Teaching and Learning


Core subjects are taught by your child's homeroom teacher, with additional specialist classes taught by subject area specialists.



The Lower Primary School uses curriculum that is founded on standards by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Common Core State Standards. Reception 1 uses components identified by the Creative Curriculum for Preschool in conjunction with the NAEYC. Reception 2 through Grade 2 uses the Common Core State Standards and the Capacities of a Literate Individual as foundations to the curriculum.

Reception 1 Literacy ComponentsReception 2, Grade 1 and Grade 2 Literacy Standards
  • Literacy as a source of enjoyment
  • Vocabulary and language
  • Phonological awareness
  • Letters and words
  • Comprehension
  • Books and other texts
  • Speaking and listening
  • Building a reader and writer identity

  • Speaking and listening
  • Reading literature
  • Reading informational texts
  • Writing
  • Foundational skills (phonemic awareness, phonics and fluency)
  • Language (conventions, syntax and vocabulary)
  • Building a reader and writer identity


HKIS uses the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and the Standards for Mathematical Practice as a framework for grade level benchmarks. These standards concentrate on a clear, organized and developmentally appropriate set of math skills and concepts in which students learn to understand throughout the grade levels. These standards are designed around coherent progressions from grade to grade. Learning is carefully connected across grades so that students can build new understanding on foundations built in previous years. The knowledge and skills that students need to be prepared for mathematics in college, career and life are interwoven throughout these mathematics standards. There is a greater focus on fewer topics. This will help our students gain strong foundations, including a solid understanding of concepts, a high degree of procedural skill and fluency and the ability to apply the math they learn inside and outside of the classroom. The Standards for Mathematical Practice describe ways in which our students will be taught to engage with the content standards. Both sets of standards work in tandem to support our students access the knowledge and skills they are learning to have true understanding. Our goal in Lower Primary is to help our students be confident and successful mathematicians.

The Standards for Mathematical PracticeStandards for Mathematical Content
  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
  4. Model with mathematics
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically
  6. Attend to precision
  7. Look for and make use of structure
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning
  • Counting and cardinality
  • Operations and algebraic thinking
  • Numbers and operations in base ten
  • Measurement and data
  • Geometry

Religious Education

Our religious education program provides a focus on Christianity in all classrooms, with key Bible stories, Bible verses, chapels, devotions, songs and prayer time. In this way, our children talk and learn about the Christian God and Jesus.

In addition, each grade level also has a focus on one of the major world religions – Buddhism in Reception 1, Hinduism in Reception 2, Islam in Grade 1 and Judaism in Grade 2. We honor different world religions through festival celebrations, discussions, examining artifacts, reading books and gathering information at an appropriate level. Through community meetings, children talk and learn about world religions.

Social Studies and Science

Science and social studies are taught using an inquiry-based approach. Scientific processes including observation, collecting, recording and interpreting data, predicting, classifying and drawing conclusions are practiced in hands-on, meaningful activities. Students learn concepts, as well as information. In addition, skills of reasoning, problem solving, working collaboratively, goal setting and decision making are practiced throughout the curriculum.


Chinese Studies

Lower Primary students all participate in Chinese language instruction as a part of their normal and daily program of studies. Each class will also reach into the richness of Chinese culture as a means to contextualize and strengthen the link between learning the language as well as deepening the students’ appreciation for the most widely spoken language in the world.

Please see the Chinese Studies section of the site for more details on the Chinese Studies program.

Education Technology

We believe that children learn best when they are actively involved in constructing their own knowledge. This is learning by doing. The educational technologists and the teacher librarian work closely with teachers and children to facilitate and support constructivism, develop information literacy skills, to make learning visible, reflect on learning and to share their learning. Students use a range of developmentally appropriate technology devices and software to support and extend their learning within the classroom program.

Our new design and maker space, The Wonder Lab, is created specifically for early elementary students to explore, discover and cultivate their curiosity. It is the hub for STEM-related activities and technology projects, inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. It consists of a think and design zone for students to plan projects, a builder’s workshop with real tools and workbenches, and a broadcasting/sound studio for students to document their learning.


Children visit the library regularly to borrow books and learn library skills. In addition, the librarian works closely with teachers to support classroom themes and research projects. The librarian also assists in the integration of information literacy standards into the existing academic curriculum.


