Primary School Grades K-4

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Primary School Program

The BASIS Independent K-4 program has been developed to help prepare students for the high-achieving curriculum in the BASIS Independent Middle School (grades 5–7) and Upper School (grades 8–12). The K-4 program therefore focuses not only on academics, but also on critical thinking, organizational skills, time management, study skills, and behavioral expectations—each of which are vital to success in various future pursuits.

K-4 Curriculum

Our curriculum for grades K–4 was developed through collaborative work among veteran teachers with deep subject knowledge, and elementary education experts with diverse teaching experiences. Each major topic within a course is spiraled throughout the grade levels to ensure topic mastery. That is, the same major topics can appear in each grade level, but with each appearance, students study that topic in more depth and in more nuanced ways. Students' building blocks of understanding continually widen as they expand their knowledge base. We also constantly evaluate and refine our liberal arts, STEM-focused curriculum—top to bottom—in order to provide the best possible learning paths for our students. Indeed, given the "spiraling" effect, when a piece of the curriculum changes in one grade, it has a positive effect on the other grades, leading students throughout the grade levels to improve.

For a list of the courses required in Lower School, see our course list. Browse our Lower School curriculum detail below:

Teaching Models and Philosophy

Kindergarten Teaching Model

To ensure superior instruction and consistent support throughout this developmentally crucial year, we have two teachers in each classroom in kindergarten. With deep knowledge of pedagogical techniques, our teachers provide consistency in individual expectations, helping students understand their schedule and goals. 

During any one class period, these two teaching professionals work together to find the best ways to deliver lessons, ensure student engagement, and create an environment where students will best understand and retain what they learn in class.

Grades 1–4 Teaching Model: Subject Expert Teachers and Learning Expert Teachers

Subject Expert Teachers (SETs)—many of whom have master's degrees or Ph.Ds.—are skilled and experienced teachers with special ability in their subject area. SETs only teach that one subject, to a significant number of students, while working with a different Learning Expert Teacher and class of students in each class period.

Learning Expert Teachers (LETs) are skilled and experienced in teaching methods for the primary grades, and they remain with their group of students all day, rotating with them from subject to subject. LETs are responsible for one classroom of students, all day, every day, while leading them to work with a new Subject Expert Teacher in each class period.

Together, these experts focus on building a school culture of social-emotional and academic support and crafting thought-provoking lessons that encourage curiosity and creativity. Our teachers have a significant amount of professional freedom in finding the optimal way to achieve these goals, which forms a compelling part of what makes BASIS Independent schools outstanding and truly unique.

An observer in our classrooms on any given day will see both LETs and SETs checking for understanding by using student whiteboards, providing one-on-one attention to students, using the Socratic method, applying team-oriented learning techniques, and reviewing the prior night's homework (and prior day's material) not just for accuracy, but for conceptual understanding. This unique level of student-teacher engagement allows teachers to quickly identify students who are struggling, assist them in getting the extra support they may need, and prevent them from falling behind. It also builds a truly fulfilling relationship—one of mutual respect, trust, and understanding.

Kindergarten Curriculum Detail

Every day, students in our program enjoy an enrichment curriculum that builds upon the academic foundations of the morning courses. Teachers plan hands-on, creative, and artistic ways to build on students’ learning using the concepts taught in the morning, and reinforce this knowledge through art, centers, music, and other creative outlets.

Language and Literacy

Our kindergarten program begins with the foundations of phonics, whole language, writing, and grammar; we build on these foundations with strategies to develop a love for reading and writing. Our teachers use many tools when teaching these vital concepts through small group centers, whole class activities, songs, dances, rhymes, reading, and more.

Civics, History, and Science

Kindergarten in the BASIS Curriculum instills an overarching interest in social studies and science quite early. We familiarize students with key topics that are reintroduced at a deeper level later in the BASIS Curriculum journey. Students investigate regions of the world and the peoples in it. Each week, students improve these foundations using a variety of sources, virtual field trips, study centers, hands-on experiments, and more.


Saxon Math teaches a wide array of math skills, and these concepts are revisited in each successive year for a fully spiraled curriculum from kindergarten through high school. BASIS Curriculum kindergarten students complete "Saxon Math 1," mastering basic mathematical concepts and processes such as patterns, money, times and dates, basic geometry, word problems, skip counting, and more.


Students receive excellent practice in building fine and gross motor skills, improving the foundations of coordination, good sportsmanship, sports and game play, teamwork, and healthy habits.

