Primary School

THIS Primary is a joyful community of learners using a progressive American curriculum aligned to Common Core and AERO standards. We use project- and inquiry-based learning to promote engagement and understanding. THIS Primary is fun! Our unique educational philosophy is guided by developmentally sound, well researched programs. Each homeroom has a teaching assistant to support learning within and outside of the classroom. Our Homeroom teachers are well trained in teaching Reading, Writing, Social Studies, and Math, and our Specialist teachers are educated in and passionate about their content areas of Science, Visual Arts, Music, Chinese, and Physical Education. We all work together to build a community of 21st century learners who are passionate, curious, and creative.

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

- Dr. Suess selected by Wei Rong (Teaching Assistant)

Education is the transmission of civilization.

- Will Drunt selected by Maggie Cheng (Teaching Assistant)

Taking my life in my own hands.

- Unknown selected by Wu Huijun (Primary/Secondary Chinese Teacher)

The aim of education should be to convert the mind into a living fountain and not a reservoir.

- John M. Mason selected by Connie Jiao (Teaching Assistant)

Our Approach

All students must hold a valid, international passport to attend. Admission to THIS Primary is a three-part process. Students must have adequate grades from previous schools, pass an academic English exam, and complete an interview in English. The overwhelming majority of our students come with some level of Chinese language ability, but it is not required. Students coming from other international schools in which English is the primary teaching language are expected to take Chinese classes once enrolled. Applications are received on a rolling basis until class sizes reach capacity. Students are generally not accepted late in the academic year; however, waiting lists are established.

English is the main language of instruction at THIS Primary. Our students are expected to use academic and social English throughout the day, with the exception of during Chinese class. Our native English-speaking and native Chinese-speaking teachers work together to provide an immersive language experience for our students to practice our motto of “East meets West.” Both our English and Chinese programs are rigorous but differentiated for the abilities of our students. Our English Language Learning students receive English Language Support in class or in small groups to help close small gaps in the English reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Our teachers work to prepare students for the linguistic challenges of living in an increasingly connected world.

THIS Primary offers a variety of after school classes and clubs throughout the year. Classes and clubs are designed to support the THIS Core Values as well as provide learning in one of five areas: STEM, The Arts, Chinese Culture, Student Interest Groups, and Movement and Sportsmanship. Classes and clubs are offered across three eight-week sessions throughout the year. Some classes are year-long and others change with each session. We work with both outside vendors and teachers to provide enriching experiences for students after school.

When a student enters THIS Primary, they are sorted into a Spartan Family group. Our Spartan Families are comprised of students from Grades 1-5, and they participate in monthly activities together. This allows older students to mentor younger students and builds links and bridges across grades in our school. Siblings are placed in the same Spartan Family, and students remain in the same group for their entire time at THIS Primary School, allowing the students to develop deep and meaningful friendships with students outside of their classes and grade levels. Everyone looks forward to our Spartan Family activities!

Formed in 2014, our Parent Association is comprised of elected parent representatives across grade levels. Together, with administrators, they have monthly meetings, run a school store, fundraise for initiatives, organize support for classes and teachers, and host activities and events throughout the year. In addition, the Primary Parent Representatives meet with the Primary School Director twice a year to address growth, parent body concerns, events, and strategies specific to the Primary School. Our Parent Association also hosts our annual Talent Show and, beginning in 2018, our End of Year Carnival. Our Primary parents are actively engaged in our school community!

Subject Areas

Chinese Language

THIS Primary seeks to develop students who are fully proficient in both Chinese and English. Our Chinese program not only emphasizes Chinese as a tool of communication and culture, but also focuses on using and understanding literature, drawing on the rich traditions of Tsinghua University. The National Full-time Compulsory Education of Chinese Curriculum Standards guide the development of our Chinese units of study, and we use the textbooks published by Beijing Normal University Press. Our Chinese teachers in Grades 1-5 divide students in Chinese by proficiency into native or Chinese language learning classes.

English Language Arts

Our Primary students love to read and write!  In order to foster an inquiry-driven, creative love of literacy, our Primary School uses the Reading and Writing Workshop Units of Study developed by Teachers College at Columbia University. Students are taught skills and set goals for reading and writing based upon lessons that encourage personal growth. We promote risk taking in literacy, encouraging students to explore and master concepts across genres as they are ready while ensuring that they are working toward appropriate mastery of skills in their grade level. Our reading and writing curriculum is further woven throughout all other contents so that students can develop a deep understanding of literacy across subjects.