The music curriculum at Lower Primary uses a combination of the Scott Foresman Silver Burdett “Making Music” series and the Orff Schulwerk approach to teaching music. Silver Burdett “Making Music” provides sequential instruction and reflects the philosophy of the U.S. National Standards for Arts Education. Orff Schulwerk is based on things children like to do: singing, chanting rhythm/rhymes, clapping, dancing, and keeping a beat using a wide variety of pitched and unpitched instruments. The special Orff melody (pitched) instruments include wooden xylophones and metal glockenspiels that offer good sound immediately. Played together as in a small orchestra, their use helps children become sensitive listeners and considerate participants. The children at Lower Primary use Orff instruments in the process of learning and in the product of performances.

The Lower Primary music curriculum provides many opportunities to explore music through singing, moving, listening, and playing instruments. We also incorporate music of various styles, cultures and time periods. Our music program promotes and celebrates the joy of music while using developmentally appropriate materials.

Physical Education

The Physical Education program emphasizes personal fitness and basic sports skills through the following six curricular units:

Body Management - Children use specially designed age-appropriate climbing equipment. Concepts introduced include body awareness, inversion, exploration of risk taking and the recognition of their own physical ability. The skills they develop include body strength, flexibility, tumbling, coordination and balance.

Manipulatives - Children are introduced to the concepts of spatial awareness, creativity, movement and rhythmic activity. They develop a range of skills including hand/eye coordination, accuracy, dexterity, timing and rhythm.

Ball Skills - While participating in ball skills, children learn how to play with partners and in groups, and develop an understanding of spatial awareness. The skills they develop include accuracy, hand/eye coordination, rolling/throwing/catching, and timing.

Movement - During our movement unit, the children develop the concepts of creativity, social interaction, spatial awareness, methods of expression and exploring levels and planes.

Problem Solving - Various scenarios are set in which the children use teamwork and logical, creative thinking to solve problems. In addition to developing cooperation and fairness, children use coordination, balance, dexterity, and jumping/landing skills to solve problems.

Swimming - Swimming is an important life skill. The teaching of skills includes water adjustment, water entry and exit, buoyancy control, breathing and stroke correction depending on the level of the group. All children are introduced to personal safety and the use of life jackets.


At Lower Primary, we have fully integrated the Art program with the classroom curriculum, which means that students get a chance to deepen their learning in science, social studies and language. We believe that the physical making of images and artifacts allows students to interpret and form their observations and responses to a complex world and to articulate their learning.

The students work from memory, observation, and imagination in the creation of both 2D and 3D media. The art program introduces a wide range of materials and processes. Children will get to experience drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, and mixed media in the making of both individual and collaborative pieces. Throughout this process, students will come to know both the world and themselves at a deeper level.

Social emotional learning and counseling program

Our counselors teach lessons that support social-emotional development for Reception 2 to Grade 2. Reception 1 counselors support classes directly as well. In this way, they get to know each child personally, and establish a relationship with them as learners and school community members. The goals of these classes is to enhance every child's personal, social and educational development, and to build skills for effective living and well-being. Our school-wide Student Learning Result (SLR) in the area of character development is that our students will demonstrate responsible behaviors and caring attitudes at school and in the community, as well as the integrity and courage to stand up for what is right. The following are some sample lesson topics:

Main lesson topics include:

  • Acceptance of self and others.
  • Positive risk taking.
  • Cooperation.
  • Good judgment.
  • Responsibility.
  • Facing frustration positively.

Other counseling interventions include social skills groups, individual counseling and support for children in transition. Counselors meet with "New Students Groups" to focus on the adjustments new students might experiencing, how to make friends and to whom they can go if they should need help. Counselors also meet with "Good bye Groups," which are designed for children who are leaving HKIS. Discussions may include what the children will miss from their present setting, what they are looking forward to in the new location, how they will go about keeping in touch with old friends, as well as ways to make new friends. Counselors also facilitate Active Parenting classes each semester and are available for consultation with parents. Parents are encouraged to contact teachers, administrators and the counseling staff as family needs arise, so that we can work together to support the children involved. The counselors collaborate with a multi-disciplinary team, including classroom teachers, to ensure that the most appropriate services are provide for each child.

Lower Primary Slideshow


Students will achieve their highest intellectual potential by striving for and attaining the highest standards of academic excellence.