The highly unique curriculum of the Primary Program is rooted in coursework in the liberal arts and sciences and emphasizes connections between disciplines. As such, in grades 1–3, math and science are taught together in a daily 85-minute block, and a daily 85-minute humanities block covers topics from history, culture, civics, grammar, and more. Students also have a full schedule in the arts, with weekly 85-minute classes in fine arts, music, and performing arts. The curriculum helps students discover new ways of thinking and understanding the world around them through courses such as engineering and Mandarin. A weekly 85-minute course called Connections presents students with scenarios that require them to put their knowledge to work in new, unexpected ways in order to find a solution. See our connections tab for more about this unique class.
Grade 4, which is part of the Bridge Years, is a year of transition from making connections in class to building the skills to make connections organically. Classes are no longer taught in integrated 85-minute blocks, but rather follows the shorter class period model seen in upper grades. Instead of the primary Math & Science course, students have separate classes for these disciplines. Similarly, English and history are also taught as distinct subjects, along with engineering, Mandarin, performing arts, visual arts, music, and physical education. Academic Enrichment is introduced, which offers students time to work with teachers on questions, get a start on homework, and review material.
Each major topic within a course is “spiraled,” or readdressed, throughout the grade levels with each re-introduction increasing in complexity and reinforcing what was previously learned. A clear example of this is in mathematics, where, for example, the learning of simple addition and subtraction facts is made more complex by adding multiple digits, then growing into complex multi-step word problems, all the way to the highly advanced math in the High School Program.
Above all, our program in the Primary Years is designed to stoke the fire of a love of learning in students in an exciting period of their educational journey.