Head of Marketing & Admissions
The Lower School at The International School of Minnesota plays a major role in the college-preparatory process. It is in these early years that a basic foundation is established for the advanced Upper School courses that lead to outstanding results at prestigious colleges and universities throughout the world.
Young students thrive in an atmosphere of high expectations and ongoing emotional and academic support at ISM. The cultural and multinational diversity of the campus gives every child the unique opportunity to develop not only academically, but as a member of our “global village” as well.
The ISM Lower School Curriculum
The ISM Lower School curriculum emphasizes academic, social, emotional, physical, and ethical growth. The academic coursework is integrated, sequential, and age appropriate in skills, knowledge, and values. A dedicated faculty nurtures self-esteem and encourages a positive, caring attitude toward others, the development of cooperation, and the appreciation of diversity.
The objective of the ISM Lower School curriculum is to help students develop basic skills in an encouraging and supportive environment; its design challenges all students to strive for excellence and to achieve their full potential. In all grades, the skills of reading, writing, abstract reasoning, and problem solving are emphasized.
The ISM Lower School is designed to establish a balanced, well-rounded education in: English, Mathematics, World Languages and Cultures*, Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts*, Music*, Computer Literacy*, Physical Education*, and Swimming*.
*These classes are taught by specialists
Children completing the ISM Lower School will have gained mastery of basic concepts and core knowledge and will be well-equipped to handle the more conceptual learning expected in the ISM Upper School.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Student progress and teacher effectiveness are monitored in three ways: the SABIS® Academic Monitoring System (AMS) (beginning in Grade 3) developed by SABIS® Educational Systems; regular written exams, end-of-term and end-of-year final exams; and the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) external exams, a standardized achievement testing program. Through regular assessment and monitoring, learning gaps are identified early to ensure academic progress.
The ultimate goal of mathematics instruction is to develop in students an ability for mathematical thinking, an appreciation of the power, beauty, and use of math and the mastery of computational skills and problem solving techniques. In the SABIS® educational system, math is considered a "third-language" applicable in all societies and cultures and a critical part of the educational process.
The objective of the Lower School math program is to help students attain an understanding of mathematical concepts and master computational skills and problem solving techniques that will enable them to understand the more abstract concepts in the Upper School.
In the Lower School English curriculum we begin to formally build the necessary foundation to assure a love and mastery of the English language. Learning is focused on the following components:
- Decoding the language from printed form
- Mastering oral fluency in reading
- Comprehending what is read
- Developing an ever-expanding vocabulary
- Understanding the correct grammatical structure of the language
- Knowing and producing correct spelling
- Producing legible penmanship
- Expressing ideas and facts in proper written composition
- Reading widely from the best available literature
» World Languages
The World Language program is one of the unique features of Early Childhood Education at The International School of Minnesota. All children have daily World Language classes taught by teachers who have native fluency. Learning activities are developmentally appropriate. Through conversation, music, stories, rhymes, audio-visual materials, art, and games, children quickly become comfortable with a second language.
The concepts or units covered typically mirror the very concepts that are being "experienced" with the classroom teachers. Topics will include me, my family, colors, numbers, and shapes, feelings, foods, toys, and holidays.
In essence, the goal of the World Language program is to inform, involve, and stimulate children to enjoy the target language, be it French or Spanish, in the easiest possible way.
Parents often ask teachers how they can be most helpful and involved in their children's learning of a second language. The very best way to do this is to give a supportive home environment in which there might be such things as second language books, toys, games, or videos and by encouraging, but certainly not coercing, children to share what they have learned. Remember! Some children will want to teach you everything they know, while others will want their experience to remain their own. Both reactions are normal!
The Lower School Science curriculum offers children diverse opportunities to become involved with basic scientific concepts, process-orientated techniques, and challenging problems for investigation.
There are two major components of the curriculum: a physical science sequence, guiding students through an examination of the physical world, and a life science sequence which focuses on the biological world.
Lower School students explore the world in which they live and develop techniques for observing and testing nature. The relationship between Math and Science is an important feature of ISM's science program and is built into the curriculum for both subjects.
» Social Studies
- Focusing on history and critical thinking, the social studies curriculum aims to educate students about the world they live in through the study of history and societies.
- Students at the earliest levels learn about what is most familiar to themselves, their families and their communities.
- As their environments expand, studies include the geography, history, and cultural diversity of the United States.
- Students later study the above aspects as they apply to other countries and cultures around the world.
» Computer Education
- The goal of our Lower School computer curriculum is to encourage confidence and instill basic computer skills using a variety of world standard software. The computer is presented as a sophisticated tool for learning, communicating, and presenting.
- Computer utilization and training begins in Kindergarten. Weekly visits to the computer lab help young students gain the confidence and basic skills to utilize a variety of programs integrated with their traditional classroom curriculum.
- At Grade 1, all students have their own e-mail accounts to begin to familiarize them with a new range of technology. Keyboarding and problem-solving activities, as well as math and English skills, are reinforced in the computer curriculum.
- A Lower School computer specialist overseas instruction in the laboratory.
» Physical Education
Physical Education contributes to the total growth and development of the child. Our Physical Education Instructors strive to improve the physical fitness, motor skills, and sport technique of their students.
In addition to individual skill development, the program emphasizes sportsmanship, teamwork, leadership, and self-esteem.
Major areas of instruction include:
- Gross Motor Skills
- Outdoor Education
- Cooperatives and Team Building
- Individual and Team Sports
Our ultimate goal is that each student adopt and implement a daily pattern of physical fitness activity and develop an appreciation for both team sports and lifetime activities.
» Music & Drama
The Lower School music curriculum teaches students the 8 elements of music:
- Tone color
These elements are taught through singing, movement, exploration of instruments, theory games, music listening, and literature. The goal of the department is to develop students' lifelong appreciation and love for music.
- The Lower School art curriculum emphasizes attainment of specific skills and has a strong multicultural emphasis. Areas of discussion include elements of art, principles of design, creative art process, art history, and art criticism. Skills are taught sequentially and are strengthened and augmented with each successive grade level.
- Studio arts are a part of the weekly curriculum for all Lower School students. Training in direct observational drawing and painting and the use of a wide variety of media begins in Kindergarten.
- Introductory lessons focus on multi-sensory experiences so that students develop associations between what they see and touch. Students learn to perceive and begin to name visual elements such as line, color, texture, and shape.
- A multidisciplinary approach prevails, encouraging all students to view art as an important and valuable part of their lives. Student work is proudly displayed from every grade level throughout The School.
To view more student artwork, click HERE