated with learning a new language.

If you are keen to pick up a new language with an established school, Berlitz Language School provides a wide range of courses for you. They are a long established brand, and if you are serious about learn language school Singapore you can check them out above.

The following article by Anne Merritt discusses some reasons why you should learn a foreign language as well as the benefit associated with bilingualism.

Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism

Why should you go through the pain of learning a new language, when you can settle for the one that you are currently speaking? Learning a foreign language is more than just a boost to your CV or handy for traveling. It will make you smarter, more decisive and even better at English, says Anne Merritt.

It might surprise you to know that some Physiological studies have found that speaking two or more languages is a great asset to the cognitive process. The brains of bilingual people operate differently than single-language speakers, and these differences offer several mental benefits.

Below are seven cognitive advantages to learning a foreign language. Read more here.

You likely now know that learning a new language can improve every facet of your life and you probably want to learn a new language. But the thing is that learning a new language is really difficult. Even language experts find it very difficult to learn new languages.

The following article by Silvia discusses some valuable tips that will help you in your language learning journey.

12 languages later, my best tips for learning a foreign language

Learning a new language can be very difficult, but it does not have to be for you. As the saying goes- the best way to walk through a minefield is to walk on the footstep of others. You can learn a lot from Silvia who has studied 12 foreign languages. And if you’ve never learned a foreign language, maybe take this post as a sign that now is the time to start! Read more here

You definitely now know a tip or two that can help you learn a new language. But how can you prevent yourself from forgetting the language you are going to learn?

The following article by Benny Lewis discusses why it is very easy to forget a language and tips that will prevent you from forgetting any language.

Forgetting a language: why it happens and how to avoid it

OK, so you have put in the time and can now speak a language at a confident level. But maybe the course that helped to get you there has ended, or your stay abroad is over and it’s time to go home.

What do you do to make sure that you don’t forget that language? Read more here.

Learning a new language has life-changing benefits. Of course, it is going to be difficult at some point but if you push on, things are going to get better. After learning a new language there is a high tendency that you are going to forget about it, if you don’t use it for some time, but if you have a friend who speaks your new language or you joins a club where the new language you learned is spoken, you will never forget about it.

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How to Choose the Right Private School in Singapore?

The city-state of Singapore is home to a large expat community that thrives amongst the other, vibrant communities. Whether or not your family will be living in Singapore for very long, the island’s international schools are some of the best in the world. Modern infrastructure and a happy community are two factors that help make Singapore’s school system consistently ranked in the top global rankings. International schools are considered the best option by many expats relocating to Singapore, and there are several qualities that influence a child’s success at each school. One of the best international school is GESS Private Primary School who provides a holistic teaching curriculum for your child. Feel free to ask them any questions if it will help you feel more confident in finding the right school for your child. Below are some things to consider when choosing the best international school:

1. Curriculum – Will you be living in Singapore for only a few years? Will your child attend school somewhere else, possibly in your family’s home country? Students need a stable learning environment, and the curriculum taught at their school is fundamental to their learning experience. Secondary schools offer international programmes that help make the transition between schools easier for students, and some schools offer specific curriculum based on a national standard. Ask for specific details of the school’s curriculum, and look for accreditation. Learn about the daily routine of students at the school, and how much homework is assigned each day and each week. The school’s administration should also have a plan in place for teachers to communicate with parents about their child’s progress, and you should ask questions about this process to learn more about how the school functions.

2. Student body – Are the students happy and excited to be at school? Do the teachers seem enthusiastic to work at the school and to teach the material? Is the school’s community diverse and supportive? The globalised economy has created a new style of living for families across the world, and international schools aim to prepare students for the future by supporting a diverse community where new ideas and cultures can be shared. When visiting schools, ask how new families have adjusted to moving to Singapore, and learn about the community of families that go to the school. It is important to understand the energy and environment of the school, and will help you decide if it is a good match for your family.

3. Co-curriculum – Does the school offer sports programmes? What is the emphasis on foreign language development? Are the arts supported at this school? To garner a well-rounded education, students need to explore a diverse range of topics that include other areas of interest outside of core academics. Competitive international schools will provide other learning opportunities outside of the classroom where students can discover new passions and interests. At the best private schools, the educators are dedicated to providing educational excellence and a stable learning environment for students to develop mentally, emotionally, and academically. The close-knit community at these school’s fosters European cultures and traditions, while respecting the children’s home languages by offering native language and foreign language programmes for all ages. The goal for every child at Singapore’s private schools is to gain the best possible education, instilling a passion for learning, appreciation for life, and a moral compass to ensure their future is a success.

