Teaching and Learning

Core subjects are taught by your child's homeroom teacher. Students move to to different areas of the building for classes taught by subject area specialists.


Literacy (Reading & Writing)

At HKIS, we believe literacy – reading, writing, speaking, and listening, is a keystone to all learning. We value questions as much as answers, process as much as product, and connections as much as content. Literacy is a transdisciplinary skill that enables us to reflect, transform and innovate to better understand the world around us.

Our Upper Primary literacy curriculum is based on best practices from the United States. Resources and research that inform literacy teaching and learning include The Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College at Columbia University, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and the International Reading Association (IRA). During the 2014-15 school year, HKIS adopted the Common Core State Standards to ensure consistency across grades and divisions, and provide a challenging and developmentally appropriate curriculum for our students.

Social Studies

The Upper Primary Social Studies standards prepare students to actively participate in civic life in our ever changing world. Our Social Studies program builds on and extends the Common Core Literacy skills encouraging students to think critically and solve problems. Students gain knowledge through the study of civics, economics, geography and history. They practice the habits of civic life by recognizing social problems, examining an issue from different perspectives, and acting on their learning. Through this process of inquiry, students become knowledgeable, thinking, and active citizens prepared to lead in tomorrow's world.


At HKIS, we believe mathematics is a universal language that allows us to make sense of fundamental principles, ideas, patterns, problems and phenomena that surround us. Through exploring abstract and contextual mathematics, students will investigate applications and uses of mathematics in the world around them.

The Upper Primary math program follows the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M), with a major focus on the 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice. The Content Standards specify skills and understandings that students should develop at each grade level. The Mathematical Practices describe the processes (problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, representation, and connections) and proficiencies (adaptive reasoning, strategic competence, conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and productive disposition) that students should develop throughout their mathematics education.

Bridges in Mathematics is the primary curricular resource. The curriculum focuses on developing students’ understanding of mathematical concepts, proficiency with key skills, and ability to solve complex problems. Bridges blends direct instruction, structured investigation, and open exploration to develop students’ mathematical thinking and reasoning abilities.


Science at HKIS focuses on developing students' scientific and engineering practices and understanding of core ideas to empower them to participate in an increasingly scientific and technological world. Through STEM based inquiry, students apply the knowledge and practices of science and mathematics, use technology for real-time data collection, carry out scientific investigations to discover answers to their questions, and creatively develop solutions to engineering design challenges.

The Upper Primary Science curriculum is based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The standards are composed of three dimensions: disciplinary core ideas (content), science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts. The NGSS is a focused and coherent progression of knowledge and practices across the Grade levels allowing for a dynamic process of building knowledge throughout a student's science education. Science and engineering are integrated into science education by raising engineering design to the same level as scientific inquiry in classroom instruction and by emphasizing the core ideas of engineering design and technology applications.

Religious Education

At HKIS, Religious Education reflects the school mission and SLRs. As a school "grounded in the Christian faith and respecting the spiritual lives of all", we provide students an academic study of religion. Religion units in the Upper Primary explore topics and ideas from a Christian perspective. Students then explore how people of other faiths view that same topic, which helps them understand how others see the world. Throughout the study of religions, students continually reflect in order to identify and develop their own spiritual identity.

HKIS has developed a unique set of standards to closely encompass our core beliefs. Our Religious Education program is developed around three standards. Each one is equally important. As students learn about Christianity and other world religions, the development of individual spirituality is the thread that ties everything together.

Standard 1: Students recognize, define, and articulate their own spiritual identity, and demonstrate how it applies to their personal decisions.

Standard 2: Students demonstrate an understanding of the Christian story and the centrality of Jesus in the Bible.

Standard 3: Students understand both the common and unique beliefs, practices, and influence of the major religions of the world.


Chinese Studies

Upper Primary students all participate in Chinese language instruction as a part of their normal and daily program of studies. Class activities are varied and include games, song, rhyme, dance, arts/crafts, oral dialogues and excursions all designed to immerse the students into the use of Putonghua. Additionally, homework will be given to students to strengthen and practice learned skills of oral proficiency as well as the skills of reading, writing and listening. We encourage parents to actively participate and support their students’ learning of this language by spending time with them and taking interest in the activities and projects.

The instruction for Chinese is divided into two distinct streams. The two streams are Mandarin as Second Language (MSL) and Mandarin for Near-Native speakers (MNN).

