How we implement an engaging, discussion-based education approach in Primary School

Primary school is a time of significant social, emotional, physical and academic growth, and children must be immersed in a holistic environment where all their needs are supported.

At One World International School, we pride ourselves on providing all our primary school students with an inquiry-led, discussion-based learning environment, where they are encouraged to ask questions, come up with solutions, make mistakes and develop lasting connections with the world around them.

Students in Grades 1 through 5 attend primary school at OWIS, which is anchored by the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP). The IB PYP allows children to use voice and choice throughout their educational experience, ensuring that they receive the support and guidance they need to thrive.

For more, have a read through the following blogs on about primary school at OWIS:

Fostering Self-Confidence in the IB PYP Classroom

Defined as the ability to believe in and trust oneself, self-confidence is critical for young learners to develop. While some children are born with a natural sense of confidence and, subsequently, resilience, others need to have this complex trait nurtured and developed throughout their formative years.

Recognising the vital role that self-confidence plays in the overall growth, development and success of a child, we actively work to nurture this trait in our IB PYP classrooms. Our teachers rely on four distinct strategies to embolden our young learners in primary school with an unmatched sense of self-confidence.

The strategies that we use to foster self-confidence in our primary school students include:

  • Recognising a child’s strengths and focusing on those instead of their weaknesses. 
  • Teaching children to set attainable goals so they can enjoy the thrill of success. 
  • Rewarding the effort that a child puts into a task, rather than the result. Children are recognised when they grow and improve, not just when they succeed. 
  • Fostering an inclusive environment where all children feel represented and acknowledged.

By developing and nurturing self-confidence in our youngest learners, we encourage them to take risks, explore their ideas, ask questions and be resilient in the face of failure.

How to Build Better Listening Habits in Young Learners

Children just beginning primary school are starting to understand the norms expected in classroom life, including learning how to listen. However, listening is about more than simply being quiet, paying attention and hearing what the teacher says to the class. Listening is an active process, and children with good listening habits are more likely to retain new information long-term.

By recognising the importance of building better listening habits in young learners, we help our primary school students become more successful in the classroom. In addition, by working with children on their listening habits, we help them become more confident communicators, which is a skill that will benefit them both inside and outside the classroom.

Five of the strategies that our teachers rely on to build better listening habits in our primary school students include:

  • Narrating stories for children in a way that is interactive and enjoyable. 
  • Holding conversations with children to engage them and show them the power of active listening. This strategy also helps develop greater trust between the child and their teacher. 
  • Prioritising hands-on activities in the classroom, because children are more apt to pay attention to the instructions for an activity they are excited about. 
  • Modelling good listening behaviour by making eye contact with students when they are talking, giving them their undivided attention and responding with thoughtful questions to continue the conversation. 
  • Providing children with opportunities to make decisions, highlighting the importance of voice and choice within the IB PYP.

OWIS Teachers Explain: How We Build Public Speaking Skills in Our Primary Students

Public speaking is considered one of the most daunting and intimidating activities — for many, it’s their most significant fear. However, public speaking is a critical skill necessary for success in a global environment, which is why we work to introduce our primary school students to public speaking during their formative years.

As part of our student-centric approach to education, and our commitment to the IB PYP curriculum, we frequently provide students with opportunities to present information to their peers. By giving them a chance to stand up and face their fears, they quickly become more comfortable with public speaking and are soon confident in their role as a public speaker.

Our teachers use a variety of techniques and tactics to build public speaking skills in our students, such as:

  • Encouraging students to share their ideas and ask questions in the classroom setting to build up their confidence in front of their peers. 
  • Asking students to write persuasive essays about a product or service they enjoy. 
  • Reminding students that public speaking is about more than just reading from a script — it’s about eye contact, voice level and inflexion. 
  • Teaching students about the importance of preparation in public speaking, and showing them that preparation pays off when presenting material to their classmates.

In addition to using these strategies, our teachers model effective public speaking skills daily, showcasing the importance of speaking to a group in a calm, confident and self-assured manner.

How to Develop Interpersonal Skills in Students

Children need to build and develop study skills throughout the primary years, as these skills provide the foundation for academic success in secondary school and beyond. However, it’s also a critical period of development in their young lives, and they must have an opportunity to develop interpersonal skills as well.

Interpersonal skills are required to form positive, healthy and lasting relationships with others. They are less concrete than some of the academic skills that traditional educators focus on, but they play a pivotal role in a holistic learning environment. At OWIS Singapore, we believe that interpersonal skills are equally as important as academic and study skills.

Some of the most important interpersonal skills in students include:

  • Communication
  • Negotiation
  • Empathy
  • Listening
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Collaboration

We actively develop these interpersonal skills in our students through our Pastoral Care Programme, which aims to nurture positivity in our students and promote their overall well-being. Our Pastoral Care Programme is a comprehensive wellness initiative that promotes mindfulness, supports the physical health and well-being of students, models positive behaviour and supports restorative practices.

At the heart of our initiative to develop interpersonal skills is the emphasis on developing a growth mindset. By helping children understand that they can and will make mistakes — and that those mistakes are an opportunity for growth — we support the organic development of the most critical interpersonal skills.

How We Teach Research Skills to Primary Students at OWIS

Most people think of research skills as an important part of the secondary school experience or even collegiate experience. At OWIS Singapore, however, we begin introducing the concept of research skills to our young learners between the ages of 7 and 11. By teaching research skills to our primary school students at OWIS, we give them an advantage when they get to secondary school. They are already familiar with the concept of conducting research, and they know which sources will provide them with the information and data they need to complete their project.

The research skills that we focus on throughout the primary years at OWIS include:

  • Investigation — We encourage students to use reliable sources to investigate topics of their choosing. By giving them a voice in their topic, they are likely to be more interested, curious and motivated to complete their research. 
  • Veracity — We begin building digital literacy skills in our youngest students by helping them learn more about which sources are reputable and which are not. 
  • Analysis — Rather than having students uncover facts and reiterate that information, we encourage them to take an analytical look at the data to come up with a more conceptual understanding of their topic.

Through ongoing practice, and by allowing children to research topics that interest them, we transform our youngest learners into budding researchers.

These blogs about primary school at OWIS showcase the breadth and depth of this programme, which is designed with young learners between the ages of 7 and 11 in mind. By providing students with an engaging, discussion-based education in a holistic learning environment, we give them the best start on their educational journey. From there, they can continue into secondary school, where they will start to prepare for life beyond the classroom.

For more information about primary school at OWIS Singapore, contact us today.

(OWIS Nanyang is accredited for the IB PYP, IB DP and the Cambridge IGCSE. OWIS Digital Campus will follow the same pathway.)


The latest OWIS news, articles and resources sent straight to your inbox every month.

Latest Blogs