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Jumpstarting the education process of your kid becomes easy with pre-schooling

Education is a very important pillar upon which the edifice of a person’s life can be built. But unfortunately, not everyone is able to get good education. If you want to provide your kid with the best education, you should lay a strong foundation for it. Experts recommend that by beginning the process of giving education to your kid with pre-schooling, you can lay a strong foundation for his future studies.

Of course, the infant care centre in Singapore in which you have been leaving your kid till now may have instilled some confidence into him. He may have learned to convey his basic needs better. Similarly, he may have become a little more independent. In other words, he may be ready to move on to the next stage of having his education in a pre-school.

But there are parents who are of the notion that they can skip the step of pre-schooling and directly admit their children in a kindergarten school. This may be a wrong decision because a kindergarten school is more structured than a pre-school. So, when your kid faces the sudden shock of experiencing such a new environment, he may find it difficult to transition to it.

On the other hand, if you get your kid admitted in a pre-school, the teachers in the school will hand-hold your kid and make the process of transitioning to a structured environment smooth. In fact, the teachers and other staff of a good pre-school may have been trained so suitably that they will use subtle methods for enabling your child to adjust to the new ambiance. In other words, the teachers will not adopt pushy ways and create pressure-like situations for sapping the confidence of your kid. In short, you can jumpstart the education process of your kid by putting him in a pre-school. Let us elaborate further on this.

1. Young children do not know anything about determination, commitment, and perseverance though experts point out that children in general have a lot of perseverance. Everyone knows that these qualities alone can help people succeed in their life. But how can you impart these traits into your kid? The first step is to put them in a pre-school. Though teachers of pre-schools will help kids in their learning process, the kids, on their part, should also put forth their efforts. It is only with the help of their determination and perseverance they can learn. When the teachers motivate them suitably, they will automatically and even without their knowledge, will become determined for learning what they are taught.

2. There will be a number of fun activities in a pre-school. This means that children can enjoy the process of their learning. This habit is likely to stick with them and will help them even when they grow up. Whether they land in a job or take up a profession or entrepreneurship, they will have fun doing their tasks. This attitude will bring the best out of them.

3. Teachers and other staff of pre-schools will educate the kids in such a manner that the children will learn to cooperate with each other. So, when they grow up as adults, they will find it easy to work as a team. Since the output of a team depends upon how each team member coordinates their tasks with those of others, the kids will learn to coordinate with the other children in whatever activities they involve themselves in.

4. Most importantly, the social skills of the kids will get a big boost thanks to their exposure to strangers. No one will deny the fact that nowadays, social skills are an integral part of the education system. All along, the kids have been living in the cozy ambiance of their homes and when they suddenly come across unknown people, they may feel uncomfortable. But the teachers of good pre-schools will help them surmount this discomfort so they will start mingling with other kids and the staff of the schools without any fear.

In short, you can jumpstart the education process of your kid by admitting him in a good pre-school.

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Merits of Speech Therapy for Kids

 

Today several parents are choosing speech therapy as their preference for better assistance for communication for their children. Speech therapy for children is a process to improve verbal communication. In this process stress is given to the understanding capability of a child to words using various tools.

Most of us do not understand the importance of speech therapy. When we see that our children are capable of speech, we do not bother much about what’s next. But there are several underlying patterns that are indicators for the requirement of a speech therapy. A child may lack understanding of words and in certain cases pictures. The comprehending power of the child may be stunted, which we as parents may not understand. In such situation, we require speech therapy.

One quick way to seek professional assistance would be to approach Leapfrogs Children Therapy Center for their speech therapy services.

Speech therapy-Desired Outcomes
The primary goal of this therapy is to provide improved coordination of the speech muscles through various coordination exercises, imitation and repetition of sounds. Speech therapy aims to improve fluency through breathing exercises. It also assists in improving the communication between the brain and the body through auditory and visual aids. It enhances the capability of a child to learn language through language stimulation and the use of language through positive reinforcements.

Every child is unique and the outcome of speech therapy is different for each of them basis the level of their abilities and the challenges they are facing. A speech therapy has no definite length. It varies from child to child. To get the desired outcome, you must understand the level of complexities of the problem your child is facing.

