Primary School

The Primary School program fulfills the important learning goals of Keystone Academy by providing the social, emotional and intellectual building blocks that students need to flourish. The Keystone Academy model of integrated education develops students who show a passion for learning and are well prepared for secondary school. Each and every day of primary school is exciting; students are always confronting original ideas, meeting different kinds of challenges, cultivating new forms of knowledge, practicing different skills and learning in new ways.

Keystone Academy Primary School uses a dual-language immersion program in which students study, play and learn throughout the school day using both Chinese and English. Keystone education introduces the value of learning in two languages, building a foundation of linguistic competency and cultural understanding. We employ a progressive model of language acquisition that is based on research and effective practice. Students from immersion programs demonstrate a high correlation between complex thinking skills and advanced linguistic abilities. They have excellent cognitive flexibility and problem-solving skills.

Academic disciplines are introduced in small classes of no more than 18 students through an integrated, experiential curriculum that fully explores global perspectives. The subjects taught in each grade of primary school are:

• Language Arts: English
• Language Arts: Chinese
• Chinese Language Acquisition
• Mathematics
• Science
• Innovation and Digital Learning
• Library
• Physical Education and Wellness
• Visual Arts and Performing Arts
•Global Social Studies: History, Geography, and Society

Within the dual-language immersion model, the primary school uses the widely recognized inquery-based Primary Curriculum to orient integrated learning for the foundation year through grade 5. The strength of this program comes from the consistent and well-organized emphasis on student learning. Learning goals are linked to knowledge, action and understanding; these goals are designed to orient teachers and students in their daily work on IPC units and guide them in assessment and evaluation. Both classroom teachers and neuroscientists support the kind of unified and connected understanding of complex issues used in the IPC model of learning – it makes learning fun and engaging for students as they confront challenging academic objectives.

Language Arts classes in English and Chinese are important pathways for communication, imagination, creativity and critical thinking. The goals for Language Arts in both English and Chinese courses are to develop and nourish a love for reading, give students the confidence they need to explore literature as life-long learners, and provide the tools students need to communicate effectively in speaking and writing.

Teachers introduce students to different genres (e.g., poetry, prose, drama, essays) in world literature in ways that make the learning of language, communication, and critical thinking purposeful, accessible and fun. Formal instruction in age-appropriate language mechanics and writing meanwhile helps children develop their literacy skills in both languages. Language Arts in Chinese follow the guidelines of the Chinese National Curriculum for native speakers, and other standards, including those developed at Keystone Academy, for Chinese language learners in order to ensure students gain the essential knowledge, key skills, and breadth of learning to attain native fluency. In the end, we know that effective preparation in the Language Arts boosts students’ performance in all their academic subjects.

Keystone Primary’s Chinese Language Acquisition program provides ample opportunities for the students to experience the language and its culture in order to develop intercultural awareness and enrich their personal experience. Our CLA program focuses on student achievement of accuracy and fluency in listening, speaking, reading and writing, for the purpose of improvement of overall communication skills. Listening and speaking practice involves students using Chinese to communicate their thoughts spontaneously in real-life situations with accuracy and fluency. Reading skills are developed through regular reading of simple passages to suit the student’s level. Gradually, they will develop skills and confidence when reading articles in order to expand their vocabulary and knowledge of modern China and get in touch with the current issues emerging within China and around the world. Writing skills are gradually developed through a process of guided writing on topics familiar to students. Written tasks will become easier, as the students learn to organize their thoughts coherently and logically, and develop the skills to select appropriate vocabulary, sentence structures and genres to construct an effective written piece with accuracy and fluency. The CLA program at Keystone Primary includes a solid foundation while offering a broad range of vocabulary, topic and various text types to meet the different needs of the students. It is designed to ensure that knowledge-based language learning is placed within a communicative context, resulting in the improvement of both linguistic knowledge and performance.

Rigorous understanding of Mathematics is also essential for success at Keystone Academy. Mathematics is taught both as a separate course and as integrated portions of the IPC units. The Keystone Mathematics program is designed to make it relevant to the everyday lives of our students, and to provide the foundational knowledge required for the advanced Math and Science in our secondary school Diploma Programmes. Keystone Academy students use a research-based, results-oriented Math curriculum, which guides formal instruction of grade-level skills and concepts using an approach that combines the concrete, pictorial, and abstract approaches, leading children to deep understanding of mathematical concepts.

Science education is essential and naturally engaging to students in primary years. Our program includes experiments, predictions, and hands-on learning experiences that generate great enthusiasm for learning. While scientific concepts and skills are integrated into IPC units, we also use a supplementary Science curriculum program to enrich the learning experiences of our students in this subject area.

Innovation involves new ways of thinking, creativity, and approaches to problem solving. At Keystone, we encourage our students to be empowered learners who leverage technology and digital tools to enhance their learning experiences. Students learn responsible and creative use of digital technologies while engaging in individual and collaborative projects. They research and explore real-world problems and develop curiosity through hands-on experiential learning activities to design solutions. Teachers guide students through analysis of data and problems as they interact with simulations, modeling software, and programming tools. All classrooms are well equipped with iPads, laptops, and other digital resources that enhance the learning experience, and allow learners to share their creations and ideas through various digital platforms and applications. Our students are engaged global citizens who are passionate about connecting with the world as they prepare for their future.

Physical Education and Wellness are essential components of the educational process for students at Keystone. Starting in primary school, students practice wellness through an integrated program of exercise and nutrition that blends the best of Eastern and Western fitness traditions. Our new facilities allow us to offer a wide variety of athletic activities, including programs in wushu and swimming.

Full integration of the Arts engages primary students, makes their learning visible, and generates real passion for learning. At Keystone we place great emphasis on all the arts, linking them thematically to the integrated IPC units and to Chinese cultural history. In our music rooms and art studios, Keystone Primary School students work independently and collaboratively to explore and investigate music and art history, ceramics and sculpture, drawing, painting and calligraphy.

Global competency is a key theme running throughout the ethos of Keystone Academy; our students are well informed and closely connected to their own communities as well as communities in other parts of the world. Our students gain deep understanding of Chinese history and the situation of China in the world today, comparing this rich cultural tradition to other important traditions across the world. The IPC units are anchored in daily Global Social Studies classes and are thematically linked to the other disciplines.

Our comprehensive Primary School program addresses the intellectual, social, emotional and physical development of children, and prepares them for a smooth and harmonious transition to the middle and high schools.


Catherine Copeland

Catherine Copeland hails from Canada where she had a rich multicultural and bilingual upbringing.

Beryl Nicholson

Beryl Nicholson has been working in international schools for over 30 years and has substantial teaching, leadership, and management experience.

Grace Wang

Ms. Grace Wang joined in Keystone Primary School as a founding staff member in 2014.