Specialist Subjects

Specialist Subjects 

In Lower Primary, we have seven subjects which are taught by a specialist teacher.

Click to explore each specialist subject further: Aquatics, ArtChinese StudiesEducational TechnologyLibraryMusicPhysical Education.


In Lower Primary, the Learn To Swim program is part of the Physical Education program. All students take part in the program in a block of lessons. Children swim in an indoor, heated, 25-meter state-of-the-art pool located at the top of the Lower Primary building. Its depth and water temperature are adjusted for the needs of young learners.

The learn to swim program uses standards of the American Red Cross and is based on swimming levels. The objectives are to teach children to be safe in, on and around the water and to swim well. Aquatic and personal water safety skills are taught in a logical progression through six levels.

Students of R1 participate in the Preschool Learn To Swim program, also based on levels. The purpose of the Preschool program is to facilitate developmentally appropriate learning of fundamental water safety and aquatic skills.

More information about programs is available on the Aquatics webpage.




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.



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.



Educational 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.



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. Swimming lessons focus on water confidence, pool entry and exit, buoyancy control, breathing, and stroke development, depending on the level of the group. All children are introduced to water safety and learn to swim skills.