Elementary

Our warm and nurturing Elementary programme offers students an engaging atmosphere, rich with possibilities for academic and social growth, personal challenge and creative expression. We are just small enough to provide your child with the security of meaningful and caring relationships with teachers and well-tended relationships with peers. This security is essential to your child reaching his or her full academic and emotional potential.

Our place in the world
We take advantage of the many and rich resources that surround us. Relationships with local experts, universities and community groups contribute to our students’ hands-on learning through field trips, guest presentations and outdoor educational experiences. These “real-world” opportunities encourage our students to understand the significance of their active participation in the world: the school, their city, and beyond.

Every school day is an adventure
Elementary students bring energy, curiosity and rapidly developing skills to Theme Studies. Our students are encouraged to soak up information and to communicate that knowledge in ways that are accurate, creative and engaging. One year when Discovery was our Theme, the students got lost in space and explored our planet as though it were newly discovered. In the process they studied nutrition, physical science, water purity and plant and animal life, supporting their findings through both text and computer-based research. They became astronauts and scientists, and presented their research at a “Discovering the Solar System” Fair.

Halifax Independent students learn how to question, analyze, classify and present their discoveries. The sense of ownership, pride and confidence that naturally flows from their learning experiences benefits our children for life.

Class sizes are small at Halifax Independent to allow maximum individual attention while optimizing social interaction among the children. Most of these classes are multi-age, a structure which allows children to work and learn with other age groups and to find social and work groupings based on characteristics other than age.

Halifax Independent has its own way of describing each class. These names stem from a long tradition and were suggested and voted on at Meeting by the children. They are a way of avoiding traditional boundaries between age groups and reflect the understanding our children have that each of them is working to the best of their ability irrespective of their grade level.

The classes are as follows: Littles (Pre-primary), Youngs (Primary), Middles (Grades 1 and 2), Olds (Grades 3 and 4), Elders (Grade 5 and 6), and in Middle School , MS7,  MS8 and  MS9 (Grades 7, 8 and 9). The elementary classes, Primary through Grade 6, have a maximum of 18 children per class.

Early Arrival beginning at 8:00am and After School care until 5:30pm are available for students in our Elementary programme.

The school day at Halifax Independent runs from 9:00 to 3:15pm (3:35 for Middle School). Children are supervised from 8:30 to 3:15pm (3:35 for Middle School), lunchtime included. All children in the Pre-Primary and Elementary school have a half hour "snack" time in the mornings and a one hour lunch time. On both breaks children have an opportunity to play outside. Optional hot lunches are served several days per week at a small additional cost.

In addition, the following programmes are offered:

  • Early Morning Care: 8:00am - 8:30am, Monday through Friday (except on school holidays)
  • After School Care: 3:15pm - 5:30pm, Monday through Friday (except on school holidays)
  • Parent Teacher Conference Days: 8am - 5:30pm
  • Inservice Days: 8am - 5:30pm on every Inservice Day

The aim of these childcare programmes is to provide an environment consistent with the goals of the school. The focus is on developing social skills, independence, cooperation and respect for oneself and others. The programmes are recreation-based and often involve the adventure of an off-site activity. Childcare staffmembers are selected for their training, skills, experience and love of children. Parental input and participation is encouraged.

Phys Ed, Swimming and Healthy Living

As part of the Halifax Independent curriculum, all children receive weekly swimming lessons (Royal Lifesaving Society) at the Canada Games Centre. In addition, they have a weekly physical education class in which they explore ball skills, movement activities and co-operative games. A wide variety of sports are included in the gym class. The emphasis is on respectful, playful participation. Older children participate in inter-school meets such as cross-country, badminton, swim and track and field. Several after school clubs such as skating, running, dance and sports offer additional opportunities for children to stay active. Our cook and nutrition mentor works weekly with our Primary students and enhances theme-learning one afternoon per week by guiding them in preparing, cooking and sharing food, together.