Engineering and Technology

Students investigate, innovate, build, and use natural and man-made materials to explore technology and engineering concepts. Using engineering processes, students discover new ways to view problems and find solutions.


Learning Mandarin provides students with the opportunity to engage both sides of their brains. Since Mandarin is a tonal language, students learn to attend to both the basic sound of a word as well as the tone in which it is spoken. Additionally, Mandarin’s use of written characters for each word rather than an alphabet provides students with visual and artistic stimulation.


This course is taught thematically, exploring how artists and learners respond to the concepts of communication, community, movement, technology, and self. Students paint, draw, sculpt, and create while making cross-cultural connections, establishing an appreciation for the arts, and developing fine motor skills.

Performance Arts, Visual Arts, and Music

Students express themselves artistically with guidance from teachers in the fields of drama, art, and music. These subjects are each taught once weekly by teachers who cultivate our young students’ creativity and encourage them to think about art, its meaning, and its processes.

Grades 1–4 Curriculum Detail

In grades 1–4, courses are taught in integrated blocks. Students in these grades take the following courses:

Math and Science  

The "Math and Science" block is a daily 85-minute class. All BASIS Curriculum Schools follow the Saxon Math curriculum from basic numeracy in kindergarten to calculus in high school.

Our philosophy is that students learn best when broader topics are introduced in smaller segments with ample time to practice new additions. Saxon’s spiraling topics and homework problems not only give students the practice they need, but also strengthen fundamental skills. While we follow the Saxon sequence within each course, BASIS Curriculum students are usually a grade level ahead of their peers.

  • Saxon Math curriculum: spirals content through the grade levels and follows a consistent daily routine. Saxon's spiraling topics and cumulative homework problem sets not only give students the practice they need, but also strengthen fundamental skills.
  • Saxon Math:
    • 1 in kindergarten
    • 2 in grade 1
    • 3 in grade 2
    • Intermediate 4 in grade 3
    • Course 1 in grade 4
  • Science: interactively integrates math concepts covered in the block
    • Learning science by doing science
    • Topics include Earth science, astronomy, and basic physics and chemistry
Engineering and Technology

This course introduces students to the processes, tools and techniques of the engineering design process. Students develop problem-solving, logic, and relationship skills through hands-on, real-world projects.

  • Project-based learning
  • Integrates content from core courses with technology and design

The "Humanities" block is a daily 85 minute class that combines language arts and social studies. Rather than divide this into two separate courses, BASIS Curriculum Schools believe that an integrated approach allows students both to learn concepts at a greater depth, and to spend more time writing and researching.

  • Language arts
    • Reading: fluency and comprehension
    • Writing, handwriting, and spelling
    • Grammar, structure, and mechanics
    • Greek and Latin roots
  • Social sciences
    • Geography, history, economics

Students enjoy 20 minutes of ungraded independent reading time each day to improve their comprehension skills and foster a love of reading. Students also work on projects based on their reading, and share what they have read with their classmates.


Learning Mandarin provides students with the opportunity to engage both sides of their brains, and promotes mental flexibility. Students master skills such as ordering, grouping, and distinguishing similarities and differences in character-writing and intonation.

  • Language and culture
  • Pinyin (phonetic transcription into the Latin alphabet)
  • Chinese characters (simplified)

Physical Education 

In PE/Health, students enjoy traditional games and sports; learn about health, nutrition, and safety; and participate in martial arts lessons to improve strength, coordination, and flexibility. PE courses improve students’ locomotor skills, stability skills, and manipulative skills, teach teamwork, and provide daily vigorous activity.

  • Traditional PE: running, jumping, catching, throwing, games, etc.
  • Health: nutrition, lifestyle, safety, and personal hygiene
  • Martial arts (e.g. Kenpo): self-discipline, “centering,” and morals

The Connections course is designed to increase interpersonal skills, build critical thinking skills, enrich the content learned in other courses, and allow students to showcase and refine their creative minds.

  • A scenario-based course that connects content learned in every class
  • Students explore a variety of approaches, techniques, and processes for developing innovative ideas, performing experiments, and problem solving

Fine Arts (Performing Arts, Visual Arts, and Music)

These subjects are each taught once weekly by teachers who cultivate our young students’ creativity and expose them to new perspectives. Students are encouraged to explore different modes of self-expression, and to develop a love for the arts.

  • Music, art, performing arts
  • Presented as overlapping and complementary
  • All teach creativity and pride of accomplishment