Early Learning Program
Discovery and Foundation
PreK-1 and PreK-2 encourage early learners’ natural propensity to question, to create, and to discover. We create an enjoyable, intentional learning experience rooted in early literacy and numeracy. Coursework centers around giving students tools to understand the world around them. Our Discovery Blocks of Learning curriculum exposes students to everything from social studies to self-care skills, mathematics to Chinese language and culture, to expressive arts. Teachers with expertise in early childhood education (or related fields) facilitate opportunities for children to thoughtfully and purposefully interact with materials, use their imagination and creativity to inspire questions, and use their own reasoning skills to learn from and connect to the world around them.
Kindergarten builds on the love for learning instilled in PreK to lay a strong foundation for success in the years to come. Success for us means not only the acquisition of foundational concepts and skills, but also the adoption of scholarly habits and immersion in a culture that values learning above most other endeavors.
Together, PreK-1, PreK-2, and Kindergarten form our Early Learning Program. Students in the program are taught in the same classroom throughout the day by two teachers: an Early Education Teacher and an Early Education Teaching Fellow. Specialist teachers also join the class for specific content instruction.
Primary School Program
Teaching to Learn
The Primary School curriculum emphasizes the connection between students’ seemingly discreet subjects of humanities, math & science, engineering, performing arts, music, Chinese language and culture, fine art, and physical education. Students even have a dedicated weekly 85-minute period called “Connections,” a scenario-based, hands-on learning experience designed to fuel creativity, ingenuity, social skills, and demonstrate interdisciplinary connections.
Starting in grade 1, students move from class to class and have two teachers present for nearly all subjects. A Subject Expert Teacher (SET) specializing in a particular discipline leads instruction of content for each subject. Students’ Learning Expert Teacher (LET) guides them to each class, focuses on effective pedagogy, and co-teaches with each Subject Expert Teacher (SET). Because the LET remains with the same element of students throughout the school day, they are always there to aid in the scholastic and social development of students, and lead progress monitoring, parent communication, and delivery of enrichment or support.
LETs and SETs facilitate a rapid transition from a focus on foundational skills and knowledge to independent thinking, active learning, and application of knowledge by emphasizing connections between disciplines and reiteration of key concepts throughout the curriculum.
Middle School Program (Grade 5)
Concrete to Abstract Thinking
Beginning in Grade 5, courses are taught exclusively by Subject Expert Teachers (SETs) and students move independently from one class to the next. Instruction is focused on attaching abstract thinking to concrete thinking and on mastering the basics necessary for a college-preparatory curriculum. Also beginning in Grade 5 students are offered student hours during the day to approach teachers with questions and are also given time to work independently on homework. In addition to core subjects, two unique classes to Grade 5 are Classics and Physical Geography.
Middle School Program (Grades 6-8)
Knowledge as a Tool
In Grades 6-8, students complete a rigorous schedule in all core disciplines, including three separate, concurrent science classes (physics, chemistry, and biology), economics, and a course in logic. Students begin to select elective courses beginning in grade 6. The spiral of the curriculum is essential and highly apparent in these grades, particularly regarding the revisiting of concepts in the sciences in greater depth with each passing year, as students prepare for entry into Honors or Advanced Placement (AP) level coursework starting in grade 9.
Subject Expert Teachers (SETs) partner with Deans and Directors of Student Affairs to ensure students are set up for success in coursework not typically seen at the middle school level. Students take advantage of student hours and witness the impact of being prepared and developing good study skills on their education. While self-advocacy and executive functioning skills are emphasized in all grades throughout the BASIS Curriculum, they are of particular focus in the Intermediate Years to prepare students for study in one of the most advanced high school programs in the world. Students come to recognize knowledge as a tool and begin to understand the opportunities that mastery of fundamental concepts in various disciplines will afford them.
High School Program
Thinking for Problem Solving
The world-renowned BASIS Curriculum in the High School Years is unmatched in breadth and depth: we offer students unprecedented exposure to high-level content and the creative, critical thinking opportunities typically reserved for university-level studies. Under the guidance of passionate Subject Expert Teachers who are deeply invested in their success, students gain the best possible preparation for college and hone skills and habits that stay with them long after graduation.
