Primary Years Programme
At Harare International School (HIS) we offer instructional programs for children as young as 3 years old, by October 1, in Early Childhood 1 (EC1) all the way through High School, Grade 12. The Elementary School (ES) enrolls students from EC1 through Grade 5 (10 – 11 years old). HIS is an IB continuum school and the pedagogical framework in the ES is the PYP. HIS is a fully authorized PYP school.
- Instructional Programs/Curriculum
- Student Agency
- IB Learner Profile
- Student Support
- PYP Programme of Inquiry (POI)
Harare International School Elementary School (Early Childhood 1 to Grade 5) is committed to an enriching education in an international context with opportunities for all students, to develop intellectually, socially, physically and emotionally. We believe that children learn best when provided with a comfortable, safe and stable environment. The atmosphere is one of trust and respect within a learning community.
HIS follows the curricular framework of the International Baccalaureate Organization’s Primary Years Programme which embraces a developmental inquiry-based approach to learning, accepting children’s existing levels of learning and validating their strengths, experiences languages and cultures. Children are encouraged to develop their knowledge, skills, concepts, attitudes and competencies within an atmosphere that fosters a sense of belonging, self- confidence, a love of learning, and the development of positive personal values and qualities. The environment supports all students as they become independent learners, helping them to build strategies to seek their own solutions. As active participants, children are given opportunities to explore and interact meaningfully with the world around them. The diverse teaching strategies employed recognize learning as multidimensional and that each child has a unique learning style. The curriculum is designed to maintain relevance, challenge and engagement.
HIS models and educates students in the elementary school to be: inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk-takers, knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded, balanced and reflective.
At the heart of the Primary Years Programme philosophy is a commitment to learning through guided inquiry. Each year each student will be involved in 6 units of inquiry (4 in Early Childhood) driven by a set of key conceptual questions matching the following six universal transdisciplinary themes:
- Who we are
- Where we are in place and time
- How we express ourselves
- How the world works
- How we organize ourselves
- Sharing the planet
Students explore topics of interest through these transdisciplinary themes.
HIS has developed and resourced 44 units of inquiry to give students a well-rounded and developmental educational experience. Each unit is carefully planned in collaboration with students who are encouraged to demonstrate agency and take action. The units are transdisciplinary, incorporating traditional subject areas in a contextual manner.
Early Childhood Education (EC1 – EC2 Composite Classes)
We recognize the great importance of the early years of education in laying the foundations for learning throughout life. We seek to create an environment that is designed to educate and enrich each child socially, emotionally, intellectually, physically, and aesthetically. We acknowledge the important role of families as the principal influence in the lives of young children. We aim to foster this through a constructive partnership between school and home.
In our PYP program, children are active participants in the process of learning as we seek the appropriate balance between child-initiated and teacher-generated activities. We play a lot, and encourage interaction and conversation between children. We know children learn best when they have real objects to manipulate, and their understanding is increased when they talk about what they experience with others. We structure their learning and play environment so that they have choices, and learn to be independent and responsible in how and what they choose. We make every effort to create a safe, low stress environment with clear limits and guidelines, based on realistic expectations for each age group. We follow a daily routine so that all children feel secure in participating, and learn to plan and appreciate order.
Teachers provide a model for children. We listen to, talk with, and observe the children carefully, to help them communicate what they are experiencing and to challenge them to think further. We strive to make children’s thinking visible to themselves. Children are recognized as inquirers. Their inquiry takes many forms and is the basis of well-crafted units of exploration with universal transdisciplinary themes that form part of the PYP at HIS. Finally, we reinforce friendship and social growth through cooperative learning activities and a family atmosphere enabling children from all over the world to learn to work together and appreciate each other.
Why is a composite class an excellent classroom environment for our youngest students? A composite class model offers many benefits to its learners, for both the older and younger students alike. At HIS we believe that young children learn best through play. A play based, composite classroom offords students many opportunities to learn and grow from each other, affording older students the opportunity to explain, demonstrate, and be positive role models. In order for our EC students to flourish, they are encouraged to explore their 4 Units of Inquiry through play.
Elementary Core Curriculum
In alignment with the PYP, the Elementary School core curriculum affords students a variety of challenging and developmentally appropriate learning experiences designed to make learning pleasurable and meaningful. The core curriculum incorporates six subject areas: Language, Mathematics, Sciences, Social students, Arts, Physical, Social and Personal education. The flexible structure of the classroom day in the elementary grades accommodates the students’ divergent backgrounds, learning styles and readiness for academic skills, encouraging them to progress at their individual rates and to develop a sense of responsibility for their own learning.
