Elementary School – Grades 1 – 4
“We know every child, we care for every child!”
It is a German tradition that the first day of elementary school is of significant importance. German schools celebrate this particular day with children bringing their colorful “Schultüten” to school. The Elementary school at GIST, which includes grades 1 through 4, promotes critical thinking, responsibility, and open-mindedness. We value diversity and multilingualism. We focus on the students’ existing competencies and are always striving to improve them. Based on the Thuringian (German) and Ontario curricula, our Elementary school prepares students for school systems around the world.
Highlights of our Elementary School Program
- We teach in teams: The main subjects German, English and Mathematics are taught by two teachers concurrently, ensuring that each student receives individual support. The cooperative learning method plays an important role. Students support and learn from each other. We also regularly cooperate with excellent German universities and get support from qualified trainee teachers.
- We teach in combined classes: Grades 1 and 2 learn together, as well as Grades 3 and 4. This ensures that all differentiated levels and abilities are not only addressed but tailored to the individual needs of the students. We mainly use the method of internal differentiation: we start and end each lesson together, and in between the students work on individual assignments.
- We have small class sizes: Class sizes of up to 18 students, taught by two teachers in the main subjects, offer an unbeatable student-teacher-ratio. We know every child, we care for every child. This is not marketing, this is authentic quality education.
- We teach children to write cursive! There is more to handwriting than meets the eye. Training fine-motor skills promotes brain development. Practicing cursive requires discipline and a commitment to quality, both important pillars of our Charakter program.
The curriculum in Elementary school
The very core of a school’s educational offer lies within its curriculum. At the GIST, we work with a unique school curriculum, because it makes the best use of Germany’s and Canada’s remarkable curricular foundations.
- We teach the German language based on a German curriculum. This curriculum comes with tailored teaching and learning supplies. Our three-step German language program helps all students to acquire strong German language skills. Our students' language acquisition is regularly assessed and evaluated. We decide individually for each child when the time is right to take the next step.
- From the Ontario and Thuringian curriculum, we have developed our unique 'GIST curriculum" for English. It contains all the skills required to enable students to succeed in Ontario as well as in Germany and international schools. We provide native speakers with the challenge they need and beginners with quick access to the English language.
- Mathematics is taught according to German curricular standards. This means that children learn time tables, explore the world of probability, operate with data, and expand their ability to arrive at solutions with formulas and calculations. The four learning areas of arithmetic, measurements, geometry and stochastic are developed spirally from grade to grade. All contents of math classes refer to the students living environment (Lebensweltbezug). We also include the imperial system with ounces, feet and pounds.
- Beginning in Grade 3, we teach French based on a German curriculum. It is competency-based and its core is comparable to the Ontario curriculum. While teaching the basic competences of language acquisition, the lessons also include songs and other activities that the students truly enjoy. Students are encouraged to discover the beauty of the French language.
We want to make sure that every student can prosper and reach their full potential. All of our students are encouraged to participate in the following standardized third-party testing:
- Grade 3 VERA
VERA is the German competency test in German and Mathematics
- Känguru der Mathematik
Find more information about aspects of our Elementary Program!
- Learn more about our three-step German language program.
- Find out what our families think of the GIST Elementary School
- Interested in handwriting? Learn more.
- Digital learning has a high priority in our elementary school. We work partly with interactive textbooks and use various learning apps in our lessons.
- 'Onilo' gives students access to literature and combines reading, listing, narration and visual perception.
- 'Anton' is a curriculum-based learning app that provides content of major and minor subjects. It is used as additional practice, support or challenge, depending on the individual needs of the students.
What is so important about writing cursive? An article in Psychology Today cited research which shows that:
- Students "wrote more words, faster, and expressed more ideas when writing essays by hand versus with a keyboard." This study included second, fourth, and sixth graders.
- "Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual (and) tactile information, and fine motor dexterity."
- The regions of the brain that are activated during reading were "activated during hand writing, but not during typing."