What Benefits Does Speech Therapy Offers?
The speech therapy offers several benefits to improve the communication skills of the child effectively. Here are a few benefits it offers.
• Improves the ability to understand and express thoughts, feelings and ideas.
• Increases the fluency in speech of a child.
• The speech of the child becomes intelligible so he or she is understood by all.
• The child’s ability to independently solve a problem improves.
• Rise in self-esteem.
• Increases the readiness of the child for school.
• Improvement in the swallow function of the child.
• Development in social skills required in practical life.
• Development of pre-literary skills.

Facts About Speech Therapy
If you are planning to choose for speech therapy for your child, there are few important facts that you should know.
• Speech therapy is done by speech specialists. These specialists offer private therapy tailored to the child’s need. You may talk about it with your speech therapist if you want private classes.
• Certain institutes offer instant evaluations for you to understand where your child stands, such evaluations will help you to decide whether your child requires such a therapy.
• Speech specialists offer therapy during summer breaks and during any other school breaks. This allows you as a parent to manage your child’s time properly without any miss in school, activities or simply some fun time.
• Speech therapy also consults with the parents and siblings to make it a team effort of the family. It is with the help and support of the parents and siblings that a child can overcome the speech difficulties.

The ability to express oneself properly is of paramount importance to any individual. Unable to express oneself can be often frustrating and a long-term problem that can affect life and career when the child grows old. Speech therapy is the solution to improve the ability of your child to understand and communicate. Delaying speech therapy runs the risk of missing the important window in your child’s age when this problem could have been rectified with less effort. As the brain matures rapidly, choosing speech therapy at a very young age can bring in effective results. Help your child gain self-esteem and confidence with speech therapy today!

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The importance of concentration in a child’s development

 

 

Concentration is like a muscle that requires regular exercise to strengthen. Some kids are born “stronger” in this area than others, but all kids can learn strategies and engage in practices that help improve their ability to focus and sustain their attention. This is, after all, a very important skill for kids to acquire—school demands that students concentrate for long stretches of time, and as kids get older, they have extracurricular activities after school that requires even more concentration. Most children can concentrate on activities that are fun and intrinsically enjoyable. It’s the ones that are more boring, difficult or just less enjoyable that challenges their focus. This ability to concentrate and sustain attention on all kinds of tasks is crucially important because it helps kids learn and improve, which leads to self-confidence and positive self-esteem.

Here are some tips to help your kids build their concentration muscles:
• Set aside a reasonable amount of time for your child to practice focusing on a specific task. Young children (age 4-5) can usually concentrate for somewhere between 5 and 20 minutes, depending on the task—less time with novel and challenging tasks, and more time with those intrinsically enjoyable activities.
• Do one thing at a time. We may praise the ability to multitask in our adult lives, but the research is clear: multitasking reduces concentration and diminishes our performance. In line with the concept of mindfulness, do one thing at a time in this one moment. For very young children, you might simply sing the alphabet together while looking at the letters. For children who are a little older, say 4th grade, you can complete one long division problem at a time together. Don’t look ahead at all the other problems, just focus on one at a time.
• Set aside homework time and space. Because multitasking impairs concentration, it’s important to reduce extraneous distractions. For example, do homework at a designated desk or table in a quiet room with the TV off, the phone in another room, and the laptop shut unless it’s needed to complete a homework assignment. Parental monitoring programs can automatically shut down Internet access after a set amount of use. As kids get older, parents can shift to using self-monitoring software so teens can independently manage their time. This way kids don’t get sucked into a time vortex on Instagram or Snapchat.
• Build in planned breaks. Kids need to get up, move around, and do something different and not too taxing after spending some time concentrating. They will benefit from taking some time to rest and recharge, especially during after-school homework time. Younger children can take a snack or play break, and teens can take the opportunity to check out their friends’ posts or text with peers.