English Language Support

English is the primary language of instruction at THIS, and students must be able to speak, listen, read, and write in English prior to enrollment. We offer tailored, specialized English Language Support (ELS) during Reading or Writing Workshop for English Language Learning (ELL) students that qualify for these services in order to close small gaps that may limit proficiency. The ELS teachers work with the Homeroom Teachers to ensure that the ELS students are making progress toward meeting goals while also working within the framework of the California English Language Development Standards.


Math at THIS Primary is a hands on process that helps students think flexibly about the how and why of math as it moves from concrete fundamentals to abstract concepts. We use the Singapore Math’s Math in Focus series to guide our curriculum. Our Math program is further supplemented by Investigations and Engage NY activities and units throughout the year. Our students progress at a developmentally appropriate rate, and support and enrichment are provided as necessary so students truly develop an understanding of mathematical concepts as the relate to not only their assignments, but a variety of real world scenarios. Students in Grades 3-5 may also have the opportunity to join the THIS Primary Mathletes to enrich and expand their mathematical learning after school.

Instructional Technology

At THIS Primary, students are exposed to technology in ways that are appropriate and diverse. Students have access to shared iPads to use with lessons and activities across units, and all of our classes are equipped with and regularly use Smart Boards and projection technology. Primary School students also use the THIS STEAM lab in cross-curricular, inquiry-based learning. As students mature in their use of technology, they integrate and create projects and presentations using skills that they have developed. Our teachers teach using a combination of strategies that integrate technology when it best supplements or serves to best deliver content. In third grade students participate in a typing and computer basics class. In grades 4-5 they have a coding class to develop their coding skills. We offer After School Activities that teach in-depth use of technology and coding, and we will soon be introducing a robotics program at THIS Primary.


Students at THIS Primary participate in hands-on, inquiry-based Science instruction led by a Science Specialist in our Primary Science Lab. Using FOSS Science, our Science program is well resourced, active, engaging, creative, and fun, and it is anchored in understanding, analyzing, and solving real-world problems.  When possible, Science is integrated into and integrates in other content areas to promote the transfer of understanding across the curriculum.

Social Studies

Social Studies is the cornerstone of the THIS Primary curriculum, and it guides the cross-curricular experiences of our students. Students begin each school year learning about themes in Community, adding depth and complexity to previous understanding with the start of each year. Using AERO standards and essential questions centering in thematic units, our Social Studies curriculum is consistently evolving and uses project-based learning to ultimately promote critical thinking about contemporary issues through historic, ecological, anthropologic, and sociocultural paradigms.

Physical Education

Physical Education at THIS Primary challenges our students to explore and develop skills necessary to live an active and healthy lifestyle. Our students develop Spartan Spirit as they learn coordination and control in movement, strategy, teamwork, and sportsmanship as they develop fundamental skills in learning a variety of sports. Students are able to expand their understanding of sports in our Sports After School Activity, as well as by participating in JISAC tournaments with neighboring international schools. 

Visual Arts

Visual art in the primary school focuses on discovery of and experimentation with art materials in a variety of mediums. The course is multi-disciplinary and project-based, and it uses inquiry-based discussion to introduce artistic concepts. Students are encouraged to draw on their personal ideas and experiences to create work that relate to them. Students are exposed to art from around the world and through history as they work to refine their skills, knowledge, and understanding. As students move through our program, they learn to plan and work collaboratively on small group projects. While using content-specific vocabulary, students are challenged to present their pieces, and provide verbal and written feedback related to their own and others’ work.


Music in the Primary School utilizes the Orff and Kodaly approaches, focusing on active engagement, cultural diversity, and creativity in learning and mastering skills. Our music program is well resourced, featuring an ever expanding repertoire of exciting activities and instruments. It is multi-disciplinary, often incorporating and enhancing projects in literacy, Visual Arts, and Social Studies. At THIS Primary, our students learn to make and appreciate the music in everyday living. In Grade 5, students have the opportunity to select a beginning band instrument (Trumpet, Trombone, Clarinet, Flute, and Percussion) and participate in both the band and choir programs.

Interested in attending THIS Primary School?  Contact Admissions