A description of subjects in the core curriculum is as follows:
Language Arts – The primary goal of the Language Arts curriculum is to develop a positive attitude toward reading, writing, listening and public speaking using literature and authentic writing as the foundation. Students are given the opportunity to read, write, listen and discuss ideas every day in a meaningful context, related to their experiences, abilities and interests. In the lower Elementary grades, our goal is to establish reading as the act of comprehending rather than merely the act of decoding. Classroom libraries, shared literature study, individualized reading, sustained silent reading, thematic study of literature, journal writing and writing for publication and presentation are coupled with a study of phonics and selected use of basal reading and spelling texts. In all of the Elementary grades, greater emphasis is placed upon the integration of the curriculum for reinforcement and holistic expansion of language acquisition and skills with the goals of improving the quality of reading comprehension, developing a variety of reading strategies and increasing the range of voluntary reading. Writing is taught as a process, in which students learn to self-edit and peer edit their work.
Mathematics – Problem solving, inquiry, and real world application are the cornerstones of mathematics in the PYP. In solving problems, students are given the opportunity to organize data, interpret information, make decisions and think mathematically, enabling them to function effectively in today’s world. In mathematics, students gain increasing competency with math algorithms – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of whole numbers, fractions, percentages and decimals. Throughout the Elementary School, emphasis is placed on using manipulatives and real-life experiences to understand, develop and apply math concepts. Importance is also placed on computation and the learning of basic math facts.
Science – The objective of the Science curriculum is to expose students to the wonder of science and the joy of discovery through inquiry. At each grade level, students use a selection of science books combined with “hands on” activities and experiments to develop competence in the scientific process and to develop an understanding of basic concepts in earth and space science, life science, technology, physical science and the human body. The class teachers conduct these lessons in their classrooms using the wealth of science apparatus and materials.
Social Studies – In the Social Studies curriculum, emphasis is placed on the development of students’ self-understanding and what it means to be part of a community. Students explore ancient and living civilizations to develop an appreciation of diverse peoples – their cultures, environment, and cultural survival. They also gain familiarity with the skills used in social studies analyses such as mapping, graphing, and timelines. It includes the study of geography. Zimbabwe is also featured in the social studies curriculum to help give our students a better understanding of our host country.
As enrichment to our classroom instruction, we offer classes taught by trained specialists. During the week, children attend classes in Music, Visual Arts, Physical Education, Library, and Modern Languages (French or Spanish). In addition, some children will receive extra support from the EAL teacher or learning specialist.
Visual Arts – Students attend bi-weekly classes in the art studios. Here, the students explore satisfying and involving art experiences, learn basic art skills and art concepts, and expand their creative side. They learn to appreciate art forms and artists of various cultures and are given opportunities to interpret their experiences using a variety of media and art techniques. The program’s goal is to develop within our students a lifelong interest in and appreciation for the fine arts and a positive attitude toward their own creative self-expression.
E.A.L. – English as an Additional Language courses are offered to students who require an alternative or additional study of English. The courses focus on developing listening, speaking, writing and reading comprehension skills in the English language.
Information Technology (I.T.) – The I.T. teachers work closely with the classroom teachers so as to integrate I.T. into the curriculum rather than teach it in isolation.
Learning Support – Learning Support is available based on individual student needs.
Library and Media Skills – Elementary students visit the library with their individual classes once a week to exchange library books, enjoy storytelling, learn library and research skills. Students may also visit the library at other times. The library is seen as the hub of the school.
Modern Languages – Students select to participate in either French or Spanish, which is taught to students from EC2 through Grade 5. The emphasis is on learning to enjoy a world language through creative, participatory and interactive group activities.
Performing Arts – With its aesthetic qualities, music provides many experiences to help students acquire independence, a positive self-concept, a sense of responsibility and an understanding of how music correlates to the world around them. The music program is a sequential skills-oriented, participatory program, which includes singing, listening, playing instruments, creating, moving, writing and drama. Music classes are offered in an attractive, well-equipped studio.
Physical Education – The Elementary Physical Education program is based on a movement education approach. The action-oriented classes are designed to stimulate creativity, problem solving, self-confidence, collaboration, teamwork, and physical development. The program includes exploration with small hand apparatus such as balls/hoops/ropes, activities in gymnastics, track and field and games.
Classroom and Specialist teachers collaborate on a regular basis so that, where appropriate, specialist subjects are integrated or support the transdisciplinary units of inquiry.
We all have agency, that is, the capacity to act intentionally. At HIS there is a culture of mutual respect where we acknowledge the rights and responsibilities of our learners, enabling them to take ownership of their learning.
PYP learners at HIS inquire, question, wonder and theorize about themselves, others and the world around them. They are keen observers and explorers. Through their experiences and interactions, they naturally develop intricate, multi-layered perceptions and understandings.
Throughout the PYP, the student is an agent for his/her own and others’ learning through the concept of learner agency. Learner agency is connected to a student’s belief in their ability to succeed.
PYP students with agency use their own initiative and will, and take responsibility and ownership of their learning. They express their interests and wonderings. They are actively engaged, and monitor and adjust their learning as needed.