• Practice belly breathing. Steady, diaphragmatic breathing slows our heart rate and clears our mind so we can concentrate. This is an important skill for kids to have when they’re confronted with challenging tasks, which can make them anxious and spike their heart rate. Anxiety leads to avoidance, the opposite of concentration. So finding ways to make tasks more approachable is important, and calming the body is one of those strategies.
• Break big tasks down into smaller, more manageable pieces. This is another strategy for helping children to approach a challenging task. If your child is learning to tie her shoes, make the first goal to master the initial knot, then move on to making two loops with the strings until she knows exactly how to do that, and so forth. Another “piecemeal” strategy for building concentration is to use a timer to help kids organize themselves, e.g., “Here’s a book about horses. I’m going to set this timer for 15 minutes, and I want you to write down as many facts about horses as you can in this time.”
• Practice observing things at the moment. Kids can be distracted by “internal stimuli,” like physical sensations or entertaining memories. While a child’s imagination is a wonderful thing, we also want them to be able to clear away distractions and build the ability to concentrate. You can play “I spy with my little eye…” and take turns making observations of various objects in the room, listen closely to the lyrics of a song together, or do some yoga poses and pay attention to how it feels in the body.

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TYPES OF ENRICHMENT CLASSES

Your pre-schooler might be young, but his or her time is already precious. At this juncture, your child is gradually trading in his or her play time for classroom lessons, which means that he or she is challenged with adapting to both an education system as well as to new foreign environments. However, enrichment classes for toddlers in Singapore have been proven to impart skills, pearls of wisdom and values that a child retains for the rest of his or her life, so choosing the right classes is of paramount importance.

A childs instinct is to play, which is active and liberal learning, but he or she might be less inclined to enjoy classroom lessons, whose rigid structures are less likely to appeal to young minds. The perfect solution to this dilemma is enrolling ones pre-schooler in engaging classes where he or she can enjoy open-ended learning. Here are five types of English enrichment classes for toddlers in Singapore that might entice your child with both their elements of fun as well as their inviting natures:

Reading workshops

The ultimate springboard for pre-schoolers, reading workshops not only prepare their participants for primary or elementary school, but they also cultivate better reading prowess within young minds. The depth of our reading skills is largely shaped in our childhood, which influences our negotiation of tasks and triumphs for the rest of our lives. Is your child reading effectively and efficiently? Ones reading skill and ones writing proficiency, which the former of which inevitably determines the latter, are both continually crucial throughout an individuals education and career. You can develop in your pre-schooler good grammar, comprehension and storytelling skills, articulation and most importantly, a love for reading through a preschool enrichment course.

Writing workshops

Not just any writing workshop, but a comprehensive English enrichment class for kids that incorporates creative writing can do wonders for your pre-schooler. While good writing skills can help your child effectively engage target readers, be it in a pivotal examination or a college application, they also improve a persons emotional intelligence when engaging others in conversation. Most vitally, opt for a writing class that stirs a childs imagination. Good writing comprises of numerous skills and is a lifelong work-in-progress (take it from this writer), so give your pre-schooler an early head start and the most enjoyable start possible, so that he or she will associate writing with joy.

Theatre

Acting is a passion that needs to be tried to be uncovered. Pre-schoolers have been observed to develop a positive self-image, as well as a deeper respect for others and themselves, as a result of attending theatre enrichment classes.Children who take part in theatre grow up more imaginative and more interested in creating, as well as exhibit better communication skills along with social and emotional intelligence.

Cooking Class

Not everyone realizes how much cooking refines a journeymans conscientiousness, awareness of ones surroundings, emotional intelligence, multitasking capabilities and personal organization. Cooking might not involve advanced technology or literacy, but this seeming blue-collar task is undeniably intertwined with observation, inquiry, thinking, management, communication, and presentation, in that order.

Cultural programs are meant to give children a better grasp of whom they are and where their families come from. Multifaceted activities can help a pre-schooler sharpen his or her second language capabilities, and endow him or her with additional skills like calligraphy along the way. Culture appreciation classes develop within its participants a love for the arts, as well as a love for his or her own culture, through fun activities like pottery and painting, while his or her young mind is gradually making sense of the world. If your pre-schooler struggles with his or her mother tongue, a culture appreciation class might just be the most enjoyable solution.

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The importance of a preschool’s curriculum

It is no doubt that your child needs professional help in order to develop in a healthy way. All this is not possible within the family. There is a need of a learning environment and experts for the achievement of this goal. There are several factors that are considered while selecting the right preschool for children. These factors include the consideration of the physical environment, proximity, qualification of teachers, values, the policies and others. Apart from these, there is an important factor which is most of the time ignored by parents and this factor is the curriculum.