Mandarin as Second Language (MSL)

The MSL stream is designed for students with no or some previous personal or family exposure and/or experience in Mandarin. Learning Mandarin represents a true second language platform with the end goal of communicative functionality in Mandarin to exchange common, everyday thoughts, ideas and information. Oral proficiency work will be the emphasis in this learning stream as well as the early use of the simplified characters system. The exit benchmark for this learning stream is based on benchmarks mapped out in the Chinese Studies R-12 curriculum.

Mandarin for Near-Native Speakers (MNN)

This learning stream is for students with previous personal or family exposure and/or experience in Mandarin. These students have regular access to familial support in the areas of listening input, reading, writing, and speaking (e.g.: parents have working knowledge and skill in Mandarin). These students are also proficient enough to use Mandarin as a medium to learn other content areas. The exit benchmark for this learning stream is based on benchmarks mapped out in the Chinese Studies R-12 curriculum.

Technology & Information Literacy

Technology is ubiquitous and a necessary part of modern learning. The UP Technology Coach teams with classroom and division specialists to develop computing, technology, and information literacy skills within the learning community. HKIS provides each student at Upper Primary a laptop computer to use for his/her learning. All UP students (Grades 3-5) are provided with a Google Apps account providing them access to a school email, Google Drive (online storage space), Calendar, Sites, and more. All students are required to commit to meeting the Student Use Expectations for safe, responsible, and effective computer use and sign a Responsible Use Agreement.

Computing, technology, and information skills are embedded throughout the scope of curriculum and learning experiences. Computers and technology are also used as means for the exploration of powerful ideas, to blossom creativity, foster collaboration, and to develop resilience in meeting a variety of identified learning outcomes and personal interest projects.

Music (Choir, Band + Strings)

All Upper Primary students have a general music class, once per 6-day cycle.

The music curriculum at the Upper Primary focuses on the development of ensemble skills. These skills include listening to others as you play/sing, identifying and playing/singing the correct notes, and controlling both tempo and volume. The curriculum draws from a variety of sources including the Kodaly and Orff methods, and the National Core Arts Standards.

Each lesson includes a variety of activities such as singing, playing xylophones, listening to music, using our computer program Finale Notepad to compose music, and playing musical/movement games. These combined activities teach students how to be a positively contributing member of a musical ensemble.

Performing Ensembles: UP Strings, Choir and Band

The Upper Primary offers additional student activities such as: Band (Grade 4-5), Strings (Grades 3-5) and Choir (Grades 3-5). Students involved in these activities perform throughout the year at concerts and assist in providing music for special assemblies and chapels during the school year.

Physical Education

Children participate in physical education classes three times per 6-day cycle. The Physical Education program emphasizes personal fitness and basic sports skills. Highlights include gymnastics and adventure learning in conjunction with traditional team games.

The current Physical Education curriculum for Upper Primary Physical Education (UP PE) is comprised of two major 'skill themes': Manipulatives and Body Management. Manipulatives focuses learning on the essential question, how can you control different objects? Examples of this include, but are not limited to, racquet skills, stick skills, ball skills and juggling. Body Management, on the other hand, asks the essential question, how can you control your body? Body Management Skills include skills that don't involve equipment. Examples of Body Management Skills are fitness training, gymnastics, and locomotion (i.e. run, skip etc.) and non-locomotion (i.e. shake, bend, pivot).

Aquatics is included in the program. Body Management and Fitness are both covered in this unit which will also focus on water safety and basic stroke mechanics.

Sportsmanship is an underlying theme in everything we do, and a primary component of the affective domain in Physical Education. Daily, students are reminded to do the things ‘Good Sports’ do, and say the things ‘Good Sports’ say. It is the hope of the Physical Education Department that with continued practice of sportsmanship, our students will become teachers of sportsmanship in activities outside Physical Education class.

Fitness is also a major component in UP PE. The focus on fitness is in accordance with the HKIS Physical Education Department's commitment to improving student fitness throughout the school. Our hope, in UP PE, is that with continued support at home and sustained effort in Physical Education, we can all become just a little fitter.


Art classes are taught once per 6-day cycle. Students focus on art skills/techniques, art history, art criticism and aesthetics through studio work. Art classes are integrated with Grade level curriculum that shares learning experiences. Students will create art in a wide range of two and three dimensional media.

Upper Primary Slideshow