Science

Every aspect of our learning environment encourages curiosity and enthusiasm for discovery. Throughout the Elementary years, science is taught as a completely integrated component of Theme learning, with cross-curricular connections made wherever appropriate. Direct instruction and hands-on scientific inquiry systematically build both knowledge of content and mastery of the foundational principles of scientific method. As with other areas of learning, we arrange rich opportunities for learning through guest speakers and field trips with local scientists and specialists.

Art

The walls at Halifax Independent School are alive with art work created by and for children. From the "Work-a-ma-jig" dynamic sculpture in the front lobby to the "Living Things" mural ascending the stairwell to the hand-painted inlaid tiles in the corridor, examples of the collaboration of children and professional artists are everywhere. Art is integrated daily into our theme studies, and many opportunities are provided for children to explore materials and create. As children reach the middle Elementary years, they benefit from weekly art classes in addition to the art experiences that are integral to Theme.

Language Arts

Although Theme Learning lends itself to extensive research and reading about theme related topics, HIS encourages a love of literature for literature's sake. Novel study groups, reading aloud, library times, book buddies, author visits and drama are some of the ways children explore literature deeply. In addition to the many varieties of expository writing the children do as part of theme studies, they also write for other purposes: poetry, fiction, plays, speeches, letters etc. Communication of results and conclusions is a fundamental part of any research project, and emphasis is put on presenting information in an engaging and relevant manner.

Math

Math at Halifax Independent School is rooted in real life situations with an emphasis on seeing patterns and relationships inherent in the world around us. Although Math is taught as a separate subject it is integrated into the theme as well; connections and applications of mathematical principles are woven throughout the programme. H.I.S. lays a strong foundation in Mathematics by presenting it as a hands-on, creative activity focusing on developing conceptual understanding, solving problems and articulating solutions, while providing ample opportunity for practice.

New concepts are introduced with free and guided exploration of manipulatives. This leads children to a solid understanding of mathematical relationships and allows us to reach children with a wide range of learning styles. On that important foundation we build both mathematical literacy and, ultimately, the ability to work at the symbolic level. While entrenching the basic skills and vocabulary, our programme emphasizes problem solving and reasoning to explore all aspects of Mathematics. The aim of the mathematics programme is to encourage competence, confidence and a positive attitude in children by providing enjoyable opportunities for practice and success.

At the heart of our approach is the belief that Math should be fun!

French

The French programme is based on a gestural approach which encourages speaking in sentences from the very beginning and which quickly develops comprehension skills. Classes are active and fun, using drama and story-telling extensively, as well as songs and games. Reading and writing skills are also emphasized, and are gradually intensified as students become comfortable with familiar vocabulary. Students in Middles have three French classes per week, and this increases to four classes for the Olds and Elders.

Music

Two weekly lessons and a choir class make music an important part of our curriculum. Rooted in experiential songs and games, children are encouraged to make musical appreciation and participation part of their lives. As they grow, they experience learning instruments (percussion, recorder, ukulele and, finally, a band instrument in Grade 6) and reach a deeper level of musical literacy. Principles of the Kodàly framework are used throughout. A music concert is held each spring, and the various choirs perform at various times throughout the year.

Social Studies

A growing understanding of history, geography and culture is built into our theme studies, with care to ensure a strong understanding of a student’s local and familiar “world” as well as an appreciation of and respect for the culture and history of people and places that are far away or unfamiliar to them. Theme studies will expose them to societies and cultures from long ago and far away, as well as allowing them to interpret current issues and events. This approach encourages learning beyond mere facts, such that students are encouraged to draw meaningful inferences from their studies and make key cross-curricular connections. In addition to building knowledge of content, this area of our curriculum encourages critical thinking and respectful engagement.

Each child has a portfolio which contains examples of work from each unit studied and is added to continuously during the child's stay at the school. Benchmarks have been created for each grade level and a record of these is kept in the child's file. Teachers also keep extensive notes and checklists for each child. These notes and benchmarks are used to help discuss the child's progress at Parent-Teacher Conferences, which are held 3 times a year. Regular phone calls home are made by the teachers to report on particular evidence of progress and to chat informally about how things are going. Fairs and open houses also provide opportunities for parents to see how their children are doing.