Things to look in the preschool curriculum:

The curriculum of the preschool will include the list of concepts and activities your children will perform in order to learn. Every preschool in singapore has different objectives. On the basis of these objectives, the curriculum for every class is developed. While selecting the preschool for children, it is essential to consider their curriculum. Curriculum needs to be focused on the points that children are able to learn at that specified age. Also, make sure they are in accordance with their childs capacity.

The learning in the preschool can be effective only when the curriculum is designed in an effective way. It should focus on three essential points. The first one will be the starting point at which the child will be introduced to the educational system. The second one is the building of concepts on the pillars they already know. This will be a relevant approach to consider. Last but not the least; the curriculum should be focused on matching the needs of young. As in preschool, they will be getting introduced to the educational system; there is a need to go from easy to difficult.

Here are some signs that should be considered to find out if the curriculum of a certain preschool is effective or not:

The curriculum of preschool for children should focus on the back to back activities. Children of the preschool will be in a phase where they will not be able to sit quietly. They need to do anything every time so the curriculum must fulfill the need.

All the activities and the opportunities provided to kids must be effective for their learning process. No matter if they are playing with the blocks, props for the pretend play, toys, matching games, pegboards or puzzles; they must learn new concepts with each play. These should be focused on their learning.

As far as the role of teachers is concerned, it should be authoritative. Instead, the role of teachers needs to be friendly. They should cooperate with the kids and guide them in every possible way for the completion of some task. It is their responsibility to look after kids and solve all their problems.

There is a need to decorate the surroundings of the class with the real work of the kids. In this way, they will be able to know that their talent is acknowledged. As a result, they will get the right motivation to do more.

The learning of alphabets and numbers is sometimes the most complex task for the kids. They have to spend a lot of time and effort on this process. There is a need to make this process easier by including these in their daily routine tasks.

The best curriculum is the one that provides the best learning experiences to children in an easy way. The world of animals, plants and meaningful activities like cooking will enhance their learning.

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WHY A CHILD NEEDS SOCIAL SKILLS THERAPY

A social skill is any skill facilitating interaction and communication with others and

social skills therapy for children help them acquire social skills they do not have or improve

their existing social skills.

Social rules and relations are created, communicated, and changed in verbal and nonverbal ways. The process of learning these skills is called socialization,

when a child has social skill difficulties, they might also have difficulties with:

Behaviour: The childs actions, usually about their environment (e.g., a child may engage in a behaviour, such as refusing to go to social events including birthday parties or engage in inappropriate behaviours, such as tugging on a peers hair or yelling at someone to get their attention).

Sensory processing: The child may have trouble attending or focusing and have difficulty interpreting the information they receive from the environment.

Completing academic work (e.g., the child may misinterpret verbal or written instructions for tasks and struggle with imaginative writing).

Receptive (understanding) language: Comprehension of language.

Expressive (using) language: The use of language through speech, sign or alternative forms of communication to communicate wants, needs, thoughts, and ideas.

Articulation: Clarity of speech sounds and spoken language.

Fluency: The smoothness or flow with which sounds, syllables, words, and phrases are produced when talking.

Voice: The sound that we hear when someone talks which are unique to each person.

Self-regulation: The ability to obtain, maintain and change ones emotion, behaviour, attention, and activity level appropriate for a task or situation in a socially acceptable manner.

Executive functioning: Higher order reasoning and thinking skills.

What can be done to improve social skills?

Play with your child to help develop joint attention, turn-taking, shared interests, cooperation and appropriate play with toys.

Emotions: Help the child to understand and display their own emotions and to recognize these emotions in other people.

Empathy: Help the child to understand and recognize how other people are feeling in particular situations.

Social stories: These are stories which are used to teach children specific social skills that they may find difficult to understand or are confusing. The goal of the story is to increase the childs understanding by describing in detail a specific situation and suggesting an appropriate social response.

Social skill groups: These are groups run with the express purpose of mastering social interaction with others.

What activities can help improve social skills?

Visuals: Make up a poster of rules to remember when starting a conversation (e.g., using a friendly voice, making eye contact, using appropriate greetings, such as hello).

Role play: Practise playground/party scenarios where the child does not know anybody. Model and create a list of different things you can say:

To join others who are playing (e.g., Can I play too?).

To introduce yourself (e.g., Hi my name is .).

To politely negotiate with peers (e.g., I dont want that one. Can I have the blue car please?).

Sing songs, such as If youre happy and you know it to help teach a child about different emotions.

Masks: Make masks together to help improve eye contact.

