CURRICULUM

PaRK IS’ curriculums respond to our mission of guiding and inspiring students to be successful and happy in their adult lives. We have designed our curriculums taking into account our three pillars of Innovation, Happiness and Responsibility as well creating experiences to develop all the skills outlined in our Student Profile.

Daycare & Kindergarten

According to scientific research children have the capacity to develop 50% of their intelligence by the age of four. For this reason, at PaRK IS we have created a programme that enables the child to explore and maximize their individual skills, so that they feel ready for the challenges that lie ahead.  

We have devised a programme that is always child-centred. Children explore the world through the five senses – touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight – throughout the process children discover new interests, meanings, concepts and realities. The child is an active participant of this process. With play at the center of the programme the child has an active role in choosing the activities that interest him/her the most. Children are guided as they gain awareness of their skills and capacities and challenge their comfort zones. We place a great importance in individual pace,  in order to ensure that at the same time we are promoting individual self-esteem. From early childhood we provide them challenges they can understand and relate to while teaching them that their attitude is crucial for their success. The atmosphere and routines are carefully planned and prepared to respond to all developmental stages.  

The child’s own personal rhythm and personal motivation always shape and influence their learning programme. Each journey is supported by the love and positive reinforcement of our team. Guided by our staff, children gain the confidence and skills to put in practice the knowledge, attitudes and skills acquired in a holistic manner.

A fundamental axiom of our programme lies in the relationship that children establish with their homeroom teachers. Another fundamental aspect lies in the high variety of stimulus that we provide. These two premises contribute to the development of a child’s cognitive skills. The nature of the child’s relationship with the homeroom teacher and constant atmosphere of play facilitate a healthy social behaviour as well as motor, cognitive and emotional skills.

This universe that we create is the central aspect of our project work. The child is an active member of all research processes. They are guided by their own curiosity and in turn express their opinions and reflections while becoming active and confident communicators.

All these principles are experienced by our Kindergarten children under a bilingual umbrella. Children are guided by both a fluent English teacher and a fluent Portuguese teacher. It is evident that understanding and speaking two languages is beneficial in our increasingly globalized world. In recent years, scientific research has shown that bilingualism has a profound positive impact on the brain. Bilingual individuals are much more than better conversationalists. Studies show that this skill has a profound impact in other areas of knowledge. Bilinguals have a higher capacity to understand mathematical concepts, a higher concentration capacity, better memory and are quicker at making decisions then their unilingual counterparts.

Primary School

Primary School is when children become students. It is important every child gain the confidence and strong foundations for the years to come, as well the love for learning. The individualised learning is crucial to have success in the future and to enhance every child’s learning experience.

Our Primary School pedagogy has at its core the concept of active learning. We guide each student as they build their individual learning journeys. We strive for an atmosphere where learning is enjoyed and believe that students must be the active seekers of their own knowledge in order for this to be achieved. All curriculum materials are addressed in a holistic and multidisciplinary manner. Themes and projects may guide various year groups and always integrate the diverse contents of knowledge that the students must grasp.

PaRK IS’ pedagogical project also has at its heart strategies that promote autonomy, responsibility and excellence. We design processes that demonstrate that learning occurs beyond the classroom walls and school grounds.  The curious mindset, the capacity for critical thinking, the ability to independently seek knowledge and to commit are characteristics of the learner’s personality that must accompany them throughout life.

In our dynamic and ever changing society our students will grow as autonomous and dynamic learners. They will demonstrate that they have high critical-thinking skills and high communication skills and therefore understand themselves and those around them.

Primary School offers continuity to the bilingual education started in Kindergarten. It is our goal that by the end of the 4th Grade students are bilingual in comprehension, speaking, reading and writing. We follow the Portuguese Ministry of Education Curriculum coupled with the Cambridge Curriculum for the English subject; Portuguese and mathematics are taught in Portuguese while Social Studies is taught in either language depending on the object of study. All other subjects – English, Physical Education, Arts & Drama, Music and Computational Thinking – are taught in English.

