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About our school

Kindergarten – inquiry-based learning

We sometimes have the impression that we have a room full of Einsteins or Monets in our kindergarten class – when you see how excitedly the children immerse themselves into their various science, art or theater projects.

Since 2002, we follow an international kindergarten program, where the school year is divided into six themes, with the time and flexibility to explore these in considerable depth. For example, one of our themes last year was “How I Express Myself”, which we implemented by inventing the characters for a play, making hand puppets as the characters, writing the story, creating the backdrop, rehearsing the play and inviting the parents and rest of the school for the performance. And all that was done by 5-year olds.

We practice math via measurements, estimates, concepts, sequencing and science projects rather than simply memorizing numbers. The children improve their language skills – in German and in English - through presentations, stories, reading, music, theater and self-initiated, teacher assisted writing introduction. They do not memorize the alphabet. By the end of the kindergarten year, the children are ready for the parallel introduction of writing in German and English in the first grade. They are indeed ready for the world!

A Day in Kindergarten

  • 8:30 Welcome
  • 8:45 Circle Time/Discussion
  • 9:30 Snack and Recess
  • 10:00 Main project of the day (science, art, theater or linguistics)
  • 11:30 Language Circle
  • 12:00 Lunch and Recess
  • 12:30 Library or Gym
  • 1:15 Closing circle: what did we learn today? What did I particularly like today?
  • 1:45 Good-bye

 

The Primary Years – Student Centered Approach

“What are the questions you have about this topic? How do you want to approach this problem?”

At GAIS, we put a great emphasis on students taking responsibility for their own work. Naturally, we still spend a significant time on skill-building and problem-solving techniques. But we also go far beyond that: we challenge the students from early on to take risks, to explore deeper, to question the obvious and to articulate their opinions in both German and in English. At the same time we continue to nurture their creativity through art, music and physical education which are an important part of the curriculum through Primary and Middle School.

The children are introduced to writing in both German and English in the first grade. In the third grade, we introduce Spanish as an elective. Linguistics plays a significant role in the early years. With the help of expert native-language speaking staff, the students are immersed in a challenging yet very supportive environment.

Extending the curriculum into the afternoons, we offer various extracurricular programs including choir, clay workshop, critical writing, dance, drama, fencing, homework supervision, painting, private music lessons, science club, soccer, watercolor, windsurfing, and yoga.

 

The Middle Years – Preparation for the World Beyond

The GAIS middle school is very special. It introduces subjects like geography, biology, physics, and chemistry, which are commonly reserved for high school honors classes. But then again, GAIS students are very special: by the time they reach middle school, they have grown accustomed to inquiry-based learning, primary research, and critical thinking.

We encourage our students not only to become bilingual, but also to be prepared for the challenges of the world. In our eighth grade math preparation courses, we ensure that the students are exceeding all the requirements for advanced placement in US high schools, as well as being prepared for a seamless integration into top international schools. Naturally, they do this in both German and in English, with 75 percent of the curriculum being taught in native German and 25 percent in native English. In the sixth grade, our students have the choice to add French or Spanish as their third or, in many cases, fourth language.

The project-based approach introduced in kindergarten is applied consistently throughout the grades right up to graduation. As the projects get more complicated, the research more refined and the final presentations more comprehensive, the core values remain the same: we enable our students to discover the world and allow them to learn and master the skills they need to take on any challenge. At GAIS, we help our students to be ready for the world.