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Grade 1 explore, experiment and express themselves at Huili

02 Dec 2018
Since Huili School Shanghai opened in August 2018, our bilingual community has blossomed and continues to thrive. We believe that every one of our pupils has the chance to become highly creative and competent independent learners, thanks to the combination of a stimulating and exciting curriculum as well as a thorough understanding of what each pupil requires to thrive as an individual.
While we strive to create this kind of learning environment for every year group, we would like to draw your attention to the exciting progress that has been occurring with our grade 1 pupils during the past few months. Grade 1 children are taught English at an energetic and lively pace with groups of no more than twelve to ensure that the teaching is specific and tailored to their needs. We have found this approach to be highly effective and it has been a pleasure to see children who were only reading three-letter words in August now reading whole books independently, thanks largely to their outstanding progress with our phonics programme. Individual reading is clearly very important, but we also try to bring whole classes together to share the enjoyment of their favourite stories. In one recent lesson, we have been exploring a story which involves an alien making a pizza with some very strange toppings. To bring the story to life, we made the pizza ourselves during class to practise the key words and phrases associated with the story. It is through fun and engaging activities like these that we are helping grade 1 pupils fall in love with reading. A love of reading leads to a love of language, which is already proving to be a big help with pupils’ writing skills. Recently, the children have been writing their own instructions for a secret potion. After reading a story in the library all about a witch, the children could not wait to start sharing their ideas about the weird and wonderful creations that they wanted to make. The grade 1 pupils have also been responding enthusiastically to the concept of central themes being taught throughout their lessons. Our carefully chosen themes (which change each term to keep pupils interested and engaged) help them understand that knowledge is not isolated to a single discovery, but broadly connected across many different ideas and different ways of thinking. Recently, linked to our topic “All about me,” the children were read a story called The Perfect Pet which inspired them to discuss the pets they have at home or would like to have in the future. A lively debate followed about animals which make good pets, giving them an opportunity to verbalise their thoughts on the subject in English. The children then drew a story map and experimented with different ideas for alternative endings. The enjoyment and progress shown by our grade 1 pupils in their lessons has been matched in their eagerness to extend their learning through Huili’s extensive co-curricular activity programme. Already, the children are discovering new passions in areas they had not considered trying before, as they explore a widening range of CCAs dedicated to various sports, academic skills and cultural appreciation activities. From chess to kung fu, from cookery classes to Chinese cultural studies, our pupils are seizing every opportunity for learning that is presented to them.

Grade 1 is a critical year of learning, when pupils are exploring new areas of knowledge and abilities, while having plenty of fun as they do so. At every step, we aim to support and encourage them by offering the right mix of engaging classroom lessons which follow central themes that they enjoy, alongside CCAs and opportunities for further learning at home. It has been a genuine pleasure to see how far they have come in such a short space of time and we are eager to discover what they are capable of next!