Elementary School Curriculum
The goal of the Language Arts Program in Grades 1-5 is to continue to enrich young minds and to promote learning across the curriculum. Strong reading skills are developed through various sequential and structured reading programs and exposure to culturally diverse, award-winning literature. The use of a balanced reading program includes the development of strong decoding skills, vocabulary, comprehension strategies, and the attainment of fluency. Students are taught to be critical, purposeful, and careful readers, thinkers, and writers. Written work also stresses clear, neat handwriting, increasingly accurate spelling, and the use of appropriate rules of grammar and punctuation. Students in Grades 1-5 are beginning a rich tradition of oral communication. Through weekly “community time” and school performances, students actively participate in public speaking and presentations.
This intense focus on language arts is supported by a large amount of uninterrupted time where students practice their reading, writing and oral language skills. In addition, each classroom has “reading rotations” which allow students to work on their skills independently, in small groups, or with the classroom teacher at developmentally appropriate stages, giving each student the opportunity to learn at his or her level and to progress under a watchful eye. This style of learning not only encourages independent study but also self-expression.
Mathematics at DAIS utilizes a “spiraling” curriculum that takes students on a journey from the concrete to the abstract. Students learn mathematics through interactions in meaningful events. Using manipulatives, traditional computation, charts, graphs, geometry, games and units of measure, students build a solid mathematical foundation and methodically build on their knowledge year after year, constantly solidifying their skills. The program is both rigorous and balanced. Emphasis is placed on conceptual understanding while building mastery of basic skills and exploration of the full mathematics spectrum. Students learn through all major mathematical content domains—number sense, algebra, measurement, geometry, data analysis, and probability. Students use everyday, real-world problems and situations in the development of higher-order and critical-thinking skills. These skills and habits provide students with the keys to unlock sophisticated concepts.
From their earliest days at DAIS, develop familiarity and agility with numbers, learning how to count, beginning to work with money and computation, length, capacity, volume, weight and geometry. They are exposed to the earliest forms of mathematical concepts in their daily work with numbers, shapes and patterns. In Grades 1-5, students begin working with up to six-digit numbers, odd and even numbers, and continue their work with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. They collect and evaluate data, work with money and currency calculations, discover probability and chance, and master fractions. Problem solving throughout all content areas is at the core of the Elementary School mathematics program. Completion of the Elementary School curriculum allows for successful integration to the study of mathematics in Middle School.
The primary goal of the science program is to encourage students’ natural curiosity and sense of wonder. The best way for students to appreciate the scientific enterprise, learn important scientific concepts, and develop the ability to think well is to actively construct ideas through their own inquiries, investigations, and analyses. The curriculum is designed to teach students the scientific method of investigating phenomena. They begin the process by posing questions and then working either in small groups, with a partner or individually to perform experiments that test their hypotheses. Students analyze their results, summarize their findings in group discussions, and keep written records.
The scientific expedition in the Elementary School takes students from pebbles, sand and silt to balance and motion, and from magnetism and electricity to solar energy. Health and the workings of the human body are also important components of the science program. With each passing year, the curriculum becomes more advanced.
The lessons of the Elementary School science program provide a solid foundation for future study of biology, chemistry, physics and earth science. Students leave the Elementary School curious and prepared for more complex study in Middle and High School.
The social studies curriculum at DAIS uses a theme-based approach, exploring a variety of topics. Building and evolving at each grade level, study progresses through the grades students expand their awareness of the world in which they live. When students understand the smallest of worlds around them and how best to negotiate them, they can continually expand those worlds and their study of them.
The Elementary School social studies program introduces important concepts and generalizations from history, geography, and other social sciences through an integrated study of children and their families, homes, schools, neighborhoods, and communities. In the early years, students develop a foundation for the entire social studies program and a beginning sense of value as participating citizens. Students begin with their familiar environment and advance to families, homes, schools, neighborhoods and communities in other environments. The approach enhances students’ abilities to examine the perspectives of children in other places and times. Students learn to work in groups, to share, to respect the rights of others, and to care for themselves and their possessions. They acquire knowledge of history to understand the present and plan for the future. Social studies at this level provides students with the skills needed for problem solving and decision making, as well as for making thoughtful value judgments.
DAIS believes that visual arts education develops critical, creative and reflective thinking and problem solving. The visual arts provide a source of pleasure and enjoyment, and allow students to gain a deeper awareness of themselves, their place in history, culture and the world. In visual arts, the purpose of education is to enable the learner to become visually literate and expressive at a level consistent with their intellectual, emotional and physical development. To reach their potential for visual expression, students apply reading, writing and verbal skills, use mathematics as a tool for understanding time, space and quantity, integrate learning from other subject areas, and explore a discrete body of knowledge about the art discipline that entails facts, concepts, and skills.
Music education enables all learners to explore, create, perceive, and communicate thoughts, images, and feeling through music. Shared experiences in music also significantly contribute to the development of a healthier society through activities that respect and reflect the diversity of human experiences. Throughout the music curriculum, objectives progress from one grade level to the next, with growing sophistication. Students are provided the opportunity to develop literacy in music, including familiarity with the conventions of written music; explore, create and interpret self and global awareness through the study of music and the music traditions of various cultures; and develop discipline and confidence through experiences that require focused and sustained practice.
The mission of the computer education program is to integrate technology into the education process by creating an environment that allows all students to have optimum personal and educational growth through the infusion of appropriate technology into their daily school experiences. All students have opportunities to develop technology skills that support learning, personal productivity, and decision-making. Students are presented with a range of learning activities that allows for individual and group work. There will also be extended project work that allows students to locate, collect, and evaluate information from a variety of sources. In becoming technologically proficient, students develop skills over time, through all content areas, through integrated activities.
Host Country Language
The host country language studies program emphasizes an understanding and appreciation of the Mandarin language and Chinese culture. This is achieved by taking advantage of the school’s local environment and China’s geographical and cultural history. Through the program, listening, speaking, reading and writing is stressed. Students have a variety of opportunities to actively experience the Mandarin language. The vocabulary and phrasing chosen for instruction is planned to helps students’ entry into the local culture and everyday life. The curriculum is structured into nine themes: Introductions, Family, School, Shopping, Food, Community, Travel and Getting Around, Leisure, and Chinese Holidays.
The physical education program aims to foster wellness, lifelong fitness, social skills, fair play and fun. In an activity-based, sequential program, students work to maximize their physical fitness while individually developing person and social competence. Good nutrition, self-esteem, decision-making, problem-solving and proper attitudes and practices all play an integral part in the physical education program. Students work to master these skills individually and in groups where sportsmanship and cooperative play are stressed.
Character development is an ongoing process throughout the academic program, and social and community life of the school. One of the primary intentions of the program is to infuse students with a concrete ethical foundation, an interactive understanding of community, a self-motivated sense of discipline, respect and responsibility. The school’s Honor Code is a set of core ethical values by which students are to abide. The code is ever present, and students learn to uphold the values set forth in it within their daily interactions with each other, teachers, parents, and the entire school community.