Turn taking: Play turn taking games (e.g., board games) to encourage a child to say whose turn it is in the game (e.g., My turn, Your turn).

Games: Play board games with the child. Make sure the child is not always the winner so that they learn about losing in a game and can cope better when this happens with their peers.

Bean bag conversation: Throw a bean bag around a circle, and each child takes a turn to contribute to the conversation. Think of different ways to contribute to the conversation (e.g., ask a question, comment on what has been said, add something related to the topic).

Watch and comment: Role play different situations and comment about appropriate and inappropriate attempts of communication (e.g., standing too close or too far from another person, not using appropriate eye contact, interrupting a conversation).

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Trying to Put a Value on Sustainable Building

Sustainable building is making an ever-increasing impact on both the commercial and residential real estate markets.

In a survey of local home-building associations announced June 6, the National Association of Home Builders reported that in excess of 97,000 green houses have been built and certified by voluntary, builder-supported building programs nationwide since the mid-1990s.

That’s more than a 50 percent increase from the last survey of green homes: In 2004, the National Association of Home Builders Research Center counted 61,000 green homes in the United States.

Although the numbers still make up a small percentage of the total number of houses built each year, even in this slower market, green building has created a problem for the nation’s appraisers, and for the Appraisal Institute, the professional association celebrating its 75th anniversary next month:

How do you set a dollar value on green building? What short- and long-term effects will sustainable building have on the local and national real estate markets?

That’s something Thedi Wright Chappell is trying to sort out these days. Chappell, who grew up in Tennessee and Georgia, is an MAI based in Beaverton, Ore. While she and other appraisers have been trying to “create tools to evaluate ‘green,’ one of the main issues we have to deal with is what exactly are we talking about,” she said.

“Global warming has increased our awareness of sustainable building, but all of our references are for high-performing buildings and not sustainable ones,” she said in a recent interview. “We are moving toward sustainable buildings; however, we need to let people know what features make up those buildings and then, by using cost-benefit analysis,” determine the value reliably and easily.

Although the number of green buildings has been increasing, there still isn’t enough empirical data available yet to make accurate comparisons. Appraisers have to do lots homework to identify the benefits of sustainable building and their market value, she said.

An appraisal is based on the four forces of value: economic, environmental, social and governmental, and each of those forces must be present for an appraiser to make an accurate determination of value. Green building won’t revolutionize the appraisal industry, nor will it cause one of those forces of value to become a more valuable tool than the others in ascertaining value, she said.

Geography certainly is major determinant in placing a value on a feature of sustainable building, since what is valuable in one part of the country might not be as important in another part, she said.

Chappell focused on water conservation as a feature, pointing out that it would be much more important to an appraisal in a dry area such as Phoenix, with 7 inches of rain a year than Portland, Ore., which receives 37 inches of rain annually.

“Moreover, if green building is designed to improve indoor air quality, how do you measure the value of such an environment for a child who suffers from asthma,” she said.

Americans appear to be embracing green building and its features at a much faster rate than, for example, energy efficiency.

She cited a survey by Earth Advantage, a nonprofit organization in Portland, Ore., that focuses on green building. The survey found that 42 percent of the people interviewed would pay 10 percent or more for a $300,000 house for green features.

“While energy efficiency is cited as a concern, indoor air quality appears to be more important to the people who were surveyed,” Chappell said. It may be that people will expect that apartment buildings should be built with green features, and if a building doesn’t have those features a couple of years down the road, the value of the property could be discounted because of it.

Energy-efficiency might not be as important as a measure of value until higher prices begin to hurt the more fortunate, who can afford recent increases in the price of electricity and gas. On the other hand, large commercial buildings tend to be more energy efficient — taking advantage of solar energy, for example, because corporations tend to believe they will be seen in a bad light by consumers if they don’t use this technology to reduce consumption and costs, she said.

“The four forces of value determine the highest and best uses of a property,” she said. In ordinary circumstances, the appraiser has comparable properties to help make that determination.

“In assessing the value of green building, without hard empirical data, the appraiser has to put a greater focus on the physical attributes of a property, because how the building is put together has an impact on its performance, and thus, its value,” Chappell said.

Geography, as was pointed out, is a major factor in the value of green building features, but “who the probable buyer of the building will be also will determine value,” she said.

“If the buyer will occupy the building, indoor air quality will be more of a determinant of value than if the buyer is planning to flip the property,” she said. “It comes down to what does the buyer want and the features the buyer values most?”