Our exclusive programme is based on:

Project Based Learning: Children learn by researching the answers to their questions and finding solutions to set problems. A inquiry based student profile is cultivated. By working in groups and using projects as a source of knowledge we combine various subjects’ syllabus under one umbrella theme. The syllabus is then taught by the students as they present their work/findings to the class.

Communication: Great importance is placed in the presentation and communication of all student work. Larger projects or smaller activities such as a written text are encouraged by the teachers to be shared. Arrangements are made so that students share their presentations and work between other year groups as well as with parents and the school community. 

Individualised Education: At PaRK IS we believe that every student is unique, has a different rhythm, different motivations and different learning needs, which we must respect. Core subjects are taught in smaller groups in the early years – a complimentary teacher is present to ensure foundations in Portuguese and Mathematics are well consolidated. This allows us to adapt the curriculum to the students’ interests, abilities and different levels while allowing teachers to establish real goals that will help children actively construct their knowledge always in pursuit of academic excellence.

Autonomous work: One of our most distinguished routines is TEA (Tempo de Estudo Autónomo = Autonomous Study Time). Every day Primary School students have a scheduled moment when they study by themselves. Students plan their study with the teacher and those with no difficulties can move on, doing Portuguese or Mathematics exercises, working on their Social Studies projects or helping other students with their work. Teachers have this time to help students in need of extra attention and can adapt the work to each child’s necessities.

Technology: Technology is one of the strongest areas of our programme. Technology is integrated in all projects and themes. It is a resource (among others) that is naturally offered to students despite the subject area. Students learn how to code from 1st Grade in their Computational Thinking classes. From 4th Grade technology ceases to be taught as a separate block and is now fully integrated in the various disciplines. With our one-to-one iPad programme students learn to use one more tool to explore knowledge, in a safe environment and in their one language.

In an every day busier world it is important to know how to stop. From 3rd Grade we introduced Quiet Time, a daily moment where children meditate. By doing this we teach students how to focus, stay calm and stop to reflect whenever needed. 

Preparatory School

During their last years of childhood between the ages of 10 and 12, children exhibit a natural willingness and enthusiasm to accept challenges. This natural state should be valued as a catapult for creativity, critical thinking, effort, perseverance and the desire to try new things. Preparatory School is therefore a phase where students use this energy to establish profound meaning to the knowledge they have acquired. It is a phase that promotes high levels of autonomy and project work. Project work continues to connect subjects together and challenges students even further. Preparatory School places a high importance on the intellectual dimension of the programme as well as in its effort to create well rounded caring individuals.

We value each student’s unique skill set at all times. The pedagogical programme designed by PaRK IS seeks to create an atmosphere where children are comfortable exploring their skills to their maximum potential. We find that the balance between overcoming academic difficulties and exploring and practicing their academic passions is paramount for students to grow as confident learners and ready to face the challenges of future life. We believe that Meaningful Learning is the programme that best equips students for the Preparatory School challenges. We introduce STEAM methodology and we continue to apply our learning themes to real world scenarios. Our teaching and learning practices can be organized under six pedagogical axioms:

Project Based Learning: Project learning involves researching themes or finding solutions to set problems. A inquiry based student profile is cultivated. Fieldwork is often carried out. Projects combine various subjects’ syllabus under one umbrella theme. The syllabus is then taught by the students as they present their work/findings to the class.

Interdisciplinary Approach: We believe that all subjects are part of a whole. Teachers work collaboratively to teach students how to integrate the knowledge from the different subjects in their projects.

Communication: Great importance is placed in the presentation and communication of all student work. Larger projects or smaller activities such as a written text are encouraged by the teachers to be shared. Arrangements are made so that students share their presentations and work between other year groups as well as with parents and the school community. Letter writing is also encouraged between different year groups.

Autonomous work and Individual Learning Improvement: Gaining in depth knowledge of subject contents. Producing intellectual material under the guidance of the subject teachers. Teachers will be available to students that need individual learning improvement.

Year Group Curriculum Work: Collective group work is guided by the subject teacher. Students participate and construct, understand and systematise syllabus contents and concepts.

