Curriculum | Lower Junior School (Grades 1-4)
Grade 1 is when children become students. It is important that every child gains the confidence and strong foundations for the years to come, as well as the love for learning. A personalised learning is crucial to have success in the future and to enhance every child’s learning experience.
At its core, our Junior School pedagogy has 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 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. Our students also learn through a construction process with others, peers and teachers. Thus, they develop a sense of belonging in the community while forming their own identity and finding a meaning for the learnings.
In addition, PaRK IS’ pedagogical project includes strategies that promote autonomy, responsibility and academic excellence. We design processes which 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.
Lower Junior School (Grades 1 to 4) offers continuity to the bilingual education started in the Early Learning years. It is our goal that by the end of Grade 4 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, Dance, Drama, Music and Information & Communication Technology – 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. An 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 collaboratively work with other year groups as well as with parents and the school community.
Personalised 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 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 Learning 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 our main strengths and it helps to differentiate the learning journey of each student. Our technological programme 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 Grade 1. From Grade 4, with our one-to-one iPad programme, students learn to use one more tool to explore knowledge, in a safe environment.
In an everyday busier world it is important to know how to stop, so 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.