Lower Primary School: The Early Years

At ISHR, our Lower Primary School section offers an English language program for local and international children between the ages of 3 - 6, with the goal of educating both heart and mind. We accept children with all levels of English language ability and have a talented team of EAL (English as an Additional Language) professionals who directly support children both in and out of the classroom. Students can join us in our Nursery program as they turn three years of age. Our experienced team of educators believes that young children learn most effectively through play, social interactions, and a rich variety of inquiry experiences. We offer small groups where learning is hands-on, support is individual, and children and cultures from all over the world are celebrated. Using the inquiry-based IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) and influenced by the philosophy and values of the schools of Reggio-Emilia, our educators work with students to problem-solve, question and reflect, and take action. Building phonemic awareness and pre-literacy skills as well as foundational skills for mathematics is woven into each day. Specialist teachers in the fields of art, music, physical education and library are an integral part of our program. Outdoor learning is also considered vital to our students’ development and children spend considerable time outside, rain or shine, each day.

General information

General information

Our Lower Primary School students, aged 3 - 6, follow the International Baccalaureate Organization’s Primary Years programme (IB-PYP).  The PYP empowers learners to lead a fulfilling and productive life as global citizens of a changing world.  It is based upon active learning experiences, creative problem-solving within authentic contexts, and a deep belief in the uniqueness and competencies of each learner.  Children are encouraged to ask, “Why?” and to form connections and to pursue their individual interests.  Each child’s abilities are developed to their highest potential in a nurturing, safe, stimulating and creative environment.  Classrooms and the materials offered are specifically tailored to meet the needs and spark the thinking of young children. The child is valued and enabled to discover and appreciate who they are, what they may become, and what they can contribute to the family, school, state, and the world.  ISHR teachers see themselves as partners in learning and in creating our classroom environments we take inspiration from the schools of Reggio-Emilia. Through the conscious use of color, space, light, displays of children’s work, and attention to nature and detail, the environment is considered to be a “Third Teacher.”

Native English speakers and English language learners spend their days together in a full English immersion program.  A skilled EAL (English as an Additional Language) team works alongside classroom teachers to support language development.  A weekly mother-tongue program enables many children to practice and celebrate their native tongues in the school context.  Language and literacy are taught in context, beginning with the development of phonemic awareness for our youngest learners.  A love of language, books, and stories is nurtured from a young age, enhanced with weekly visits to our school library where children can take out books to share at home.  The Lucy Calkins Readers and Writers Workshop model, as well as the Letters and Sounds Program provide a framework for our literacy teaching in the Lower Primary School.  

In addition to developing language and literacy abilities, the program covers the subjects of Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, Tinkering/Making, Art, Music, and Physical Education.  Within the context of the PYP units of study, children are exposed to the key concepts and approaches to learning embedded in the IB philosophy.  Outdoor learning is also vital to the program and the staff make use of the school’s playgrounds, learning gardens, and surrounding parks and forests on a daily basis.

At the core of our Lower Primary program is a commitment to developing children’s social and emotional skills.  Children learn how to kindly interact with others in a shared space.  They learn to value empathy, integrity, tolerance, and respect. By practicing Mindfulness and Yoga, children learn to find balance and to look inwards.  With a restorative justice approach to discipline, children learn to consider their mis-steps as opportunities to grow and learn.  Close collaboration with parents is essential and here again we are inspired by the educators of Reggio-Emilia who consider the parent to be a vital collaborator and partner in the educational process.  Teachers are always available for conversation and consultation, in addition to the more formal assessments, reports, and conferences shared throughout the school year. 

Useful Links

Useful PYP Links

There is a wealth of information available concerning the IB PYP Programme and about ISHR's curriculum and assessment policies. Below are a few links that we think are useful for parents:

What You Need to Know About the IB PYP Programme

PYP General Regulations

Rules for IB World Schools: PYP Programme

Curriculum Guide Early Years

Curriculum Guide Grades 1 and 2

ISHR Assessment Policy

Want to know more?

IB PYP Programme

The IB PYP focuses on the total growth of the developing child, encompassing social, physical, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academic development.

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Immersive learning

From our on-campus garden, to outdoor learning activities, to field trips, learning beyond the classroom is an essential component of an ISHR education.

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