Interdisciplinary Approach: We believe that all subjects are part of a whole. Teachers work collaboratively to teach students how to integrate the knowledge from the different subjects in their projects.

Management and Organisation of the Year Group: Class Management and Social Skills are moments to discuss the daily life of the Year Group. The weekly plan is designed and reviewed as a class and specific tasks are assigned to students on a rotating basis.

We continue to base our curriculum on a bilingual model. Scientists state that the bilingual experience helps the brain function better. The bilingual brain is better at ignoring distractions, focusing on a new idea and storing new information. Speaking two languages fluently has its evident benefits in an increasingly globalized world. Speaking a new language has a profound effect on the brain. It develops high cognitive skills. For these reasons in Preparatory School only Portuguese, Mathematics and History and Geography are taught in Portuguese. All other subjects are taught in English.

Preparatory students maintain their Quiet Time moment every day – this daily meditation teach students to focus, stay calm and stop to reflect.

The academic structure is supported by three areas which we find fundamental for raising a thoughtful and productive citizen. The three programmes are “Big Idea”, “My Time” and “Fellowship”.

Big Idea

Big Idea is a multidisciplinary activity that is carried out during school hours for all Preparatory and High School students. A weekly afternoon is dedicated to carryout Big Ideas. An open ended question (challenge) is delivered to the group and students are organised in small teams to respond to the challenge. Each group should research and present their findings in the method which they find best illustrates their results. Students may therefore choose to look at the challenge presented through various lenses such as artistic, mathematical, scientific or historical, and can choose in which materials they want to present their answer: from clay to the 3D printer they have a big range of options available. This is a collaborative activity that values process over the final product. One of the main objectives of the Big Idea is for students to understand how the diverse subjects can meet when responding to real-world situations. Students have the opportunity to collaborate with each other and different year groups. They should also seek feedback from different year groups and even different years. Big idea is a moment dedicated to problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, curiosity and exploration. It stimulates students to evaluate the consequences of their decisions, measure risk but above all learn that failure is part of the process of discovery. This activity allows students to understand that knowledge and effort are necessary elements of innovation.

MyTime

My Time is also a weekly afternoon activity. Students have the possibility to choose to work in the areas they like the most. The school offers a vast array of activities such as sports, arts, music, robotics, coding, science lab, math games, public speech or the school newspaper for students to choose from. Students should pick the activities that best meet their individual passions and interests. We recognise that students learn at different rhythms and have different interests and this time exists to honour these differences and interests. 

Fellowship

Fellowship is a unique opportunity for students to carry out projects for the benefit of their communities and the world. The student is the main protagonist of such activities. Within our Curriculum we consider that service is a reciprocal commitment between the two parties involved. We also believe that the activity carried out must respond to a real and authentic need. Through service students will develop and apply personal and social skills to real life situations. They will be involved in decision making, problem solving and will directly witness the consequences of their actions. Learning will naturally occur, as students respond to identified needs within the community. This Learning Journey has various necessary phases and requirements:

  • Identify objectives, develop strategies and initiate action
  • Explore new possibilities, embark on new challenges and adapt to new roles
  • Participate actively in the planning and development of projects
  • Understand that that the parties involved are members of the local and global community with responsibilities towards others and the environment
  • All projects will finish with a reflection activity to evaluate the experience

Throughout the year students take part in service activities for the school, local communities or global communities. Many of the projects that are carried out under this programme are also connected to other areas of the curriculum such as “The Houses”.

Fellowship activities are accounted for in the Annual Activity Plan. It is here that all the activities carried out by students, guardians, parents and the educational community are outlined.

Secondary School

Secondary School students follow the IGCSE programme by Cambridge, having all subjects taught in English except for Portuguese. The International General Certificate of Secondary Education is a renowned international curriculum that gains an academic advantage over national curriculums because of the flexibility of its syllabus. The open ended character of the curriculum allows us to continue to emphasize the Portuguese Language and History while at the same time implement the Cambridge International programme. We recognise that our pedagogical model is of great value. We therefore keep working under the same axioms which have built our school: one-to-one teaching and learning; project based learning and the emphasis on technology. We continue to mentor children to become innovators, responsible and happy adults with the necessary skills of the 21st Century and our globalised world.