In core disciplines, Honors is the minimum level offered, with a large percentage of courses taken at the Advanced Placement (AP) level. Many schools reserve AP courses for their top performers’ final years in school, but we require AP coursework—6 AP exams and 7 AP courses—of all students and make them available starting in grade 9. Students demonstrate mastery in Honors and AP courses, then further develop their abilities to think critically and creatively in post-AP courses. They also participate in a daily college counseling seminar the first two trimesters of their senior year designed to help them find the right school and ready their applications.
During Senior Projects, students apply their knowledge in a professional or research setting. Students explore potential topics in which to major and pursue a career, while also cultivating intellectual passions and pursuits that will shape them as learners and leaders in college and beyond.
The humanities curriculum begins with the building blocks of literacy and quickly establishes in students a strong foundation in reading, writing, and historical awareness. As coursework evolves from awareness of self and community in the Early Years to integrated coursework in history and English in the Primary Years, deeper content in classics, and ultimately the societies that have shaped the current day, BASIS Curriculum students develop a deep and broad understanding of historical periods and cultural differences, as well as the skills to analyze and critique all types of representational media. The BASIS Diploma requires more credits in humanities than in any other discipline.
Math & Science
All students take high-level mathematics courses earlier than usual, and begin learning chemistry, physics, and biology as separate courses in grade 6. Graduates have passed all three sciences at the Honors level and have completed and passed the exam for at least one Advanced Placement® (AP) math and one science course. We use a math curriculum rooted in the Saxon Math program, starting off one grade level ahead of the sequence. We believe students learn best when broader topics are introduced in smaller segments with ample time to practice new additions. Spiraling topics and homework problems give students ample practice and opportunity to strengthen fundamental skills.
Interdisciplinary coursework is present throughout the program, from a dedicated hands-on class in the Primary Years called “Connections” where cross-subject discovery is a key objective, to independently developed and investigated Senior Projects. We believe that teaching students to make connections across disciplines—to ask questions and seek solutions and answers across traditional boundaries—inspires the creative, independent thinking that prepares students for life and work in the 21st century. Outside of specific classes with explicit instruction in interdisciplinary studies, such as the Connections course, logic, economics, high school electives like the History of Medicine, and the Senior Project, all coursework involves some level of inquiry-based, cross-subject work.
The arts inspire students to develop creative, innovative ideas, encourage different modes of self-expression, and help students make meaningful aesthetic connections between themselves and the world. At various points throughout the curriculum (and often simultaneously), students take classes in fine arts, performing arts, and music. Starting in our earliest years, students explore diverse themes of historical and contemporary significance. Courses are taught thematically, exploring how artists and learners respond to the concepts of Communication, Community, Movement, Technology, and Self. In grades 6 and above, art courses are offered as an elective and offer students the opportunity to study an instrument, participate in a work of theatre, or deeply examine a specific fine arts history and technique.
Physical Education & Movement
In the BASIS Curriculum Physical Education and Movement courses, students learn to maintain healthy bodies, lifestyles, and attitudes through physical activity, organized sports, fitness, and dance. All BASIS students are required to take Physical Education in the Early, Primary, and Bridge Years; in grades 7–12, Physical Education is offered as an elective. Many BASIS Curriculum schools offer Movement courses in the lower grades as a complement to more traditional physical education curriculum.
Enrichment & Electives
In the Early and Primary Years, students take a required course in Engineering, learning the basics of the engineering design process and how to apply that framework in different aspects of the academic and social lives. In the Intermediate Years, Academic Enrichment (AE) is introduced as a vital component of the students’ day: they meet with teachers and get a start on homework. Students also have the choice of a wide variety of arts-based electives. Both AE and electives play a crucial role in the high school curriculum and often impact their Senior Project topic choice. College Counseling, a daily course senior year taught by a dedicated college counselor, is designed to set students up for success in planning for their education beyond BASIS Curriculum Schools.
“I’ve enjoyed constantly adapting to students. It’s helped me to grow and it’s focused meto adapt to new situations. It’s made me a better teacher.”
“It gives you a certain comfort that I can change to a different country and I know how the school works and the curriculum I’m teaching. So the change is easier, and there is a comfort that I can return to the states and I can continue working at a BASIS school.”