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Mortgage Rates Fall for Second Consecutive Week

McLEAN, VA — Freddie Mac (NYSE: fixed-rateFRE) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) in which the Fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 6.67 percent with an average 0.4 point for the week ending June 28, 2007, down from last week when it averaged 6.69 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.78 percent.

The 15-year FRM this week averaged 6.34 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 6.37 percent. A year ago, the 15-year FRM averaged 6.43 percent.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 6.30 percent this week, with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 6.31 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 6.39 percent.

One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 5.65 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 5.66 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 5.82 percent.

“Mortgage rates edged down slightly for the second week in a row after having risen over the previous month and a half, and as financial markets prepared for the June 28th Federal Open Market Committee’s announcement on monetary policy,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist.

“This week we saw further effects of the current housing recession. May’s existing home sales (including condominiums and co-ops) fell 0.3 percent to the slowest pace since June 2003, and the number of months houses were available for sale rose to 8.9, the longest since June 1992. In addition, home prices fell 2.1 percent in twenty metropolitan areas for the year ending April 2007, according to the S&P;/Case Shiller® composite index, the largest year-over-year drop since the data began in January 2001.”

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Appraisals and a Tale of Two States

The appraisal process is supposed to represent the independent valuation of properties by unbiased professionals, people paid for their opinion — whether their opinion is higher or lower than clients might like.

This idea that appraisers should stick to the truth does not necessarily make them the most popular folks in town. Independent views are great in theory, but sellers often would like to see higher estimates while buyers might prefer more conservative valuations. Loan officers, also, are among those who frequently prefer steeper valuations because elevated prices make it easy to reach loan-to-value ratios.

Because sales, commissions and fees are dependent on solid valuations, appraisers are often pressured to assure that a given value is reached. If pricing targets are not met, say appraisers, lenders may elect to go elsewhere for appraisal services. Not subtle, but perhaps effective.

Unfortunately, when prices rise to levels not justified by the marketplace we then have lenders making loans which are larger and riskier than they should be — what I call overlending. Buyers, in turn, face inflated monthly mortgage payments and thus a greater potential for poverty, foreclosure, and bankruptcy.

The Attorney General of Ohio, Marc Dann, has now announced suits against 10 companies alleging “undue influence on an appraiser.” The complaints allege that the accused companies had violated state laws by “knowingly compensating, instructing, inducing, coercing, or intimidating appraisers for the purpose of improperly influencing the independent process.”

“Allegations” are just that, not proof of anything — just ask a few former Duke University athletes. That said, you can imagine a lot of interested parties nationwide will be closely watching the Ohio cases — and that a lot of appraisers will now be taking contemporaneous notes when pressured by lenders, brokers, and consumers to come up with the “right” price.

Meanwhile, when we last left off with appraisals, the state of Arizona was threatening to sue Zillow.com unless the online site got an appraiser’s license.

Zillow provides estimated home values and says that such estimates are not appraisals. But regardless of what Zillow says, can their numbers be construed as being “appraisals” under state rules in Arizona?

Arizona has a remarkably-broad definition of the term appraisal. According to Arizona, an appraisal is defined as “a statement independently and impartially prepared by an individual setting forth an opinion as to the market value of real property as of a specific date and supported by the presentation and analysis of relevant market information.”

Now, however, Arizona has decided not to contest this matter in court. The solution? Change the law.

Senate Bill 1291 says you don’t need to be a licensed appraiser if you’re “a person who produces a statement that is provided to any other person concerning the estimated value of real property through an internet website, automated valuation or other software program or other means of comparative market analysis and who discloses that the estimate is not an appraisal.”

Sounds a lot like Zillow, doesn’t it?

If I was the author of such language, I would have said the disclosure must be in large type and in a prominent, highly visible location on the home page and elsewhere. I would also have said that to avoid being tagged as “appraisals” value estimates must be available to all without a fee or any actual or perceived requirement to disclose an individual’s name or contact information.

As of this writing, SB 1291 has passed the Arizona House and Senate. The bill has been sent to Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano for her signature.

An important point about the Arizona dispute is to understand that state regulators must follow the law. The Appraisal Board had no choice but to confront Zillow and it did. The inevitable and appropriate result was to change a law that does not work, rather than try to defend the indefensible in court. It would not be surprising to see other states now begin to revise outdated professional definitions.

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