An Inclusive IB World School

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Lower School

Primary Years Programme


In Lower School our goal is to build on our students’ natural curiosity and eagerness to acquire and master new information by developing a solid foundation of cognitive skills and learning habits through our inquiry-based approach to learning.

Learning in Grades 1-5 incorporates a range of subject areas including Art, Language, Mathematics, Music, Personal, Social and Physical Education, Social Studies and Science.

By the end of 5th grade, our Lower School students advance to Upper School with not only a high level of academic and social skills, but also a sincere appreciation and understanding of what it means to be global citizens and culturally competent.



HIS is an IB Continuum School and uses the IB Learner Profile as a guide for developing student attributes so that we may nurture the ability of students to use a variety of necessary soft skills including communication, thinking, self-management, research, and social skills. Furthermore, we encourage mindful approaches to resilience, perseverance, inquiry, and being a principled and balanced individual.

The Lower School (Early Years – Grade 5) at HIS is currently following the principles and practices of the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP). The curriculum is transdisciplinary in nature, which incorporates subject learning of Math, Literacy, Social Studies, Science, the Arts, and Design/Computer Technology within thematic units of inquiry. In addition to these thematic units, lower school learning is supplemented with the Singapore Math, First Steps Literacy, Jolly Phonics and Kelso’s Choice Conflict Management and Character Building programs. Lower School instruction is also supported by specialists in the areas of physical education, arts, Mandarin and ESOL, learning support, design and library.

PYP model



Sample Lower School Schedules



Kindergarten HIS Schedule

Grades 1-5

Note: We implement a transdisciplinary approach to learning. Meaning, although subjects appear to be separate, each teacher addresses the same theme and central idea of each six-week unit. Teachers plan together, and work from the same Unit Planner (to be published to parents soon). Homeroom subjects are very fluid and often are intermixed. For example, Language Skills and Math are integrated daily into transdisciplinary learning. Language Skills units are coupled with Inquiry Unit themes. Language Skills blocks include both reading and writing.

Inquiry-based Learning

At HIS we follow an inquiry-based curriculum framework which was designed to meet the needs of families living in diverse international communities.

Our teachers design inquiry-based units which ensure rigorous learning, through a range of exciting, active and meaningful experiences for children. Learning at HIS takes a global approach; helping children to reflect on the similarities and differences between their home and host countries; embrace diversity, and consider multiple perspectives.

Our units of inquiry are based on transdisciplinary themes which run from Pre-School to Grade 5. In Pre-School and Pre-K teachers choose four of these themes as a basis for the Early Years Units of Inquiry.

Transdisciplinary Themes:

Who we are

An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.

Where we are in place and time

An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.

How we express ourselves

An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.

How the world works

An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.

How we organize ourselves

An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.

Sharing the planet

An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.

Key Concepts

Teachers design units which explore a Central Idea, and focus on up to three concepts. Our students are encouraged to ask questions and to pursue explorations into their own areas of interest. Learning experiences are designed to inspire children’s curiosity and creativity and to develop their ability to be well-rounded citizens of the world.


What's it like? - The understanding that everything has a form with recognizable features that can be observed, identified, described and categorized.


How does it work? The understanding that everything has a purpose, a role or a way of behaving that can be investigated.


Why is it like it is? The understanding that things do not just happen, that there are causal relationships at work, and that actions have consequences.


How is it changing? The understanding that change is the process of movement from one state to another. It is universal and inevitable.


How is it connected to other things? The understanding that we live in a world of interacting systems in which the actions of any individual element affect others.


What are the points of view? The understanding that knowledge is moderated by perspectives; different perspectives lead to different interpretations, understandings and findings; perspectives may be individual, group, cultural or disciplinary.


What is our responsibility? The understanding that people make choices based on their understandings, and the actions they take as a result do make a difference.


How do we know? The understanding that there are different ways of knowing, and that it is important to reflect on our conclusions, to consider our methods of reasoning, and the quality and the reliability of the evidence we have considered.

To read more about the IB Primary Years Programme, click here.

Lower School