They direct their learning with a strong sense of identity and self-belief. They regularly reflect on themselves as learners and are aware of their learning goads. Students are supported in their struggle for mastery and control on their journey to become independent, autonomous learners.
PYP learners demonstrate agency when they:
- Influence and direct their own learning
- Make choices
- Voice opinions
- Ask questions and express wonderings
- Construct new meanings
- Participate in and contribute to the learning community
We nurture our curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. We know how to learn independently and with others. We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning throughout life.
We develop and use conceptual understanding, exploring knowledge across a range of disciplines. We engage with issues and ideas that have local and global significance.
We use critical thinking skills to analyse and take responsible action on complex problems. We exercise initiative in making reasoned, ethical decisions.
We express ourselves confidently and creatively in more than one language and in many ways. We collaborate effectively, listening carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups.
We act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and with respect for the dignity and rights of people everywhere. We take responsibility for our actions and their consequences.
We critically appreciate our own cultures and personal histories, as well as the values and traditions of others. We seek and evaluate a range of points of view, and we are willing to grow from the experience.
We show empathy, compassion and respect. We have a commitment to service, and we act to make a positive difference in the lives of others and in the world around us.
We approach uncertainty with forethought and determination; we work independently and cooperatively to explore new ideas and innovative strategies. We are resourceful and resilient in the face of challenges and change.
We understand the importance of balancing different aspects of our lives-intellectual, physical, spiritual and emotional-to achieve well-being for ourselves and others. We recognize our interdependence with other people and with the world in which we live.
We thoughtfully consider the world and our own ideas and experience. We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development.
Harare International School (HIS) recognizes each student as unique and values the individual’s strengths and needs; we strive to support every student’s academic growth and personal development. Therefore, students requiring additional resources to attain their potential will receive services appropriate to their needs. We also recognize that providing appropriate support may reach beyond the realm of our learning specialists (educational community) and the school may require parents to employ additional professional assistance. Our commitment to provide services that promote student growth reflects the importance of establishing a support service policy.
The support service policy documents a range of support services in an environment where:
- Students are supported in regular class and/or in a Learning Support Service (LSS) class through collaboration of learning specialists and classroom teachers to improve academic success
- Students are supported in an English as an Additional Language (EAL) class to acquire English language proficiency
- Students are supported within the regular classes to develop exceptional talents and giftedness through differentiated instruction and extra-curricular activities
Support services at HIS are unable to provide services for students identified with severe learning, mental, emotional or physical disabilities.
The purpose of the support service policy is to acknowledge that:
- Teachers are responsible to recognize students’ exceptional needs in areas that include but are not limited to: reading, language, math, writing, organizational skills, social interactions or behavioral interventions
- Students with needs may require a modified academic program or modified grading scheme which may be documented on the student’s report, transcript or intervention plan
- Parent involvement is paramount for student success and clear communication between professionals and parents is essential
At HIS we understands that by knowing our students as individual learners, we can ensure that differentiation and best practices are used to teach and assess learner outcomes. We understand a balance of inclusion, accommodations, and/or attendance in a specialized class can be achieved to best meet the needs of our students. We understand that our Student Review Meeting Format is our guide for student intervention or discussing students.
Assessment, a key feature of curriculum planning, review and delivery at HIS, is an integral part of teaching and learning in the Elementary School. Each assessment strategy or tool that is utilized is designed to help guide our instruction and be meaningful to the learner. We use a range and balance of assessment tools and strategies including standardized testing. Assessment, a key feature of curriculum planning, review and delivery at HIS, is an integral part of teaching and learning in the Elementary School. Each assessment strategy or tool that is utilized is designed to help guide our instruction and be meaningful to the learner. We use a range and balance of assessment tools and strategies including standardized testing. Students in Grades 3-5 5 annually participate in Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing in reading, mathematics, and language. MAP is a computer-based test that offers results in a timely manner. More information may be found at the following website: https://www.nwea.org/node/98
Students in Grades 4 and 5 bi-annually participate in Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing in reading, mathematics, and language. MAP is a computer-based test that offers results in a timely manner. More information may be found at the following website: https://www.nwea.org/node/98
The Harare International School Programme of Inquiry (POI) has been developed using the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) curriculum framework. It incorporates local and global issues into the curriculum through six transdisciplinary themes. These themes are explored using knowledge and skills derived from six subject areas as well as trandisciplinary skills, with the emphasis being the acquisition of knowledge and skills, the development of conceptual understanding, demonstration of positive attitudes and taking of responsible action.
Students inquire into, and learn about, globally significant issues in the context of units of inquiry, each of which addresses a central idea relevant to a particular transdisciplinary theme. Lines of inquiry are identified in order to explore the scope of the central idea for each unit. In tandem with the attributes and attitudes described in the learner profile, students develop the ability to work cooperatively, as well as learning to think creatively and critically.