The main objective of implementing an international programme goes beyond the scope of its syllabus. We essentially want to mentor children to be curious, knowledgeable, caring, empathic and driven for success. We hope that our students grow with the objectives of creating a better world and while practicing respect and comprehension for other people and cultures.

Secondary students maintain their Quiet Time moment every day – this daily meditation teach students to focus, stay calm and stop to reflect.

The academic structure is the same as the Preparatory School and is supported by the three areas which we find fundamental for raising a thoughtful and productive citizen. The three programmes are “Big Idea”“My Time” and “Fellowship”.

Big Idea

Big Idea is a multidisciplinary activity that is carried out during school hours for all Preparatory and High School students. A weekly afternoon is dedicated to carryout Big Ideas. An open ended question (challenge) is delivered to the group and students are organised in small teams to respond to the challenge. Each group should research and present their findings in the method which they find best illustrates their results. Students may therefore choose to look at the challenge presented through various lenses such as artistic, mathematical, scientific or historical, and can choose in which materials they want to present their answer: from clay to the 3D printer they have a big range of options available. This is a collaborative activity that values process over the final product. One of the main objectives of the Big Idea is for students to understand how the diverse subjects can meet when responding to real-world situations. Students have the opportunity to collaborate with each other and different year groups. They should also seek feedback from different year groups and even different years. Big idea is a moment dedicated to problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, curiosity and exploration. It stimulates students to evaluate the consequences of their decisions, measure risk but above all learn that failure is part of the process of discovery. This activity allows students to understand that knowledge and effort are necessary elements of innovation.

MyTime

My Time is also a weekly afternoon activity. Students have the possibility to choose to work in the areas they like the most. The school offers a vast array of activities such as sports, arts, music, robotics, coding, science lab, math games, public speech or the school newspaper for students to choose from. Students should pick the activities that best meet their individual passions and interests. We recognise that students learn at different rhythms and have different interests and this time exists to honour these differences and interests. 

Fellowship

Fellowship is a unique opportunity for students to carry out projects for the benefit of their communities and the world. The student is the main protagonist of such activities. Within our Curriculum we consider that service is a reciprocal commitment between the two parties involved. We also believe that the activity carried out must respond to a real and authentic need. Through service students will develop and apply personal and social skills to real life situations. They will be involved in decision making, problem solving and will directly witness the consequences of their actions. Learning will naturally occur, as students respond to identified needs within the community. This Learning Journey has various necessary phases and requirements:

  • Identify objectives, develop strategies and initiate action
  • Explore new possibilities, embark on new challenges and adapt to new roles
  • Participate actively in the planning and development of projects
  • Understand that that the parties involved are members of the local and global community with responsibilities towards others and the environment
  • All projects will finish with a reflection activity to evaluate the experience

Throughout the year students take part in service activities for the school, local communities or global communities. Many of the projects that are carried out under this programme are also connected to other areas of the curriculum such as “The Houses”.

Fellowship activities are accounted for in the Annual Activity Plan. It is here that all the activities carried out by students, guardians, parents and the educational community are outlined.

Technology and Innovation

At PaRK IS we have technology integrated in the curriculum, giving our students a number of tools that can be used in problem solving and in their academic career. From 4th Grade technology ceases to be taught as a separate block and is now fully integrated in the various disciplines. With our one-to-one iPad programme students learn to use one more tool to explore knowledge, in a safe environment and in their one language. Children who entered Primary School in September 2016 are the same age of iPads and it is a part of their daily life – all students are now native users and we have to adapt our curriculum to integrate the technologies used in the real world. 

Our teachers have periodical training with certified Apple techs. PaRK IS is the first (and only!) school in Portugal with official content published on iTunes U. This means that our teachers are composing syllabus that can be used worldwide. We are very proud of our iPad Manager, Kyriakos Koursaris, who was invited by Apple to be an Apple Professional Developer. The school was also selected for the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE) following the work done with Minecraft.

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